Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Should I speak to my Dad about our relationship, can I make it better or will I make it worse?(38 Posts)
I have an on-going issue with my Dad and coul use some perspective. Sometimes things get blown up in your own head into bigger issues than they should be. I don't know how to approach the situation to make it better and make it what i'd like it to be.
so, a bit of background.
When I was young I had a stable family unit of me, brother, sister, mum and dad. Extended family was only really mum's parents and an aunt & family on mum's side. Dad's parents died when we were little and he wasn't close to his brother, although we saw him on occassion.
My mum died 8 years ago when I was 24. I was already married and living with my dh. A year later I had dd. Then in 2007 had ds.
My dad met his now wife under a year after mum died. I had no issue with this as such, obv it was very quick and for us (the dc) it was quite hard, but we all told Dad we were happy for him, told him yes it was quite quick for us but that was fine. I told him that I know it's quick for us but I appreciate from his pov losing mum was an entirely different scenario. He spent the winter months being quite dependant on my going round for dinnner, calling etc, which was fine, but I could see he was lonely, very very lonely and very unhappy. My brother was 17 when mum died and that year went on to complete his A-levels and just after Dad met hiw now wife (i'll call her sm for ease) went off to Uni, this was always his plan and I believe that Dad would have dreaded this. Being alone in our family home and not having anyone there everyday.
So it was hard but we all understood why it was quick.
I should point out too that SM has 2 children herself. So there are 5 children between SM and Dad.
That year I also had dd. I met the SM when I was heavily pg, so she always knew that with dad came 3 dc and gc.
They have never shown much interest in my dc, which I have grown to accept as just one of those things.
However, a few weeks ago Dad & sm offered to take my dc out for the day, I was shocked and pleased and wondered why, all of a sudden they offered? But I took it at face value, said yes and they all had fun.
The morning they had them for the day SM told me some news. Her dd is pg. Fantastic news! However, dh says that this is why they choose to take our dc out all of a sudden. He is convinced Dad/SM will be much more involved with this gc once it arrives and that I will become very angry that Dad has never bothered too much with my dc. Which if this comes true I will be cross, and I think justifiably.
Theres so much I could write about explaining the different ways I feel Dads dc are treated differently to SMs dc, particularly her dd, but I dont want to write an epic op
The latest niggle for me, is that SMs dd & her dh moved house last Friday and I spoke to Dad thurs and her told me they were helping them move. Which is fine, but as I said to him I wouldve loved a bit of help when I moved but they never even mentioned it!! At the time it didnt occur to me, but I have always grown up being taught that we are treated equally, me, sis & bro. Now it feels very much in favour of Sms dc.
My question really is how do I approach my Dad to discuss this? I would need SM to be there too so she knows how I feel. I need to do something because I have tried to leave it, to see if it naturally sorts itself out but I think sm's dd now being pg is going to bring things to a head and I would rather do it calmly than get so upset it all comes tumbling out. I have thought about writing to him so that I can say how I feel without being face to face or getting upset and angry.
I truly sometimes feel that since Mum died I have no parents, which is awful. Dad is here, very much here and the old Dad would be devastated to here I refer to him as old Dad and New dad. I appreciate that after Mum dying things had to change, I am glad he has found someone. They go off on holiday and are normally off here and there at weekends, which is fab. I just want him to either (a) see us more or (b) do the same to all of us.
They dont treat us the same. One example being last Christmas. SMs dc there Christmas day/boxing day. My bro and sis the day after boxing day, but me New years day and dont think this was unintentional because I asked if we could come the same day as my bro and sis and was told no!! When I questioned it I was told that with all of us there it was too many people.Now dont get me wrong it is a lot of people, but hardly a squeeze in a large 5 bed detached house!! They now appear to visit me/bro/sis in rotation, so I get one week, sis the next, and bro week after. This isnt a regular thing, so I am not expecting them to take up 3 out 4 weekends every month with us dc, but were talking once or twice in a year that they visit or invite us round. Surely itd be easier and less time consuming to see us all together? Bedlam at the time but all done and over in one week?
Sorry its long and muddled.
Can it be the case that none of this has occurred to your father? You didn't ask for help with moving and it didn't occur to him to offer etc.
SM probably treats her own offspring differently and with more, dare I say it, imagination. Older men can be pretty crap about keeping the wheels of family relations oiled, and nobody has really spelled it out to him or asked for help, made any otehr arrangements.
As far as visiting with your siblings is concerned, that realy is up to them how they do it - they may not relish the thought of a chaotic houseful. I wouldn't either.
I think you are probably just going to have to resolve not to be jealous of SMs DD. Unless you think having it out with your dad will actually make the scales fall from his eyes and make him a reformed character.
Sorry a bit rambly.
well probably, but I wasn't sure whether to say that or not on here (thread the other day put me off!!)
It has been pointed out to my Dad. I was in floods of tears down the phone to him one day about something, said he never saw my dc and when SM's dd had children he'd see them all the time. He said they wouldn't but I don't see it.
I'm not jealous of my step-sis at all. What I don't like is that they (Dad & step-mother) seem to favour her, even over step-brother and I think it's unfair. We should all be treated equally.
Another example of unfairness, when they got married step-sis was bridesmaid, step-brother gave SM away, my bro was usher and my sis signed the register. Me? Well I was shoved in the corner whilst they were all on the top table actually my sis was in the corner with me. My dd on the other hand wasn't even invited at first as they were having a childfree wedding. Nothing against that but 100% honestly my dd was the ONLY child that could possibly have been invited. Now with that issue, I said that I wasn't happy and that if that was their decision fine but I was upset that the ONLY child in the entire family/friends was my dd and how could they exclude her.
anyway that wa a bit of a tangent, but really, I am not jealous of step-sis. I just want my Dad back.
oh and my brother has had a conversation with Dad saying that we (me/bro/sis) aren't happy and that we don't understand how things can change so much between us all.
I have now made my dh promise that if I die before him he will NEVER do this to our dc, he will always put them first.
I appreciate that sounds precious as we are now all adults. I know things have to change, life moves on, but why does life moving on mean I lose a previously wonderful father to be replaced with someone, who I know still cares but doesn't show it
Sorry to keep posting on this on my own but I need to get things out of my head;
Do I really have to just bury my feelings and accept this is how it is?
This is what I have done for the past 7 years. The only time I have mentioned anything is the the move the other day, the wedding issue and when I cried down the phone. Apart from that I have remained tight lipped and accepted that this is what change is and this is how Dad is now and tough for me.
BTW my brother and sister have similar issues with them too.
I don't know what to say to you. But I think that somehow you are going to have to accept that you are probably not going to be able to change the situation and may have to learn to live with it.
My parents separated when I was 10/11. My Dad went to live with OW, who, many years later, became his wife. They had a DC. My sibling and I were never, ever, treated as equal to the Dc he had with OW. Apart from once, when we were very small, we never had a holiday with our dad. His visits were few and far between because she needed him to help with their Dc at weekends ( they lived too far away for visits to be practical during the week). Once our parents separated, we never saw my dad on Christmas Day. I can honestly say that from the day he left, right up to the day he died, I only spent half a day with my dad without OW/DW2 present. The only time I actually had when I could talk to him without her being there, was as he walked me down the aisle when I got married! Even when my dad was dying, she did her best to keep us away although her Dc were present. ( she did not succeed) And on the day of his funeral, we found out that several of their 'close' friends did not realise he even had any daughters!
So, I do understand why it hurts, because I know that as much as I loved him and had a good relationship with him, my dad was not perfect. I know that to a certain extent he allowed the situation to exist where we were treated so unequally compared to his child with OW/DW2. But I also know that had I pushed it, it would probably have led to there being no relationship between us and I did not want that to happen.
All I can say is that yes, it hurts, but I know that many other children of divorced parents lose all contact with their father. I at least had him in my life, if not as much as I would have liked. BUt after certain things said/done by his wife, I have chosen not to maintain any contact with her now that my dad is no longer here.
Sorry not to have any advice for you, but I did want to let you know that there are people who do understand how you feel.
Thank you for your post. I'm sorry to hear what you went through. I have always said that when Dad isn't here we will not see SM. It's not that I don't like her, but she has not shown interest in us at all so why would we?
another funny example of dad/sm, my sister had a chat with SM re her wedding and mentioned Dad giving her away. SM wa overcome with excitment running to tell Dad that my sis had asked him to give her away. WTF, of course he would HE'S HER DAD!!! Then Dad on the phone to me, after I said my dd would be bridesmaid 'well this IS going to be a family affair isn't it' erm YES!!
There's no hope is there
I think I know that really
I will either carry on this charade and have some contact or I fear I will end up mentioning it and causing problems. Which isn't what I want. What I want is for Dad to realise and step up, or as my sister's fiance says 'he needs to grow a pair'
He isnt going to realise on his own.
Was there any admission form him that he was being hopeless when you cried down the phone?
Maybe if you and your siblings all have this issue then it might be worth presenting a united front to him and challenging him on it? Then if still no change you give up?
Perhaps it would be easier to talk to him about how you would like to have a closer relationship with him and suggest ways of making that happen.
If you focus on the unequal treatment he will just hear you telling him he has behaved badly (even if he has) and not listen to how you would like to be close again. You could always broach that subject when you feel closer to him.
I think he does know, but until we all say something he is happy to take the easy route of not upsetting anyone. I get the impression, for several reasons, that SM is the source of alot of what happens, which isn't meant as she is the evil SM, I really don't believe she is. I just think that if we appear happy with her decisions then he is happy to plod along with whatever is decided.
With my Mum and dad, she was very much in charge, as in he didn't much bother to argue unless it really mattered. He is doing the same with SM. Prime example being the wedding. She probably said no dc at the wedding and until I said I wasn't happy he didn't step up. When I did he realised it was wrong. When I told my brother and sister they were astonished that he even needed to mention it.
When I cried, he just said yes I know I don't see them/you as much as i'd like and it was because of circumstances. Which is true to an extent. and I will be fair to him I think he is trying and I put the taking my dc out for the day down to him trying more, and the fact that men aren't particularly happy with having to deal with babies (massive generalisation I know, but I know Dad would prefer older children) and the fact that this is the first year they could take both dc out and both are toilet trained, better with food etc etc, ie easier to deal with, which is fair enough. He also said that he didn't particularly like step-sis (she is quite the Princess/drama queen at times) and that if they did see her dc more than mine it would not be his wish.
I did also speak to Dad as my sis was upset that she thought he forgot her bday and didn't call her as often as he does me & my Brother (I am the middle child, sis older, brother younger) When I told him she was upset, he confirmed that he had sent her a card/gift (as I thought, her bdya was around a bank hol) and that he didn't call her as often as she is often out and also he doesn't worry about her as much as he does my brother, and he calls me as I am always home!!
I fear a big fallout coming, if I'm honest, because my sis is upset about a wedding issue, which I won't fill the thread with. I don't know whether to try and speak to Dad about that before she has to.
Why am I the go-between?!
x-post plantsitter. Yes this is the reason I posted, I don't want to wade in and up making it worse.
The softly approach is best I think. I just need to work out how.
He is due to drop to a 4 day week soon so this could be my chance? although I am increasing work from 3 to 5 days!
Maybe I need to take the lead and invite them here one sunday? I have tried before but got a negative response. Gotta keep trying
As already mentioned women tend to 'run' families and men tag along.
I think you are missing the dad you would have had if your mum was still here to 'run' things.
Like with moving house - your mum would have helped automatically and therefore your dad would have too. That's what happened with step sis - your dad was automatically involved cause his wife was.
I bet he would have helped you had you asked. It's crap you have to ask but I don't think he's doing it deliberately. for you
I think if anything is going to change you need to be quite direct. Your SM is either deliberately or unconsciously staking a claim on your dad and effectively cutting him off from his "old" life and it's not on. You are still his daughter and for him to just move on is not acceptable.
I get what people are saying about men being useless with these things - my dad is exactly the same and I could see the very same situation arising with him if it happened in our family - but that's just an excuse and not a very good one either. If it were my dad I would sit him down and tell him I was very unhappy with him, that I had lost my mum and that I felt I was losing my dad, and that he had a responsibility as a father to maintain contact with his entire family, not just his "new" one. Then I would lay out very clearly what I expected from him - more visits, more time with the GC, more contact on the phone for your sister. If necessary I would organise these things for him but I wouldn't accept no for an answer. You say you invited them one Sunday and they said no, did you then invite them the next Sunday and the one after that? They both need to see that their behaviour is way out of line but more than that your dad has to stop hiding behind your SM and using her as an excuse for being a useless father and GF. Yes she might be putting him under pressure in subtle ways but he is a grown man. Tell him exactly how it makes you feel and don't pull any punches. Don't mention the SM or his other children as that can easily be thrown back at you, just talk about how things have changed and how you would prefer them to be.
Your hurt is very obvious in your posts. I hope you get this resolved one way or another. Good luck.
It probably doesn't help to say that imo the villain of the piece here is your SM. What a cow.
However, your dad is an adult. Being led around by wifey is not exactly manly is it? It's not on to let her run his life and his priorities. I don't care if he's 80 (which he isn't if he's still working), he still needs to honour his commitments, show his love for you all. I think if you just go along with this it will continue exactly as it is, probably get worse as more gc come along. I do think you have to say something/approach this. a letter might be a good idea - she will read it mind, so careful you don't stray into slagging her or her dc off, however indirectly. Or perhaps all you three dc's could approach him together, as it sounds as though you are all experiencing pretty much the same thing.
Interested to hear that her dd is a bit of a princess. what#s that saying about apples not falling far from the tree?
Why is SM at fault?
Op's dad is taking a delayed interest in op's dc now that step sis is pregnant. Either he or SM has realised that op is going to feel a bit jealous and have at least given it some thought and tried to rectify it.Taking dcs out may even have been all Sm's idea.
I bet her dad just thinks Eddas is more independent and not as 'needy' as step sis
Finally, you are absolutely right, mums do tent to 'just do it' you don't need to ask. One thing we were taught as kids wa that it is rude to ask, wait to be asked. Not about everything, but I do often feel that perhaps things are obvious, like i'm moving perhaps I needed help? But his reaction when I said 'oh your helping them, I could used a hand when I moved but I did it alone as dh went to work' was all 'but but' well you were ok. There's is an assumption I can cope, because on the outside I do.
However, when I rang him in floods of tears one day (i don't do this often btw ) saying dh and I never get a chance to go out, I am really down at the moment could you and SM babysit one evening, any day, not this week but in a week/month then that would really help. I could use something to look forward to. The repsons? I'll chat to SM and i'm sure we'll sort something. Then a day or so later a call to say NO!!
UNfortuately I do think this is SM not Dad, and I am in no way anti SM, I have tried, I really have, but whenever something comes up he talks to her and the response is negative.
A few examples;
I asked to borrow smoe money for 3 months. We needed to install heating in our new house and our mortgage was up for renewal 3 months down the line, but as it was winter and dd was 2 kinda needed it before we could get the money via the mortgage. Dad has always always said to ask him and if he can help he will. Now I know he has the money, as he has said that they were keeping £x for each dc for when they got their first house (I had had mine) I was asking to borrow in effect 1/4 of the money they had put aside. I knew my bro & sis wouldn't need the money before I paid it back as sis was single and Bro was at uni.
So I called and asked Dad, he said, quite rightly, i'll need to pass it by SM. anyway as you can imagine the answer came back no. A range of blah blah excuses came but basically NO. Dad/SM had dinner with my uncle a few days later and SM told him all of this (why? but that's another question altogether) anyhow, as I said in op I have never been close to my uncle as Dad and him never really were close. However my Uncle rang me after deeing Dad/SM and was mortified Dad had said no, said he was sure it was SM not Dad and that he would lend me the money.
Another example, After my call asking for help so we could go out my brother came to visit. He had an envelope from Dad for me. In it was a cheque and letter. The letter said along the lines of 'here's some money that I hope will help you take dc out for a few days over the hols. Please don't tell SM as this is money from my sole account'. Similarly DH recently got a promotion which required a 2nd car. Dad became 'old' Dad for a while, ringing with ideas of how we could get a reliable car and not be too expensive (he knows we struggle for money and that dh's promotion is good for us, but he had a 30mile trip so needed a reliable car) so he comes up with a fab idea, oviously been online finding out about deals etc etc. Great 'old' Dad, yay!! Then he says and if you do this I will give you £800 but you must'nt tell SM.
So 'old' Dad is still there sometimes. Maybe I just need to be clear and not expect him to just 'know'. I just don't feel like I should have to. I feel like i'm always moaning and I don't want to, I do that enough at my dc
One final example, this time for my brother. He had finished uni but didn't have ajob lined up, as is usual. SM says he has to pay £x in rent, which was what step-sis & her bf paid when they lived there (ie 2 people paying what bro was due to pay) so Dad says but don't worry you won't have to pay that much and not til you are working. She was seriosuly going to ask for money from him as soon as his degree was finished, no chance to find a job at all. BTW he did find a job and paid rent for about a month til he could get a flat with his gf and get away from their house.
springy, you're right she would read a letter, but I want that, I want her to know. All of my 'moans' at Dad have been just to him. I genuinely believe she doesn't have a clue how she comes across. When we meet her in person she's lovely. Says all the right things. But that's what it comes across as, just saying what she thinks she should say. We were all adults when she came along. I don't want or expect her to be a mother figure. I have mn and MIL for that!! What I want is to be her friend. I think it's sad that we all think that once Dad isn't around we literally will not see her. she's been married to Dad for 6 years now, and as he's only 63 they could be married for a long while. I bloody hope so, I don't want him to not be here she has been good for him in that he is much healthier now they are together. Before, with MUm, bless her, they were both overweight. Dad now isn't and he go to the gym, eats more healthily etc and that brilliant. They also go out on days walking etc.
ooo, thought of another gem. when I was due to have dd, Dad/SM had arranged to go to Paris for a few days so there I was having lost my mum 11 months ago, due to give birth, scared, as you are, and they go on holiday I really needed him, but what did I do? Was I selfish? no, I said that's ok, you can see dd when you get back
But, I suppose I didn't tell him so how would he have known? But he should've known. He's my dad.
Maybe the way forward is to accept that what has been and done,, is gone. Can't be changed. I don't want to be one of those people raking up the past. I need to tell him in the future, even if I end up the bitch/moany. I have put up with 7 years of this and tried to see if it would sort itself out and it hasn't. Why should I and my brother and sister constantly end up miserable?
ime if you let something like this build and build, in the end there is a massive showdown, you say things you shouldn't say because you've just had it up to here and blurt it all out in the worst possible way. YOu are straining at the seams here OP, you've got to get this out. Better to do it in a measured way now than an explosion later.
I stand by my assertion that she is a cow.
He was probably terrified at how he fell apart when your mum died and goes along with SM's
sneeky demands so that he doesn't end up on his own again. But he's taken his eye off the ball imo. He sounds like a fab dad, the type of gorgeous dad we all want and this witch woman wants him all to herself and her ugly daughter.
no, I shouldn't pour petrol on flames but imo she is, as i think I have stated, a cow. She is up to no good. Rescue your dad!
thanks springy you made me laugh, I don't want to paint her as the wicked step-mother but as CailinDana said she is either deliberately or unconsciously making us unhappy. I genuinely believe it is an unconsious thing as some things she says come across as unbelieveable ridiculous, but I don't think she means to be horrible. EG she has discussed a previous bf of mine with me infront of my dh, saying how wonderful bf was and how Dad thought we'd be together for ever. She never even met him, we broke up in 1998 and SM came along in 2004!! She also had a similar discussion re one of my sis's bf infront of her current bf luckily my dh and my sis bf laughed it off as just another of SM's inconsiderate comments.
The more I type the more it comes across as a SM hating thread, which I don't mean it to!! I'm trying to convey how she comes across to us but that I don't hate her for it, I just don't think she thinks before speaking and this is why I need HER to know how we feel not just Dad. I think to change she needs to know.
And I guess it's easier to blame/hate her than it is to blame your lovely dad
You and your brother and sister clearly get on well. Can you present more of a united front? As in, no separate visiting of you by your dad and SM - it's all of you in one go. Can any of you host them (and the rest of you) for Christmas or other events?
Is there a reason why your SM seems to be separating you/treating your differently to your sis and bro? Are you
seen as competition to the same age as your step-sister?
Perhaps your dad just needs you to spell it out to him more often. Like when your DD was born. He heard you say it was fine for him to go on holiday. Even if he knew it was a dodgy call, he has you saying it's ok, your SM knows you said it was ok. Therefore neither of them have to consider what you didn't say: "I want my dad"
pork I shall suggest we host an event, perhaps for my bday in a Nov, my sis is notoriously hard to get booked in
I suppose I could be more of a threat in a way as I already had dh, my own home, and very nearly my own dc when SM came along, i'm also not one to take things I don't like, which is ironic! I can be blunt, but don't mean to be.
If it makes any difference the ages of dc are
My sister 35
Step brother 32
Step sis 26 ish (not quite sure )
My brother 25
so we are all the same age really.
Oh and the other main difference is that none of the others have dc and I do. SM told my MIL once that she didn't like children MIL is VERY child orientated, she has 3 dc, married her now dh who has 3 dc, and there are 6 gc, so not really the right person to tell 'I don't like dc' Curiously MIL thinks the same as me, that once step-sis has the baby SM won't be there as much as step-sis thinks she will be. SM made a point of telling me once about her childcare arrangements with her children, ie don't ask me coz I didn't ask my mum!
well, she still may be a cow, sm or not. hmm yes she could be tactless and selfish (and let's face it, if we're a sandwich short of a picnic we'd all be as selfish as hell ie imo it is the default setting and only reasoning gets us to knock it on the head - with varying degrees of success/application). You've only recently lost your mum and it's hard for someone else to be in her place less than a year after you lost her. You've been wonderfully accepting OP, bending over backwards to be kind and accepting. But tbf I think most human beings take the piss if you give them the space re we can't force people to be civilised by being ultra-civilised ourselves. iyswim.
re Paris - it could be that your dad didn't twig that he was supposed to be around. That's his wife's job to make that clear to him. I have a SIL like this (is this a SIL-hating post??) who doesn't guide my bro, if you like. Women just do know the rules - or should - and blokes miss a lot of them [^generally that is^]. It's also not on to be doing things behind his wife's back re money, it sets her up as the bogey.
It does all seem to be a bit of a pickle tbh and you have to get it sorted. Good luck with your birthday party. As someone said upthread, the pain you feel about this is apparent in your posts. I hope you get something sorted out sooner rather than later X (<- that's a big kiss because I think you could do with one)
nope, got to come back and say a bit more:
you may be blunt but imo blunt people are put in families for a reason. I may be slightly biased here, being a 'blunt' person myself, but there is often one who sees and says things clearly. you may be aware of this, as I am about myself, re everybody reactes like this -> at the things we say and we think what? what did I say? when it's quite clear to us that we are just stating the obvious. However, a lot of people don't like the obvious being stated. If you're anything like me you can become ultra-accommodating to avoid the faces.
Girl, be yourself. It may be that for just such a time as this you are the blunt spokesperson who pushes for a resolution. A lot of people grumble and complain but do nothing about it, not wanting to push the boat out and create a scene - stage left: blunt person who says it like it is. I think the gloves need to come off a bit here. Where's your dad? What's happened to him? Where's he gone? I think you need to find out and fight for him. It may be his 'fault' it may be hers
the witch (not trying to influence you there OP): who cares, you just want your dad back.
springy you're right, spot on in fact. I do try to be measured in my responses rather than my bluntness being rude, I know it can come across that way but it is as you say, it's often obvious. I remember my mum asked me a question once and clearly didn't like my reply but I said 'if you don't want my opinion don't ask the question!' which is blunt but she said fair enough! Another friend I used to shop with (pre dc and when we had money ) said she'd like shopping with me because i'd always say if I didn't like something but rather than say 'you look like aawful in that' i'd always say 'I think I prefer that one' or 'the colour isn't right'.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now »
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.