Dad Is a Know-It-All
"How do I get my father to stop saying, “You’ll understand when you get older”? I’m a grownup now and don’t want to hear that expression anymore. Am I going to have to listen to that for the rest of my life?
It doesn’t matter what I say to Dad, he has been there and done that. Truth be told, he has had quite the life. He’s run a marathon, climbed a mountain or two, run a business, etc. I’m sure you get the drift; Dad has lived. He is accomplished. He is annoying.
Will anything I do ever be worth telling him? I feel like I should stop complaining about my kids, or stop telling him about my activities because he’s an expert. It’s as though my experiences are irrelevant.
I know he’s old and lonely since Mom died. Maybe I should cut him some slack. What are your thoughts?"
Regarding cutting him some slack: YES. Dad is likely to let you know that your experiences with work, raising children, and every other thing are not unusual and that he experienced all the same things.
On the plus side, your father is giving you some validation that whatever you’re experiencing is normal and you’ll get through it. He has done it before you and his parents before him. I would lean into that and take advantage of his life experiences while he’s still living. Almost everyone I know who has lost a parent wishes they had some of the history and knowledge they took with them. I believe you will also.
I suggest you ask your father to tell you MORE about his experience with these shared situations. Find out how he handled them, share how you’re handling them, and commiserate.
I get that you are an adult and trying to make your way in this world. With such an accomplished father it can feel like you’ll never measure up, but that’s just not the case. You will have experiences different from your father’s and you’ll have a separate and distinctive life, regardless of what he says. So, I say, carry on and do it, while trying not to let him get to you.
Your father needs validation just like you do. After all, we’re all just human. Give him his dues. Listen to his stories, even if he repeats them a bit. Then carve out time to tell him of your latest adventures and seek his input. There’s nothing that pleases us old folk more than giving advice. It doesn’t mean you must do what he suggests. Consider his opinions just another Internet “customer review.” It doesn’t hurt anything to listen.
All of us find certain things that our parents say annoying. The beauty of human relationships is that they’re weird, loving, amusing, and downright frustrating at times. You won’t stop his little expressions. Just remind yourself that your father is merely validating the normalcy of your experiences and seeking your acknowledgement at the same time.
I wish you well on this journey with your father and in life. Some day you will hear your father’s voice in your repeated expressions, if you don’t already.
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Nov 27, 2023