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So my Dad has forgotten DD's birthday

(23 Posts)
SaltNSweetPopcorn Thu 13-Dec-12 20:02:25

It's kind of an AIBU but I'm not really brave enough!

Basically, today is DD's 3rd birthday and my Dad has clearly forgotten. We've not had a card or a phonecall, and although he sent me a text earlier it was about something completely different and I didn't bother replying because I thought I'd be speaking to him later on in the day.

My father has a history of depression and alcoholism. I am sympathetic to this and understand some days are really hard and others are really really hard. The problem I have is that he is able to socialise and function on a daily basis in his local area. He is also more than capeable of picking up the phone and speaking to me/DD.

The AIBU element is basically that I kind of expected it, so do I have any right to be pissed off? DD, at 3, has not noticed that her Grandad hasn't called, so no harm done as far as she's concerned. But obviously as she gets older this may be a problem.

What's also factoring in my confused state is that he's recently had a bit of a fall out with my DB. This part is going to out me completely but I'm past caring - My DB and SIL had twins in the summer. Devastatingly their son was still born. Their daughter has had a difficult early life (born very prem, long time in SCBU and all the scaryness that goes with it) The issue they have with my Dad is that since DN was born, Dad has only seen her once. He's never (as far as I'm aware) offered to visit or to help them (he has lots of money and is retired) My Dad, although apologetic at first, was not happy that my DB had called him up on his behaviour, and turned it around on them a bit apparently.

Now I just don't know what to do. If I ring him and tell him I'm annoyed with him, he'll apologise. Then he'll have a few drinks, throw himself a pity party and then ring me wailing that he's on his own, depresssed etc etc.

He is on his own, he is depressed. But that hasn't stopped him from having nice holidays, going to parties with friends (occasionally admittedly) and going on dates.

I'm sorry that this is such a big post over such a stupid issue. I guess it's because I feel I've helped my Dad a fair bit over the past few years. I've driven for miles to take him to doctors appointments, I've listened to him talk about himself a lot when I was under huge amounts of stress myself, I've supported him even when he did things I really didn't approve of (cheating on my mother sad hate myself for that one)

I just wish he could've given this one thing back for DD.

HotBurrito1 Thu 13-Dec-12 22:24:32

It's my sons birthday today and my dad hasn't rung either. It didn't occur to me to moan at him because he has clearly just not remembered. As you point out, your daughter is not upset. You are upset, but I get the feeling it's not really about today.

Hope she had a good day.

deleted203 Thu 13-Dec-12 22:35:31

I can understand you being annoyed and disappointed but he sounds unreliable at the best of times. Also, (without wanting to be sexist) I suspect my own Dad (who is a brilliant grandad and loves my DCs to bits, runs them about to various events, hands over pocket money, is interested in their schoolwork - could tell you what GCSEs/A levels they were taking and how they were getting on etc etc) relies heavily on my MOTHER to remember birthdays. I believe if I rang my Dad now and challenged, 'ok - give me the date of all my kids' birthdays' he would flounder and get it wrong. I actually think if I challenged my Dad on my OWN birthday (I'm 45 and his eldest child) he would not be entirely sure.......

I think your Dad's just forgotten. Doesn't matter how much you've done for him some men are just not real good at this sort of thing. It's not unreasonable to feel disappointed - but maybe unrealistic?

PS Just shouted through to DH to say 'when's my birthday?' and he confidently shouted the answer back. He was a day out...........

Aussiebean Thu 13-Dec-12 22:49:57

Happy birthday to your DD

My DFiance is the same. Gets our anniversary and my birthday mixed up and wrong, even on legal documents.

But I don't think this post is about your father forgetting. His behaviour is nothing new. He sounds like he has been like this for years, but now he is potentially hurting your baby it is worse.

I think you are now sick of his behaviour or tied of having to be the one to deal with it all and wanting your dad to give something back to you for a change.

I also get the impression you didn't remind him but just hoped he would remember this time. Given his past behaviour you were kind of setting him up for failure. But I can also understand it.

My advice is to really think about your relationship with your dad and how much you want to invest in him. Talk to your DB. Remember he has just lost a child and in real danger of losing another all within a short period of time. So of course he is not going to be sympathetic to a man whose self absorbed issues are all self inflicted. But a united front in regards to expectation and boundaries will help. And will give you both a sounding board and mutual support with the best person who will understand.

Enjoy your DDs birthday and then when all has settled maybe go to counseling and start dealing with it.

custardismyhamster Thu 13-Dec-12 22:56:29

My colleague today confessed to forgetting to book a table for his girlfriends birthday. It's on Monday-as is his birthday hmm

I did point out that SOME men are clearly rubbish grin

SaltNSweetPopcorn Fri 14-Dec-12 08:21:31

Thank you so much for the 'listening ear' and the advice.

It's true I didn't directly remind him a week or so leading up to it, childish I know but I reminded him of all my BIL's important dates and was feeling like I was enabling his forgetfullness IYSWIM?

I'm not angry this morning, although I am sad. I want to protect my DD (and me admittedly!) from disappointment. Easily done this year due to her age but in future years I can only see him getting worse not better sad

i don't know how to handle it really. I'll get annoyed when he starts the tears...

wednesdaygirl Fri 14-Dec-12 08:34:27

My dad doesnt even remember my birthday let alone my off spring
Men are not wired like that smile

GoldQuintessenceAndMyhrr Fri 14-Dec-12 08:56:43

Some people needs reminding! My parents would never remember my childrens birthday. Not even before they came to the point of needing me to remind them about mine, and my sisters birthday, and each others and their own birthdays!

The last few years I have reminded my dad about birthdays in advance, and rang him on the day to tell him to call so and so as it is their birthday.
On my sons birthdays, I ring him and say "It is ds1/ds2 birthday today, let me get them so you can talk"

Offred Fri 14-Dec-12 10:26:39

As the child of an alcoholic I think you have fallen into the trap of parenting him, of taking responsibility for his problems. I think you should consider separating yourself from this feeling of being responsible for him and what he does and you should consider cutting contact with him if he isn't adding value to your life. I think you should focus your support on your db who has taken the very brave step of confronting him and I think would deeply benefit from you taking his side rather than trying to look after your dad - this would be very damaging to both yourself and your dad because it is enabling his role as the child when you take the parenting role. I think you probably need to let go of the ideas that a. You hope you can fix him and b. it is your duty to try.

Offred Fri 14-Dec-12 10:30:48

And stop squishing your feelings down. You feel angry and upset with him for how he has broken you and your family and this has upset your so much no doubt because it feels like the start of his toxic influence on your dd's life, and it may well be. You've got the power to change it and that doesn't necessarily mean taking responsibility for him and his messes, it means changing how you allow him to affect your life. Don't aa have groups for the family members of alcoholics? Do you go to one? Also you should read toxic parents by Susan forward. I have just finished it and I don't normally think much of self help books but this one is good.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 14-Dec-12 10:34:17

What Offred wrote.

Your father cares only for his own self ultimately. He has and continues to let you down. He will continue to do so.

I also think you have fallen into the enabling trap along with parenting him. Detaching from him may actually give you some peace.

Do read the books that Offred cited too.

happygolurky Fri 14-Dec-12 12:08:40

I agree with Offred.

There is a good book - Adult Children of Alcholics - check that out if you can or have a bit of a Google. See if any of the "behaviours" resonate with you.

Remember you are the child in the relationship and while its very kind to support your Dad, I dont think he should be making you his emotional crutch, that is not "normal" behaviour. The roles have got a bit skewed here and it is not unreasonble for you to step back and re-draw your boundaries.

Be kind to yourself, and remember though it is sad for your DD, he is the one who is missing out by not seeing his GC.

SaltNSweetPopcorn Fri 14-Dec-12 13:33:36

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and reply, I love the support on here! I will check out those books, I got a narc parents one that was recommended to me here on a previous thread, perhaps I need to have another read!

I feel so weak because I swing from being hugely angry at him, to ferling sorry for him and wondering if I'm being an unsympathetic bitch.

Well anyway, he rang me this morning and sounded positive, had beenout with friends the night before etc. He said I was quiet and asked if I was ok. I said "Well I just thought we might have heard from you yesterday..." Their was a big silence and he suddenly twigged. He immediately started crying and apologising. He's sent me a text apologising as well, and has said he'll ring me later. I hate myself for saying "It's ok, she didn't know" (although Idid tell him he'd upset me) I don't know why I let him off so easily, I guess it's because I feel sorry for him.

As for AA, I looked into it on his behalf a couple of months ago. I didn't see any family member groups (although I was looking for sessions for him, not for myself so could've overlooked them) I told him that their were two meetings a week, five minutes walk from his house. He still hasn't been, although he's very good at saying he must do something about it hmm

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 14-Dec-12 13:38:47

"As for AA, I looked into it on his behalf a couple of months ago"

Why did you do that for him?. This was enabling behaviour on your part; doing that only gave you a false sense of control ultimately didn't it?. He has not changed and will not do so for you or anyone else. For your own sake stop trying to help him, he does not want your help and you are too close to the situation to be of any real use. Sorry to write that but it is true; you are not helping him by propping him up as you have (or equally been conditioned by others to do so).

Al-anon (who are entirely separate from AA) are for those people who are affected by another person's drinking. You would likely find Al-anon to be of more use to you.

SaltNSweetPopcorn Fri 14-Dec-12 13:56:52

Thank you Attila I do get what you're saying. I have stupid issues about wanting to make everyone all better, but I'm coming to accept I can't be the hero of this story, and it's a little egitistical of me to think I can be. I'm off to Google Al-anon now.

catwomanlikesmeatballs Sat 15-Dec-12 03:09:27

Your father sounds like he has a lot to deal with, depression and alcoholism are horrible diseases, your father is controlled by them and probably isn't able to think about anything outside of his own addiction and misery. There's no point in being angry or upset with him, expressing it will make him feel worse but there's nothing he can do until he's ready to get the help he needs. Even then, there's no guarantee he'll get through it.

worsestershiresauce Sat 15-Dec-12 08:41:47

I haven't a clue when my relatives' kids' birthdays are. It doesn't mean I don't love them. I think you need to lighten up about trivial stuff like that. If it matters to you, ring him and remind him a couple of days before hand.

I feel for your dad - alcoholism and depression and really heavy burdens. He needs professional treatment and support, not a whole big guilt trip about a birthday card. I expect there are days when he forgets to feed and wash himself.

proofreader Sat 15-Dec-12 08:45:14

all dads forget birthdays, the mums or wives remind them, that is normal.

kittybiscuits Sat 15-Dec-12 08:52:24

Hi popcorn. Sorry that your Dad let you down. I'm sure he has a lot of form for this. I hope you won't be too put off by the above posts. Your Dad is more than able to have his own pity party. He is not more important than you and his feelings do not take priority over yours. His choice is not to seek help. Noone can do this for him. There are no 'quick fix' coping strategies that will make this much easier for you. It would be great for you to seek some real life support where you can reflect on how your Dad and his alcoholism/depression/refusal to seek help have impacted on you. This may help you to manage things better in the here and now. I hope your daughter had a lovely birthday. Good luck x

minmooch Sat 15-Dec-12 09:01:25

My dad is neither a depressive nor an alcoholic but would not know my birthday nor those of my children. But I know he loves all of us. I'm often a day late for my brother's children and he mine but it is not an issue and wouldn't be if either of us forgot completely.

It's the rest of the year that counts and your Dad is upsetting you on many more levels. If you are a people pleaser, like me, it is very hard to detach emotionally, and I always still feel like a child with my parents. I have to remind myself at times that I am 46 (eeek!) and have my own thoughts and opinions that are allowed.

Try and take a step back, give yourself a breather from your Dad, expect nothing from him then you cannot be disappointed. It is hard to do I know.

HandbagCrab Sat 15-Dec-12 09:04:07

Yup, possession of a penis gives one an inability to remember important dates. How any man has ever passed a history qualification is beyond comprehension.

Op, you've said it yourself. Your dad has the money and time to help you or your db but when the chips are down, he puts his time and money into himself and his own destructive habits. I guess your db has seen that and isn't prepared to keep putting in time, energy, emotion etc into your dad when he doesn't get the same or anything like the same in return. I guess you need to decide if you are willing to keep putting in knowing you won't get the return and if you are happy with that or not. Perhaps thinking of different ways to deal with your guilty feelings may help.

worsestershiresauce Sat 15-Dec-12 19:32:51

Some of the comments on here are getting to me a bit. Depression is not a life style choice, it is a debilitating illness, and alcohol is often used as a coping mechanism. Any form of MH issue is hard on family members. I hope my family would support me if I was suffering, not freeze me out.

OP stop expecting him to be a perfect GP, that isn't within his grasp until he gets help with his problems. If you are unable to take on the burden of helping him yourself, then at least accept him for what he is and stop judging him. He is ill, not evil.

deleted203 Sat 15-Dec-12 23:08:59

I don't think 'posession of a penis gives one an inability to remember important dates'. I think it is the definition of 'important' that varies somewhat between the sexes, perhaps. It seems to me that a significant majority of men (or at least the ones I know) don't actually feel that birthdays, anniversaries, etc are neccesarily 'important' enough for them to memorise. They have different priorities and would shrug off missing a birthday with 'you didn't remind me/mention it' rather than feeling it had been their responsibility to have it engraved upon their heart.

To be fair to my DH, before we met (when he was in his 30s) a friend of his who was born on the same day once said to him at lunchtime that day, 'Happy Birthday, mate!' and he was slightly surprised and said, 'Is it my birthday today? What's the date?' which I was open mouthed over! As he was single at the time and not received a card from any family he hadn't even remembered his OWN birthday.

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