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Context: I'm bad at math. My dad makes me do extra math practice every day to catch up (he says that I'm "so far behind").

Problem: I'm honestly putting in my best effort. However, my dad doesn't believe that my poor academic performance (especially math) can be due to genuine stupidity and is probably caused by something else, such as:

  • Not paying attention in class?
  • Laziness?
  • Carelessness?
  • Not being interested in math?
  • Not being motivated to study?
  • Intentionally failing school for whatever reason?

Recently, my dad got pissed because I was taking too long to do a math problem. He thought that the answer was so obvious that I must've been acting stupid on purpose (or being "mentally lazy"). He said that I was just stubborn, that I was mentally lazy, and that I didn't want to admit how simple the math problem was. He told me that if I wanted to be good at math, I needed to fix my attitude.

The Catch-22: I really want to prove his claim wrong, but it's logically impossible to do so (as far as I know). The more someone attempts to prove that he/she isn't stubborn, the more stubborn (by definition) he/she is!

How can I disprove a statement that self-validates when I try to disprove it?

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  • What is your end-goal here? Do you want to discontinue doing the extra math practice or do you want to disprove your father's accusations? Do you want to achieve your goals through talking to him, or by other means? As of now your question is unclear, thus as of now I vote to close. – enlighten_me Jul 5 '18 at 0:57
  • @enlighten_me My end goal is the question title. I want to prove him wrong and make him believe that I'm honestly trying my best at math, despite the fact that what he said is logically self-righting the more I try to disprove it. – clickbait Jul 5 '18 at 1:00
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    If you disprove him, are you still going to do the extra math practice? I think this is what @enlighten_me was getting at. – TheRealLester Jul 5 '18 at 1:06
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this sound to me like a phrasing request – Ael Feb 28 '19 at 10:04
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's asking for help with logic, not any interpersonal skills. – Rainbacon Feb 28 '19 at 14:15
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Your dad sounds like a bully. You say you're doing your best and putting in the work. An understanding parent would see this and support your efforts, instead of bawling you out for not being somebody else (that 'somebody else' being an above-average mathematician!)

As it stands, I feel for you. It's soul-destroying to keep trying to please someone who's displeased at your individual talent set & wishes you were different. It's very, very bad for your future confidence and I'm afraid he might actually be trying to undermine this. Only you know whether your dad's kind and supportive in all other areas, so only you can assess whether he is bullying you or simply has a massive blind spot when it comes to maths.

Assuming he's a generally decent dad, you could do worse than sit him down and explain that you're honestly doing your best. If he's disappointed in your algebraic prowess, that's sad for you both ... but you have XYZ skills on the plus side, and maybe you could agree to compromise on the maths? If he's scary when crossed on this topic, see if you can't get an uncle/teacher/friend to back you up here.

Good luck, and don't let the nitpickers get you down! It's always worth doing your best - and your best is always worth being proud of.

Added after more forensic re-reading of your comments & replies. If the man is a bully, you can't prove him wrong. The whole point of bullying is to be "always right", often to the extent where the bully's self-determined rightness is their reason for existing. While you're dependent on a bully for your food & shelter, threatening their psychological existence is a risky strategy. (Can you tell my dad was a bully?!) One of the safest effective strategies is what's known as the "grey rock" approach: google it.

After you've left home, you can shout him down or punch him out (I did that, too. It was satisfying.) But most of all, for your own sake, never waste your energies on trying to please the professionally displeased.

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