by anti-folk hero
Ah, fathers. Few have anything good to say about fathers. The best father/son relationships usually involved a father who taught his son to be just like him. The musician father with a musician son, the preacher father with a preacher son, etc. Then there are the loads of criminals in the world who claim to have been abused or neglected by their fathers. No matter what your relationship to your father was, however, one indisputable fact is that fathers have a tangible effect on their children no matter what they do. Whether that relationship is good or bad depends on the personalities of both people involved.
Let’s talk about my father for a minute. He is a very successful professional who is at the top of the company he works for. He has a team of elite, intelligent people working under him, doing his bidding, and generally just trying to profit off of his hard work. He financially supports my mother (whom he divorced over fifteen years ago and who still lives on alimony), sends his second kid to a private school for 30k a year, and is probably going to help me out when I eventually get into higher education later this year. Sounds like a great, helping, encouraging guy, right?
To be fair, he can be a great Dad. He got me into music by telling me stories about different musicians as I was growing up. He also forced me to start taking guitar lessons at age eleven even though I really didn’t want to. Almost everything he has ever predicted about my life or what would happen to me has been right on the money. So where is the issue in my relationship with him? My dad is a control freak. There is no better way to describe him. He has many personal insecurities that he cannot control that manifest themselves in negative behavior towards others. He’ll oftentimes be dead wrong about something and yet find justifications for why he is right and everyone else is wrong, often involving verbal and emotional abuse. He is aggressive, uncompromising, and decidedly uncooperative in just about everything. “My way or the highway” could be his personal philosophy.
Yet people still like him and deal with him. He has many friends, most of them through work, and he is well respected by his contemporaries. Now, you may be saying that I shouldn’t be so ungrateful, as he is giving me money for school. But at this point, I am sick of his money and sick of his shit.
An example: Today, I brought him a spreadsheet I had made outlining the costs of a cross-country trip to visit several of the schools I was accepted to. I laid out flight costs, dates, hotel prices, even trains prices from some cities back east back and forth. I got the absolute cheapest prices on flights that I could find (which is better than he could do). Upon sitting down in his office, he took the piece of paper to me, and then berated me for ten minutes about how stupid I was, how I should find the cheapest prices, insinuating that I was dumb and arbitrarily put up more expensive prices on purpose, and even accosting me for not realizing that flying to Ithaca is much more expensive than flying into Syracuse or Rochester instead (to save money). In the end, he has done nothing but yelled, complained, and generally insulted my intelligence in the most aggressive, mean-spirited way, and said nothing constructive at all. He had alienated me.
My father is a man at the utter whim of his moods. He can’t control himself. In many ways, a child has more control over the responses he chooses than my father does. If he has a bad day, he’ll be rude and contemptuous towards everyone around him. “This isn’t what I wanted for dinner!” he’ll shout at my step-mom. “I specifically told you that I only eat Norwegian potatoes, not these Idaho pieces of shit! You knew that! You’re just serving me these worthless, disgusting potatoes because you don’t listen. Maybe you should stop watching all of those idiotic TV shows and pay attention when I tell you these things. Its really not that hard to do.” Then, the same day, he’ll be half an hour late to a family dinner, forget about his son’s basketball game, and space out on a bunch of other shit entirely. HYPOCRITE.
This is my read on his personality. I see him as emotionally immature. Here is a person who has some serious insecurities that are deeply buried. He can’t control his fears and desires, so when he feels like he can’t control himself, he tries to control others. Being an intelligent person, he is quite successful in controlling other people. The effect, however, is that he alienates the people that care about him. He treats them like invaders or strangers and his attitude couldn’t be less inviting.
At this point in my life, I’m realizing that there are two paths I can take at this moment. If I take his money for college, I’ll be in a weaker position to call him on his bad moods and at the mercy of his bullshit. If I don’t take his money, I’ll have to take out monster-sized loans and repay them later in life. However, I would have my independence. What do you think? Is the independence worth it? Please share your stories about controlling friends or family members if you have them.