daddy drama
July 25, 2007 5:04 AM   Subscribe

Do I call him? Probably should. But then what do I say?

I know there have been similar questions, but still haven't found the exact answer I am looking for. I haven't spoken to my father for almost 3 years following my parents divorce. Reasons are many but include his history of drug and alcohol abuse, inappropriate behaviour, and the emotional rollercoaster he put me on each time we spoke.

My brother, who hadn't been speaking with him either, decided that he wanted our father at his wedding. So, he called and invited him. It was clear from that conversation that my father hadn't changed much. I was surprized my brother invited him, but it's his wedding and he can invite whomever he pleases.

So, my question: Do I call him before the wedding? I really have no desire to, but think that this is probably the most mature and thoughtful thing to do before actually being face to face at my brother's wedding.
If I do, what do I say? I do not want to get into an emotional discussion about what went wrong, or why, etc. I just want to get through it so that the day of the rehersal dinner/wedding, etc won't be as awkward as I imagine it to be. Tips on managing the conversation and personal experiences welcomed.
posted by engling to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It might be worth calling him to say -- listen, what's done is done, we've been through a lot. It's John's day, though, and I'm looking forward to celebrating it with you there.

This has two effects:

1) Resolves any concerns he might have that you're going to avoid/ostracize him for coming, and
2) Puts him on notice that he better be on his best behavior, because it's really not the time for either of you.

Weddings are really incredible for defusing tension. Nobody wants to make a scene at someone else's very big, very expensive day.
posted by effugas at 5:26 AM on July 25, 2007

If you don't really want your father back in your life, don't call him. Just be civil at the wedding. If he's drunk or stoned and acting up, keep your distance as much as possible.

So many, many times in my life I have expected an encounter with someone or other to be a big psychodrama and it turned out to be completely banal and unremarkable. Odds are this could be a similar experience for you.
posted by orange swan at 5:28 AM on July 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Meet and have coffee with him a few days before the wedding. By limiting it to coffee, you can make it quick and by meeting with him, you can gauge if there will be a problem and have an idea how to handle him at the wedding, if you need to.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:38 AM on July 25, 2007

Don't call him. He knows you'll be at the wedding, he's just as nervous as you. Seeing him in a social setting will act as a buffer and allow you to smile when you see him and say, "I've been so nervous about seeing you, but I'm glad you're here," in a way that diffuses the need for a long, overwrought conversation about it.

Such a run-in will open the lines of communication-- to a point. Which is good, because it sounds like that's as far as you are willing to go right now.
posted by hermitosis at 6:03 AM on July 25, 2007

I also think it might be a good idea to call or meet him very briefly before the wedding, for reasons others have mentioned. It will give you a chance to gauge what he might be like at the wedding. It will take care of any questions that he has of whether you intend to be civil toward him or not. And hopefully then he will be civil at the wedding too. I like what effugas suggested you say. Emphasize how glad everyone is he'll be able to be there, and emphasize how much your brother is looking forward to having a great wedding, without lecturing your dad about how he'd better be good.

Of course, I do not think you have any obligation to do this. The man has caused you a great deal of trouble, and if you really can't bring yourself to talk to him before the wedding, that doesn't make you a bad person. But do be civil toward him at the wedding, and just hope he does the same.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 8:03 AM on July 25, 2007

I agree with a quick call or coffee. If you don't want a relationship that's your call and sounds like it'd be justified, but taking that little step shows maturity on your part, I think.

I recently ended a long stalemate with my own father. Be glad it's happening because of a wedding and not a funeral. Any problems my dad and I had don't seem very important anymore.
posted by Drew_Blood at 10:02 AM on July 25, 2007

So, my question: Do I call him before the wedding? I really have no desire to, but think that this is probably the most mature and thoughtful thing to do before actually being face to face at my brother's wedding.

I might be flying in the face of other people's advice, but I'd go a different route: I'd make sure your brother was not seating you at the same table, then leave it alone until the day of, and make sure you have a date/a few friends there. Then when you see him at the event, you can exchange a few shallow pleasantries, then move on, and if he decided to open up some kind of dialog right then and there, your date/friends can politely interrupt and pull you away.

If you choose to reopen your life with your dad, you can do that, obviously; I'm just suggesting you decide to do so (if you do) separately from this event, so that you're free to enjoy the event without it being about him.
posted by davejay at 11:54 AM on July 25, 2007

I think effugas (first post) nails it. Best to warn him that this is not the time for him to rehash stuff with you, rather it's your brother's day. It's either a quick phone call now, or lots of nervousness about an incident at the wedding. I would prefer to not have to worry so much about that.
posted by xammerboy at 12:16 PM on July 25, 2007

I think any contact you have with him before the big day will help to buffer the "seeing him at the wedding" thing, and telling yourself that it's your brother's day is the utmost. Don't ask your brother to seat you at different tables (sorry davejay); he has enough shit to worry about let alone wondering if his dad and sister are going to get into it. It's up to you and Dad...
posted by wafaa at 4:06 PM on July 25, 2007

I agree with hermitosis, don't call. I also agree with davejay about separating your relationship with your dad from your brother's wedding, but from a different angle. Everyone at the wedding will probably be their best behavior. If your dad shows up drunk or high, then that answers your question, doesn't it?

I was matron of honor at my cousin's wedding, two years ago. We had several family members who weren't on speaking terms in at the same table. Everyone was able to sack up and be polite for an hour (while the meal was served.) After that, those family members who were inclined, left the table without incident.

I'll bet you can do the same. If your dad can't, you won't be the one looking like a fool.
posted by luminous phenomena at 3:58 PM on July 30, 2007

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