I have the unique opportunity to work with a lot of fathers who are also very successful business owners. Many of these men are regarded by their children as control freaks. I have written before about how to effectively deal with and manage these strong personalities, and it essentially all boils down to learning to set effective personal and professional boundaries and risk the relationship by challenging dad. Today, I want to offer a different perspective that entails getting into the mindset of your control freak dad. 

Often, I hear, “Dad’s expectations are simply impossible. I can never measure up to his standards.” This isn’t unusual as fathers who are also business owners tend not to have learned how to effectively balance the Family Business Equilibrium. Family is an environment of unconditional acceptance, but these control freak dads seem to have forgotten this and have inadvertently applied conditional acceptance based on performance. Or so it seems to you, his child. If you regard your dad as a control freak, would you consider the following as it relates to your perspective and interpretation of your dad’s expectations?

Perhaps…just maybe…the expectations your dad has of you are not a condition of his acceptance and your relationship with him, but simply a confirmation of your bond. You are his family. There is a relationship—“I am your dad, you are my son/daughter”—and it precedes the rules. In other words, “Because you are my family and I accept you, I have high expectations of you.” 

This potentially represents a fundamental shift in your understanding of your father and his seemingly unreasonable expectations of you. Your dad does have high expectations, but they may not be conditions upon which he accepts and approves of you. They may simply be a confirmation and affirmation of his acceptance and approval of you as his child. Try that on for size and even consider running it by your dad to see if it has any merit. Maybe you will be able to relax a bit “under his thumb” and not let his high expectations bother you so much.

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