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Controlling Father

Community Member

I have a controlling and overbearing father. However, he is not ‘controlling’ in the sense that he prevents my mother and me from doing the things we choose to do. Essentially, he will use “words”, to control us. I’m not sure if it’s a tactic, or whether he does it subconsciously, but he’ll use insults and put-downs such as criticism, belittlement, sarcasm, or just outright name-calling to shame us for doing things. Basic things such as: performing a favour for a friend, taking work-off to attend a funeral. Just regular activities that he strangely doesn’t agree with. He also holds grudges and utilises our previous mistakes (or what he thinks are mistakes) to insult us.

My father also does this when he’s in a bad mood, or even when he just sees an opportunity to do it. He’ll pick on either myself or my mum, endlessly. Just a string of insults or hurtful sarcasm. The worst part of this is that he also targets the other people in our lives that we (my mum and I) care about, to hurt us. I hope that makes sense, but essentially, to hurt me, he’ll belittle and insult my partner (not to his face, but to me). Or to hurt my mother, he’ll insult her family to her.

I don’t spend much time with my friends or my partner because I’m too scared to ask him, to hear his response. My father also controls my spending. I’m in my early 20’s and he has access to my bank account and checks it regularly. If he believes I’ve spent too much, he’ll go into a rage. Essentially, I’m always having to think about whether this action will make him angry. I’m scared of him, because his words hurt me, a lot, and I know that it’s making me weak, mentally and preventing me from enjoying my life.

I have full resentment towards my father. His actions are affecting how I'd like to fulfil my life, how I make MY choices. Living with him is difficult and exhausting as it’s constantly like walking on eggshells.

However, I also feel like I can’t think this way about him because he provides for me financially. He finances my education and my livelihood. I make my own money, I have an income. However, due to our culture, my father insists on funding these aspects of my life. I just feel trapped. Sometimes I get terrible anxiety, worried about the fact that I may never be able to leave my father’s controlling presence. I also worry about my mother, because it's as if her fulltime job is to manage his temper.

Has anyone else experienced this? And what have you done to escape it?

3 Replies 3

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

So, you are living as an adult but controlled. This is a difficult situation no matter if it is a cultural or a medical problem...the result is the same. As we cant diagnose I will touch on some thoughts I have about this, however any action you take will depend on your own assessment, needs and the level of determination you have for a different life.

The problem with the enormity of this problem is that you are unlikely to change the way your father goes about his family operation. He wont change into a non controlling person. That fact then highlights that your future could be one extreme of your current position- eg, total cut off. The most ideal prior to that is attempting to have a mild, occasional contact however with your financials controlled by him you somehow must accept that the worse case scenario will play out- on your own without money. For many that would be their choice because eventually the writing is on the wall to an unworkable future unless it is his way.

Your comment "walking on eggshells" is interesting. There is a book by author Dr Christine Lawson called exactly that. Extracts are on the www if you google "queen witch hermit waif" That will give you some magnitude of similar issues. Of course I'm not saying your dad has those issues.

We have a diverse number of cultures in Australia and many of these include parents and grandparents that are afraid of their children swaying away from what they perceive as being best for them which includes their cultural standards. This makes it really hard for the likes of yourself to branch out with independence.

Do you have a relative or friend you can share accommodation with if you choose to leave?

Bare in mind also that your mother is likely going through the same fears. Does she have an influence on him that could result from less control especially with your bank account?

I hope I've helped. Please repost here if you want.


Hi Tony,

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my matter and your pieces of advice. I've researched the book you noted and am currently reading a pdf version online. It's amazing how much I can relate to the text. It's extremely helpful.

I do have friends that I can share accommodation with if I choose to leave, but unfortunately, at this time, I'm too scared to leave. This fear is associated with the discussion that I'd have to have with my father about the topic. I wouldn't want to deal with that confrontation.


Thats great. Yes, all reasonable avenues should be tried.

I wish you well and repost updates if you think it will help you.