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I Can’t Get My Dad to Listen to Me

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My Dad and I usually get on quite well. We have a lot in common, but whenever he cooks or cleans he doesn’t do the job properly. For instance, he won’t wash his hands before cooking or clean the sides down properly. I’m generally not that bothered by germs but everyone knows the basics of hygiene in the kitchen. I try to tell him that he should wash his hands, but he just get annoyed, and makes some excuse like he’s ‘thinking about other things’. 9 times out of 10 he doesn’t do the washing up properly either eg. there will still be oil on the frying pan. So when I try to do it or I tell him that it’s unclean he just gets irritated and says “your being rather annoying now” when I’m just trying to makes sure my sister and I get a healthy meal in a clean kitchen. My mum usually makes sure that the kitchen and everything else is clean but she’s away seeing her parents because my grandma’s going into surgery soon. Now my dad’s left with us he just seems incapable of doing even basic chores. I can’t keep pestering him but he doesn’t learn. It could be that he listens to my mum or that she does it usually and dad hasn’t had to do the washing up more than once every few days. I think it’s a bit of both.

I don’t know what to so because I try to help and do things so my dad doesn’t have to because it must be stressful for him with mum away but I can’t do everything. I’m just trying to look after my sister and making sure both her, me and my dad have a nice clean house to live in. The worst thing would be that my mum comes home to a bomb site of a house with plate piled up from dinner two nights ago. I just feel like it’s my responsibility to look after my family while mum’s away but I can’t seem to get through to my dad. What do you think the problem is and what should I do? Thanks (From London)

I Can’t Get My Dad to Listen to Me

Answered by on -


It isn’t your responsibility to look after the whole family while your mom’s away. Everyone needs to do their part — and it sounds like you are acting more like a mom than a daughter with your father. I would ask how you can help him rather than only try to help on your own. At dinner time you might be better able to influence if you did it by example rather than telling him what to do. Ask how you can help and wash your hands as you invite your dad to do so as well. Everyone is under stress while your mom is gone — don’t feel you have to answer for everyone and everything — just do your part.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

I Can’t Get My Dad to Listen to Me

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). I Can’t Get My Dad to Listen to Me. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 2, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 9 Sep 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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