What's fair to expect of my dad after my parent's divorce?
My parents let me know they were separating and getting a divorce last November. It was surprising. I’m an adult (34), live thousands of miles away, am married, and have a kid on the way so their job as “parents” is pretty much taken care of. They separated for a number of reasons but in short I guess you could say they decided they’d be happier apart. I hope they both find that happiness.
Before the divorce I talked to them both pretty much every week for the past 5+ years. I genuinely like them both beyond the fact that they’re my parents, appreciate what they did in raising me, and feel I was really lucky to have them. Neither of them “owes” me anything at this point, if anything I owe them.
I went to visit them separately in early December to help out where I could and let them both know I still love them and wanted to have a relationship with them each individually. Since then I’ve talked to my mom every week. I spoke to my dad on Christmas and New Year’s Day, but not since.
I’ve called him a few times since then, left messages, and sent several emails. After not hearing anything back after 4–5 emails and several months I quit writing and figured he’d get in touch when he’s ready. I’m trying not to be angry at him for that.
Last week he called my wife out of the blue to check up on her and her pregnancy. She missed the call, so she sent him several text messages and a sweet email catching him up and just expressing that she misses him and hopes he’s doing well. My hope was that maybe going through her was the easiest first step for him and it would lead to some communication.
He hasn’t responded to her at all. She’s upset and keeps wondering if she said something wrong or if he’s OK. She really wants our kid(s) to know their grandpa.
I’ve tried to not let my family drama affect my wife too much and so I’m somewhat protective of her. If anyone taught me this, it’s my dad.
So I feel I need to say something to him and at least let him know there are some expectations on our side. This is new to all of us and he can’t follow rules he doesn’t know about. I don’t want to be dismissive, I don’t want to be unfair, I understand his life has been flipped upside down this year and he’s in a new city, with a new job, and a completely different future. It’s a lot to take in.
But with the baby coming I feel like we need to know some basics, even if they force some decisions. Does he want to be involved with the baby? Is he OK and just needs time or does he feel we’ve abandoned him? The answers don’t have to stay the same forever but we need to know what his plans are when it comes to me, my wife, and the baby.
I’ve never been through a divorce or had my life changed like that, so I’m looking for some perspective here. Are those questions fair? Are the requests and expectations fair? Would you be offended?
I feel so much has changed and he has so many new people around him that I can’t necessarily count on what I know of him to gauge those questions, so I’m looking for a more general answer.
Sorry for the length here, thanks for your thoughts.
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