How can I make my father's visits less frequent (and less excruciating)?
September 4, 2013 8:45 PM Subscribe
Background: My father (64) left home when I and my two siblings were teenagers (back in 1999). That came after a very turbulent period in his life which included substance abuse, bipolar disorder, violence (mostly psychological) against my mother, siblings and me, extramarital affairs, reluctance to contribute any money to his children's sustenance, losing his job as a moderately succesful university researcher, compulsive overspending, heavy indebtedness, systematic lying and an unspecified number of episodes of sexual molestation against my sister. After around four years of that chaos, my mother and father finally split up and he left with his mistress to live abroad. A few years later he came back by himself and started trying to reestablish links with his children and former wife.
posted by Basque13 to human relations (13 answers total)
Today: Relationships have been reestablished to an important degree, considering the circumstances. My father, who lives in another city, comes often to see me and my brother, with the pretext that he has to meet his (most likely imaginary) PhD supervisor here in town. My father is now in a very poor condition in every possible way: chronically ill, financially broke (he has occasionally asked me for money), psychologically disturbed (including demential fantasies about him being contacted by the president to undergo some secret mission) -and what affects me more-extremely clingy. He used to come for a few days every couple of months, which, if uncomfortable, was tolerable. But recently he has intensified his visits. He comes almost every month and stays for up to a week. This is an unpleasant experience in which I have, among other things, to hear his constant nonsensical talk about his illusory life, and deal with a cascade of unsolicited advice.
In his bouts of rationality, he confesses he regrets having hurt us and wants to reunite the family and retake where we left off. He says he feels terribly lonely and would like to spend the last years of his life with us.
I don´t want to completely remove him from my life, but I definitely do not want him coming over so often and staying for as long as he wants. As you can imagine, trying to negociate the terms and conditions of his visits is not easy. He has recently announced via e-mail he is coming in 2 weeks' time, and I have decided to tell him bluntly that I am extremely busy at the moment and cannot have him for at least another six more weeks (which happens to be true). He is likely to either 1) get very upset and depressed 2) ignore my remarks and reassure me that he will not interfere with my work and study (which I know is untrue).
I know this is the sort of thing one discusses with a therapist. I have talked to a few. I also know that different people can contribute different valuable points of view, so I would like to ask you:
How would you protect yourself from being drained by such a demanding and disturbed father?
Do you think it's possible to have a reasonable, safe, and moderately distant relationship with an unbalanced person you care for, yet don't want to see too often? How?