How can I break the ice with my dad?
August 16, 2006 4:16 PM Subscribe
I think my dad is too shy to really talk to me. How can I break the ice?
posted by anonymous to human relations (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm 25, he's 53. We had the usual stressful father-son relationship when I was in high school, I guess, but we never fought that hard. He and my mom are still married. Frankly, there's been nothing more awkward or upsetting between us than there is between your average parent and kid — lots of little stuff over the years, but nothing big.
But we don't talk. If I ask anything more personal than "What's new at work?" he finds a way to end the conversation quickly or change the subject. And he honestly seems not to want to know about my personal life. My girlfriend and I have lived together for almost a year, and not once has he asked how she is. If I talk about her — or about our church, or my friends, or anything else remotely personal — he gets all flustered and awkward until I change the subject.
It used to be that he'd read my livejournal, which was a handy way of keeping in touch — I could lock entries he didn't need to see, but he'd still get little day-to-day updates on my life. But about two years ago, when I mentioned a (previous) new girlfriend in a few public entries, he stopped reading. In fact, he announced to me that he was going to stop reading it — he said it "didn't seem appropriate."
Now, I'm sure I'm part of the problem too. When I do make an effort to talk to him, it goes nowhere, so I've stopped making an effort. The few times I've tried telling him I love him, want him in my life, and would be thrilled if we could be more open with each other — well that's flustered him like crazy, and I don't think it's made a positive difference, so I don't do that anymore either.
But what else can I do? How can I include this guy in my life when he's too shy even to listen? (Or is there another explanation for this that I'm being too dense to see?)
One more thing, since someone is always pushing therapy in these threads. My dad has a therapist who he's been seeing for years, and he says it's nice just to have someone to talk to (ack!) but if anything he and I have talked less since he started. I saw a therapist for a while too, and we talked about lots of things — including this problem. It was nice to get it off my chest, but of course the problem itself is still there.