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.
Dad's new GF. Don't know how to feel or AIBU?(26 Posts)
NC as outing.
Sorry if this is incoherent - it's hard to get down everything on my phone!
My DM died 12 months ago. Parents had been together since teens and married for nearly 40 years. 5 children - the youngest still at school - 16.
Since last year I know that my dad has been online and meeting and chatting to female 'friends'. I got the impression he was looking for companionship and was lonely. It seemed he was 'dipping his toes' so to speak as he has never dated and was only ever with mum.
His latest 'friend' seems more. Although when asked if she was his GF (as he has never told us about her) he denied it and said they were just friends although she really liked him. She is at his house a lot, he has met her kids, they go out a lot together and the other night, she apparently stayed over as he thought my DS was staying out.
He still hasn't confirmed relationship status, and to be honest, I am dreading going round and her being there as I will be unprepared and will feel awkward.
I just feel upset by it all. Not that I think it is too soon (who am I to judge that after never being in the situation) but more because I think it is inappropriate and upsetting to my little sister who still lives there and needs parenting effectively for a few more years. It is also annoying how is so secretive and won't just be upfront.
My mum always did most of the parenting with us and I appreciate it therefore must be hard for my dad. My sister is difficult (before DM died she was 'going off the rails', DMs death obviously exacerbated this). She lies, steals, misses school etc. yet my dad just throws more money at her and won't take any advice re. consequences. He has this attitude that now she is 16 then she now has to make her own bed and lie in it with regards to school, exams etc (we have had many meetings with school but nothing ever improves). I just think that he is being selfish, and fair enough if he wants to see someone, but why bring her to the house? My sister walked in on them kissing on the couch - I would be upset seeing that, never mind a 16 year old.
I probably need about 20 other threads to moan about his other behaviour but I just feel he is very selfish and is only thinking about his own needs. I think he always was but my mum would mask/compliment his personality. I feel disillusioned and like I don't know him any more.
Has anyone else been in this or a similar situation?
Thanks for getting this far and sorry if the thread is jumbled. My mind is just all over the place.
Maybe your father was secretive as he did not want to upset you, it can't be easy for you but try and be pleased your father is happy.
As for not bringing his girlfriend home, Why should nt he ? Not bringing to the house implies he is doing something wrong, and would be more secretive
As for sister, your father has a point, she is 16, maybe she should learn the hard way about consequences. In some ways she's the selfish one.
Please don't feel you do nt know your father, of course you do, you just find it hard to relate to him in the absence of your mother.
Perhaps it would help to think about why you feel uneasy, or what you expect from your father.
I think your point about not being able to relate to him in the absence of my mother has hit the nail on the head. I think I expected him to take over her role in our lives. We were very close and she doted on us and their grandchildren, whereas my Dad would be there if we needed him and he loves his grandchildren; he is just not that interested in spending time us and only contacts when he needs something. Maybe I am jealous about the time he is spending with her or feel resentful that he rarely took my mum out or cared about his appearance when she was alive (but I suppose all new relationships are like this).
I don't want him to be on his own, and have told him this - he always said we would be the first to know if he got into a new relationships.
I understand what you are saying about my sister but she was only 14 when mum died and he has pretty much left her to it. Emotionally she is still childlike but yes, she is selfish and she will learn the hard way as she listens to no-one! I just feel sorry for her as she has had so much to.deal.with at such a young age.
Maybe you should just be happy for your Dad? Give him a break!
Maybe I should hopefulhattie
It's not that I am unhappy about it but nor am I happy. I don't want him on his own mourning my mother forever and I know that my mum wouldn't have wanted this either (she and I talked openly about a lot before her death). It's really hard to understand what I'm feeling and even harder to communicate it. I probably just need to stop over analysing - it is what it is!
I feel sorry for your sister, OP - it must be hard for her (and you) to see someone replace her mother after a fairly short time. She is young, so of course she is still a bit self-centred - your father has no such excuse.
I don't think he'll change - if he's used to pleasing himself, then that's what he'll do. I suppose you just have to continue to be supportive of your sister and let her know that she can always rely on you.
YANBU (I know this is Relationships, but still ...)
12 months is a whisker of time compared with the length of time your parents were together. You've lost your mother & 12 months is nothing in grieving time. It's OK for you to feel confused or conflicted about his GF.
Your father is being very selfish, and I think it's OK for you to feel that. And call him on his lack of care & love for his daughter.
Can you offer your sister a home? You sound like a lovely elder sister.
FWIW, my parents divorced when I was 30. It's 15 years later and there is no way I'm interested in meeting or hearing about any woman my father thinks he's involved with. He was betraying his marriage throughout my childhood & I have no obligation to put up with it now as an adult.
But your poor sister - your father needs a stern wake up call on her account.
Just because he is seeing other people now doesn't mean he is being disrespectful to your mum or mean that he isn't hurting or never loved her much.
Also bear in mind that this is hard for him, in his own mind he has to get over the fact that he is no longer off the market and your mum has gone.
His denial may well be as much because he didn't see it as a relationship with this woman, just a friendship, and it's taken him time to get his head around.
I really get what you're saying. He's creating a bubble for himself to escape the pain but he's left your sister on the outside of it.
I think SOME men who had wonderful wives and lost them get into new relationships too quickly because they yearn for the companionship without having the emotional intelligence to give themselves and their loved ones a bit of grieving time first.
I agree with the poster who said you sound like a wonderful sister. You do not sound in the slightest as if you are being unfair/jealous or resentful on principle. Your concern is totally justified and succinctly communicated. It sounds incredibly painful. Your sister will not get what she needs from your dad. I think all you can do is keep being her rock and offering as much support of the loving non-monetary kind as you can. Time and a listening ear. Open doors and keep trying to persuade her she can do this, she can overcome her difficulties and do ok in the end. Tell her you trust her totally to do what's best for her in the long run. And just be there for her.
I don't think there's much else you can do.
Oh your poor sister. It must be so confusing for her to not have her father be honest, when clearly this woman is something more than a friend. The kissing and al night stays when she hasn't even been introduced as a girlfriend is actually massively wrong. What does this teach her about boundaries and relationships??
Sixteen is so young still. And she has just lost her mother a year ago! Your father should be giving her clear boundaries and offering safety and security- not confusing her further.
Is there space with you for your sister to stay there? I would be really worried about exposing her to all of this.
Your poor sister, 14-adulthood it a difficult time when we need parents more than ever. Your dad is neglecting her and shouldn't be bringing women to her home so soon.
Thanks for your words and thoughts everyone. Lots of food for thought.
baby I think that's how she feels, like he is trying to replace mum. She has actually been very mature when interacting with the woman and actually says that she seems 'ok' but when she is having a bad day she does get upset and worries for example, that dad will take photos down of mum. One particular example when I could have punched my dad is one day when she was particularly upset and crying as it was leading up to her 16th birthday and she was really feeling not having mum; later that day my dad invited his GF up for dinner. It's like he has no perception of her feelings. I have mentioned to him that it is hard for her to see this but he gets defensive and underplays the relationship.
andfaraway I have mentioned it to him, as has my older sister but like I mentioned above, he lies/underplays things and can't see things for anyone else's point of view. My sister knows that she is always welcome here (as she is with my other siblings) but she knows I would be strict (she has free reign at my dad's as it's easier for him for her to be out of his hair) so just stays over on occasionally but I'm always the first she rings when she is having a bad day and have supported her at school with my dad as he has no clue.
joys I think that may be it regarding him not seeing it as a relationship and developing and I know it must be hard for him. Ultimately, if my mum wouldn't have gotten I'll and died, they would have stayed together forever. He loved and and took such good care of her when she was Ill/dying.
Thanks for the advice hesterton and your second paragraph makes so much sense.
Thanks scary and lunar as above she wouldn't stay with me but knows I'm always here. There is also a teacher at school who my sister confides in who is providing pastoral support and I know she has discussed things with her. This relationship has intensified literally the week after my mum's year anniversary; it's like he saw that as an acceptable amount of time in his head. I just think he could concentrate a few more years on my sister (not meaning he shouldn't go out etc. But be there for her emotionally and practically e.g. if she needs a lift home and he has plans he will never break them and also to put her first and any romantic relationships second). This attitude of 'well she is 16 now' really annoys me (before she hit that age it was 'well she is nearly 16 now' - I have to remind him that she is still a child and needs parenting!
Thanks again everyone!
Oh Quickname what a tough situation.
Your father may be suffering grief etc, but he is first and foremost a parent with his first responsibility towards his young daughter who needs him to be a parent.
I think you could be quite firm with him about that.
He just sounds so selfish - as if he's checked out of the family (and sounds like he was like that before your mother died). Just as well you're looking out for your sister [gflowers]
I can absolutely understand how you feel about your father's gf - the fact that he's being secretive, the fact that he's 'replacing your mum' after twelve months, and the fact that he appears to be prioritising her over his family. I imagine I would feel the same.
But I wonder how you are approaching this with him. People generally don't react well to perceived criticism, however sensitively it may be delivered. He may be delighted to find that his life isn't over, as he will have feared, and digging his heels in against a family who take umbrage at his choices.
After nursing his wife through illness, and then dealing with bereavement and grief, he may feel that he deserves this, and has every right to privacy. He may not have the emotional resources left to deal with your difficult sister and feel that he doesn't know how to handle her, or that whatever he tries doesn't work so why bother.
Would it be possible to approach this differently? Despite high emotions, could you begin to involve his gf in family life, show them both there is no criticism and no need for secrecy. With them on board, as opposed to feeling embattled and defensive, might you be able to open a discussion about your youngest sister then ?
Obviously if I've misunderstanding and you've already been welcoming and open with her then your options are limited. Keep plugging away to keep the lines of communication open and try not to feed any teen drama by criticising this woman - if your sister has her Cinderella feelings reinforced she will feel hard done by and continue acting up.
I've never criticised her songbird and have no ill feelings towards her whatsoever - and in fact my little sister says that she seems OK but she is the only one who has met her. I have in fact tried to be the opposite and even though my dad hasn't openly told us much about her (he casually just mentioned her once when I asked him if he had done anything the previous night - "yes I went out with my friend.....and we went out last week", it was only when I asked a few questions that I found out that the 'friend' was female), I have made an effort to seem interested and ask about her e.g. job, family etc. It's hard to include someone who my dad hasn't even introduced to us yet. I have only mentioned once to my dad that it may be difficult for my sister to see her in the house and he just became really defensive.
Things may become easier when he arranges for us to meet her. I know it must be hard for him and he probably has mixed feelings, I just hoped that he would be more considerate towards my sister when he did enter a new relationship.
There may be lots more to this but I just can't see how he's been insensitive to your sister, or anyone.
He doesn't talk about her, doesn't refer to her as his girlfriend and is obviously waiting before introducing her to the family.
If I've read it right, your sister walked in on them kissing, and she stayed overnight, because your dad thought your sister wasn't coming home that night.
Could one problem be that he feels accused of insensitivity when he feels like he's trying his best to be sensitive whilst also moving on and finding some happiness?
It sounds like you sister was difficult before this woman was on the scene, although I'm sure this development hasn't helped. The fact that you don't think he's parenting effectively at the moment is a big issue, but started a long time ago when she had two parents trying their best.
He seems to be effectively ignoring his young daughter and NOT parenting her - or not putting emotional & actual energy towards parenting her.
OK he's grieving but he's the adult here. The OP's sister is just a 16 year old kid. He needs to be less selfish.
DF sounds like he never engaged much in bringing up his DCs so it's unlikely that he will now. DSis needs to understand this, not that he is a bad person/father just that that is how he is. Perhaps there is some support for DCs who lose a parent at school or through GP or somewhere, she could do with someone to talk to as DF isn't it.
DF has been online for a year so sounds like he didn't wait long. Which I would find hard to accept were it my DF.
If he has to take on GF's DCs he might not be quite as keen in the long run for a relationship with her.
But things are as they are - I don't think lecturing DF about his DD or his secrecy will go far. Perhaps try the idea mentioned above of making an approach to him and GF, invite for lunch or something. But look for support for DD elsewhere.
I do agree that everyone is entitled to a private life, including our parents.
That said, 12 months on from losing your mum and it is quite understandable to be very raw. My dad died nearly 3 years ago and I can honestly say the first 12 months were just so empty. The first year brings every "first" without the loved one. First Xmas, birthday etc etc.
You are entitled to grieve in your own way. If you're not ready to meet your dad's new gf, you're not ready.
But there is a child in the middle of this and you are right to be concerned. To lose your mum at 14 must be so heartbreaking. I really feel for her.
Your dad isn't able to take on the emotionally nurturing role that your dmum had. Not for you and certainly not for your dsis by the sounds of it. But someone has to take in this role for your sister. I suspect that is you and will be increasingly so.
I'm quite shocked at posters who seem to be shrugging their shoulders at the OP's father's behaviour towards his youngest daughter. She's still a child really.
If this were a mother, I wonder if there would be different expectations? A mother is generally expected to set her own feelings aside and parent her child in the face of grief.
Tbe father is tbe adult here -- it's shocking that some posters seem to think that tbe OP's sister just has to accept her father's neglectful behaviour.
It probably will be the OP who has to pick up the pieces. Good luck & your sister is lucky to have you.
Gosh - delurking as this post has really resonated with me: back in the mists of time I was your sister, although I was a whisker or two older, down to going off the rails (before and after my mother's death), being handed cash instead of receiving parenting, cries of "for goodness sake she's 16", but most of all the oddness of the new woman (or in my DF's case, in time, women) being presented into my life without so much as a by your leave.
I am very, very sorry for the loss of your mother and I'd like to reiterate that 12 months is nothing, a blink of an eye in your grief, and losing your mother young is a titan of a thing to deal with. Your DSis acting out isn't something I'd judge her for - it may be the one rational (unhelpful perhaps) way she has of expressing her emotions, it may be one way she gets engagement from your DF.
I wonder though if your sister has the double whammy of having lost both of her parents, in the sense that she once had two parents with some decent parenting (perhaps all of it from your mother) and now she has lost your mum, and your DF is incapable of stepping up, and actually parenting her - and hearing her. Poor sis .
If your DF is like mine (btw, a 'good' man, but one who is walled off from emotions), he may
cynically assume that by introducing this woman that she will naturally step into the mothering role, and all will be well again in his and your lives. He is unlikely also to have considered what will happen if his relationship breaks down later, and this woman was to leave you and your sister's lives. Ideally he would recognise that his beginning on a new relationship may be unsettling understatement for his kids, particularly given the recent world-changing loss of their mum, and discuss the boundaries of that with your DSis at least. FWIW I was quite pro- my DF having a new relationship, but it was awkward and confusing and frightening for me at times and we were very much not able to talk about it.
Your father may hear you if you try to talk to him, he may not. Mine wrapped himself in his bereavement like a carapace and I was never able to get him to understand why I felt bad. What I found desperately helpful was when I later found someone (not a DSis, but family member) who was prepared to listen to my badly articulated feelings, didn't judge me for "teen drama" and was able to see that I was a grieving child. I think maybe you can fill some of that role with your sister.
I don't know if that's helpful
essay but to reassure you, I did turn out ok! Time helps, and I suspect if you can find a good, grief counsellor(s) for you and your DSis that would help too. I'm doing that only now I'm in my 30s and it is very, very helpful.
The walking in on them kissing and he STILL denies anything is happening is what is so bad.
He owes it to his daughter to be honest if he is going to have this woman in the family home.
Is there anyway she could salvage her education and stay on for sixth form?
Thanks again everyone.
songbird we haven't accused him of being insensitive - the only one thing that I mentioned was that it is hard for sis to see his friend in the house and them acting intimate, especially as there is no real definition of who she is. I have tried to be engaging about her and ask about her; although I wouldn't really be ready to meet her yet (about to pop with a baby so emotions all over the place!!). I acknowledge that his feelings must be all over the place as well as he did truly love me mum. The GF isn't making her any more difficult than she already was, I think it's just making my dad less interested. He has always maintained he is too old to parent (there are 2 decades between oldest and youngest) and now he openly admits he wants a life for himself - which I don't begrudge, I suppose it's him finding a balance and learning some effective parenting techniques (he has just started introducing consequences after months of suggestion from us - this may be the GF influence as she has a similar aged child).
My sis has had counselling and has good pastoral support at school. Although she does get ratty with me as I suppose I do lecture her about school, exams etc. she always rings me when she is upset and knows I am there no matter what.
Time I am sorry you had to go through the same thing but reassured that you are at the other end! What you say about your DF wrapping himself in his grief really resonates. Last year when she would lash out and be upset or try to talk to him, he would basically say 'but I've lost my wife'. He's never been the most emotionally in tune with his kids and has obviously struggled even more the past year.
I think she will salvage her education - she is bright but I think part of the problem with her not seeing importance in getting her qualifications is that my dad provides her with so much money that she has no need work and thinks she can get this off him forever (although recently he has been using money as financial incentive for school!).
I appreciate all of your comments. Lots of things to think about. I am expecting my dad to tell us that they are in a relationship - or maybe he is hoping his actions will just give it away. Either way, it is what it is and I need to maintain a relationship with him whilst supporting my sis and not feeling any resentment to GF. I do miss my mum terribly and grieve for the life she should be having and the life I (and my children) would be having if she was still here. She was young and full of life but cancer is a bitch.
sorry but a parent can't just decide not to parent. Your father is behaving appallingly. Sorry to be so harsh.
As others have said, your poor, poor sister.
Perhaps you could write to him? Imo blokes take a while for things to sink in (don't flame me). A letter can be carefully scripted.
Is there a male family member he respects who could have a word with him?
Lastly, so what if you criticise him. He's getting this spectacularly wrong, for whatever reason. Saying it straight may not be so bad.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.