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I'm finding it increasingly difficult to hold my tongue...

(22 Posts)
DollyDreamboat Thu 13-Nov-14 21:03:34

There's an issue in my life that I know needs to be resolved one way or another. My dad.

We used to be really close. Over the last few years, we have suddenly developed this weird relationship that is hard to explain. He has become more difficult as time passes, he's very passive aggressive and a little bit bitter.

We had drifted apart mostly, until not long after I had met my DP, he (DP) took it upon himself to call my dad and ask him to call me so that we could try and rebuild our relationship.

I was pretty pissed off for a bit, but I know that it was meant well, so I went with it, and we started talking a bit more. It was/is still kind of awkward.

My mum (they've been divorced for 40 years) had had breast cancer the year before, had a mastectomy, and had dealt with it so bravely and stoically, which I really didn't expect, she's a bit of a drama llama sometimes, and I expected her to go to pieces, but she was completely the opposite. Then my dad got prostate cancer, and it was a completely different story. I know it frightened him, and although he's better now, hopefully, it's just made him even more self-involved than he was before. I know that sounds harsh.

He has no relationship with my kids, he sees them once every few years, and the final straw to prompt this thread was that he didn't even text my dd on her 17th birthday last week.

I honestly don't know how to deal with it. If I'm honest, I want to tell him to fuck off.

But, you know, he's in his 60's, and he's also had a few heart attacks over the last 15 years, and I don't want to say anything I will regret.

But he adds absolutely nothing to my life. My kids don't know him. I don't actually like him much.

Can anyone help with some advice? Sorry this is so long!

overslept Thu 13-Nov-14 21:18:16

If your kids don't know him or like him then perhaps expecting a text is you looking for a way to put the walls back up. Calm down, I'm sure your daughter doesn't care either way if they aren't close. If they are then give him a ring and ask him to pop a cheap card in the post and just say he posted it late due to finances/appointments etc.

Honestly I would let it go, you sound as if you are hostile to him for what he does or doesn't bring and even your DP for trying to help rebuild your relationship with your father. It's nobodies fault that your contact has become less or broken down, I'm afraid it is a fact of life. Everybody makes choices everyday about who they do and don't have time for. It's not being rude it is just life letting people take different paths. He doesn't sound toxic or mean. Just remember he may want to give you space and let you have a family life, he probably understands it is hectic enough. You got on once and haven't again, he probably thinks that you are the one who became distant, it easily happens.

Look after yourself and your family first, then think about your dad afterwards.


InnocenceAndExperience Thu 13-Nov-14 21:29:55

It sounds from what you've written as if its been a mutual growing apart.

It clearly bothers you that you don't have the 'dad' you perhaps thought you did when you were young.

If you want him in your life I think you may need to do the running, as he probably isn't going to.

DollyDreamboat Thu 13-Nov-14 21:48:41

I see what you both are saying - I'm just as guilty of letting the relationship drift as he is - but I feel like I ought to be closer to him. We were such good friends once upon a time sad But he's changed. And I suppose I have too.

It's so hard. I would never ever have thought he'd be such a rubbish granddad. I think it makes it seem worse because my dd only has one set of gps - she hasn't seen her own dad for 10 years and his parents had died before we met. It just seems such a shame that she won't experience the brilliant grandparent relationships that I had with mine.

DS probably wouldn't even recognise him in the street!

InnocenceAndExperience Thu 13-Nov-14 22:03:07

Aw, I know what you mean. It is a great sadness when relatives don't show any interest.

Maybe you could try again and explain how you feel?

Joysmum Thu 13-Nov-14 23:06:27

If you want to try and regain it, try calling or writing and saying you were thinking back to when you 2 were close and you really miss that, and does he think there's any way you could both ever get back to having a closer relationship.

Keep your kids out of it and away unless you're getting back to how it was and feel it'll last.

DollyDreamboat Fri 14-Nov-14 07:06:32

I'm not sure I want to really joysmum. I feel like I should for the sake of my dc, but they will really be no better off, I suppose I should just accept the situation for what it is and let sleeping dogs lie.

It's sad. But seems not uncommon.

Probably the reason I find it so difficult to decide is because I genuinely don't understand why he doesn't want to know us confused

Meerka Fri 14-Nov-14 09:02:20

There doesn't seem any need to actually tell him to fuck off.

If you play it so that it's not always you making the running, then it sounds like contact will peter out. He is obviously not the man he was, not now the Dad you remember. Certainly not a grandad and never will be.

it's sad but there's nothing you can do about it. You sound so angry about it. Actually maybe that is the reason to tackle him directly. If you write down how you feel and send him the letter it might make you feel better. If you do, it's possible he won't contact you again but that sounds like no loss.

SpaceOpera Fri 14-Nov-14 09:09:32

OP, this is not about him, this is about you. The conflict with your dad, if not resolved by you via counselling (with or without him) will almost certainly come out and affect your relationship with your closest family in the future - if it hasn't already done so. I am going to counselling for this very reason - I need to put to bed my issues with commitment due to my own divorced parents.

Blu Fri 14-Nov-14 09:20:29

'He's had a few heart attacks over the years' !!!!

Poor man! It strikes me that that was dropped in as a minor fact after talking about your Mum's illness and then his later prostate.

I see your relationship drifted after you met DH. How much support did he get during those 'few heart attacks'?

Could he be depressed? What ongoing medication is he on? I think some heart mess can be mood altering '.

He sounds depressed and lonely to me, and not handling it well . And he may feel generally frightened and gloomy given his heart history. Getting older isn't fun.

Joysmum Fri 14-Nov-14 09:20:32

Ah so if you don't want to then you just withdraw, you don't have much contact anyway.

I've gone no contact with my grandparents (mums dad and step mum) and my mum was NC with her mother so I never knew her.

Hand on heart as a grandchild myself with NC with mums mother I can honestly say I never missed out or thought it weird.

My mum met up with her mum again after 30 years just to say her goodbyes when she found out this woman was terminal, she made her peace and had no regrets but was glad she saw her at the end. I was given the option to see my 'nan' but didn't. I have no regrets either.

Do what you believe is right for you at any given time flowers

fairypond Fri 14-Nov-14 09:22:29

I've always found that trying to reignite a relationship, be it friend or family, just doesn't work. The reasons for the relationship failing are still there and it just feels a bit fake, a bit contrived. Usually fizzles out again.

In your shoes OP, I would just move on, and "let sleeping dogs lie".

Some people really do get much more self centred as they age, and the old "poor me" takes over a bit. Your kids don't know any different and he can't give them the sort of grand parenting that you remember.

Remember the dad he used to be, and just accept that things change.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 14-Nov-14 09:35:26

just a thought but you say you used to be such great 'friends'. is it maybe that he hasn't changed at all but the scales fall from your eyes about him a bit when it's not just a 'friend' you want but a grown up capable of fulfiling a role and putting themselves out a bit in the process eg. being a grandad? what kind of dad was he? was he capable of doing that for you as a child or just being your 'friend'?

i'd be surprised if there isn't some deeper resentment going on here or deeper realisation about him that is creating the depth of feeling you're having which doesn't really seem attributable to current events iyswim.

DollyDreamboat Fri 14-Nov-14 12:43:33

Thanks for all your responses.

Meerka, you're right, I am quite angry about it. I think because I really believed he would be a brilliant granddad, because mine were both awesome. I have thought about writing him a letter, but there's no way that he wouldn't respond, he's too confrontational. And then there would be a whole can of worms opened up.

SpaceOpera - but what would I have counselling for? I am a bit counselling phobic as I have no idea what I would say!

Blu - you make it sound like I haven't bothered with him in all this time - I can assure you that's not the case. If I can draw a picture for you, he split with my mum when I was 4, and has since remarried 3 times, all divorced now. Of course I supported him throughout his heart issues, his diabetes, and now his prostate cancer. But it would be nice if the same concern was applied to me and my family, don't you think? Our relationship drifted long before I met DP, and it was DP that tried to get us back on track.

Thanks ever so much Joysmum, I really appreciate your advice thanks

fairypond I honestly think that's the best way to deal with it. I don't want drama or conflict, there's no need.

TheHoneyBadger, I think you might have that exactly right. He was a good dad at the time, we saw him every Saturday, but as I've got older, I've realised that in fact he left the responsibility of actually caring for us to my Nana and Bampa, as that's where we went every week. It was her that fed us and entertained us, not him, and I think we stayed overnight twice in 20 years! The scales definitely fell from my eyes when I split up with my own exh and he was nowhere to be seen. So yes, I think there probably are issues with how I saw him then, and how I see him in hindsight as a parent myself.

SpaceOpera Sat 15-Nov-14 22:40:49

OP, counselling will help with uncovering any hidden feelings about the breakdown of your relationship with your dad. Once these are uncovered and you can talk about them in a safe space, a practical decision (do you walk away or keep in touch) becomes much clearer. To function in daily life, I've noticed that I've suppressed a lot of anger at my mother and father and it's come out in my marriage. You pose some questions: do you tell him to FO? Should you be a loving daughter in the face of his indifference or should you respond with indifference? How will responding to your father with indifference affect you? Have you mourned completely for the loss of the good previous relationship? If not, how does it affect you in your dealings with closest family? In short, what sort of daughter my behaviour should you show to live a life at peace with yourself?

SpaceOpera Sat 15-Nov-14 22:41:39

Sorry, that should read: In short, what sort of daughterly behaviour should you show to live a life at peace with yourself?

springydaffs Sat 15-Nov-14 22:55:07

I'd have to agree with space that there's (much) more to this. You don't just drift from a parental relationship...

And saying you are counselling phobic also says a lot. Yy some, most, people don't exactly relish the idea but to have a dread of it would suggest there are things you dread facing. And, anyway, a good counsellor would guide and steer you, that's their training!

DollyDreamboat Sun 16-Nov-14 10:03:51

Thanks Space and springy - my sister is a bit of a therapy addict and as a consequence, she's far more troubled than I am - but yes, I suppose I'm probably concerned as
to what it might drag up!

It drifted, because in the main, as soon as he split up with his last wife (who I love, by the way), he didn't bother with us. Which confirmed what I always suspected, that he was nagged a bit to stay in touch regularly by the woman in his life at the time hmm

We do live over 200 miles away - but I live 150 miles away from my mum, and we still manage to maintain a relationship!

Meerka Sun 16-Nov-14 10:15:13

What about a short time limited course of counselling? (that's probably all you can get anyway but in this case it sounds a good idea). 6 or 10 sessions puts a stop on things from them getting too deep.

therapy / counselling isn't for everyone by any means mind you.

But your father has gotten through 4 marriages and he's had your support during illnesses, while he's not doing the same for you in the hard times. He sounds like he's a man who has a real problem with intimate relatinships with women of any sort. 4 ex wives and an almost-estranged daughter who's angry with him isn't a good track record.

SpaceOpera Sun 16-Nov-14 10:43:31

OP, I'll emphasise here that I suggest counselling now to prevent your feelings about your father being suppressed and in a hidden way affecting your relationship with all the other people you love and who love you. It isn't about him, it's about how you deal with his indifference - think of it as putting out a fire (your pain and confusion) safely.

SpaceOpera Sun 16-Nov-14 10:46:41

Oh, and if you don't want counselling formally - do you have a rock-solid friend who will listen calmly? Could you take a day off from family and just sit in a room together and get it all out? I have such a friend - thank goodness - and she's been a lifeline in recent marital troubles - no judgment or advice - just calm and loving listening while I've thrashed around helplessly, oscillating from one emotional state to another.

DollyDreamboat Sun 16-Nov-14 10:56:22

I'm not sure I have anyone like that Space - I like the idea, but I'm not very good at talking about my feelings to people, hence posting here instead wink

I'm sorry you've been having a difficult time thanks

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