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Awkward father/daughter relationship

(10 Posts)
bakingbetty Sun 05-May-13 22:09:33

I am in my 40s and have been looking back at my childhood and wondering if I have an 'issue' with men and where it comes from.

Like many teenagers I found my relationship with my father difficult and now am trying to work out whether it was 'just me' being over-sensitive and an awkward teenager or that my dad was a bit out of order.

I always felt that he invaded my personal space - sometimes I would wake up from a nap on the sofa and find his face very close to mine. I felt he used to run his hands over my bra strap unnecessarily. When learning to drive, or, later, driving him in the car, he'd often keep his arm across my seat, across my shoulders, and this just seemed like a kind of 'control' thing to me. He never used to knock on my bedroom door and often used to just walk in when I was getting changed and I found this very embarrassing but he didn't seem to feel the need to apologise and never learned to knock. I remember asking my mum for a bedroom lock and saying it was because I wanted some privacy and she said I could have one if I really wanted, but that it would upset my dad. They had this group of friends and some of the men, when drunk, could be pretty lecherous. Once or twice, one of them in particular got a bit full-on with me (he came in my bedroom and sat on my bed when they were all having a dinner party at my parents etc). My mum said I was rude towards this man and I said I didn't really like talking to him when he was drunk as he always got really close and said strange things but she said I was really over-sensitive and convinced everyone was being funny with me (presume she meant that I was vain but I was just a very awkward and self-conscious teenager who was always apologising for myself from what I remember!) Once I came home in the middle of the day to find my dad lying on my bed, reading one of my books. He just sort of smiled and I don't think he attempted to move, so I think I just left the room. We had a couple of rows and each time, he'd always be in my room, against the door, kind of closing in on me. I just constantly felt I wasn't being given a normal amount of space or privacy. I know this is very common and please believe that I am not claiming to have been badly treated or that this was in some way abuse. It may be that I'm coming across as pathetic and in a way, I hope it is, I just feel that in a weird way, I need to get this out!

I think he had a kind of problem with asserting himself and just bottled up his feelings and maybe his way of parenting and trying to show his authority was to try and hem me in so I would see him as the one in control. Anyhow, as I say, I'm not suggesting these things are terrible - he's a very kind and loving father in many, many ways. But I am interested in whether these kind of experiences are common and it's just not something I would bring up with my RL friends. Are these just normal teenage girl experiences?

SoulTrain Sun 05-May-13 22:13:06

I don't think they are normal teenage experiences of a father daughter relationship. I'm sorry you experienced that sad.

How is your relationship now with your Dad?

MaryRobinson Sun 05-May-13 22:13:29

Not normal at all in the house I grew up in

barnet Sun 05-May-13 22:19:16

Not normal things in my experience. I never experienced any of the situations you have mentioned from my father, or mother, or brother for that matter. I can see why it would be very uncomfortable, and i would find it strange if anyone behaved that way, family or friend. It is not normal to invade someone's personal space like that.

Lweji Sun 05-May-13 22:20:29

Definitely not.
We were always very relaxed at home, but my dad never made me feel physically awkward or intimidated.
He'd stay well clear if I was not dressed.

bakingbetty Mon 06-May-13 22:35:32

No, I think you're all right and sadly, this was not normal. I think our relationship is OK, SoulTrain. I did go through a phase where I felt I didn't want to sit in the same room on my own with him. He also used to watch 'inappropriate' tv with me in the room when I was a teenager (I think it was on reflection, anyway) which was sexual or sexist.

Anyway, I remember when I was older, in about my mid-twenties, he came to kiss me on the cheek once and I shrunk away. My sister commented later that it had been obvious. I felt guilty about that and kind of determinedly made an effort to have an 'adult to adult' relationship with him if IYKWIM. It is fine now, very friendly and we have quite a laugh. But, you know he's oldish now and, obviously I'm a lot older with kids. Sorry- rambling - I'm just conscious that I've not had brilliantly close and loving relationships with men and I suppose I'm looking for reasons. As I say, some people have bloody horrible relationships with their parents and I'm not looking for sympathy because I'm very lucky to have had a happy childhood and parents who loved me.

ImperialBlether Mon 06-May-13 23:27:11

Your dad sounds as though he had no boundaries, no understanding of what it was like to be you and not a care in the world anyway.

His treatment of you was abusive. He should have given you privacy. He shouldn't have touched you. He shouldn't have allowed his friends to come and sit on your bed - why the hell would any teenager want that? If he'd thought for one second what it was like to be you, he wouldn't have behaved as he did and wouldn't have let anyone else abuse your trust either.

I'm shocked that you are so apologetic now - he didn't act normally and it's no wonder you didn't want to be physically close to him as an adult. I hope you don't leave him alone with any daughters, either - he really doesn't seem to live in the real world as far as girls are concerned.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 07-May-13 07:00:57

It is NOT your fault this happened to you. You were abused. Was not at all surprised either to read that you've had problems forming adult relationships with men; that's the legacy these two left you. You may want to talk with NAPAC eventually.

What happened to you was not on any level normal at all; I would call his treatment of you abusive. This is about power and control; you've already mentioned the word control and that is what he wanted over you.

I am also wondering what part your mother played in all this as well, she may have known what was happening to you but chose for her own reasons not to act further.

Do you have any sort of relationship with your parents now?.

bakingbetty Tue 07-May-13 11:50:19

I have a good relationship with them - I'd say we're a close family. I still don't see the way he behaved with me as abusive though I do agree it's not healthy. He never touched me sexually - I think he was inappropriate. I don't have daughters but I know where you're coming from about him not understanding barriers. Hmmm - I have a lot to think about and must admit I'm a bit shocked by the reactions on here - I thought there would be a general consensus that some fathers don't give daughters enough privacy etc. Thank you for support and encouragement - I'm thinking of talking to someone as suggested, not because I feel upset anymore about my adolescence but because of my difficulties in relationships with men as an adult. Thanks x

pickledginger Tue 07-May-13 12:08:45

I agree with the others sad. That doesn't sound like behaviour I recognise from my childhood or that of any of my friends fathers towards them. The repeatedly entering the room without knocking when you were changing, the response of your mother to your request for a lock, the finding him lying on your bed etc all sound very, very odd.

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