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Not inviting dad for family weekend

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  • #841371 Reply

    Just wanted some objective advice about an issue that’s been going on for a few years with my dad and family vacations. Background is that my mom passed away a few years ago suddenly , and since then, my siblings and I have been trying to heal as a family. My dad is a solitary guy, so he has withdrawn from our attempts to rebuild our family and instead resorted to taking up smoking and drinking again. In the years since my mom died, I have regularly visited him in our hometown to check in on him, despite him not seeming to care either way.

    On visits to his home turf, things are generally ok. However, each time I’ve planned a family holiday for all of us to see each other (usually around holidays), it’s been miserable. He drinks and then picks fights with other family members, making much of the vacation difficult. He got blackout drunk the night before my wedding and threatened to ruin it by saying mean stuff during a toast (my siblings were up all night convincing him not to). On the same weekend, he got drunk and screamed at me in the street for picking a restaurant we had to walk to (a person driving by actually stopped her car to see if I needed help).

    The latest incident was over Christmas when he again started drinking, then yelled at me because he misheard something. I tried to de-escalate the situation by requesting that we talk later when he wasn’t drinking. The next morning, I tried to talk to him, and he was furious that I accused him of being drunk, trotted out all the things he did for me before I was 18 (pretty normal parent stuff and he did not pay for my college), and then told me he wanted nothing to do with me. All because I wanted to talk with him in the sober light of day to get an apology. Normally, I have just let things blow over, but I was tired of this pattern. He eventually walked back the disowning, but I was pretty upset about it even after. I’m also pregnant and I had just told him about it that weekend. I’ve stayed a bit distant ever since, mostly because the fight still makes me upset and I’m trying to not be stressed out while pregnant (did I also mention I am in the midst of a job change and international move?)

    Which brings me to now. A family member is hosting a shower in my current town, and my siblings want to use it as an occasion to get together. It sounds lovely, but they want me to extend an invite to my dad. Honestly, after so many family holidays being ruined by his behavior, I just don’t want to. I get that he’s probably still grieving, and to be honest, my siblings and I are too. He just won’t own up to how destructive his grief has been, particularly because we’re just his kids and his traditional values won’t let him lose face.

    I want him to see the baby after it’s born, but I also want to enjoy the last few months of my pregnancy and not have another conflict with my dad or worrying that he’s going to be awful to my siblings or my husband or my in-laws. Is it ok to take a break for this one weekend? Particularly because it’ll be baby focused? Should I extend an invite and let my siblings manage him? What would you do?

    #841373 Reply

    NO, NO, NO!!! I would not extend the invite and I would suggest the family seek counseling and advice from a support group regarding your fathers alcohol addiction. I would also hold all family holidays at home away from public view. That way when he shows out he can be taken home and/or put to bed knowing he is in a safe place for the time being. If your father continues his drunken insults or confrontation then leave, everyone just leave. It might not be a bad idea to have someone video him when he is on a drunk rampage and somehow send him the video or show it to him if he isnt remembering.

    #841376 Reply
    avatarMiss MJ

    Do not extend the invite. Please take this time for yourself and your husband and your coming baby and the family that makes you happy. Regardless of his reasons or excuses, your father has proven that he cannot be trusted to behave appropriately in family situations. Ergo, he does not get invited to family situations. If you want to meet with him in a public, controlled setting after your baby is born, then do that. But you’re not obligated to keep on bringing him to situations where he insults, berates and offends you or anyone else who is present. So, don’t. Best to set boundaries now, before your child is subjected to his drunken ravings.

    #841377 Reply
    avatarMiss MJ

    Oh, and I’d insist on meet him at a coffee shop or restaurant that does not serve alcohol.

    #841384 Reply

    Agree – don’t extend an invite. But I have a slightly different take on the whole situation: Your dad is one of those miserable people who create chaos to prove that chaos exists. They push the people around them away and then hold a pity party saying that “everyone I ever loved leaves me!” Your dad is an asshole, don’t get me wrong. You can call him out on his behavior “As long as you are drinking, I will not spend time with you. If you are drunk, I will leave. That’s the rule.”

    It puts the onus on him. He has the choice to drink. He can get the help he needs. Or he can continue.

    Congrats on your pregnancy -you have to protect yourself and this new person-to-be. Best start defining the boundary now so it’s super clear and well defined.

    #841390 Reply

    I just want to add that you are going to a parent soon and will be responsible for creating a safe and stable environment for your kid. The behavior your kid sees will shape his/her sense of normal and appropriate. If you let your fatger go berserk and bully you, you will be teaching your child that crazy and abusive behavior is normal and appropriate and something that he has to accept.

    #841391 Reply

    Just chiming in to offer kind thoughts. Losing a parent young and then trying to cope with your dad’s addiction and self-destruction in the aftermath while going on in your life is a lot to process. Of course you want to avoid stress while you’re pregnant. I think I’d ask the host to not invite dad because things aren’t great with you two. I don’t think you owe anyone a huge explanation even if they may naturally want to understand. I think you can politely evade by telling whoever is hosting you’d rather not discuss the details and you appreciate them understanding your conflict is just between father and daughter, right now. You can’t change how other people will react to you but you can choose to remain calm and not let other people’s feelings and preferences undermine your confidence in your decisions.

    I’d call your closest sibling and explain that hosting dad is just too overwhelming to you right now and ask if they would mind telling the other siblings on your behalf.

    If you haven’t been to al-anon, it might be a good place to go for a little while to get some ideas on what you can realistically change with your dad.

    Try not to feel guilty about setting limits. You have every right to be protective towards your small family and your own limits. If your father wishes to come visit right after the baby is born, I’d recommend asking another family member to accompany him and help him abide limits and leave when its time to rest. He should probably stay somewhere else. I might also make it clear he isn’t welcome to visit while or right after he has been drinking. Get some help enforcing your boundaries. I hope you are able to focus on having a lovely shower and enjoying your new baby. Congratulations and good luck.

    #841392 Reply

    Oh my. I’m so sorry for the loss of your mom and the way your father has chosen to treat you. This is just a really sad situation. It is absolutely 100% ok not to invite your dad and not want to spend time with him, especially while pregnant when you want to keep stress as low as possible. Feel free to take a pass on this one and ask your siblings to do the same. Would it be possible while you are all together to meet with an addiction counselor/specialist instead of with your dad? I also think you could benefit from individual therapy- there are definitely boundaries that need to be set with your dad. After you complete the move I strongly recommend getting some therapy. His behavior is abusive. What do you see a a future relationship with him? Do you want to start to change things going forward? Accept things as they are and keep distant contact? Go no contact? There is no right or wrong answer. I will say though, you have the right to set boundaries and keep them, i.e. If there is screaming or verbal abuse, I will leave/hang up immediately. If you threaten to ruin family events you are automatically uninvited to those events, no negotiations will take place.

    If you decide to go this route (and I hope you do because I hate the thought of you being verbally abused), there may be tantruming or threats if you set these boundaries, and he may try to test them. Because what you are doing is taking his behavior and making it his problem instead of your own. There may be a lot of walking away/hanging up/leaving family events early and “ruining” them for a while. That might suck. But that’s what it generally takes to create a change in behavior in another person. You change your own behavior and then you do not give an inch until they learn you are serious. A therapist who specializes in abuse and/or addiction will be a great help to you in navigating this situation

    #841403 Reply

    I’m so sorry about the loss of your mother.

    At this point in your life, you have to do what’s best for you and your baby. Stress is not good for pregnant women. I think you should try to meet with an addiction specialist, or a therapist and learn how to create boundaries and enforce them. Even just one meeting could help you. Your doctor would also back you up, and if asked would tell you to put yourself as far away from stressful situations as possible.

    Can you have a family member take the lead and be your advocate? Would your husband be willing to step in? Everyone in your family can see your father is a mess right now. Is there anyone else who can get him into treatment, or convince him to go into grief counseling? I think it’s time for you to hand off this stress and responsibility to another sibling, all the siblings, or family members. Maybe writing it down could help and be a less stressful way to say, “No, he’s not welcome unless he’s not been drinking.”

    I’m so sorry you are dealing with this right now.

    Please try to keep in mind that you and your baby’s health and well-being are the most important thing right now. It’s okay to say “No, that doesn’t work for me. My doctor has told me stress can really harm me and the baby right now. I can’t deal with his volatility.”

    Good luck, and congratulations!

    #841404 Reply

    I’m sorry for the loss of your mother. My opinion is also: Don’t invite him. I think everyone else has covered why you should do this for yourself, but I’ll also say that as the person the shower is being thrown for … don’t subject your guests to this either. I don’t know how big the shower is and if it’s only people who will have consented to him attending or if there will be other family/friends, but if it’s the latter, it’s best not to make them sit through his behavior either.

    Obviously, I think you should think of yourself first in this, but I mention this in case that’s not enough to convince you. Otherwise, I think the host needs to give the guest a heads up about what they may be signing up for by attending…

    #841407 Reply

    I only want to add, that if you had wanted him there but were worried about his behavior i would’ve suggested that you 1) Tell him if he wants to attend he is not allowed to drink and if his behavior gets out of control he will be asked to leave 2) Task a sibling to watch him and remove him as soon as he breaks your pre set rules.

    HOWEVER, you do not want him there and i think that’s totally reasonable. Tell your siblings that while you are not hosting the shower (obviously) you are the guest of honor and you have chosen to not include your father. You can either not tell him about it, or you can state that because of such and such he is not invited but you look forward to seeing him after the birth of your child in a sober environment.

    #841408 Reply

    You also have my deepest condolences about your mother. I lost my own several years ago and i can’t imagine how complicated my emotions will be when i’m pregnant for the first time and she’s not there. I was very lucky that my father (who was usually withdrawn from our family unit) stepped up and himself, my siblings and i became so much closer.

    I am very sorry that on top of losing your mother, it may feel like you’re losing your father as well. I hope he gets help for his grief and his drinking problem so that he can enjoy the children and grandchildren in his life.

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