“Ask a Priest: What If My Dad Is Rude?”

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Q: I am a devout Catholic and a very gentle person. However, my father is a very insensitive man, and whenever I speak in a polite way he gets infuriated with me and talks down to me. This forces me to talk roughly back at him as this is the only way he’ll listen. Because I am forced to be that way, I am losing my gentle nature and kindness. The Bible says to honor your father, but how can I when he is so nasty? How would you suggest a more Christ-like way of dealing with my father’s rudeness and manipulative behavior? Please help, I am very stressed and have nobody to talk to about it. – N.D.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I’m sorry to hear about your situation.

This would be a good moment to stay the course. You are who you are. Gentleness can be a great virtue. There is no need to become coarse because of your dad.

You mention the word “manipulative.” The key thing with manipulation is that we can draw the line and not let people manipulate us.

If your dad gets angry, then it is all the more important that you keep your cool. If you react to his anger, that might only fuel the fires. (Jesus, by the way, had to deal with testy relatives too; see Luke 4:20-30.)

There might be other things going on under the surface with your dad. I won’t try to speculate about them here.

Suffice it to say that you can honor your dad by praying for him and being respectful to him — but there is no need to come down to his level of rudeness.

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