DEAR ABBY: I'm a minor living at home with my parents and my brother. Everything's pretty stable. Mom works, but she isn't gone all the time or anything like that. However, I have a lot of problems with my dad.
He has Asperger's syndrome, and his behavior has caused many issues for me. The least of them is that every time I try to talk about any concern I have (with him or not involving him), he takes it personally and makes it all about himself. This and other emotionally invalidating behaviors have been happening for as long as I can remember, and it makes me feel guilty about my feelings.
I have been going to therapy to deal with my father problems, along with other mental health issues. My therapist has been encouraging me to feel sympathy for how much anxiety my dad has to deal with. Mom tells me he really does love me and it's just the Asperger's syndrome that is getting in the way. But I'm tired of hearing about how hard things are for him, and I don't think I should pay him any respect for his feelings if he doesn't give me any. His behavior is especially hurtful while I'm struggling with various mental health issues. Do you have any advice? -- GIRL IN TURMOIL
DEAR GIRL: Yes, I do. Listen more carefully to what your therapist is trying to convey. You share something in common with your father; you both have diagnosed mental disorders. What you expect from him may be beyond his ability to give. This is a sad situation, but the sooner you accept it, the less often you will look to your father for the emotional support he is unable to provide. When you need to discuss your issues, talk to your mother or your therapist, and you may find the support you are seeking.