Dear Dr. Bill,
I’m the mother of 3 children and the wife of a wonderful husband. But I struggle with the critical spirit of my father. Family visits are always tense because he expects everyone to talk about their Christian faith ALL the time. He’s quick to correct me about my past mistakes, and is constantly criticizing me for not living up to his standards. It’s gotten so bad that every visit depresses me. What should I do?
Your father is unlikely to change—so the only thing you can do is to choose how you respond to him.
Set up a time to meet with your mom and dad, away from your kids. Have your husband accompany you.
Start the conversation by letting your dad know that you love him and appreciate him. Affirm him for his commitment to righteousness. Then tell him honestly how much his criticism hurts you. Let him know that unless he can learn to treat you with respect, you won’t be visiting him as often.
Although we can hope he’ll apologize, it’s just as likely that he will react defensively and attack you even more. If that happens, you and your husband should leave immediately.
Let me recommend a book that I know you will find helpful. It’s entitled “Who’s Pushing Your Buttons,” by John Townsend.
Thanks for writing Paige. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.