Hi! I am fifteen years old, and I need some advice. It seems like my father prefers to work instead of spending time with his family. This problem has gone on forever, according to my grandmother. I know that he has to work, but he is too dedicated to his job. Sometimes he has worked on Sundays even though he didn’t have to. The point I am making is that he acts like he lives only to work. The worst is that on several occasions he has argued with my mother over little things, and I think it’s because of the stress of his work.

A few days ago, he got so angry with my brother that he whipped him with a belt three times and it left marks. I know that it was wrong to get into it, but I was so angry that I told him the truth: that he doesn’t spend any time with us. Sadly I think that telling himself the lie, “I work for my family”, causes him to believe that the more he works, the more he loves us. What should I do? … I want to have a father, not an adult male who has us call him Dad.

Dear Friend,

We are very happy that you follow our program and that you have asked for our advice. Many other young people have your same problem, and many adults remember having had this problem when they were younger.

Your dad is the product of the culture and environment that he grew up in. He may have had few material possessions when he was growing up. Possibly he promised himself that, when he was older, his children would never have to go without things that he had to do without. Or perhaps he had an example in his family of someone who didn’t work hard, and he made a decision that he would never be like that. There are many reasons from your dad’s childhood that could have made him be the way he is today. Why don’t you show him this answer and ask him what his reasons are?

There is also a biological component in your dad’s behavior. He is probably the type of person who wants to achieve success and be respected for how well he provides for his family. Actually, the majority of men are like this, as well as many women. There is nothing wrong with having high goals. However, your dad was probably not taught that it is just as important to spend time with your children as it is to provide for them. His father probably didn’t spend time with him either, so he really doesn’t understand the benefits.

Try to see the situation through your dad’s eyes. It is important that you ask him to change his behavior without questioning his motives or his love for you. Be respectful when you have this discussion. Ask him to set a goal with you for an amount of time that you will spend together each week. Plan each activity in advance and write it on a big calendar so he can see it each day. It can be a long walk, or a picnic, or playing a family game. Accept the fact that he may not change overnight, but that if you are patient, he will begin to see how important it is to spend time with his family.

We wish you well,

Linda and Charles