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What to do when parent you are NC with, reaches out?(136 Posts)
I've posted about this a couple of times before but I need some more advice on this as my dad has been in touch and I don't know what to do next.
I'll try to be brief. I'm an only child and since I was a teen and could form my own opinions, dad and I have clashed. I find him to be controlling, suffocating, selfish, narcissitic, volatile, I could go on. I don't like the way he treats my mum or speaks to her and when I stand up to him/disagree it causes a major argument. We disagree on almost anything of any depth as I consider him racist, sexist, homophobic and so on. We have had numerous arguments and a couple of phases of not speaking but I always end up caving and going back for an easy life. However I used to dread having to see or speak to him because of how he is. He would say we've been very close, i would say we had a surface relationship only.
Last November I lost my DD to stillbirth. DH and I were and still are devestated. My dad acted appallingly, I think grief thief is the right phrase. At a time when everyone else was trying to make things better for us and support us, all he did was make things worse. He upset me hugely the day before DDs funeral and when I later told him how upset I was, he told me that all I ever do is blame him for everything. I didn't reply. A month or so later I received a very long email basically telling me how ungrateful I am, how I've made him ill, nearly caused him and my mum to split up and outlining all he's ever done for me. I didn't respond so we have been NC since December.
I've still been regularly speaking and seeing my mum but we barely mention him. I've told her I feel I am done with him as he's gone too far and I think she understands but she will never leave him, she's lived this way for 40 years. I don't want to lose her but it is hard navigating a relationship when she continued to dtay with him.
Today he sent me an email. He actually for once acknowledged he'd upset me and behaved badly and offered up a sort of apology without actually saying sorry. He said he was mostly to blame. He talked about how hard losing his grandchild was and he didn't know how to deal with it. He tells me he sent the first email by mistake, he was just putting some thoughts down and it was an accident. Much of the email is about how hard he has found things, how hard his life has been and so on. He says he doesn't expect a response but hopes I'll think a little kindlier of him now.
I should also say I am currently 31 weeks pregnant. Obviously this pregnancy has been and still is hugely nerve wracking and my anxiety is sky high. I know he knows I am pregnant, my mum told him when I had my 12 week scan. He has never acknowledged the pregnancy and still hasn't in this latest email.
I don't really know what to do and whether to respond. Part of me wants to reply and tell him all the things I am angry and hurt about and to tell him to stuff his apology and me, me, me crap and leave us alone. I have so many actual dreams at night where I lay into him and say all the things I've kept bottled up for so long. I would love to tell him how I really feel but would it achieve anything?
If we were to ever have any sort of relationship again it would never be the same as before. Dealing with just my mum has definitely been better for me but i know it's hard on her. DH is also very upset with him and wants nothing to do with him. He wouldn't allow dad in the house and thinks we should just continue to live life without him, we have more important things to think about. I agree but there is still a tiny part of me that feels bad and guilty and staying NC especially when this baby is here, even though life is better without him in it. There's still the question of how my mum would be able to visit and spend time with the baby and not him.
Sorry this was so long but I'm all over the place with it. Just wondering what others have done, if anything, in response to a NC parent reaching out? Any thoughts?
Wow, first of all, I'm so sorry you lost your baby.
I am NC with my parents and I know if they sent me a follow up acknowledging some responsibility I would be tempted to ''reward'' that with a short email.
Are you still extremely attuned to all of his opinions about you? Like, when he calls you ungrateful does it bother you?
If the answer is yes, I would reward the good behavior with a positive short response such as ''it's good that you have had this insight. now i need to process this for a while''.
I wouldn't promise him a damn thing.
Your mum will be able to see the baby if she makes the effort to come to you. Simple. Let her figure that one out.
Ps, the fact that you cutting out your father is easier for you but harder for your mother, that is for your mother to experience. I'm listening to Jerry Wise on youtube at the moment and he has a lot of clips about bowden family structures/dynamics, the scapegoat etc.. I have had a lot of insights listening to him. I just realised that if my parents are unapologetic about not caring about having called me sensitive/paranoid for over 40 years (i'm 50) then it's ok (and certainly no worse) for me to not care that my having verbalised my hurt hurts them
I will match that shrug for shrug.
he’s your dad, none of us are perfect, life is short.
you’re about to have a baby, maybe it’s time for a fresh start.
newsflash, you won’t be a perfect parent either, you’ll make many mistakes. you may end clashing with your own child in a similar way
I could have written your post word for word, although it didn’t happen in the same circumstances as you, but after a different traumatic event.
I went completely NC with my dad for about 6 months. In that time I had counselling which helped me to set up my own boundaries with my parents. I now do see my dad, but it’s when I want to, and on my own terms. If my parents say something bad to me, then I tell them. And sometimes I now say that I need a break from seeing them from time to time. It’s difficult, and will never be a good relationship now, but I prefer it this way rather than being completely NC.
Your dad is trying to hoover you back into his dysfunctional world and such hoovering behaviour is common of narcissistic types. Do not fall for this attempt at power and control over you.
I would ignore this email of his, do not reply to it at all. His apology is anything but here, it’s a non apology and besides which people like your dad never apologise nor accept any responsibility for their actions. Do not give him what he wants which is a response. You are no contact with him for good reason and it needs to stay that way. Your mother cannot be relied upon either as she enables him and is with him for her own reasons. She has singularly failed to protect you from his abuses of you over the years.
Have a read too of the current May 2020 well we took you to Stately Homes thread on these pages, you will get support there too.
I'm sorry for your loss, as he said maybe he was unable to deal with the loss and said it all wrong. You'll never know unless he gets a chance. It sounds like he's been a dick forever but this was why you went nc?
"Df, thanks for your email, it really resonates with me as I'm so far along with our next child, I hear what you've said and appreciate the sentiment. However you didn't actually apologise, did you mean to?"
I'm so sorry you've had to go through such an awful experience and that your father compounded it for you rather than made it easier to bare.
I'm NC with both my 'parents.'
My view on families is they should love you deeply and care for you more than your friends, have higher standards and I'd bin a friend over this immediately.
The difficulties that your mother is experiencing are for her to deal with and you shouldn't compromise your ideals of how you should be treated to make life easier for her because doing so will just cause a whole heap of deep seated emotions coming to the surface when you least need them to.
Keep your little family unit safe from him.
Look forward to the arrival of your little one. In the future when you're better equipped to deal with him you may be able to but now just keep yourself safe emotionally.
Attila - what you say is totally right about how I feel about my DM. She has enabled my Dad’s behaviour and she says to me that she doesn’t even understand what my dad has done wrong!
Sheflies- you have to totally think of what is best for yourself. Even though your dad has sent you this email, you can chose to acknowledge it or not, and you can take it at your own pace.
It sounds like your dads email is all about him and how he feels. It doesn't sound like he has changed.
Is he doing this so he can be a part of the new babies life?
I would question his motivation. His lack of apology. To be honest the "mostly" to blame would infuriate me.
Thank you all for your replies. @WiserOlder fortunately much of what he says about me doesn't really penetrate anymore. I spent so long trying to keep him happy, be the dutiful daughter but when I tried to go my own way and live my own life he didn't like it. I’m exhausted from trying and after losing my daughter I could care less about a lot of things now.
@forrestgreen yes this was the catalyst for going NC. Tbh I really struggle with this 'fresh start' approach. He's hurt me so deeply that I struggle to see how we come back from this. He made my daughters funeral and the lead up to it about him and I don't know if I can forgive his behaviour. There is so much more to this but it would be too much to detail it all here.
@AttilaTheMeerkat I think you've posted on my previous threads and I always tend to agree. I know I spend too much time worrying about my mum and her position. In all honesty I do feel resentful of my mum enabling him. I wish she could just stand up for me and support me. She does in certain ways but has also tried to get me to speak to my dad and I had to tell her I wasn't interested and didn't want to be pressured. Sadly she has spent 40 years living with him and has learnt to keep the peace for a quiet life. She will never stand up to him.
I suspect I need some help and to talk this through with someone experienced with narcissistic parents but I'm still having bereavement counselling and with this pregnancy I just can't deal with something else to think about. I do appreciate all your points of view though.
@MadeForThis yes this is how I feel about his email. It's still all about him and the 'partly to blame' pissed me off. I don't believe any of the blame rests with me. If I can't tell him when he's really upset me then I might as well never say anything.
I don't know what's prompted this email now. I saw my mum on Friday so maybe she has said something. Maybe he is trying to get back into our lives before the baby arrives, could be anything. I have to say though if we were to resume a relationship, I'm not sure how much I would want him around the baby. He'd be the sort to ignore any instructions and i certainly don't want him passing on his racist, sexist etc... views once my child is older.
I’m sorry about your DD. My DD died neonatally so forgive for possibly projecting how I felt in my subsequent pregnancy and getting wrong, but I would say right now you have enough to worry about and your patience with someone like him is likely to be low.
I’d advise maybe a brief response saying that you will think about what he has written when you have time to do so and if you wish to respond then, that you will do so. However, in the meantime your energy and focus is elsewhere.
I really hope all goes well for you with this pregnancy. Do you have additional support at your hospital, despite covid?
You have been through a lot
Remember the reasons why you became NC. No one loses contact with a parent without very good reason.
I am NC with my mum, I know she will never change, my life is much better & easier without her in it.
Wishing you all the very best for the future.
At this moment, you and your baby are the most important. If thinking about him causes stress and tension, then you ignore that email until after your baby is here, you have healed and you are ready.
He does not deserve you care and attention at this point in time. If you want to later, maybe. But not now.
Put yourself first, like he has put himself all your life.
Don’t feel guilt about your mum. She made her choices and she has to live with them.
It might be the case that if a thread has NC in the title it will tend to attract people who have not had the happiest of relationships with their parents and have found it best/ easiest to walk away. And they will tend to advise you to stay away.
You don’t actually say what actions your father has taken over the years to make you go NC. The only action you outline is his attempt at a reconciliation.
I never had an easy relationship with my father. He shouted and beat me quite a bit growing up and I left home at 15 in part to get away from him. He was pretty flawed but also had his good points. I ended up supporting him when he had dementia and was there when he died. I am glad about it now. Parents are also people and it’s quite possible he wasn’t parented particularly well and has little roadmap for being a good parent.
Thanks to those that have further replied. It feels like a lot to think about. To be honest I wish he'd not emailed me as its sent my head into such a spin and I need to focus on myself, DH and the baby. Life is hard enough as it is without this in the mix.
@whataboutbob I've received a range of responses, all helpful so I'm not sure there's anything wrong with my title. In terms of previous behaviour, it's been decades of controlling, suffocating, aggressive behaviour. I'm not going to go into every little example as I'd be here all day but we got along fine as long as I agreed with what he said and did and wanted me to do. However once I started to think for myself and develop my own views that differed to his it went wrong. The amount of times I have said lets avoid this subject or agree to disagree but he becomes volatile as he cannot stand anyone going against him. There was some violence here and there. He ack in his latest email he is aggressive but said that's due to having had a hard life growing up.
My childhood was not happy and for me (maybe others wouldn't feel like this) the behaviour after we lost DD was the last straw. But saying that, there really is only the three of us and I still have that desire for us to be a normal happy family together. Whether that is achievable though, I really doubt.
It's hoover he's trying to reel you back in so that he can carry on being abusive to you, you'll note that it was a 'sorry not sorry', it was all about him and how bad it's made him feel
the leopard doesn't change it's spots
the old dog does not learn new tricks
You are pregnant and vulnerable, predators are drawn to the vulnerable
partly to blame
He knows that he has to make some sort of concession or you won't take the bait, and even so he can't bring himself to back down any further than that ☹️ I bet he said that through gritted teeth anyway
He is really trying to hoover you back into his dysfunctional world and his apology is a non apology. He has not really shown any remorse here let alone take full responsibility for his actions; he is full of excuses.
Many people (including you) have crap childhoods and they choose not to inflict their own ill treatment upon the next generation. His wife, your mother, cannot be relied upon either. She has chosen to remain with him and otherwise enable him for her own reasons.
If these people are too toxic/batshit/abusive/non caring or otherwise difficult for YOU to deal with, it will be the SAME deal for your child too. They were not good parents to you when you were growing up and they will more likely be crap as grandparents to your as yet unborn child too. If your DH's parents are nice and importantly emotionally healthy, then concentrate your efforts on them.
I think that sounds like a reasonable middle ground when you already have the emotional distance required to make that a tolerable option.
But when you're still all enmeshed in the family roles, still ''guilted'' in to doing shit you don't want to do, then a period of NC (long enough to make them see they cannot click their fingers and bring you back to heel) might be a part of the process of reaching that place of disentanglement.
I'm only feeling a bit disentangled and ''unmeshed'' now after 5 months.
Racing to forgive is not going to CHANGE anything.
It doesn’t sound like he is really sorry, he hasn’t apologised. And he is only mostly to blame? And sent the nasty email by accident? He appears to lack any self awareness and his comments are all about him, not about you. There’s no evidence of any change in his behaviour.
You could reply to him to say you have received his email, that you are still deeply hurt by the way he has treated you over the years and that your current focus is on your own family. You don’t need to mention the pregnancy, he didn’t! If you do this I would keep it very short and unemotional.
You could ignore it completely - maybe tell your mum about it (does she know?) and day you aren’t going to be responding for now.
He wants a response from you, to such disordered of thinking people that is the reward.
Do not give his email any response or for that matter any more of your headspace. He had a choice when it came to you and he chose to further abuse you. His own poor or otherwise hard childhood is no excuse or justification and the abuse is not your fault. This is all on him.
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