help needed with dad (difficult family situation)(14 Posts)
I'm posting here because I will just feel much better if I know it will disappear.
I’m feeling really guilty because I haven’t spoken to my Dad and his side of the family for a while. I want to preface this by saying that my Dad has always been very generous financially (private school fees, uni fees, deposit for a flat) etc. Without that, I wouldn’t have the home and job I do now, so I feel really guilty for feeling this way. However, recently I have started feeling really angry towards him. These are just a few examples:
My childhood was not happy because of my parents relationship. Whenever we were together, my dad would constantly berate and mock my mum and he would encourage me and my brothers to join in. I remember whole meals, that my mum had cooked, and when she would try and speak he would mock what she was saying and do stupid impressions of her. If she got angry he would have a go at her.
As I got older, into my teens and up to now, he does the same to me. Not as much. But he just makes really disparaging comments the whole time. For example, I once came back from uni to join him for a fancy night out. I bought a new dress – it was not revealing or anything and I thought I looked nice. He kept making comments the whole night like “If you just dressed like a normal girl, you might find a boyfriend.”
Without going into any detail, as a child, I once walked in on my dad being physically aggressive towards my mum. I was young – about 8. When they realised me and one of my brothers were watching he ran upstairs with us crying and blamed it all on my mum. He used to often talk to us about how difficult she was to live with.
When I got a bit older (mid-teens) and still at school he started to confide in me about all the affairs he was having. Apparently, he had been cheating on my mum for many years. He started asking me for relationship advice and said I couldn’t tell anyone.
Since I was a child, he has always made horrible comments about women (e.g. that pregnant women look disgusting, and women should wear knee high boots without tights etc). Thinking about it, I believe this has left me with loads of insecurities about how I look (and I love wearing thick tights!).
These are just some examples. There are loads more, but this is already getting really long. Thank you if you have read this far. My whole childhood was miserable. My mum did most of the childcare (she also worked full time), but she was constantly angry. Me and my brothers would be woken everyday to the sound of her screaming and swearing and banging stuff. We were frightened of her. I now realise that it was because she was depressed about how she was being treated and since I have left home for uni, my mum and I are very close and have a great relationship.
My dad has also moved on. He left my mum and now has a new, younger wife and they have three young children. I am in my early thirties now, so I know I should be over it and should want a relationship with my young siblings. But everytime I visit them, it leaves me feeling awful. He won’t talk to my DH except for to make comments about me like “We should have a private chat so I can tell you how to deal with her.” I feel so guilty and angry about how my mum was treated when I was growing up, and it just seems so unfair that he can treat someone like that, leave and then get to start all over again with a new family. He treats them all way better than us as well (well from what I can see), which I am happy about for the sake of the children, but it always makes me feel really sad and worthless when I see it.
Anyway, sorry this is so long. Well done for anyone who has finished it. He text me a few weeks ago to arrange to meet up and I ignored it. I am now feeling really stressed and guilty. When I get in contact now, I will be made to feel awful for not replying sooner, but I just put it off because I always leave feeling rubbish. I think what I want advice on is just how to deal with the situation and negative feelings when I do visit the new family or reassurance that actually I don’t have to? I don’t know if I am being horrible and selfish or not not wanting to go… I am prepared to hear that I am. Like I said, he has always been very generous with money.
I have tried speaking to him in the past about how I felt and the impact these things have had on me, but he just always manages to turn the conversation around onto me, so I end up feeling like I am to blame so I don't feel I can do that.
Sorry to hear this.
I would go with the being ok with not visiting option if it were me. You don't need to feel like that and he shouldn't get to have a relationship with you after how he's behaved.
You don't owe him anything - he chose to behave that way - he chose to pay fees/deposit etc
Yes you benefited - but you also paid a huge price
Don't feel guilty p
Thank you for reading and responding. It is helpful.
I just feel a bit worried about it all today. I'm going to my DH's family's for Easter (which is lovely and they are all very close), but it always makes me feel a bit sad that we don't have that.
The last time I got together with my dad's side of the family, my uncle's dog went for me as soon as I entered the house and bit my leg so hard it was bleeding. Everybody was laughing and cuddling the dog making jokes about how it doesn't like "strangers".
You can walk away without guilt! Your father is a misogynistic arse. Good luck OP
Very sorry that your father is an abusive, sexist bully.
He is probably abusive to his wife and other DC too.
The "stately homes" threads in the relationships section of MN might be useful for you for advice on decisions on maintaining no or low contact.
Decide what level of contact you want. Choose to be in control of that, you're grown up now! Be strong and determined.
You are so perceptive and articulate about your childhood and you CAN have a good adult relationship with your dad if you want to, you have to be in charge of HOW
Gosh you poor thing and your poor Mum. Is she happy now? I really feel for her. Have your brothers been affected by your upbringing? Do they have a relationship with your Dad?
Is there any way you can have a relationship with your younger siblings without seeing your Dad? I'm guessing not.
I really wouldn't worry about keeping up any form of relationship with him if it wasn't for them. Do you get on with his new wife? Could you arrange child centered places to meet to engage most with your youngest siblings such as soft play/park/cinema (dep. on their ages).
What does your DH say when your Dad says things about pulling him aside? That's horrible.
Also, your Mum took her decisions to stay in the relationship, at the time: you don't need to fight her battles.
His treatment of YOU was/ is appalling, eg telling you about his infidelity, comments about women.
Counselling might be helpful.
I'm really grateful for all these replies, thank you.
My mum is happy now, yes . I remember pretty much the day my dad told her he was leaving her it was like a weight had been lifted from her. She now has her own partner who treats her very well and kindly. I just feel really angry that 20 years or so of her life were ruinied and she had to put up with it.
One of my brothers has moved abroad and doesn't see us that much, but he comes back for Christmas etc. The other one is very good at telling my dad what he wants to hear and doesn't see my mum that often.
My DH just feels really awkward. He's a lovely, kind man and thinks it's ridiculous, but he's quite shy so never feels he can say anything to my dad. My dad also looks down on him because he didn't go to university (he has a good job and works hard) and always deliberately starts conversations he can't join in with and doesn't acknowledge him at all, so my DH just doesn't ever want to come with me now which I understand
I would like to have a relationship with the children without him, but I know if I asked to meet them without him it would cause an almighty shitstorm! He would demand to know why and whenever I have tried to voice my opinions/facts/reasons before, he just manipulated the conversation and turns it around to how it is my fault and how generous he has been and how difficult I was/am. He is very intelligent and articulate and is practiced at using those skills for a living so I can never get my point across or explain myself well and just end up feeling like an idiot!
I will check out the stately homes thread, thank you.
He is abusive in lots of ways then. What a shit.
So essentially your H refuses to see him. Understandable.
It does seem unlikely, given what your father is like, that you can have much of a relationship with your siblings at this time. You could, if you wish though, have limited contact, eg send birthday cards / money and messages and perhaps when they are older they will seek you out.
Your mum didn't have to put up with it: it's really sad that she did. That's not "on you". It's great that she's happy now.
Your dad sounds horrible.
You've rebuilt your relationship with your mum, you have your DH and his family. Look forwards not back and enjoy today!
Send the siblings cards, connect via social media, you really don't have to meet them. If you do then I'd suggest you all meet up somewhere neutral and public, so you can talk to your siblings but hopefully your dad keeps his nasty opinions in check.
I'm really glad that you've built up a relationship with your mum and found a good relationship yourself. And no. I don't think you owe him anything.
Could you pop round when he's at work? See new wife and DC then. At some point she might need some help in extricating herself from him.
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