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Please help me understand my Dad's behavior

(14 Posts)
Achange Fri 17-Jun-11 15:21:36

I have always had a rollercoaster of a realtionship with my dad.

Growing up he was a very different man- fun, outgoing with a really love of life and a sense of adventure. He was always the 'fun' dad and I doted on him.

Then things changed a lot. He got more and more senior at work. I turned into a teenager. Our realtionship was dreadful. He was cold and distant, rude,arrogant and dismissive. Very controlling and neglectful in many ways.

I would go as far as too say he was EA towards my mother and I (i.e calling me fat, telling me I should be like other girls, being pleased when things went wrong etc). But not so bad towards my siblings.

My mother couldnt take his new persona anymore and divorced him. I moved out.

That is when he changed again. He suddenly couldnt do enough for me, become very supportive and full of praise. He always wanted to be with me and dc and was one of the few around to help when we had a crisis.

However he was obsessed and bitter over my mother leaving him. He would talk for hours and hours about all her wrongs as well as all the problems I was going through (quite painful ones). Intially I didnt mind as he seemed so lonely ....but after four years of hearing the same things I couldnt take it anymore.

I felt hearing him talking about the same negative things over and over again in detail to stressful. The whole family went through a period of huge problems but there comes a point where you cant keep being reminded of this all the time and want to move on.

In the end DH even stepped in and asked him to stop talking about distressing things. He cant seem to stop. He cant seem to talk to me about ANYTHING but morbid things. He will just sit in silence.

What irriates me also is he has never helped me with money at all (he is very wealthy). Fair enough I have thought all this time- until I found out recently he gives money to my siblings all the time. It doesnt make sense- he watched dc and I starve at one point yet funds their mobile phone bills etc.

Its not really about the money- its about the fact he doesnt seem to dump his issues on them, but helps them. He constantly praises me still and says he is very proud but speaks quite badly of my siblings behind their back.

Also for a short time last year we had to move back in with him. His behaviour totally reveretd back to the cold,controlling man he was. My DH was shocked and very distressed by it all.

What I want to understand is why is does his behaviour change so much- if I live under his roof he treats me like rubbish,but is full of compliments and pride when I dont?

Why does he not respect the fact I dont want to talk about past issues anymore? Why does he only talk to me about such painful negative things?

Why Im the only one he uses as like a "counselling service"?

What is going on?

Achange Fri 17-Jun-11 15:24:51

Sorry forgot to say name changed for such a personal post

corriefan Fri 17-Jun-11 19:41:21

Maybe he sees you as the capable sensible one. He wants you to see his point of view because to him you are a voice of reason, maybe? My mum confides in me and tells me her troubles and when I was younger I pleased myself eg with coming and going in the house, homework, while she spent her time worrying about my mentally ill brother, naughty demanding younger sister and older resentful step- siblings. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, your siblings probably demanded more where you maybe never did? You have to let it go over your head if you can. It's not easy when a patent treats you like their caree.

corriefan Fri 17-Jun-11 19:42:15

Parent .... Carer

barbiegrows Fri 17-Jun-11 19:56:18

I think he has a personality disorder of some kind, possibly narcissistic personality disorder. This is something that you're not born with, it develops over time. Sad to say, what he does is probably never about you, always about him. He withholds money because he wants to see you squirm, he talks endlessly to you because it makes him feel better. He doesn't even know he's doing it, but he does it because it feels right for him.

Sometimes when peoples children reach a certain age it reminds them of a difficult time when they themelves were that age. So it is possible that explains his change of persona when you were getting into your teens. I think it's called transference. So he's destabilised through you growing up, your parents split up, Dad never dealt with his Issue, and you are the scapegoat, taking the burden of his personal pain.

Stay close to your DH, he sounds like he can see through this behaviour and is going to take care of you. I'm sure you can be strong together.

Achange Fri 17-Jun-11 19:56:44

Thank you for your reply!

I think your right he see's me as the sensible one.

I would not mind him confiding occasionally about neutral things.

However its what he talks about that upsets me- constant "your mother is a whore and mentally ill" type things. My dm did go through a strange period of doing awful things, but she is trying her best to rebuild damage she has done and at the end of the day she is my mother.

He also keeps bringing up my ex who was the most damaging person and I hate talking about him and want to move on.

I feel he is not respecting my wishes that I cannot keep hearing stressful things. I had a bit of a breakdown with all the stress and am recovering and just want to move onto a positive life.

I feel I am avoiding him because everytime I see him he just drains me again.If I refuse to talk about problems he sits in silence.

Im beginning to question if he really cares about my wellbeing at all.

Achange Fri 17-Jun-11 20:02:50

Sorry Barbie cross posts.

My mother does think he has NPD-he has a lot of the signs. However he only seems to display the signs if you are under some control of him- such as when we moved back in for a bit last year.

Then we leave and he is nice as pie again. So I dont get it! Which is the real him? Why such different sides to him?

corriefan Fri 17-Jun-11 20:02:54

He sounds like he is very self-absorbed and most likely depressed, maybe a bit manic. Don't feel bad about putting him off to keep your own emotional stability, gently say how sad you are you won't be able to see him as you are doing xyz. Then every few months steel yourself to let him have a mega moan? Or does he just pop in? Has he ever had his mental health assessed?

Achange Fri 17-Jun-11 20:07:06

I having being putting of seeing him for the past few weeks- I do feel guilty but Im pregnant and baby has to come first- not him.

He did go through a stage of popping in but I made it clear it was not acceptable which he now follows.

Its so hard- I went from best father,to no father,to good father to feeling like I want to avoid him now. I wish I could just have a normal realtionship with him.

garlicnutter Fri 17-Jun-11 20:18:42

That's very typical NPD, Achange. There's a constant pull-me/push-you thing going on. The important factor to remember is that these changes have NOTHING to do with who you are or what you're worth, it is ALL about power.

When you're in his house, he's got you under control in his eyes, and feels free to be the real him. Outside, he feels he has to put in some work to keep you on the string.

It always puts me in mind of fishing! Imagine what the fish would say: "When we're swimming around, he's lovely and brings us nice things to eat, pretty things to play with and we get on really well. But if we take his bait, oh the pain! He must hate us to do that to us! But, if he hates us, why does he dangle more bait when we swim away, and wait so patiently for us to come back?"

Your poor mum spent her entire marriage thrashing on the riverbank with a vicious hook in her throat (metaphorically speaking). You're more like the confused little fish; no offence grin

It looks as though he's labelled you as his substitute for a partner, in the sense of someone to impose his miserable world-views on. I'd just stop listening if I were you; you will certainly never be able to change his conviction that he's right and every other bugger in the universe is wrong. Have your sibs completely bought the 'nice guy' routine? Or are they, more cleverly, swimming back & forth as it were, to ensure he keeps dangling his bait?

If you need financial support from him, you might be able to get some by playing the "fish game". Not guaranteed - he might just get cross that you're stepping out of your role as his emotional dustbin - but there's little to lose tbh.

Diggs Fri 17-Jun-11 20:18:59

I too would suspect Npd .
If he is you will sadly be nothing more than a charecter in his script . The role your charecter should play will fluctuate depending on what script hes made . Either way , i think it more important you focus on how your going to handle this instead of whats causing it .

Is it possible to discuss this with him or will he rage ?

Achange Fri 17-Jun-11 20:32:32

Part of me just feels sick tbh.

Years of him making me feel worthless, I guess I felt quite pleased when he finally treated me well.

But now the fact he wont respect the boundries I want to put in place about not repeating old stressful conversations I wonder If I am nothing more than a pawn in a game?

Perhaps it suited him when my DM was acting badly as we had no real realtionship for a couple of years meaning I was prepared to listen to him badmouth her, so he was 'winning' somehow?

Another thing he does is constantly phones my grandfather- my Dm father not his own to discuss my DM negativley. It is now at the point grandfather wont speak to DM. Very sad.

I know a lot of DM family are very angry at him for this especially as grandafather has had a stroke and is greiving my grandmother right now so I think the stress for him is worse than me.

I feel like the scales (apt if I am the fish garlicnutter) are falling a bit by bit from my eyes....

barbiegrows Fri 17-Jun-11 20:52:08

<bows to the wise words of garlicnutter>

Achange - sounds like there is a lot of reshuffling going on in your family right now. New generation coming in, taking over from the old. A good time to set some boundaries about how you want this new family to be.

He's probably said something poisonous to grandfather - or perhaps he's threatened him? It would take something pretty extreme to get between a father and his own daughter, surely.

Achange Fri 17-Jun-11 20:59:38


Your right about "how you want this new family to be."

DH and I both had crappy parents and are just desperate for the cosy and close family we see some others as having.

Although my father conflicts with this, I know I can't not have my own father around at all but he is hard work.

I think what he has done with the grandfather is ring on a nearly daily basis to tell him how awful DM is and at the worst time as grandfather is very vunreable in his grief.

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