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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been somewhat estranged from my father and stepmother for several years, due to a really serious problem with communication and misunderstanding. Among other problems - they think for some reason I'm "trying to break up the family" because I had wanted to go out to lunch with my father as we used to do several years ago, about once a year I think. But now for some reason it has become horrible and wrong for me to ask him out to lunch. They are willing to have lunch with my husband and me, as long as we are all together. When we are together, should I ask them why it has become wrong for me to ask my father out to lunch and why they think I'm trying to break up the family, or should I pretend everything is fine?

Really very confusing situation and I'm trying to save $90 by asking you guys instead of going to the therapist.
 

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Oh my god WHAT IS IT with some families - mine included!!!

I have read some of the advice and lovely messages you have given other VBers and you seem like such a nice person - how infuriating that an action of kindness; ie, asking your father out to lunch, should be taken so wrongly!

You are right - it is a very confusing situation. It sounds to me like your stepmother is seriously insecure - like she thinks you might btch about her while you are out with your father or something like that. And, in my experience, some men go along with their wife's neuroses just to keep the peace. Atleast, my dad did this with my numerous stepmothers.

I personally think you have every right to ask your own father out to lunch - I think he should be very happy that you want to spend time with him and if your stepmother was a kind and well-balanced individual she would see it as a good and healthy thing.

But then again, maybe you shouldn't take my advice as I haven't heard from my dad in over 10 years and now my mum won't speak to me either - go figure! They were divorced when I was 5 and it was no fun at all. I tried to keep everyone happy for so long - say the right things, do the right things - but I realised lately that you can't make unhappy people happy - no matter what you do! So I stopped trying to make them happy - and they stopped speaking to me - and their grandsons! (Sorry to hijack your thread, just wanted you to know you are not alone...)

Try and take good care of yourself, be nice to yourself - and whatever you do don't blame yourself - it's not your fault. Do what feels right to you and you will be OK....

vegmumma xxx
 

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Talk to them, ask them. It's just going to get worse if you don't. Just make sure you do it in a non-threatening way.
 

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I think I would try and bring up the subject when you are all together. I would prepare myself as best I could, in case it goes badly, but if, as elibrown says, you do it in a non-threatening way, and simply ask why, if it was ok a few years ago, is it not acceptable now for you and your dad to have a private lunch together once in a while. Especially if you still get together as a group, this should show that you are not trying to 'break up' the family. Of course, this all is based on whether or not they are going to be reasonable about it when you bring it up. I think it's worth the effort, though. Good luck.
 

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Sounds like a jealously issue on your step-mom's part. My step-mom was horribly jealous of me, enough so that she secretly got me drunk when I was 8 in the hopes that my mom wouldn't allow me to visit anymore. Eventually she got her wish and my dad just stopped having anything to do with me. Since you're old enough to actually do something about it, I would definitely bring it up the next time you're all together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all for the advice, I really appreciate it. I spent several years just pretending everything was fine until a few years ago I exploded in a restaurant and cussed them out, and didn't speak to them for a year, and then tried to get us all to go to family counseling (they went once and then chickened out). Since then nothing has improved. I don't think I can pretend everything is fine, when it isn't. You all seem to think pretending isn't the right choice, so, I guess I'm not alone in this. Thanks again for the help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I haven't spoken to either of them in weeks. Which made this strange email from them especially weird. My husband asked my dad if they wanted to go out to lunch with us and then he got this very strange almost screaming email accusing me of trying to break up the family. I had, by that time, given up on the idea of having lunch with my dad and wasn't going to ask him again. I had been asking him over the course of about four years and all he would say was he had to check his schedule. So I had deducted that he didn't want to go to lunch with me for some reason. I'm still curious about the reason, and why things changed. But I feel quite hopeless about this family relationship,things have gone from bad to worse it seems. I have absolutely no trust of them, as I don't know when something like that email (one of a string of accusatory and confusing emails over the years) will happen again.
 

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I think communion is quite important to all of us, and it's crutial important to our family, especially, for you, to your father. there is no father who does't love his daughter, of course your father is not an exception. he used to love you and he will loves you forever. however,the point is that there seems to have a misunderstanding betwen you and he. so the most effective way to solve this problem is to tell him your feeling now and make him know clearly that you are by no means to spoil the family and you love him. do not keep scilence, that's helpless.

I had ever facing the similar problem before, though not as sever as you have, and i felt that the method i mentioned worked well.

good luck to you! Ludi
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you, chunbao. I don't know how to make them know clearly anything I'm trying to say to them, as they don't seem to listen, and I have a hard time understanding what they say. I have trouble decoding statements such as "I need to check my schedule" to actually mean "I can't have lunch with you." I don't know how to ask how they got this idea I'm trying to break up the family, in a non-threatening way. I don't know how to phrase the question, or how to phrase it as a statement such as "I'm troubled by this idea you have that I'm trying to break up the family." Any ideas anyone has about how to approach the subject, would be appreciated.
 

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How is trying to go out for lunch with your father trying to break up the family? It is something you do to keep in touch with the family.

Who exactly do they mean when they say 'the family'? Do they mean themselves (just your dad and step mum)? Because you sure as heck are not being included in any way shape or form. It seems like they are the ones with an agenda.

If they are trying to protect 'the [whole] family' they are doing a terrible job.

I would ask who they mean by 'the family' because all you are trying to do is take an active part in staying close to your father. Its nice for your dad that he found another wife but she should not be replacing you also.

'The family' sounds like its already broken.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Oh this family is really badly broken. We're dealing with some very tough circumstances. Both my sister and I have manic depression, my sister has been disabled for over a year after being hospitalized. I have pretty severe paranoia about my folks due to past miscommunications and let-downs. I try to fight this but it is hard when I feel like I'm being gaslighted by my stepmom and my Dad, who say they love me but then won't help me. My stepmom is a psychologist, but doesn't believe people have problems. She seems to think I'm "just trying to get my way." We so seriously need to learn how to communicate but it is a two-way thing, I can't do it on my own.
 

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If by 'just trying to get your way' she means see your father then whats the problem?

She seems like she is the paranoid one. A psychologist thinking people don't get problems, so what exactly does she think she gets paid for???
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Having lunch with them tomorrow. I might say something, I might not...My husband thinks trying to talk about things won't do any good and just freak them out. I might at least try to tell them I'm not trying to break up the family.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludi View Post

I don't know how to phrase the question, or how to phrase it as a statement such as "I'm troubled by this idea you have that I'm trying to break up the family." Any ideas anyone has about how to approach the subject, would be appreciated.
I think it's best not to think about it too much and just be direct. Just say, "what did you mean in your email when you said bla bla bla" Dont bother sugar-coating it too much because it sounds like they were not exactly shy in their email when they made the accusation.
 

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I'd be very casual about it when getting together with them next time. Maybe you could address the stepmother by saying, "You know, I really enjoy spending a little time with my Dad every once in a while. I've noticed that this seems to bother you. Am I misunderstanding/wrong/getting a wrong perception? I don't want to cause any problems, but my Dad and I used to have a tradition of having lunch together about once a year just to catch up on each others lives and I really miss doing that with him."

Use all I statements. Try not to accuse and do be very open about what you are feeling in the most compassionate way possible. But do make sure you address her so that she doesn't get the feeling you are discussing her with your dad.

B
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
It went so well, with no weirdness or strange miscommunications, that I decided not to but in and bring up the past. Overall, I think it was a good thing. We invited them for Thanksgiving, and it looks like they're willing to change their plans in order to come out here.

Thanks for the suggextion on phrasing, bethanie. It's been about 41/2 years since I had lunch with my dad, so, I'd have to say "I used to enjoy spending a little time with my dad..." Yes, it's been a long time, but, I really don't think I'll be spending time with him separately anymore, and, I guess it's probably ok. I guess I'd still like to know why, and maybe, if I ever talk to him on the phone (if that isn't off limits also now), I'll try asking him what happened to make things change.
 
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