To ask you for your thoughts about my relationship with DF(8 Posts)
The catalyst for this question is that DF has invited us away for the weekend. DD16 doesn't want to go. I'm not sure what to do.
As background,and I'm sorry this will be long, DF was a loving, fun dad when I was little. DM moved out when I was 11 and my dad worked all day and came home to make dinner every night. I know it was hard for him.
DF remarried when I was 15. From the beginning, his wife ruled the roost. Her family (she had 5 children, the youngest my age) always came first. We pretty much never saw him alone after he married. His relationships with all of his family suffered, as my SM set the priorities in their marriage. My dad went along with it, as I think he was afraid to have another failed marriage. DB and I were treated unfairly. When DB was 16 SM caught him smoking pot and insisted that DF kick him out of the house. He had got the pot from her (older) children, who were growing it on the roof, and of course, smoking it too. Nothing happened to them--they continued to live with DF and SM even though they were 18 and 19. DB had to move to DM's in the middle of the school year. He was devastated. I know DF felt terrible about it, but still he went along with it, making all sorts of ridiculous excuses about how it was a reasonable decision. DF also changed his mind about paying for my university education, at his wife's insistence, while taking her on overseas trips, buying her expensive jewelry, paying for her son's Hawaiian honeymoon etc. And there was lots more--I could go on for days about the unequal treatment and unkindness.
Over the years, DF became more comfortable with his choices, going along with SM's view that they both were excellent parents and deserved deferential treatment. He phoned me once a year on my birthday, but otherwise I was expected to do the calling. I'd be criticized for not calling enough, but when I did call, it often seemed as if he couldn't wait to get off the phone with me (esp. if SM was lurking in the background). I saw them only a few times a year, including after my DC were born, because 1) I didn't particularly enjoy seeing them,2) SM would make us jump through hoops before agreeing to anything, and 3)in her view her grandchildren were more important and superior to mine and I didn't want my dc to spend much time with someone who thought that way.
SM died a few years ago. DF is now 80. He is lonely and has shown a lot more interest in his own family (he actually phones me sometimes), although he's not openly expressed regret for any past behavior. He's spends a great deal of time with one his step sons, who has been very good to him, but DF has done almost nothing to create his own life since losing his wife. She controlled every aspect of his life, except his career and he's now a bit lost.
I feel sorry for him and see him about once a month. It's really an obligation rather than something I enjoy. I was hoping we would be able to resurrect something of our old relationship and I thought it would be good for the dc to get to know him, hear old family stories etc.. He can be good company and he has been generous to us lately (I think trying to make up for past wrongs), but he also complains about the same stuff repeatedly, some of it politically incorrect. He seems to expect a certain amount of special treatment because he's older and the patriarch (that's how he's treated by SM's family).
As far as the invitation, his wife's family own a cabin in the mountains and he's invited us for a weekend. His stepson will be away for the next few weeks, so DF has time on his hands. When I told DD16, she said she didn't want to go, that she didn't like spending time with my DF, that he's stuffy and full of himself and she doesn't agree with his views. She said "he hardly saw us for 12 years and now he's comes for lunch once a month. You can't do that." She's absolutely right and I don't want to make her go, although I'm not sure what I'd do with her if the rest of us go. Her comments though, have made me question my own feelings of obligation and also whether my kids are really getting anything out of having contact with DF. The immediate problem, is what to do about his invitation--I know he'd be very happy if we went, it might be kind of fun, but I'm not too excited about spending a whole weekend with him. The bigger issue is that I'm also not sure how much I really owe my dad at this stage and how to balance my desire to not see him a whole lot and just enjoy my own life, with his need for companionship/connection. I'm seem to spend so much time feeling either guilty or resentful.
Thanks for reading all this. Basically I'd like to know how you'd feel if you were in my shoes, and what would you do?
You don't owe him anything but he's 80 and making more of an effort than he ever did which you seem to appreciate.
Can your daughter stay home or with friends? 16 is old enough to say no imo.
Not much help but didn't want to read and run. I agree with Jay - you owe him nothing, and it seems unlikely that df will suddenly admit to past bad decisions, apart from anything else he would have to admit things to himself.
Do whatever you want to do, but Dr (who sounds lovely and very mature ) should be considered. If she could stay with friends that might be best. X
Is there anyway you could talk about how hurt you were regarding your past treatment?
If you can't do that then I think you will continue to have a strained, uncomfortable future relationship.
I don't think you have much to lose by telling him how his actions made you feel.
He treat you pretty appallingly and imo he deserves to know it.
I think if DD stayed with friends and you go with your DF. Then discuss everything you've said here. Then see what happens next.
I agree with redshoe, DD should stay at home or with friends and if your dad asks then you should be honest with him as to why. His reaction will set the tone to show whether he'd even listen if you talked to him.
Thank you all, for your thoughtful and helpful responses. I am definitely not going to make DD go.
Your DD sounds great
I think you would regret not spending this time with your dad. A lot you have written rings true for me, too.
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