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Adult child/parent issues

tryingtoheal

Rough_Rock
Joined
Dec 4, 2016
Messages
1
I am having the hardest time processing through my feelings towards my father. I hope putting them down here and maybe getting some advice or support will help.

I'm an adult now, 40 years old, and still having issues with my dad. I guess that's not unusual. He seems to have no interest in talking to me about anything emotional, so I feel like it's hard to move forward either with our relationship or to clear myself of the negativity, which is really frustrating.

My dad was my hero, and I was his sidekick, when I was a kid. I felt very special to him, and a lot of my sense of self-worth was based on his approval. My mom was very subordinate in a 50's wifey way, and took a powerless, dependent, position in the family, so I didn't really look up to her, though she was very loving and I have had a steady good relationship with her for the most part.

When I was just out of college my parents suddenly split up because my dad had "met someone else". I don't know if my parents were ever super happy together, they had talked of divorcing years before, but they stuck it out, maybe "for the kids" or maybe just because it was safer and they are pretty traditional. My mom was utterly betrayed, and remains bitter. My dad married this new, younger woman and had a child who is in fact just 6 months older than my own son.

I tried to stay away and stay out of the mess when my parents were splitting up. I had been away, at school and traveling for years, so that was pretty easy. I didn't feel I had an opinion, except that perhaps it was for the best as maybe now they could find happier partnerships. They hadn't fought much or had other outward issues, but I wouldn't describe them as particularly loving towards each other, more like a "cold hearth" type of relationship. Or businesslike, each doing their prescribed role.

Anyway, at first I would visit my dad and this new wife and later a baby and just try to be okay with everything. My dad seemed pretty interested in attaching this new child to me and my younger sister as family members. The new wife is closer to my age than my dad's, which was a bit weird, but she is nice enough if a little cool. I always felt pretty uncomfortable in their home however, and out of place. Things got worse as the child, a son, got older. I found this framed letter my dad had written to his wife about how he felt so fulfilled now that he had a son, so that his "name would be carried on". Then my dad, who is in his 70's now with a 9 year old son, started bragging about how his son could get hefty SS payments since he was a dependent of my dad, a senior, and how he was going to make his son rich by the time he was 20. My dad is really into investing and does very well for himself.

This was hard to hear, as at that time I was really struggling financially, and was constantly worried about money. This was in the middle of the recession, I had left a place I'd been for 10 years, and was trying to reinvent my life. Then here is my dad, boasting about all the money he was directing to this new child and how he was never going to need to worry about money. I felt like he didn't care about me, and somehow I wasn't really even his daughter anymore. I felt like some distant niece or something.

I hadn't asked my dad for anything since college. I was raised to think my parents were going to help me with college and then - I don't know, I guess I thought maybe they would help out if needed, but I didn't plan to be dependent on them. I didn't ask for anything until it was time to get my first house. My mom was very supportive and chipped in, but when I asked my dad (who is an upper middle class professional, wealthy, and still working because he likes to) he seemed a bit put out, but chipped in a small amount. When the mortgage suddenly changed at the last minute and required a much larger down payment, I asked if he could chip in a bit more. He said he would loan me the needed amount ($5k) but only at the going rate of interest and it had to be paid back in 6 months. I passed and we found another way to make it work. I was a little offended that he (my parent) would want to make money off of me (his child). I could understand wanting a loan paid back, but in 6 months and with interest? Seemed pretty cold.

Other upsetting things to me: he had his new child call him Pa-pa' (accent on the second syllable) which sounded like some weird put-on frenchy air. Now he would write emails to me and sign them "Pa Pa", which bugged me. I had always called him Dad. I brought it up and said, you know you are 'Dad' to me, and how it made me feel like he was rejecting being my father, but he ignored that and kept up with the Pa Pa thing.

Then at one point a few years ago, when I was starting to get my life stabilized but still really missed having a father figure in my life, I asked him if he could be more available to be my dad. He said he was "really busy".

At another point I was on a special diet, and was coming to visit him for a couple days, and mentioned my food requirements...of course when I got there, dinner was pizza. Very far from my dietary limits, so I couldn't eat dinner. Then we went out to lunch the next day, and again, though he knew there was nothing at McD's that I could eat, his son wanted to eat there so that's where we went. I sat there while the son ate. My dad did not offer to take me somewhere else.

You know the more I write this the more clear this picture is becoming. I can't believe I ever expected anything else from the next part of the story...

So as you can imagine, my contact with my dad has been brief and minimal for the past couple years. It was just too painful for me to be around him and feel constantly rejected as his daughter, and to not feel loved. But over the last 6 months we had been emailing and talking occasionally by phone, as I was looking at moving back to my home state, where both my parents still live. I have lived in another state for 16 years, basically since around the time my parents divorced. My dad seemed excited for me to "move back home", and even offered to check out properties in person for me. He seemed genuinely supportive and interested in the move. My husband and I found a place we are seriously interested in, which would require a smallish mortgage ($90k or less). I know we could get the mortgage ourselves, but rather than go through that whole process and also tie up credit, I thought, maybe my dad would want to help me out! He has the money, and he wants me to live closer. So I asked him if he would be interested in a loan to me, with 5% interest of course. Because of course he wouldn't just give me a loan to help me out, as I had seen in the past.

The answer was no. He said he can make 8-10% on his investments, so why would he want to take money out of those to loan to me at a lower rate? Yes that was his literal answer. Oh, and that he is in such a high tax bracket, that he didn't want to pay capital gains on sale of assets. The reasons basically come down to him being too rich.

So here I am, hurt and angry again. Yes his answer is logical and rational, but I know that if he wanted to, he could make it work out. It surprises me how much he gets under my skin. I guess it makes sense since he was the most important person to me growing up, the giver of affection if you did well by his standards. I still want him to love me. I still miss him being my dad. It's so weird because it's almost like my dad is gone, yet this other person just like him is still there, but that's not my dad anymore, yet he is? We still say "merry christmas, how was your trip, what's the weather like," etc. and follow all the basic conventions of acting like we are family, but at the same time it's hollow.

I don't know how to move forward. I've tried being distant and that works okay, but the wound is still there. I've tried getting slowly closer and then some other painful experience happens. I've tried being honest, like when I told him I really needed a dad in my life, and that didn't really work either. There's just no way to get what I want - to have my dad back - clearly. So a relationship with him has to be on his terms. How do I get okay with that, and not feel sad and hurt?
 

partgypsy

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Nov 7, 2004
Messages
6,298
this post makes me thankful that neither of my parents re-married after divorcing. Even though they are divorced we still all meet to have holidays together. I imagine that would be hard if one parent re-married and started a new life and family with someone else. I think it is pretty clear from the posts, your Dad, at this time in your life, does not feel super close to you. How he felt in the past, maybe that was different. Maybe that is something you can talk to him, or a therapist about.

One mistake I think you made, is asking your father for a loan. Knowing how my businessman father is, even though he loves me, he would have given me the same response. It's possible he may gift you some money to help you relocate, but I would not mix loaning money with family members, at its best it creates inequality in the relationship or resentment or worse. So if you wanted your father to help out financially, I would have been open-ended with it. If he wanted to give then let him give in his own way. You asking for a loan through him, versus getting a regular mortgage with your name on it, gives him the impression you are not financially responsible for your own debts, even if it's not true.
 
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