Q: My dad is a loving guy but has a tendency to be unintentionally rude to me. I feel like he still sees me as a teenager rather than a 35-year-old man. He consistently amuses himself by telling unflattering stories about me. How can I let him know that this really pisses me off and needs to stop now?
A: Begin the conversation by telling him that you're well aware of how much he loves you and values your relationship. When you are done softening the blow, be honest and direct. Tell him that you feel disrespected when he reveals private stories in a public forum. In addition, explain that these stories, whether past or current, do not define you.
Your dad may feel that you are "in on the joke," and indeed this may have been par for the course in the past. However, it's now your job to make it abundantly clear times have changed and you will no longer tolerate being publicly humiliated. You have a responsibility to advocate for yourself.
I would advise you to expect a number of possible reactions from your father -- from claiming you're overly sensitive to saying you can't take a joke. Relax! This is to be expected. He will probably be on the defense at first; nobody wants to feel that they've caused their child pain.
When you're listing the reasons for your upset, come from a non-accusatory, calm and factual place. It is best to cite specific examples:
I feel ____ when you say ___.
It's hard to argue with someone's feelings. Remember to relax your body and deliver the message in your normal voice. Try not to allow yourself to be shocked or intimidated by his unexpected responses.
You're here to make your point and find a solution. Draw a line in the sand by clearly defining behavior you won't accept from him.
Don't worry if your father doesn't agree with your assessment. These are your feelings and they're completely valid. Standing up for yourself will give you a renewed sense of confidence in so many areas of your life.
Respect that this is a slow process, which most likely won't yield immediate change in your father's behavior. However, in time this conversation will improve your relationship.
As always, questions and comments can be sent to ASK NOAH at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a profitable and peaceful week,
This post originally appeared on TheStreet.
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