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Anyone have serious problems with a parent as an adult?

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BonnyLass

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Dec 19, 2008
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I know this is rather heavy stuff for a forum like this, but I just got off the phone with my dad and I''m in tears. I''m now 29, and since my parents'' divorce and my dad''s subsequent remarriage 2 weeks later, I''ve been in constant pain. My dad chose to marry a very controlling, manipulative woman who has two kids a little younger than I. From the beginning he spent very little time alone with me, just the two of us doing something together. Whenever I wanted to, they would both say that I was being selfish and trying to separate them. I was only a child, they were both adults. I was never uncivil to her, ever. Little by little between the ages of 11 and 16 I''d start going to his house a lot less because I hated dealing with her. She always made snide comments about me in front of my dad and he would do nothing. She also told parents of my friend that my mom was a mean person, and the parents later informed my mom, after meeting her, that she was nothing like what they''d been told. These are just a few things that happened and honestly, every week she would say and do hurtful things so I can''t remember them all.

My dad is very well off and since I was about 16 it became obvious that he paid for a lot more stuff for her kids than for me. It''s not about the money- it was about feeling like I wasn''t even his child anymore. She would complain openly about how much alimony and child support my mom got, even though it was none of her business. He never got me a car, but I remember my stepsister, who was a year younger, arrived to school one day in a new truck. He paid for her $60k wedding several years ago, and I''m sure is paying for her next wedding in June. I''m not being a bean counter- these are simply some early examples and I''m very thankful that I''ve never wanted for anything in my life. It just hurts so much that the support and affection given to his step children is ok because it''s sanctioned by her.

I''m so embarrassed to say this at 29, but I just got off the phone with my dad where I had to ask for some money. He''s helped me over the years and I''m extremely grateful for it, but he completely hides it from my step mother. After saying that he''d send me some money, which again I''m so grateful for right now, he then said that she believes that I''d like to see them separated because of something I said 14 years ago. I''ve never said anything like that to them. I''ve thought it, yes, but never said it to them! It''s like he doesn''t have the courage to put up with her nonstop complaining so he hides it. He said the next time I come home we all need to sit down and bury the hatchet- something I''d like to do in theory but I know I''d be lying to myself if I did it.

His entire family hates her, btw, so it''s not just me. The first xmas afterr they married we were at my grandparents'' house and she asked to use the master bathroom. My grandfather went into the bedroom for something and found her looking through my grandmother''s jewelry in a drawer. She''s also told my dad that because I treat him and my grandfather so badly I should be left nothing by my grandfather. Treating my grandfather badly to her means that I don''t call him enough (how would she know?) and treating my dad badly is because I''m a bad daughter for supposedly not accepting her and not seeing my dad enough. I have never, ever, ever expected anything from anyone''s will, and the fact that my father thinks she''s justified in her crazy observations is truly absurd! Ah!

If you''ve read this stream-of-consciousness you''re amazing, lol! I''m still so upset. With some age I''ve dealt with the pain much better, but sometimes it does creep back and I feel like a wounded and shocked 11 year old all over again. I also need to get my life totally in order so I don''t have to ask for money sometimes. Does anyone have any adivice on how to cope? Thanks to all.
 

tlh

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 31, 2008
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4,511
Your father now has additional children. Just because they are not his biological children does not mean that he does not love and care for them... and in some respect, he may be spending more money on them than he does on you to... PROVE his love to THEM. It is hard being a step-parent. You only wanted a new tea pot, but in order to get the tea pot you also had to get the tea cups... they came as an unbreakable set.

I see from your view that this is hard for you in many ways. But just so I understand, your mother has primary custody? If that is the case, it would be up to your mother to provide you with the car, etc. A lot of times it is seen that the alimony and child support cover your NEEDS... ie roof, water, electricity. But it does not cover your WANTS. However your father may view that the support covers both, and it is up to the primary parent to cover the dispursement of the want and need funds. It could have caused a lot of hardship and resentment for your mother had he purchased you a new car.. and then left your mother to cover the insurance premiums. You never know why people chose to do the things they do... but it is his money to spread out as he pleases.

I think the best course of action is to speak openly about how you feel. Which is the unequal treatment from one child to the next. But keep in mind as you talk your case and point, just because you are a blood related child, does not give you more rights to his love, money and affection, as do his new children... but if you feel you are being NEGLECTED, that is not a healthy way to be either. As sometimes a parent overcompensates with the step child, and figures the biological children know the love is there... and because the focus is deviated, they end up neglecting their children.

Best wishes, I am very sorry you are going through this and feel this way.
 

geckodani

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 25, 2008
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8,896
I'm so sorry to hear that you are going through this. Parent child relationships are so odd, even when you're grown. I wish I had some good advice for you.


It sounds like this woman sees you as a threat, for whatever reason. Do you think that a conversation would accomplish anything, or just make matters more tense?

ETA: tlh made some excellent points.
 

justjulia

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 4, 2006
Messages
2,308
There is no easy answer to this one.

I''ve been there.

I''m going to say something that is going to sound a little frank, but my best advice is to put your big girl pants on and be as objective as possible.

I believe we tend to fight our battles just as we did when we were originally introduced to them. In other words, you are probably reacting like a normal 11 year old.

I''m not trying to criticize, I''m just telling you because that''s what I did. At some point, which may not come until you are out of your thirties (because when you have your own children it will raise its head again as they are now in grandparent roles and you will relive all that competition as you want your own children to get due attention...) you will mentally walk away from it and be your own universe.

You do need to get your own finances in order for that to happen. Takes time.

There''s no law that says you have to like her and get along with her, nor she with you. I''d just concentrate on spending alone time with your dad on your turf or somewhere away from his home. Tell him that is what you need.
 

lliang_chi

Ideal_Rock
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3,740
TLH made some really good points. I don''t have any advice to offer, but just wanted to lend my support. Hugs.
 

NuggetBrain

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
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206
I am so very sorry you''re going through that. The only thing I can think of to suggest is that you do try and bury the hatchet with them - not at their house, but at a neutral place. Maybe a park, or a restaurant. No matter how much they might irritate you, stay calm and when you''re expressing your emotions, try to avoid the blame game. Do a lot of "When you do X, I feel X". And if it does go as you expect, you can tell yourself that you tried everything in your power to make things right, but they weren''t willing or ready to work with you, and you can walk away. Your dad might never give you what you think you deserve (financially or emotionally) compared to his other children, but you should try your hardest to make amends, and if you can''t then go on making yourself a healthy life.
 

Bia

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 28, 2008
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6,181
I agree that you might need to, as an adult, be a little bit more objective. Understand that these situations are never as black and white as they seem. As a kid, and even now, you''re a bit defensive. I am sure your stepmother is as well. That''s just how these things pan out a lot of the times. Some families make it work so that it looks effortless, but it''s never easy combining two families. I loved the analogy that tlh gave with the teapot/teacups, because that''s essentially what it is.

I''m sure your father hasn''t had an easy go of it either--but it DOES sound like he tries. If he is asking you to bury the hatchet, try your best. You don''t have to love your step mom, or her children, but you can try to at least be friendly for the sake of your relationship with your father--because like it or not, they are his family too.

It''s tough because our parents sometimes make it easy for us to still feel like children around them--and give us that sense of entitlement, "Well, he''s my dad!!!" In reality, you have had to share him for many years, so why not let some of the hurt go and just accept it for what it is. And accept her for someone you may never truly get along with. But at least this way, they can''t say you don''t try.

You can do it. (((hugs)))
 

Italiahaircolor

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 16, 2007
Messages
5,184
Bonnie, I relationships are can always be very trying...I''m sorry your going through this but I agree with Tlh very much on this one.
 

BonnyLass

Rough_Rock
Joined
Dec 19, 2008
Messages
25
I see what you guys are saying, but it''s not about the stuff. Those were just examples. He won''t come to visit me because she complains. He wouldn''t come to see me in college because she''d complain. I''d spend loads of time with them when I lived in their town going to all her kids'' stuff, very rarely to mine. It was all very lopsided and still is. My pain comes from that and my father blaming me for my step mother''s insecurities.
 

purrfectpear

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 31, 2008
Messages
4,079
It is what it is, and by age 29 you need to start accepting that. Clearly you don''t like your stepmom, and clearly your dad does. You mention he''s helped you out financially several times, and still is. You are peeved that he "hides" that from his wife. I can understand him not wanting her to know, he''s ashamed that you aren''t self sufficient. Honestly I''d be grateful for the help, I''d suck it up and deal with any issues of "unfairness" in therapy, and I''d try to put my obvious bitterness behind me. There are two sides to every story.
 

justjulia

Ideal_Rock
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Apr 4, 2006
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Date: 4/9/2009 11:05:19 AM
Author: purrfectpear
It is what it is, and by age 29 you need to start accepting that. Clearly you don''t like your stepmom, and clearly your dad does. You mention he''s helped you out financially several times, and still is. You are peeved that he ''hides'' that from his wife. I can understand him not wanting her to know, he''s ashamed that you aren''t self sufficient. Honestly I''d be grateful for the help, I''d suck it up and deal with any issues of ''unfairness'' in therapy, and I''d try to put my obvious bitterness behind me. There are two sides to every story.
I don''t think he''s ashamed of her. That''s harsh.

I think he''s just trying to dodge bullets from both sides and wants peace.

I do think that as an adult, she needs to deal with him as an adult. Have that meeting and try to move forward.
 

cara

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 21, 2006
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2,202
This may not be directly on point, but my problem with the statement that there are two sides to every story is the implication that whatever the original story is, there is a story with the opposite viewpoint and the truth is somewhere in the middle. Sometimes the truth is not "in the middle".

In this case, maybe there is more backstory or counterpoints to BonnyLass's viewpoint that would make us more sympathetic to her father and stepmother, but I think there is enough detail in her side to identify hurtful behavior and the fact that her father and stepmother's actions made her feel like a less important child than her stepsiblings. I don't think you can just blame it all on a stepparent (her father) overcompensating for not being a biological father to his stepkids, especially as well-off, non-custodial biological parents that are trying to stay involved with their biological kids lives often do end up spoiling them, or supplementing by giving the bio-kid all their wants, while the custodial parent has to spend the money covering the needs.

One nitpicky thing from your story, BonnyLass: Maybe you never said directly to your father/stepmother that you hoped they got a divorce, but I'm sure that your feelings were clear and you *may* have said something like that or implied it and not remembered it given your strong feeling even now and the fact that you were an adolescent. Just as you have been very sensitive to slights directed at you and your mother, I'm sure your stepmother has been sensitive to your opinions. (Not in the way that would be best, ie. being considerate of your feelings, but rather being sensitively attuned to what opinion you are registering.) So rather than being outraged that you never said something 14 years ago, I would be outraged that your father is throwing at you something you may have said 14 years ago (when you were a teenager!) and blaming that supposed comment for the difficult relationship! That is absurd.

And while it may be an opening to bring up all the things your stepmother said 14 years ago, I don't think you want to go down that road. Because your father is the one you care about, and he wants you to bury the hatchet, so that he can have a peaceful relationship with his wife and daughter without having to mediate anything. And he obviously would prefer to ignore all the hurtful things your stepmother may have said or the ways in which he has slighted you over the years. He might not even see them, if he has built good blinders to wear when navigating the world.

At some point, it boils down to this. Your father obviously still loves you but he loves his wife too, and his wife gets higher priority. She did when you were a child (and when perhaps you should have gotten more priority) and she most certainly gets higher priority in his life now that you are an adult. She is also clearly his chosen life partner so something in him is attracted to her and he has chosen to build his life with her, whatever her flaws. So burying the hatchet is in your best interests. Doesn't mean you have to love your stepmother, or even like her. It means you have to give up hating her, and find a way to be civil and welcoming to her that has some honesty behind it, even if it is a realistic honesty that remembers her flaws as a person and all. It also means acknowledging that your father is a flawed person, one who would prefer to ignore the wreckage of the past, the role his divorce may have caused in hurting his daughter. And the benefit is that you get more access to your father with less cost to him, if his wife sees you as less of a threat.

You asked in your opening if anyone has problems with a parent as an adult. I definitely do, though my situation is a little different. My parents divorced when I was an adult, and my father is the one going off on rants against my mother and punishing me for not taking his side. Its kind of crazy to watch your previously reasonable and loving parent just go off the deep end without any regard to your feelings. Well, at first I was more understanding because of the divorce, but as time went on he got worse, not better. I guess I always knew he had an angry side and a lack of perspective on certain things, but somehow it morphed and took over his personality and became a huge issue in our relationship after the divorce. All I learned in therapy (and I didn't go long, so maybe there is more!) is that I can't fix him and I have to figure out how to deal with him in a way that isn't so hurtful to me. Which is hard when he has at this point hurt me deeply. So I am wishing you the best of luck, and maybe it would help to talk to a therapist at least so that you can set realistic expectations and get some advice about the best way to approach the situation.
 

NuggetBrain

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
206
Date: 4/9/2009 11:05:19 AM
Author: purrfectpear
It is what it is, and by age 29 you need to start accepting that. Clearly you don't like your stepmom, and clearly your dad does. You mention he's helped you out financially several times, and still is. You are peeved that he 'hides' that from his wife. I can understand him not wanting her to know, he's ashamed that you aren't self sufficient. Honestly I'd be grateful for the help, I'd suck it up and deal with any issues of 'unfairness' in therapy, and I'd try to put my obvious bitterness behind me. There are two sides to every story.
I don't see how you would draw that he was ashamed she wasn't self-sufficent from anything she posted. Maybe you would think that about your own child, but projecting that emotion onto something completely different is patently unfair. Especially since she didn't say what the money was for. Maybe she just got laid off. Maybe it was an unexpected and big medical bill. Maybe it was an emergency situation. She does express embarassment for the fact she had to ask which tells me the very opposite - usually people who are not self-sufficent don't feel bad at all about asking for money from their parents.
 

AmberGretchen

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7,770
BonnyLass,

I feel like some of the responses here have been perhaps a bit unnecessarily harsh, or misguided. I think this type of situation is extremely difficult to understand unless you have been there and experienced something similar.

I will say that I think the money stuff, as hurtful as it is, is the first thing to work on not thinking about. I know that''s easier said than done, but its the least likely to change and I think its only serving as a proxy for what is really hurting you, which is what you said - your dad has withdrawn from you and been less affectionate, while allowing your stepmother to cut down both you and your mother in a malicious fashion.

I completely understand this, because I have a very similar situation. My parents were divorced when I was 4, my dad married my step-mom when I was 6. Things basically got progressively worse from that time until I went away to college at 18, and then even worse after that. They especially took a big jump when I was 11 and they adopted a little girl together (she was 4 at the time, so about 7.5 years younger than I am). My stepmother, and then my father, progressively became meaner and meaner to me and blatantly favored this other child, all while bad-mouthing my own mother and doing whatever they could to interfere with my having a relationship with her.

I was basically a very good kid in high school - I did ballet almost 40 hours a week, which kept me out of most trouble, and on top of that I got straight A''s in mostly honors classes and volunteered at a local hospital. No drinking, no drugs, no staying out past curfew, and they always knew where I was. And yet my stepmother constantly found ways to criticize me and tear me down - I was selfish, thoughtless, irresponsible, didn''t care enough about her, my dad, my sister, cared too much about my mom, was a bad person because I didn''t share every detail of my life with my dad and stepmom, etc...

Other family members and friends would comment on it to her, to my dad, to me, all to no avail. Much of it was justified as "oh, she''s the good kid, she has it together, she doesn''t need love/encouragement/celebrations of what she accomplishes, and it would only make our other child feel bad if we did that." It was incredibly painful. And it continued when I moved back to the area after college - she didn''t approve of my (now DH) when we got engaged because he wasn''t Jewish. She forced me to participate in family ceremonies and rituals I didn''t agree with and then got mad and told me I was being immature when I objected. She forced elements of my wedding on me that I didn''t want and that made my FILs and others uncomfortable (including me).

Finally, when I looked through my wedding photos, and realized that while everyone else was overjoyed for me and my DH on that day - smiling and joyful, but she couldn''t even be bothered to smile in a single picture, it clicked. Not one photo out of 1000. I realized, it didn''t matter what I did, she was never going to be happy with it or with me, and by proxy, since she had so strongly influenced me, neither would my father.

I''ve not spoken to her in almost 3 years (basically since I got married), and I''ve only seen my father a handful of times. I went to counseling, which helped a lot, and the counselor said what so many had said over the years - these people are toxic and you need to put as much distance between you and them as you can.

So while this will sound harsh and extreme, and I''m sure there are those who will disagree, if this situation you are in is truly similar to what I went through, you need to work on putting emotional distance there to protect yourself. If you think the situation can be salvaged, by all means, please do try to do that - I think that closeness with your dad, if you can recapture it, will be extremely valuable to you. But in order to do that, you need to recognize the inherent limitations of the relationship he can have with you in the context of staying married to your stepmom and having relationships with his stepchildren.

I''m so sorry you are going through this - I know how difficult it can be, and how painful. I wish you the best of luck in finding your own path and your own solution.
 

cara

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 21, 2006
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Date: 4/9/2009 12:22:22 PM
Author: AmberGretchen
... if this situation you are in is truly similar to what I went through, you need to work on putting emotional distance there to protect yourself. If you think the situation can be salvaged, by all means, please do try to do that - I think that closeness with your dad, if you can recapture it, will be extremely valuable to you. But in order to do that, you need to recognize the inherent limitations of the relationship he can have with you in the context of staying married to your stepmom and having relationships with his stepchildren.
Nice post AmberGretchen. Just wanted to say I agree with this part in particular for Bonnylass- burying the hatchet with your stepmom is important to improving your relationship with your father but it may be healthier to have more distance from them both and protect yourself. That is a real hard one for you to figure out, but there it is.

I also think leaving the money out of it for now is best. Even your father currently not telling his wife about helping you out - that is something parents do when they have different parenting philosophies. My grandmother was always slipping money to my uncle because she knew my grandfather would have a more 'tough love' opinion. Of course you would attribute any resistance to helping you out on your stepmother's part to her not liking you, and you may be right, but there are other explanations. You are also an adult now, so its not supposed to hurt as much when your parents choose not to give you money they would give to another sibling, but of course it does, especially when it echoes hurts imposed when you were a child.
 

Maisie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 30, 2006
Messages
12,578
I''m sorry you are having such a hard time Bonny Lass. It can''t be easy for you. I have a similar problem except its my ex husband who isn''t bothering with our children. It breaks my heart to see their faces every time he lets them down.. all because his new wife doesn''t want him to see the kids. My husband now (we have been together for 6 years) does everything for the kids but they want to spend time with their real dad too. He is just happier to let them down rather than confront his wife and tell her he wants to see them.

My ex is saving up to have his vasectomy reversed. If they do end up having children together my kids can kiss goodbye to any kind of relationship with their dad.

I hope you can sort things out with your dad but if you can''t maybe its time to let it go.. for your own peace of mind.

Good luck. Sending you big hugs.
 

Tuckins1

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 13, 2008
Messages
8,614
I feel your pain. My father and mother got divorced when I was about 5... He re-married a year ot two later. From that point on my dad was totally under her control and she was awful to me! She had three boys of her own, and if he EVER wanted to spend a minute of special time with just him and me, she flipped a nut. She would trash talk my mother right in front of me and treats my dad like sh** and he just puts up with it. Because of her, I did not have any relationship with my dad from age 10 or so, on through adulthood. We have since come to terms with things, but I do not ever depend on him for anything or confide in him. I''m sorry that your father has made you feel bad... Please try to remember that you are an adult and no one else is allowed to tell you how to feel, or how you should act. If your dad and step-monster make you feel horrible, maybe you should try to limit your exposure to them. It''s their loss.
 
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