How to deal with a hurtful aged father?
June 7, 2010 8:13 AM Subscribe
How to deal with a hurtful aged father at an upcoming family event?
posted by anonymous to human relations (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Last week, my mom’s elderly sibling visited for a precious few days from a faraway continent, possibly for the last time. I got to visit her last weekend.
During the visit, I got to hear amazing stories about my mom’s side of the family during the German occupation of the Netherlands during WWII. I was riveted. We had a nice dinner.
After dinner, my dad put some music on and we talked a little about how the performer was the father of a now-famous daughter. Dad said it was bluegrass, but my aunt disagreed and I agreed with her; it was country.
This seemingly trivial iota of conversation seemed to set my dad off. He stopped the music and said something like, “Fine, we won’t listen to anything. How’s that? Everyone happy now?” He went to go do the dishes and began muttering in the kitchen. I and my husband heard him call me a “bitch.” I heard my mom trying to quietly remonstrate with him. When he was done he went to his chair and sulked. My aunt, husband, and I were still chatting, now determinedly, at the dinner table. Apropos of nothing, he announced, “I would have liked a birthday card.” When my mom tried to hush him, he barked at her, “I’ll say whatever I want in my own home.” I did not like the manner in which he spoke to my mom.
He had not invited me to his recent birthday party at my sister’s house, which hurt me a lot as birthdays are a big deal in our family. I did not send him anything for his birthday, but should have, and was really down for a week about feeling excluded.
When I heard him talk that way to my mom, I looked at my husband and said, “Well, I think it’s time to go.” My dad said, “The sooner the better.” We left, and my mom and aunt came out to say goodbye.
My sister’s birthday is coming up in a month, and I am not going to tolerate this kind of behavior again. I know you can’t change people. The man is in his 80s, and I’d like us to have a good relationship in his last few years. Can I try to lay some ground rules for normal civil behavior in a family setting, or do I just send my sis some presents and leave it at that? I don’t want to miss the chance to see her or my mom.
One beef my dad has with me is that I am not a believer in his faith. This goes back a long way—in college he and my sis were going to some Christmas concert while I spent the eve chatting to Mom. As they left, my sis asked him, “What does anonymous believe?” He replied, “She doesn’t know what she believes.” This remark hurts to this day, though I should just let it go.
Tl,dr; how to manage an unpleasant elderly father at an upcoming family event?