DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m an adult woman, but my father still tells me what to do as if I am a child.
He will promise relatives that I’m attending their events without asking me first. He is very passive-aggressive and doesn’t directly ask me to do things; he will instead find a slick way to force me to do them.
I hate disappointing him, but I can’t keep letting him run my life like this. What should I do?
DEAR CONTROLLING DAD: It is time for you to take over the controls of your life.
You need to sit down and talk to him. Ask for his undivided attention. Start by thanking him for being such an attentive dad over all these years. Tell him how much you appreciate him for who he is and how much he cares about you. Then remind him that you are an adult now, and it is past time for you to make your own decisions.
Tell him that you have noticed that he continues to schedule activities for you without checking in with you, and mention how awkward that can be if you are unable to fulfill the obligation. Point out that you are the guardian of your schedule and your life now; it is time for him to turn over the reins.
Add that you do not want to disappoint him, and the best way to avoid that is for him to stop trying to run your life. You can thank him for all the preparation that led to this moment, then pivot.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My best friend’s career is flourishing, and she’s constantly met with new opportunities. Why doesn’t she want to share any of these new opportunities with me? Am I wrong for thinking she should?
DEAR STINGY FRIEND: Step back for a moment and assess what your friend does now and what kinds of opportunities flow to her. Look objectively to see whether you think these opportunities would match your skill set or interests.
Sometimes it can seem rosy when you think about someone else’s life. Yes, your friend is doing well. I’m sure she wants you to do well, too. That doesn’t mean that the things that come her way are a match for you. If you believe that some leads could be good for you, ask her about them. From a broader perspective, you can ask her if she will pass along opportunities that she thinks are right for you. In that way, you make it clear that you want her support.
What I have learned about referrals is that you have to be very careful about when and how you make them. Being someone’s friend should not automatically put them on your referral list. What your friend should be doing when opportunities come to her is to think about who would be best for a particular situation. “Best” includes skill set, attitude, history, reputation, willingness to work and more. Your friend should be considering you — and anyone else — based on objective criteria.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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Author: Harriette Cole