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Parents - why have they done this again?

(26 Posts)
kando Wed 29-Jun-11 22:45:26

My folks live in the north of Scotland, I'm on the South Coast. They were at a reunion down south for the weekend and then went to visit my dsis for a couple of days - she lives an hour and a half away from me. They didn't come to visit me and my 3 dcs.

This is the second time they have done this. I plucked up the courage to confront my dad when it happened last year to ask him if something had happened to make him decide not to visit (I feel uncomfortable with confrontation). He said it was because my dh "made him feel uncomfortable". When I asked what he meant, he couldn't explain properly, just saying that last time they visited - over 4 years ago- the atmosphere changed when DH came home from work (DH didn't behave any differently when they were here to the way he does normally IYSWIM) I truly believe he was making excuses but can't work out why he would do this.

This year, I knew that the reunion was sometime in June and that they planned to visit dsis, and secretly hoped that they were going to pay us a "surprise" visit but they didn't sad.

We visited them earlier this year - as you can imagine I was quite anxious about awkward "atmospheres" between my dh and dad, but we all got on really well (or so I thought!) and had a really nice time with them. And now this.

I've heard nothing from them except for a couple of texts from my mum this week about a sick relative. Should I confront him about this again? Is it wrong of me to think how awful it is to travel 800 miles, visit part of the family but not the other part? I'm really struggling to get my head round this and it's really making me quite angry and upset the more I think about it.

Sorry this is so long - hope it makes sense!

mummyosaurus Wed 29-Jun-11 22:56:52

Just wondering, have you asked your mum?

Can your sister through any light on it?

It sounds pretty horrible. I hope it can be sorted out, wish I knew how.

Ragwort Wed 29-Jun-11 23:00:14

But if you knew they were coming South why didn't you get in touch and invite them to visit you - it sounds a bit passive to 'secretly hope they would make a surprise visit' particularly when you know there have been issues in the past.
Good idea to ask your mother directly - do you feel able to do this?

kando Wed 29-Jun-11 23:11:27

I knew they were coming south, but not because THEY told me. I haven't really spoken to my mum about any of it, but I know from my sister that she wanted to come down to see us last time they were at the reunion. Yes, it is probably passive of me to hope for a "surprise" visit, but it took me a long time and a lot of guts to pluck up the courage to ask my dad WTF was going on. I spent most of the telephone conversation in floods of tears to him.

I suppose if I have to, I know I'll do it again but I really hoped he would think more about seeing his 3 granddaughter (who, until Easter this year, he hadn't seen for 4 years - dd3 was 5 in Feb sad), given that we all got on so well when we went up earlier this year. I guess what I'm really asking is how do I handle it - do I bring it up again or just let it lie? I've invited them down to stay with us, made it more than clear to them that they are welcome any time - I practically begged my dad to come and stay with us but all he said was that "maybe" they would book into a b&b. When I asked him when that would be, he said "we'll have to see, won't we"? (He told me that he wouldn't come and visit unless DH called him (which DH has never done, nor been expected to do (until now) in the nearly 20 years we've been together!) to invite him down. DH did this, and he said "well, I'll think about it."

kando Wed 29-Jun-11 23:13:21

I think my mum would probably just clam up and not say anything about it - she's a bit like me and doesn't like to confront things. I probably would mention it to my mum, but tbh I really don't think she'd answer me, she'd just change the subject.

kando Wed 29-Jun-11 23:18:20

Mummy - my sister(s - I have 2) are at a loss as to understand what the problem might be with DH - they don't see him as being awkward or creating an "atmosphere". I don't want to get my middle dsis (the one they visited) involved as I don't think it's fair to her. She knows how much it upsets me, but I really don't think it should be up to her to bring this up.

Ragwort Wed 29-Jun-11 23:22:25

Does your middle sister have a husband/partner and children? Some people do find it very, very difficult to stay with other people - particularly in a 'busy' family atmosphere.

Unfortunately if none of you have the sort of relationship where you can talk openly about why your parents don't come and stay you are never really going to find out the truth.

It sounds quite unusual that you try to discuss these sorts of things with your father rather than your mother - has he always been the dominant figure in your family?

EightiesChick Wed 29-Jun-11 23:23:50

To be honest, your dad sounds like he's not going to shift on this, given that your DH graciously did what was asked and he still wouldn't agree to visit. Sounds to me like he is enjoying holding this over you.

Can you ask your sister about it? Are you and she on good terms? You say she wanted to come and see you last time your parents were down - so why didn't they? Do you think your dad refused?

Is this actually, then, about your dad needing everyone to run around after him and do things his way, and he is withholding visits to push you on this point? Don't know if that fits with how he's been in the past, so I may be getting ahead of myself here. But this all sounds very off on his part. My parents also live away from me (though not that far away) and would never leave it for longer than a few months in seeing my DS.

EightiesChick Wed 29-Jun-11 23:26:33

Just reading your latest posts, OP - if no one else sees the problem with your DH (and you're fairly sure they're not just lying to spare your feelings) then it seems much more likely that the problem is actually with your dad.

Have you asked your middle sister specifically about why they didn't come over last time, then? Did she say that your dad had mentioned your DH again as the issue?

kando Thu 30-Jun-11 08:27:42

Dsis has partner and a baby, yes. She is none the wiser as to why they didn't come and see me, and I suspect it wasn't even talked about - my dsis and I are close and we have spoken about this, but it was very much up to me to sort it out and she didn't want to get involved (quite rightly too - she listened to me moaning about the situation without me actually doing anything about it until last year).

I do believe that this is my dad's making - my mum wasn't even mentioned in the conversation we had about this last year, it was all about him and the way DH made him feel. My mum would just close up and not talk about the situation, or any "tricky" situation within the family - she's always been like this. I do wonder if she is a bit scared to offer a different opinion to my dad's. (EG dsis (both of them) said my mum was gutted that they didn't come to visit last year, and it was because my dad wouldn't come down). Something he mentioned to me in our conversation last year was that he said dh was a "control freak". He asked dh to phone him, which he did. My dad then told him that if he did come down, he and my dad HAD to go to the pub, and it wasn't to be a "nice" pub, it was to be a "dive" (his exact words). No idea what he is trying to do there!

As far as I know, my dad has only told me that he has this problem with dh, so it came as news to both my sisters when I told them this was the problem - they were both a bit surprised. There was certainly no atmosphere between them when we visited a few months ago, so I guess this is why I was so disappointed that they didn't come down to see us.

I'm just not sure where to go from here. I want them to know how upset I am about this, and I want to try to understand why they've done it again, when he knows how upset I was last time. I know if I do bring it up in conversation I will end up blubbing down the phone like a baby and spend hours agonising about it (before and after the conversation) whereas I don't think he'll give it much thought afterwards. I want to be able to just let it lie, because a part of me is thinking, like you eightieschick, he's probably enjoying the "power" he's got over me on this subject, maybe that's why he's doing it. Aaargh, it's really getting me down sad

I think your dad is enjoying dicking you around, and the only way to deal with it is to ignore it. He is seeing how many hoops he can make you jump through, and I bet he has always been this way (hence you being so timid around him and reluctant to call him on his behaviour).

mummytime Thu 30-Jun-11 09:22:52

I think you have to tell your father again how upset this is making you. I would also tell your sisters, and your mother. I wouldn't allow this to be some guilty secret locked away. Ask them about your visit to them. Ask your sisters how he interacts with their husbands, ask their partners about him.
Also think yourself, why are you so reluctant to bring this all out into the open?

EightiesChick Thu 30-Jun-11 09:35:38

Very good points from springchicken and mummytime.

I find it very telling that your father called your DH a 'control freak'. So many times people's criticisms of others are exactly the things they know themselves to be guilty of. Gives the game away rather... Plus the pub comments - another hoop to jump through, yes. And you can bet that nothing will ever be enough for him. If your DH took him to the right sort of pub, there will then be another demand request made.

I think there is good advice above to follow, namely:

- Don't go along with your father in not discussing this openly. In doing that you are tacitly agreeing with the implication that it is you/your DH who have done something wrong here, when it is your father behaving oddly and unreasonably. Call him on it.

- Ignore him. This rather contradicts point 1 above, but you could always try 1 then 2. He is clearly getting off on all the upset he causes, so cut that off from him, either now or after you've discussed it openly. Your DC are doing fine without him anyway and are probably better off not seeing him if he plays these emotional games.

Have you considered inviting your mother down to stay on her own? It doesn't sound as if she would agree, but it might give your father something to think about - and be a signal to him that he's not actually the centre of the universe. I would prepare for her to decline, but you would leave her to think it over and maybe next year, or when she's ready, she might start to change her mind.

mummyosaurus Thu 30-Jun-11 09:47:39

I think it's very thoughtful of you not to want to drag your sister into it.

However, if I was your sister, I'd want to help be interfering already, even if it was mostly as a shoulder to cry on.

I think you've got to try with your mum. Even if she does clam up, at least she knows how you are feeling and might slowly be able to work on you dad.

Miggsie Thu 30-Jun-11 09:56:07

It sounds like you have strange family dynamic here, it sounds like this is all down to your dad, I suspect that he doesn't like your DH because your DH doesn't pander to him? The fact your mum won't discuss it is very telling, is she in denial or frightened of your dad?
You should not be in tears begging your father to visit, that is just plain wrong (not that you are wrong ot be upset, but that any father would put his duaghter in that position in the first place), and it sounds like your dad likes to control people and is doing all this just to exert power over you. I suspect he can dominate your sister and her partner and your DH perhaps does not let him do this?

Other than asking you mum to come on her own I do not think this will change as your Dad sounds a nightmare and people like that don't give in, as they have to be right, and to be seen to be in control all the time. He does not actually sound a very nice person for your DCs to interact with either.

Smum99 Thu 30-Jun-11 09:58:43

I just wonder if your dad feels intimidated by your DH and maybe they aren't on the same wavelength. I do think your dad has the responsibility here however - as he should be delighted that his daughter has someone she is happy with and just accept that he and your DH wont be 'best' friends.
Does your dad get on with your sister's partner? Go to the pub etc?

Sadly I'm not sure you can do much as you can't make your parents have a relationship with you. Maybe an appeal to your mum or sister. I don't share your sister's view that she doesn't have a role here, your dad is only able to side line you if the other family members allow it to happen. An example she could have organised a family event when they were with her and made sure you were invited.

I do think the solution here is the rest of your family - you and your dad can't resolve it (despite your very best efforts) so the family needs to step in.

SunshineAndBlueSkies Thu 30-Jun-11 09:59:43

I agree a strange family dynamic.
I also agree that it would be better if you were open about it, discussed it with your sisters and your mum and did not let your dad have his control over the situation.
Can you visit Dsis while your mum and dad are there too?

Dozer Thu 30-Jun-11 10:05:03

Agree with the others that your dad seems to be the problem. Even if your dh had done something wrong, which it doesn't sound like he did, that's no excuse for them never visiting again!

Think you need to be a lot more assertive (not aggressive, but assertive in stating how you feel about what's happened, what you would like in future etc) with your whole family, including your mother and the sister they visited. They all seem to be complicit in your parents' poor treatment of you and your family.

Expect that your dad would react badly to this and that everyone else would blame you for "making a fuss". That would not, though, mean you were in the wrong. At present you are soaking up all the stress and hurt and not allowed to ask for change, which isn't right.

kando Thu 30-Jun-11 18:43:34

SCGB - I think you've hit the nail on the head there. He has always been like this. I do feel I have to jump through hoops to please him, and I don't even know why I feel I have to please him! He's the same with my sisters too, although less so with dsis2 as she lives in the same town as them and sees them daily.

EightiesChick - you may also be right there. Perhaps he's done it again this time because he wants to see how far he can push me, maybe he wants me to bring this up again so he can place more demands on me/dh. My mum has come down on her own before (ie without my dad, but with my sister, so not "on her own" iyswim). I haven't directly asked her to come down on her own recently, probably because I know she just wont do it, the same as I know they will never come down to our house at Christmas time, despite me asking them in February, thereby giving them plenty of time to save up! And to be honest, I don't think it would make him change the way he thinks - his reaction would be "oh, kando has invited [mum] down to stay, but she hasn't asked if I want to come." In my desperation to get them to come to me (how sad does that sound?) I even suggested my dad visited when dh was away for 2 weeks with work - he still said no! I think it's a no-win situation for me really.

Dozer - I've never thought of it that way, but your post really strikes a cord with me. My dsis1 and I are close, and she knows how upset I am and have been about this, and I have talked to her a lot about it, but she doesn't/hasn't brought it up with my mum/dad/dsis2 as far as I know (although I haven't actually asked her if she has!) She came to visit me, as she does regularly, just before my mum & dad visited her and I got a bit upset about it, she gave me support then but is at a loss to suggest how to resolve the issue. I suspect I'd get the same from my other sis.

I think I know deep down that this problem will never go away. But I want to know in myself that I've done everything I can to try and salvage some sort of relationship between my dds and their grandparents - when we visited them, my folks seemed so happy to see them, I suppose I just can't understand why they don't want to see them more often - but maybe having a daily relationship with 2 of their 6 grandchildren is enough for them. sad

Fairenuff Thu 30-Jun-11 19:47:25

I bet your Mum is really missing her gc though. It does sound as if your Dad is managing to control the whole family.

How often do you speak with your Mum on the phone? If you called her often and chatted just about what you've been up too, the children, her life, etc. you may be able to build a better relationship with her.

Eventually, she may be tempted to visit on her own again.

If your Dad starts to feel 'left out' it might force him to have more contact with you, if that's what you want, but don't let him be cruel to you on the phone or control everyone's actions.

Easier said than done, I realise, but what I am trying to say is forget about him for now and concentrate on the rest of your family. If he wants to be in your life, he needs to change.

kando Fri 01-Jul-11 18:35:09

Well I spoke to my mum last night. We chatted a bit at first then I asked if they had any plans to come and visit us soon. Much was said about not having leave left (she works, my dad looks after my dnieces whilst dsis & her dh are at work) and how much it costs to come down. I then told her how upset I was that she/they didn't come down and see me & my girls when they were so close. Again, she went on and on about the cost and how much leave she has/doesn't have. [Earlier in the conversation she was telling me how they were going to the Maldives in August for only £1,500.] The conversation went on a bit further, she could tell I was upset (not only because I told her how upset I was, and gave her examples of similar situations which she herself has been in) but by my voice (I was very pleased that I managed to stop myself from being reduced to a blubbing wreck like I was last year when I spoke to my dad about this) Apparently when she stops working it won't be a problem and we will see them much more often. Well, that's only about 3 years to wait then.

i was talking about this to a friend today and it suddenly dawned on me that they see the "reunion" people more often than they see me, dh and my dcs. These are people from my dad's forces days. He left the forces in 1973 and never kept in touch with any of these people until about 4 years ago, when the reunions started. That made me feel very sad.

Anyway. I feel better that it's kind of out in the open, although I'm not sure my mum and dad will discuss it as such. At least I've told them/her how I feel about it, even though I got a bit of a crap response from her! (But then again, what did I expect her to say? I was aware that all the excuses she was giving me were about her, and I did say to her "why can't you just admit that it's all dad?" but she talked over the top of me!

I called my sister afterwards, the one who lives closer to me, and had a chat with her about it, asked how they were with her and her dp, and whether they mentioned me/dh/our visit. Apparently, they were raving about how great dh was, he was a changed person and they had a great time with us all. My dsis said to them "no, he's the same as he always was, that is the way he is"!

I'm going to save this thread somewhere so I can revisit it every now and again, in case this happens again. Should this happen again, there will be fireworks. There will be a lot of anger on my part and there will certainly be swearwords issued. But I'll cross that bridge if I come to it (fingers crossed i won't).

Thanks for all the advice, and making me see that my dad is enjoying having this "hold" over me, and that he can't be allowed to treat me this way. I'm going to make sure he treats me like the grown up woman I am, and if he doesn't like it, well then that's his tough luck - he'll have put up with it like I've had to!

kando Fri 01-Jul-11 18:35:29

[Apologies for prattling on for so long!]

mummytime Sat 02-Jul-11 07:56:14

Well done, and good luck! At least you've got a great sister.

BTW the last time my FIL visited us, we weren't sure he'd had a good time, until we talked to his sister (DH's Aunt) who told us he'd raved about it. He hadn't even really thanked us. We just wrote it off to experience.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 02-Jul-11 08:07:02

Think your Dad is a nasty piece of work. This is about power and control; he's calling all the shots here.

I therefore think this will happen again as well. I also do not think you'll see them any more often when your mother gives up work in three years time.

He likes having this power over you (he realises that you are uncomfortable with confrontation) and your mother is complicit in all this as well.

Yes, your dad is definitely getting his kicks out of bullying you like this. I think once you have realised what is going on it becomes a little easier to cope with, because now you know that this is not your fault. I would suggest that you don't ask your parents to visit you ever again, just stop asking. And when your mother eventually cracks, just say 'Well you never seem to want to.' and leave it with her. That might change the dynamic.

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