Mod S2S Mentor

Worried About a Parent's Mental Health

“My dad has this obsession with cleaning, and It has gotten to the point where it has affected family life, and cleaning is the first thing he thinks of when he comes home. I am trying to help him, but every time I broach the subject, he changes the subject to "me helping him with cleaning". He won't admit he has anxiety and perfectionism. He says no to a therapist and he won't let me help him, so I don't know what to do. I'm worried that he is making himself really unhappy.”

-Kate

Oh man I’m sorry Kate, I know how it feels when someone refuses your help for problems like these :(

While I don’t have experience with parents exhibiting this behavior, I do when it comes to friends and other family members. I’m not sure what approaches you’ve tried, but one way to reach out to him could be to tell him that you’re worried about him. Something like, “Hey dad, I understand you like to clean, but it seems like you do it so much that it makes me feel really worried for you, and I want to make sure you’re ok.” Something along these lines that let’s him know you care and let's him open up to you about how he feels by explaining how you feel, rather than telling him how he feels.

If this doesn’t work or you’ve already tried it to no avail, I would try to reach out to a trusted adult about the situation. If you have another parent around, you could ask them for help, or reach out to a grandparent, or someone like a neighbor you trust and let them know what’s going on. There’s a chance they might be able to get through to him, or at the very least be a source to vent to for yourself.

Though in the end, if your dad refuses to accept help, there’s only so much you can do. It is not your responsibility to keep him happy or to be his therapist when all he does is shuts you out. Putting that weight on yourself can really drag you down, shrinking your world to only focus on him, and can become toxic for your own mental health. I’ve experienced this happen before when one of my friends was suicidal and refused therapy or any advice/help I offered. I was putting her life on my shoulders, when it was never my burden to carry. I had to let go and simply be there if she ended up coming to me, but not let it worry me otherwise. It might be good to just step back, and leave him be for the time being until he decides to make a step toward change. You’ve given him open doors to help, now it is his turn to move in that direction.

Take care, Kate, I know situations like these are not easy and it can be really hard when you feel helpless. Please know that you are doing your best and no one could ask anymore of you. If your school has a counselor (most middle and high schools do I believe), reach out to them so you have some support to get through this. I hope this situation turns around for the better, good luck <3

~Katharine

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Replies

  • This is really helpful. I got my dad to loosen up on cleaning a little bit
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