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To have left my dad's wedding without saying goodbye to him?

(123 Posts)
stopthebusiwanttogetoff Sun 01-Sep-13 22:17:50

My dad got married yesterday. My sister and I both went to support him, with our children. Total 20 guests. We both made an effort despite rarely seeing him, following an acrimonious (sp!) divorce from our mother when we were teenagers, and him still being with (one of) the woman he left her for.
Anyway, our kids were asked to bring up our wedding presents after the lunch (it was an 11-3 dry wedding).
My son (aged six) snatched the present we had brought from his sister (aged 4) resulting in it dropping on the floor. He immediately started crying, such is his response whenever he knows he has done wrong/ has to do something he doesn't want to (e.g homework). Also he was tired from an early start and long drive.
My dad asked if it could have broken, I said yes. There was a hushed silence (ugh) as he opened it, and yes it was broken. My son continued to cry and walked to me. I told him to leave the room and I would speak to him in a minute, that I was very cross with him.
My dad followed him from the room, and so I did too. (My dad hasn't seen him since last year - dad's choice not mine). My dad told me that my behaviour, in sending my son out of the room, was worse than my son's accidental breakage.
I felt this was grossly unfair as my dad doesn't know my son, hadn't actually acknowledged the gift, and had made me look very bad in front of his guests (who I don't know - his OW's family).
I hated walking back into the room to everyone looking at me, and my dad going to his now wife and speaking to her, then calling my son over and reassuring him that all was fine and not to worry. When my son returned to me (by choice! not summoned!) my dad walked over and told me that this was his day and I wasn't to upset my son again.
I went out and spoke to my sister, who reassured me that she'd have gone mental had her kids done that. I went in and thanked his wife and congratulated her and said goodbyes to a few people I'd been introduced to, I did not approach him, nor him me.
Was I out of order? Was he? He never sees my kid, I wasn't going to beat him ffs I was upset he'd broken the f'ing present! And that my dad didn't acknowledge said gift! I would have replaced it if it had been acknowledged, and if I hadn't been made to feel like a shit parent. My dad, fwiw, barely raised me thanks to his affairs, and when he did was critical and unpleasant. Yet still, the people pleaser set inside me, seeks his approval.
AIBU, and what do I do now? So sorry for the mammoth post.

Davsmum Wed 04-Sep-13 15:14:35

Stellarpunk - I agree that talking to a professional would be helpful if you are unable to talk to a parent.

I still cannot see any 'controlling' in those notes. It looks like he was trying to be polite without being 'over the top' gushy - perhaps due to knowing they have a 'strained' relationship.
Had the note been from a Dad you were very close to - I would have thought it a bit formal and cold - but under the circumstances of the relationship it seems to be an attempt to 'make an effort'
I think its possible to read far too much into things - and if you look for something you will certainly find it.

Retroformica Wed 04-Sep-13 15:16:12

As long as you were fair and calm telling son to go out, I can't see the problem.

I probably would let him contact you.

coco27 Wed 04-Sep-13 16:02:45

your dad sounds lovely, both at the wedding and in his notes.
if the only thing you have against him is having affairs when you were smallmaybe it is time to move on?

mynameisnotmichaelcaine Wed 04-Sep-13 16:18:50


Snazzyenjoyingsummer Wed 04-Sep-13 16:20:26

coco27 what about the fact he 'makes her feel like shit' every time they speak in person or on the phone? Does that count as something she can 'have against him'? hmm

Stellarpunk you're spot on when you say there are a lot of people who just don't get this because they have never seen it in action. I am glad to say that my own dad has never been like this but I have seen it now on the, let's say, other side of the family. And I can absolutely see echoes of that in what is going on here.

Stellarpunk Wed 04-Sep-13 17:46:00

thanks snazzy. smile It took me a long time to see it myself. I was forever nagging him to 'ring his mum', 'to make and effort', 'dont the kids deserve a gran?' etc etc. it was only when i went through a severe crisis last year that I saw her finally for what she is, a manipulating coward who is completely out of touch with reality.

The narc/abuser parents mindset is essentially totally different to a 'normal' parenting reaction. Difficult to see in detail - but gather your evidence and look at the bigger picture.

OP - how does your Dad make you feel? That's the key i feel here.

Davsmum Wed 04-Sep-13 17:56:14

People cannot 'make you feel shit' You are responsible for your own feelings if you are an adult. You cannot 'blame' other people for how you feel.
If you feel that way then you have to work through it.

As for not getting it - I DO get it! I had a mother who was manipulative and controlling and who had a drink problem! I experienced it direct and not through someone else's experience. I don't hold my mother responsible for how I feel now. Its something you have to deal with.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Wed 04-Sep-13 18:06:31

So how do you deal with your mother now, Davs? Is she still on the scene?

charitygirl Wed 04-Sep-13 18:15:55

Fuck your dad, he sounds awful. By his actions shall you know him. And you do.

20wkbaby Wed 04-Sep-13 18:16:38

I think you were a bit harsh to send him out of the room. If he was crying because he knew he had done wrong a look would have been enough to let him know you weren't happy. You could have apologised for the broken present then taken your son aside afterwards.

That said I hate when I'm feeling flustered over something like this for someone else to make a fuss and make me feel embarassed. If he was so worried about having a nice calm wedding why come over all grumpy. All he had to say was, 'Don't worry no harm done!' and let you get on with it.

These kind of situations where a lot of little irritations compound each other happen quite often in my family and result in a lot of speaking through gritted teeth etc. The thing is they blow up out of nowhere because they are something and nothing.

I think tbh you may be feeling it more because of your history with your Dad.

Davsmum Wed 04-Sep-13 18:53:12


No,..she is dead now.

Firstly,.. I must apologise if my last post sounded harsh - of course if someone is physically attacking you and you feel scared - they would be the cause of that. I was meaning that if you feel bad or like shit, when someone is harsh with you - its not their fault. The way you feel is down to how you think about yourself and your own insecurities- and yes, they may have started this when you were a child but you cannot go on blaming someone for how you feel now, as an adult.

Its not easy to deal with this on your own but you can learn to change the way you feel.
People are who they are - and some people may be controlling. They have no idea that someone feels shit because of what they have said or done.
You can either take steps to deal with it - or 'heal' it or you can make a decision to cut these people out of your life.
I learned that my mother had her own issues. She did love me, She didn't intentionally try to hurt me, She was a damaged human being. It was impossible to talk to her because she would attack you verbally in a cruel way but I never stopped making the effort.
However I felt about her - I knew for sure she felt a whole lot worse about herself.

cjel Wed 04-Sep-13 19:39:59

Davsmum - that's a bit simplistic and not realistic, of course if someone is calling you names and being verbally aggressive or nasty you will be upset. It is their fault just as much as if their punch hurt you. I agree that it is not good to carry things from childhood but no one likes to be spoken to badly and criticised. It does make us feel bad and is definitely their fault for saying it.

The same is true if we are praised we feel good. our feelings are affected by those around us.
In your case it is right you don't carry the hurt from childhood, but if you were called fat, a horrid cruel mother it would hurt. Yes you can train yourself to shrug off the hurt but that doesn't mean they haven't caused it.
People are built to have relationships with others and that includes being affected by those relationships.

Stellarpunk Wed 04-Sep-13 20:02:31

Hmm but the point I'm making is that the behaviour of the parent to the child has conditioned the child to have a specific set of responses to certain scenarios/triggers.

But to reiterate; the behaviours of the parent to the now adult child have not changed, or seemingly not changed in the op's instance. Thus, they (i.e. parent and the child reaction) fall back into the standard rote behaviours.

I think that's why NC is so effective for the abused - they are literally taking the power back in a way which doesn't leave them vulnerable to further abuse. Of course, it flies in the face of convention - i.e. that two adults sit down and work it out.

Honest question; is it possible for people with personality disorders to have insight into their condition?

AgentZigzag Wed 04-Sep-13 21:08:18

Agree with your post to Davsmum, cjel, it's great to have the ability to protect yourself and take control of situations with these kinds of people, but that doesn't excuse them from saying whatever they like.

And you can't assume everyone is able to buy in to the belief they're not to blame for how the other person's behaving, some never can and others half believe in themselves but still can't shake of that crushing guilt.

Especially when you've been brainwashed (as most children are whatever their homelife) that what they've experienced is the norm (as Stellarpunk said).

Davsmum Thu 05-Sep-13 11:17:10


THEIR behaviour if their fault of course, it is and I would never excuse someone for their unacceptable behaviour- but your own reaction or feelings are down to you.
If I was called a fat, horrid, cruel mother as you suggest,- it would not hurt me! I know I am none of those things - They are just words from someone else!
I was not talking about training yourself to shrug off any hurt - I think its important to understand and recognise why you feel hurt and learn to deal with that - certainly not 'shrug it off'
I think as adults we have a responsibility to sort out ourselves so we do not in turn create the same problems with our own children. You cannot change other people - you can only change yourself.

Of course, you can always cut problem people from your life if you want or need to - but you have to be mindful that whatever issues you had with them are still there inside you.

daisychain01 Thu 05-Sep-13 12:38:48

I concur with davsmum advice. Very sound!. Also it is a good idea to have some independent counselling, which might include cognitive behavioural therapy. CBT is great for recasting one's perceptions of situations and enabling you to handle relationships so that they don't damage you. It gives you choices and makes you feel empowered because you don't have to be the victim of someone else's behaviour eg being left feeling like crap when you come off the phone.

The interesting thing I found was that a change in one's interactions with the person by being strong, assertive not aggressive, being prepared to stand your ground can really drive them to be more respectful towards you. They notice the change and it makes them have to alter. I am talking from personal experience. I will admit, for one relationship I was struggling with, it worked very well, but for another the relationship did still fall apart, but that was because the other person decided they wanted no more and chose to walk away. I don't feel bitterness for that, it was actually the right thing to do, in retrospect.

The nett effect can be that you preserve the relationship rather than closing the door on it.

I still maintain that there are alternatives to closing off a parent from your life. It could involve a lit of regret later, but then each relationship is individual At least its worth a try, surely.

daisychain01 Thu 05-Sep-13 12:47:34

Agentzigzag saying most children are brainwashed is extreme. But maybe it reflects your own experience. I don't see educating, guiding, nurturing children as brainwashing. My DS formed opinions of his own from a young age which we have discussed over many a teatime and those views have been a blend of his own thoughts as well as from sources including his family. Apologies if its off topic, but I was taken aback when I read that!

Davsmum Thu 05-Sep-13 15:42:48

I get what Agentzigzag meant by 'brainwash' Its not really brainwashing in the extreme sense but whether we are aware of it or not, some opinions or views of our parents are pushed onto us and we do the same to our children. Even if we encourage them to have their own views - I think they can sense our 'disapproval' or 'disappointment'

Of course as we grow and become independent we will change our views but I think often some of what we learn from our parents stays in a 'brainwashed' type of way. Perhaps 'conditioning' is a way of saying it?

stopthebusiwanttogetoff Thu 05-Sep-13 20:20:42

Thank you again for comments and feedback - it has comforted me to know that opinions are split, I am not alone in being suspicious of my day's behaviour and card/note. This is huge to me. I don't know how to describe his control over me - I am acutely aware of his disapproval, and become jumpy and accident prone when he is around, I am keen to tell him of achievements but they are never good enough - my pride is always followed by a fall. I recognised how unhealthy this was, and following my wedding when he did not attend, did not speak to him for about five years. When I became pregnant I got in touch, and we stayed in touch. He demands the lengthy weekly phonecalls, and if I say I need to go and hang up (pointedly after saying it five times, but not rudely) he calls back incessantly letting it ring through until I answer. Then he acts like it never happened and keeps talking. My kids have eight grandparents (thanks to divorce and adoption), seven aunts/uncles, and a bunch of cousins, if we spoke to them all for an hour a week, plus school/work/homework/clubs/play dates, I would never have quiet time with my kids. This is an example of my poor time management and selfishness apparently.

Anyway, thanks all for the food for thought. CBT is worth considering, as is a return to counselling, as is simply trying to be firmer and more thick skinned. Cutting him off will make him more determined to drive a wedge between my kids and I (as he did between me and my sis and our mum in our teens), and that is the last thing I want. Feeling more clarity and strength from your words, now to make a plan to make contact... Might wait a week!

ChasedByBees Thu 05-Sep-13 20:29:54

That phone thing is really weird. Really really weird. It seems designed to say what he wants is far more important than what you want/need.

He will not have any power when it comes to coming between you and your children. As a parent, it would have been hard for your mum as he is meant to be equal in a sense. He's now one generation removed. None of you have to see him if you decide that.

You could improve your time management skills if he feels you have such a problem - tell him you only have 20 minute to speak as you have to go out / whatever. Draw the conversation to a close at around 17 minutes and if he's not ending at 20 minute - "right I really do have to go, speak soon!" Hang up and unplug the phone. He should not dictate when and for how long you have to speak.

Do you think he would describe that as selfish? (It's not BTW)

AgentZigzag Fri 06-Sep-13 18:18:59

I've just had a look at the difference between brainwashing and conditioning, and it's subtle grin

Brainwashing is an about turn in the way the person thought before, I suppose I was using that word because I was talking about the negative side of manipulation when someone's brought up a child and still using the same techniques to control them as an adult.

I agree that how you were treated as a child isn't an excuse for crappy behaviour as an adult, but because it's the same person (both being treated like that and the person doing it) it's hard to tease them apart.

Also agree the phone thing is weird. If you think about a phone call, you can put the phone down at any time, so being compelled to keep talking when you're feeling so uncomfortable means something must be going on. And I don't see it as a weakness not to have found the recipe for fending them off.

What's stopped you from saying you're going and then switching it off/ignoring it OP?

The fact he's left you feeling you're the one who's selfish just shows how effective these techniques are, and how practiced they are in them.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Fri 06-Sep-13 21:03:40

The phone thing is bullying. Don't give in. Follow ChasedByBees's advice. Tell him you have 15 or 20 minutes and then you will have to go, at that time say goodbye and hang up, then immediately unplug the phone. You may have to leave it that way for an hour or two depending on how persistent he is. Also put your mobile on silent so that if he rings that, you don't have to listen to it but can see that it's him ringing and no-one else.

If/when he challenges you about this, do broken record and repeat that you had said to him you would need to go after 20 mins. If he starts down the 'you are selfish' route, tell him you are not interested in personal criticism and you will be leaving/hanging up if he can't be pleasant. And do it.

I'm aware it's all easier said than done. But it can be done. You might actually feel quite exhilarated to see that you can do this, you can take the power back.

stopthebusiwanttogetoff Wed 11-Sep-13 22:46:23

God sorry I only just saw these replies. I have been thinking about all the stuff going on with dh and I (newly separated) and hadn't seen. My emotions are a joke right now - basket case doesn't come close.

Thanks so much, so nice to have some concrete ideas to try to improve my relationship with my dad, and enable a relationship between him and the dcs without me going nuts.

I haven't had the energy to contact him yet but I will, I feel guilty about having ignored him for so long, but I really ain't in a good place right now.

Anyway, thanks and sorry.

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