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Toxic Dad – sorry a bit complex

(282 Posts)
twoteachers Mon 31-Aug-09 10:45:30

DH and I have been married for three years now. We are both teachers and as we live roughly half way between our two sets of parents we see them about the same number of times per year. Suddenly my parents have announced that they are planning to move to the town where we live but without giving us any obvious reason why. It very much seems to be Dad’s idea and I don’t think Mum is that keen.

I had a very difficult relationship with Dad when I was living a home. Sometimes he was violent, sometimes there was some “accidental” but inappropriate touching and really we just didn’t get on from when I was 14 to 22. I don’t want him back in my life more than he is a present. I still feel a bit uneasy being on my own with him and he makes my flesh crawl if he even touches me socially.

Neither DH or I know what to do.

edam Mon 31-Aug-09 10:54:32

Oh dear. You can't stop them moving, sadly. I hope they find it harder than they expect to sell their house - but if they do turn up in your town, could you move? Or just refuse to see him on his own?

Would you feel up to confronting him?

ohnelly Mon 31-Aug-09 10:55:16

Oh my god poor you! can you speak to your mum about it? does she know how you feel?

Flower3545 Mon 31-Aug-09 11:01:23

You have my sympathies, I had an uncle who was always trying it on when I was a teenager. I was always afraid of him even in a crowded room.

I'm ashamed to say I breathed easier when he died recently.

I think the difference now for you is that you're not alone now, you have your Dh and you are an adult now so if anything inappropriate was to occur you have the means to deal with it.

MaggieLeo Mon 31-Aug-09 11:02:57

Tell them that you may move yourselves, and if so, you don't want to feel tied to where you live now, because they moved there thinking you'd be there forever.....

(even if you've no plans to move)

LadyoftheBathtub Mon 31-Aug-09 11:11:07

Do you have children or are you planning to? If so I'd be very wary indeed as that may be your dad's agenda - though he may not even be fully aware of it himself. I'm not DM-style scaremongering, I have a dad who was sexually inappropriate, and after my parents divorced he hung around his brother's family and caused similar problems there. Your dad probably has not changed and may like the idea of getting close to your DC.

Can you talk to your mum and be honest? Could she influence him? After all she does not have to do what he says, does she?

Or on the less honest side, I agree with Maggie, you could say "oh I see well I hope it's not on our account, we were thinking of moving in the next couple of years."

twoteachers Mon 31-Aug-09 11:37:25

Actually Lady you are spot on. I think he has an agenda now that is much the same as the agenda he had with me. He never, quite, had the bottle to go the next stage with me but I am quite determined that he will never have unsupervised access to any children of mine - if I have them.

Mum is still in denial. She thinks strap on the hand was OK and ignores the very few times it was not on hand angry.

The idea about suggestion that we might be moving looks promising.

TwoPersephone Mon 31-Aug-09 11:45:44

If either of you have the sort of job where you may work abroad start talking with enthousiasm of an opportunity in Dubai for three years followed by head office in Japan or Dublin or somewhere else. Imply the offer will come up in a year or so again if you say no now. If not opportunities in a city they wouldnt like to live in may be good, somewhere hilly if they are not good at hills for example. Make it sound short term with a change in the furute as well.

It may be enough to hold them off for now, and give you some time to build up a reserve of strength and decided if you want to change your relationship with your parents.

I would be enthousiastic about their more and say things like how nice to pop back and visit the old place once youve moved on.

TwoPersephone Mon 31-Aug-09 11:47:50

enthusiastic* move* blush

twoteachers Mon 31-Aug-09 16:16:11

I do feel a bit concerned about lying to my parents about a possible job and house move.

Also my DH has pointed out that if Father's "interests" are with teenaged girls then we have nothing to worry about for years yet.

And yet perhaps there are things that do need to be said to my Mum if only I can summon up the will to do so.

I will keep people posted. sad

LadyoftheBathtub Mon 31-Aug-09 16:48:59

It isn't lying if you say "we have been considering moving". Consider it, think about it for 10 minutes and it's true! - even if you have no intention of doing it.

FWIW from my experience I don't think your DH is necessarily right - your dad does sound like a risk and you'd be right to never let him be alone with DC of any age (or, in the circumstances, with your mum there either because he's obviously capable of pulling the wool over her eyes).

deste Mon 31-Aug-09 16:58:10

I agree tell them to hang fire as you could be moving in the near future.

TwoPersephone Mon 31-Aug-09 17:21:14

A lot of women find this all comes up emotionally when they have their first child, it may be better for you to deal with it now rather than then, if thats what you want to do of course. Perhaps some professional advice may help?

Miggsie Mon 31-Aug-09 17:37:58

Unfortunately you are either going to have to fudge round the issue (making excuses, talking about possible moving) or at some point say to your mum or dad (or both) "I didn't like what dad did to me when I was growing up and I don't want him doing it to my children."

It will be a control thing for him. This is why he wants to move near you, he will be having a reaction to you becoming a mother.

You need to take the control, and get your DH to back you up.

I also think talking to a decent counsellor would be good so you can clarify your feelings and find a way to deal with this emotionally so you are not bogged down by it.

A friend of mine had a poor relationship with her father and she did a lot of therapy and it did help her. She found a really good counsellor who encouraged her to "talk" to her father in the sessions (her father was not there) in order to express her feelings. This may help.

PlumBumMum Mon 31-Aug-09 17:49:27

You don't have to lie and say you are thinking of moving, just make it clear that you don't want them moving to be close to you as then you will feel guilty if the opportunity arose for you to move!

By the way if your father makes you that uncomfortable I wouldn't let him near your dcs no matter what age they are!

But you should just be honest and say you are not comfortable with them moving so close as you like the distance you have from your father at the minute, but you have to be prepared for the can of worms to be opened

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 31-Aug-09 18:13:42


I was wondering why you actually continue to have any sort of relationship with your parents at all. Given the circs it would be understandable to cut the pair of them off completely.

I do not let your Mother off the hook as she is complicit by her denial of the abuse that occured. She failed to protect you adequately enough from him by leaving him. Perhaps she was abused herself and threatened regularly by him (and perhaps still is) or is in his thrall; there is no excuse though for her lack of protection. Abuse is all about power and control; your Dad still wants to exert that over you even as an adult.

BACP have a list of counsellors and I would suggest you seek counselling to work through this. This issue is not going to go away, it needs addressing and now.

twoteachers Mon 31-Aug-09 18:47:42

I "know" what Dad will say.

The touching was accidental: and so I am over-reacting.

The strap on the hand was deserved: and so I am over-reacting.

The other times I used the strap were for more serious things and as your Mother was always there anyway I must be over-reacting.

I feel sick blush and angry angry

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 31-Aug-09 19:15:16

Hi twoteachers,

Sounds like your Dad was the ruler and master of that dysfunctional house - what he said back then was to his mind his house his rules. I guess he has said similar to you before for you to write that now. I don't think you're overreacting at all. There is no justification at all for what happened to you - you were a child and your trust was abused completely by the two people who were supposed to protect you the most. These two let you down in different ways. Abusers will always try and downplay the abuse and your Mum remains and will likely remain in denial as the truth is too painful for her to face. Your Dad is still trying to get at you now by suggesting they move to your town.

Do seek counselling for your own self; you need to talk this through with a neutral third party. There are also internet forums for abuse survivors and you may want to look at these too. You may also want to read "Toxic Parents" written by Susan Forward.

retiredlady Mon 31-Aug-09 19:26:56

My dear I am so so sorry to hear of your problem. My father was similar with accidental touching, the "I don't want to punish you but ...." and his classic, via my Mother, "Your Father doesn't approve of girls wearing pyjamas so ..."

I escaped by going to university and soon had a boyfriend in tow at which point Father seemed to lose interest. I was told nothing he did was against the law, "not even close" was the phrase used. You have been offered some good advice and I agree don't give him unsupervised access with any children you might have later on.

MaggieLeo Mon 31-Aug-09 19:32:15

I'm horrified that so many of you had this 'accidental touching' from your fathers. This,, being on the brink of doing something... yikes sad

LadyoftheBathtub Mon 31-Aug-09 22:06:36

Now you're the adult and you get to decide what counts as over-reacting - not him. Especially when it comes to the safety of your children. I do think counselling of some kind might be a help to you (and don't think for a second that that's because there's anything "wrong" with you - but it might help you to see your point of view as the valid one and give you the strength to stand up to him/them when you need to).

It has been to me and in my case, it has been many years since I even saw my dad, and I'm happy with that. I would never let him near my DC. And it doesn't mean a thing to me that I know he would say I'm a silly middle-class bitch making a fuss over nothing. So? My life, my DC, my fuss to make, and my choice.

mamas12 Mon 31-Aug-09 23:38:39

Tell him on his own or on the phone.
Say I don't want you to move here and quickly put the phone down.
The tone is set then.

DutchGirly Tue 01-Sep-09 07:30:39

Please get some counselling before you have children as this kind of thing can come and haunt you when your kids are born.

When your child is born you feel this overwhelming urge to protect your child at all cost and it will make you seriously wonder how anybody could hurt their child. You will be emotionally fragile anyway and I really urge you to set out the situation now, your expectations and develop a strategy to deal with the situation together with your partner.

I can guarantee you that I would kill a man who would dare to touch my child inappropiately, father or not. I think a mother would not want a predator near their child, sorry but that is what your father is, a predator. (sorry, I really do not want to dramatise the situation but you sound like an intelligent person)

Please, please get some counselling, it will help you to deal with your father and mother.

Please give the following organisation a call to simply talk to someone

I am glad to hear that you have your partners support.

Good luck.

retiredlady Tue 01-Sep-09 08:24:30

I said a prayer for you last night and I hope you were able to sleep with all this unhappiness coming to the surface.

I did't seek expert help in my 20's and perhaps it wasn't available but kind people here have suggested places you might go for help. You said you were teachers and I imagine that school is going back soon so it might be difficult unless they do late afternoon or evening slots.

I did talk to my Mother but never really got anywhere with her other than blank looks. I never tried hard enough with Father and now he has passed on it is too late. My chief memory of him and I'm not making this up are the two words "bend over." This cannot be right.

twoteachers Wed 02-Sep-09 13:41:53

Teacher Training day today so a small window of free time.

Well nobody can say I didn't try. I spoke to Mum on the phone last night explaining that Dad I had not got on very well for some years and that it was probably for the best if we didn't have to much to do with each other. She went off on her sad, lonely Mother act, how she wanted to be a family again and why was I rejecting her?

So I tried again explaining that "things in the past" made me uncomfortable with Dad around and that I really didn't want to have much to with him. Exactly the same response, why was I rejecting her?

So I tried again expalining about the touching and the hitting and why that meant I didn't like him. This was my fault so it seems and a long time ago anyway. Totally blanked me as to how it was OK that I had to sleep on my tummy after more serious punishment angry

She then slammed the phone down so not good.

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