Dad Asks If He Was Wrong For Telling His Daughter Her 'Mental Illness Isn't An Excuse' — 'At Least Make An Effort To Be Normal'

Doing away with the stigma surrounding mental health is hard work.

Father and daughter fighting, text from Reddit Kamira / Shutterstock; Reddit via Canva

A father struggling with handling his daughter’s mental health went to Reddit’s “r/AmItheA--hole” (AITA) to figure out if he’s been handling it correctly. 

After their most recent interaction, she stopped talking to him and he’s completely confused as to why. He had hoped that the people of Reddit would help him and be on his side, but he was sorely mistaken.

The father told his daughter that her ‘mental illness isn’t an excuse’ and said it was a phase.

Among other things, this dad seems to have done nothing but discount his own daughter’s struggles as he explained what’s been happening and what happened recently in the post. His daughter had been struggling with anxiety for years, but he claimed she was doing well enough with therapy, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle. Until she turned 18, that is.


“In the past year at college, she has been struggling to adapt to living in the dorms. Her last semester's grades took a dive, and it seems like all the responsibility is greatly stressing her out,” he explained in his post. “I was under the impression that this anxiety was only a phase and that she would outgrow it eventually, but it seems to have only worsened after she turned 18.”

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dad asks if he's wrong for telling his daughter her mental illness isnt an excusePhoto: Shutterstock / Ground Picture


Unfortunately, because mental health has such a stigma surrounding it, this father doesn’t seem to understand exactly what anxiety is.

According to WebMD, anxiety is a completely normal emotion. Everyone feels anxiety, but what his daughter seems to be struggling with — coming from a completely unqualified writer who is simply reading words from a Reddit post — is an anxiety disorder.

These things are more complicated and can become quite debilitating for the person who is suffering from it. She’s in therapy and takes medication, which means she’s seen a psychiatrist, and so her problems have been substantiated by medical professionals. Still, her father is unaccepting and impatient with her.

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This summer, she’s been struggling with finding a summer job, and he claims that with every rejection email they receive, he loses more and more patience — he’s even begun doubting that her therapists are doing their jobs because “the longer she has anxiety, the more they get paid.”

“However, my brother, who has a psychological background, told me that it's common for anxiety to get worse during early adulthood and that her therapists are likely doing all they can,” he explained. “I decided that he was probably right, and I stopped thinking about it. I think I deserve quite a bit of credit for that.”

Her father snapped at her, told her ‘life wasn’t fair,’ and claimed she would end up homeless.

After another failed job interview, her father snapped at her and gave her a speech about how she needed to put in the effort to be “normal.” 

“She began to tear up and told me that I was being unfair, but I chuckled and told her that life isn't fair and that she needs to learn some social skills or she would almost certainly end up homeless,” he wrote.


“I told her that she needs to maybe go take a walk and think about how her actions were screwing things up for her, but instead she stormed off to her bedroom and slammed the door shut.”

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This is something that we as a society actually see quite often — older generations seem to dismiss mental health issues and see mental illness as a weakness.

According to one volume from the “Mental Health in Family Medicine” journal, psychiatrist Carlos Augusto de Mendonça Lima claimed that, “Today's older adult population is not likely to acknowledge mental illness or to access mental health services.” Not only that, but they'll often ignore their own symptoms and simply attribute their issues as the result of aging.


That’s exactly what this young woman’s father is doing — dismissing her. He went on to call her delusional and claimed that he was at the point where he wanted to kick her out of the house. “I just want her to be able to see things from my perspective rather than always treating me like I'm a villain.”

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what many saw him as.

This father’s behavior is harmful, especially because he’s handling someone who could use every ounce of support. It was ignorant of him to not believe in the legitimacy of his daughter’s condition without his brother’s expert opinion, but he should have turned it into having more patience and understanding. He seems to want to do the opposite.


If the overwhelming majority of negative comments from Redditors didn’t convince him that his parenting style needs to change, then surely his daughter eventually going no-contact with him will.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor for YourTango who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics.