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JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

How should I deal with my father in this situation (see details)?

Asked by JeSuisRickSpringfield (6712points) October 29th, 2016

My step-father died a few days ago and my father is somehow making it all about him. My father never had a good thing to say about my step-father until recently, when my step-father was diagnosed with cancer. First he was angry that I didn’t call and let him know as soon as I found out that my step-father had passed away. Now he thinks I’m being rude for not constantly updating him about every little detail. Meanwhile, I’m trying to comfort my mother and accommodate her in my home since she doesn’t want to be on her own right now (which I totally understand).

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14 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Why is there any need to Deal. You just live your life as usual and respond to any comments from your father in a cool, calm manner. No need to justify your own position. It is what it is. That is all there is to it.

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

@YARNLADY For one thing, I care about my father. For another, he can become really annoying if he’s determined to, and I don’t want him to take it out on my wife (who is currently visiting him).

YARNLADY's avatar

I understand you care about him, but there is not need to let his comments/interference bother you. You can simply try to placate him with kind words without surrendering anything that is important to you

MrGrimm888's avatar

Talk to him. You’re both men. Tell him how you feel, and what’s annoying you. (Maybe not in those words )

Have a potential solution in mind. Not just criticism.

Find out what he wants, or expects out of all of this.

Communication is very important.

My father and I don’t communicate well, and as a result, we fight a lot. OR go through spells where we don’t talk. He’s very stubborn, and takes any criticism as needs for anger , or violence. It’s difficult. But it’s possible. I just try and speak to him straight up, with no bullshit, or anything other than being frank.

Beating around the bush just isn’t productive.

If he’s like my Dad, maybe you could try to pick a public place for your discussion. Most people don’t get violent, or loud in public places.

Good luck either way.

Peace n love.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Why does he feel he needs to be updated? Is he still very close to your mum?

I think @MrGrimm888 is right. You have to speak to him. You could tell him that while you appreciate his care and concern, right now, you time and emotions are pretty much absorbed by looking after you mum’s needs and you will try to speak to him once a week (or whatever works for you).

If you are close, and especially if your wife is with him right now, then I can see you want to try to keep things on an even keel. Try to take control by setting times when you will update him. Let him know things are very busy right now – as I’m sure they are!

I’m sorry for your loss @JeSuisRickSpringfield.

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

@MrGrimm888 My father and I usually communicate very well. That’s why this has been hard for me to figure out. I’ve been telling him everything he wants to know. It’s just never enough or on time (he keeps wanting to know why I didn’t tell him sooner). Anyway, we live hundreds of miles apart, so there’s no way to have a conversation in public. He has never cared what the general public thinks about him (or me), though, so I don’t think it would make much difference. He doesn’t hold back regardless of who else is around.

@Earthbound_Misfit I have no idea why he feels the need to be updated. He hasn’t spoken to my mother in almost 20 years. It was not an amicable divorce.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

It could be guilt. You said your father never had a kind word for your stepfather when he was alive. Maybe, down deep, he respected him, especially if your stepfather treated your mother well. And pride wouldn’t let him express that respect while the man was alive. Unfinished business.

jca's avatar

I’d say you need to be firm with him. Tell him “Dad, we’ve been really busy trying to handle the arrangements and people coming in, and choosing clothes for the funeral and everything like that. Please be patient. We’re communicating with a lot of people and mom is very upset, so I’m dealing with that too.” Whether your wife is there or not, it sounds like your father is too demanding and entitled and if you don’t rein him in, he’s going to continue to stress you out.

Is he planning to attend the services? I ask because if they were divorced 20 years ago and he lives hundreds of miles away, and he’s not planning to the attend the services then I am not sure why he needs constant updating. If he is planning to attend, tell him as soon as you have the dates set you’ll let him know.

Is there a chance he’s a bit senile? Does he drink?

jca's avatar

I want to add my condolences. My mom just died a month ago and I know the time between the death and the wake/funeral is extremely busy and stressful. Phone calls, arrangements, clothes, talking to friends and family, planning the luncheon or whatever you’re doing, going through photos and stuff for the wake, it’s non-stop, plus you are grieving.

BellaB's avatar

Can your wife generally handle your father?
Does he normally behave like an adult?

kritiper's avatar

He is dealing with grief in his own personal way. Give him plenty of space, time, and patience to deal with it.

Pandora's avatar

Tell him you appreciate all that he has done but you are really busy with all the arrangements and consoling you mom and you will contact him if you need his assistance on anything but for the moment you have things under control and then pivot the conversation to your wife’s visit. Ask him how things are going and if she is having a good time. As for not telling him about your step dad, you can simply say that you felt his private medical condition was something that should be determined by your step father to share with people and so it wasn’t your news to share. The same about your mother, who is your fathers ex and you will share how you are doing later, but at this time you need to concentrate and keep things together for your mom and settling her down in your home. Then pivot once more to your wife and thank him for taking such good care of her. This will make him feel like you are relying on him and that he isn’t forgotten. He shouldn’t behave this way, but I have a relative that is like that, so I can relate.

Sometimes a deep hatred can simmer down during the years and fizzle out as we get older. As already suggested maybe he feel guilty or maybe he just still genuinely care for your mom. I didn’t talk to my cousin for over 20 years and then one day we spoke on the phone and he was planning on visiting in the summer. Then I heard he passed away. I was in shock and a bit upset that I wasn’t told till 2 weeks later. We didn’t stay in communication but I still had a deep fondness for the boy I once knew and the years I let slip by. We get so wrapped up in our daily lives that we let love one’s sometimes slip by. As we get older we become more aware of how short our time is. Maybe he’s hoping to make the most of his time with you before it’s too late for himself.

Patton's avatar

I’m very sorry for your loss and for the additional stresses that the aftermath is putting on you. You have my sympathies, which is what I think you really need right now. Most of the answers you have received are genuine attempts to answer your question (with the exception of those telling you to act as if there isn’t a problem), but answers to this question won’t actually help you because the question itself isn’t what’s really bothering you. It’s an outgrowth of your own grief and stress. Your father’s bad behavior is something more present and concrete than your stepfather’s death, and so your pain over the latter has attached itself to the former as a coping mechanism. It’s perfectly normal, and you’ll be okay. But it’s frustrating. I understand that. So I offer you my condolences, and I wish you the best on your journey through the stages of grief. The annoying backseat driver won’t make the trip any easier, but take comfort in the fact that he won’t slow you down.

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