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When you don't get along well with your parents-and hurt feelings


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Well, something happened today that really hurt my feelings. I'm not sure what to feel or how to react, if at all. 

We had a falling out about 14 years ago over a serious matter, and there were hurt feelings all around. I thought we had moved on as there hasn't been anything too huge happen since then. I thought we were at least on cordial terms although we both know that we are very different people who don't have a lot in common. I don't let my kids watch PG 13 movies,t hey think I'm nuts. I prefer they don't gorge themselves on sugar, they think I'm too strict. I prefer to homeschool most of them, they think I'm keeping them in a bubble, etc etc. They basically think I'm to blame for a fractured family relationship and so probably have blamed me for that for the past 14 years as well. But, we are able to do holidays, spend time together and we "keep it together" fairly well, despite  not being super close.

So today I asked my dad to please pick my son up from school since it was an early dismissal and the baby will be sleeping. (we have kind of a reciprocal relationship as we help them with whatever they ask and they help us out with childcare occasionally, etc) I asked very politely and told him how very much I would appreciate it. He said yes, no problem, happy to do it. They live 1 mile from us and the school is 6 minutes from their house. 

We then had what I thought, was a pleasant conversation. My toddler was in the room and kind of babbling, and he asked what she was saying. So I went on to tell him what she's been doing lately. I also tried to explain where to go to pick up my son as I knew it would be chaotic for someone who's not familiar. That's really about it.

Well, I guess I talked too long. (whole conversation was about 10 minutes). Because when I said "bye", I waited on the line for a few seconds.  I then heard him exclaim "Jesus Christ!" in a very annoyed and exasperated tone. Then I heard my mom say "What was she talking about?" and then the line went dead. 

Am I the only one who thinks this is a little nuts? I can't imagine why a grown man would be so bothered by a pleasant conversation with his daughter-apparently I took up too much of his precious retired time? What in the world? I guess I knew deep down that he didn't really like me, but this sealed the deal. I almost called him back and asked him why he was so upset, but I refrained. What would you do? What would you think? 

Edited by Meadowlark
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Well,  think that's a little bit of an extreme response. Now that said, there really are people who HATE talking on the phone so ten minutes is practically an eternity. I would not necessarily think that it related to the incident 14 years ago, but more that they simply do not like chit chatting on the phone, and then responded inappropriately. My husband has to talk on the phone a LOT for work so when our grown kids phone home, he often hands the phone to me. If I am not home, he works really hard to get them off the phone in 2 minutes. LOL, He doesn't have the energy for it after being in conference calls all day. They are finally learning this. Short, sweet, to the point, get the heck off the phone now.

 

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My first assumption would not have been that you took too long, but that something distracting or unexpected happened on his end. Or that there was something strange going on, perhaps cognitively.

I mean, it almost sounds like you were talking, he got distracted by a minor disaster, swore at the minor disaster, your mother in the next room called out to ask about you because she thought he was swearing in response to what you said, but then he cut the line to deal with... I don't know? The toilet suddenly overflowing or whatever.

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9 minutes ago, Farrar said:

My first assumption would not have been that you took too long, but that something distracting or unexpected happened on his end. Or that there was something strange going on, perhaps cognitively.

I mean, it almost sounds like you were talking, he got distracted by a minor disaster, swore at the minor disaster, your mother in the next room called out to ask about you because she thought he was swearing in response to what you said, but then he cut the line to deal with... I don't know? The toilet suddenly overflowing or whatever.

Yeah this.  In my house, it's usually something like stepping on a lego.  Or someone spilled milk all over. Or he stubbed his toe.  Or something like that.  

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18 minutes ago, Meadowlark said:

I don't know how to explain how I know, but I'm 99% sure it WAS in response to me. 

 

I'm really sorry. That is sad and disheartening.

At this point in mid-life, my answer is different than what it would have been 10 years ago. And that is, I would straight out ask him. I would also try to bring closure to the incident from years ago. Even if they do not change their stance at all, just clear the air. Know what it is they want to keep and dont want to keep in the relationship. Otherwise, things will keep happening, a big pent up blow up will follow and then relationships may be fractured beyond working repair. 

That much strain going on for years would be too much for me to take.

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I'm sorry that happened. {hug} I've had similar experiences and know that it hurts, and hurts a lot when I think it was a good experience but it turns out the other side didn't like it.

It is a little nuts, but my Dad has a similar urge to hoard all of his precious retired time, lol. Having a conversation of 2 or 3 or 10 minutes will not throw off his day, but in HIS mind it is important to keep calls short. His conversation is: "Okay, good to hear from you Daughter, here's your mom."

I think I would focus on the idea that, even if he didn't really enjoy the conversation or it was too long for him, he loved you enough to make it enjoyable for you and not to make you feel rushed off the phone. And despite the fact that he expressed his own feelings later, he only did it when he thought you couldn't hear and it wouldn't hurt your feelings. I don't think it's a definite sign that he doesn't like you, and probably a more superficial he doesn't like talking long, or probably the topic of conversation, not you, that he's reacting to. 

I wouldn't do anything in this case except let it go (and its harder than it sounds, sorry 😞 ) Having also been a participant to a "call back" after an overheard exasperated thing after the conversation, I highly do NOT recommend this tactic. IME It won't resolve it, will probably make it worse because they'll be defensive and most people don't react well to being in that position, and you won't really figure out what they were exasperated about in the end. Maybe for some personalities they can handle the direct confrontation well, but the persons involved in my experience both don't handle criticism or questioning well. 

Edited by Moonhawk
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Just now, BarbecueMom said:

Is it possible that your dad was annoyed by a day-of pickup request (assuming that this was a scheduled early release and not a weather related thing) instead of something planned out in advance?

Yes, it was an unexpected weather related thing. 

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Sorry your relationship is hard with your parents. Mine is also for similar reasons. It is entirely possible your dad was exclaiming about your conversation. I would text an apology about the long phone call and see if he gives an explanation or an apology of his own.

Sometimes I answer the phone when I think it will be a quick call, but don't want to be rude and tell the other person that I have to go. So, I try to get off the phone but the other person just keeps talking. I have probably said something similar when they finally hung up.

I'm learning to just not answer the phone when I'm in a hurry.

It does hurt to have a fragile relationship with your family.

 

Edited by SquirrellyMama
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I don't want to invalidate your gut reaction because that's super important. All I can say is that from the outside, the way you've described it sounds way more strange and confusing than rude. Like, yeah, it's always rude to swear at people, but... if he was upset with you, I'd have expected him to make a pointed comment or say something passive aggressive. "Oh, are you still talking? Yeah, bye." That would be rude. Or, "And I thought you talked a lot when you were a teenager. Ha ha. Well, I'll take care of it. Bye." Or, "I think I can manage a simple pick up. Geez." All rude but realistic to me. But asking about the baby, saying he'd do this routine favor... and then silence and random swearing, no goodbye and the line goes dead? That is downright strange.

If you think it was directed toward you, then it sounds to me like maybe he has begun to lose any sense of filter. Like, maybe he's in the early stages of dementia. Because this was not a normal, I am annoyed with you and going to be snippy or rude or passive aggressive in return reaction. At least as you've described it in the OP.

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I have a difficult and weird relationship with my parents, too.  I'm sorry.  

I don't think I would text an apology for talking "too long".  Dad is a big boy and if he didn't want to linger on the phone, he could have said something like "I'm sorry to cut you short, but I need to get going.  So I am picking up kiddo at X time at Y location, correct?" He didn't really give you any indication until the very end that he wasn't happy with the call, so I don't think you should apologize. You aren't a mind reader and you aren't responsible for managing his feelings. 

If it was me, I'd text or call him and say "So, when we hung up, I heard you swear and mom ask what I was talking about?  Was something wrong?", and see what he says.  He'll either offer up a reasonable explanation like "Yes, I spilled coffee on myself and your mom mistakenly thought I was reacting to you", or he'll get defensive and try to shift some blame on to you, like you are the jerk in the situation.   If he tries to shift blame on to you, you'll have to think really hard about where to go next with the relationship.  Was it a misunderstanding, or a symptom of a chronic problem?  If it's a chronic problem, what are the odds of fixing it? Or is it better to disengage a little and expect less of them? It's a tough spot to be.  I'm sorry.    

Edited by MissLemon
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2 minutes ago, happi duck said:

I hope you were able to straighten things out when the drop off happened.  I wonder if the call dropped where you could hear him and he couldn't hear you.  Maybe that keeps happening with their phone.

 

Yes. I think this is an excellent explanation as well and makes more sense than the others. If that were happening to my phone, I might swear about the dropped call, not realizing the other person could still hear.

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I'm sorry.

Once my MIL, who has always been very sweet to me, called and left me a message to call her.

Then while she was hanging up the phone, she said to her husband, "Well, when the hell IS she in her office?"  She sounded like she hated me, and I was hurt.  I'm sure she had no idea that the recording was still going on.  It made me feel like our whole relationship was a lie.  

But then I remember my husband, who says some fairly drastic things but doesn't really mean them, or means them only in the moment.  So I let it go.  It took me years to get me used to that trait of his, and I figured I finally knew where it came from.

 

 

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Thanks everyone. As the day went on, I decompressed little by little. I am definitely glad that I didn't call him right back and ask because no matter how nicely I asked or how polite I was, he would have become very defensive and the whole thing would've turned into a gigantic blow up. Been there, done that. Not really interested in that happening again.

Although I feel like in the context of a "normal" relationship, I should be able to honestly ask him why he reacted that way, this relationship is not normal. Yes, there are many layers. I was a total daddy's girl and then when I was 25, we had our first blow up as I told him I was marrying a non-Catholic. WHOA. He yelled and screamed at me as if I was a serial murderer. Fast forward to today-he likes my husband obviously way more than me as evident by the fact that he talks to him, and not me very often.

Which is why this was hurtful. I felt like I was trying to have a conversation with him. Well, lesson learned. Dad does NOT like to talk on the phone (at least not to me). I'll keep it short and sweet from this point on. I will also take the advice of maintaining some distance. I feel like things are always better that way, and I've made that pledge many times in the past 5 years especially because of other strange things that have gone on.

I guess I'm just disappointed. Disappointed that my very tone of voice or whatever caused him to be so irate. And let me tell you, he said it with a disgust in his voice that perhaps hurt the worst of all. Like he was completely disgusted with ME, not just talking on the phone. That's the impression I immediately felt, and I'm pretty sure that's how he felt although I know I can't know that for sure. And since their phone is right in the kitchen, where my mom was, I know she was right there listening and so asked him what was wrong.

When I think about asking him about it, part of me wants to because I honestly want to know what the hell is so disgusting about talking to me. But then again, he is a 12 year old maturity wise in a 75 year old man's body. He would not take it well because he has no emotional maturity to talk about things-he just rants and raves. I also really feel that he's the type of person who can never really forgive. So, when this big blowup happened 14 years ago, I think that sealed the deal. What a shame that an otherwise beautiful daddy's girl relationship has gone so sour-with no real chance of redemption. So thank you to everyone who has offered their POV. Keeping my distance and otherwise trying not to poke the bear from this point on. And-most importantly, thanking God for my beautiful non-dysfunctional family.

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I still think the sequence of him not talking for a long period after asking a polite and casual question about your baby, then swearing and hanging up without saying goodbye is really bizarre. You said in the OP that it's nuts. If it really wasn't one of these benign explanations, then it's indeed really out there. If it really was aimed at you, then either it's so openly hostile that you need to not engage with them anymore or you need to consider the possibility that there's cognitive impairment involved. Sometimes, when elderly people have dementia, it initially comes out as them saying the things they feel but wouldn't normally say, which is just incredibly difficult.

I hear how hurt you are. I'm really sorry you're dealing with this.

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Just now, Farrar said:

I still think the sequence of him not talking for a long period after asking a polite and casual question about your baby, then swearing and hanging up without saying goodbye is really bizarre. You said in the OP that it's nuts. If it really wasn't one of these benign explanations, then it's indeed really out there. If it really was aimed at you, then either it's so openly hostile that you need to not engage with them anymore or you need to consider the possibility that there's cognitive impairment involved. Sometimes, when elderly people have dementia, it initially comes out as them saying the things they feel but wouldn't normally say, which is just incredibly difficult.

I hear how hurt you are. I'm really sorry you're dealing with this.

He did hang up. We both said "bye". I I had the phone on my ear doing something so I could've push the button right away. He apparently thought I had hung up, which is why he said what he said. There is no cognitive impairment. This is an emotionally immature man who has never EVER been able to deal with his feelings. Let me tell you-when I was a kid it was like that scene from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation-when he starts kicking the reindeer and ranting and raving. That was my dad, except in the garage. With every conflict that has come up since then, he either shuts down or explodes. I think what hurt me was that I didn't know he was so hostile toward me. I thought we had moved on, but I guess now I know how he really feels and that's hard to take in. 

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7 minutes ago, Meadowlark said:

He did hang up. We both said "bye". I I had the phone on my ear doing something so I could've push the button right away. He apparently thought I had hung up, which is why he said what he said. There is no cognitive impairment. This is an emotionally immature man who has never EVER been able to deal with his feelings. Let me tell you-when I was a kid it was like that scene from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation-when he starts kicking the reindeer and ranting and raving. That was my dad, except in the garage. With every conflict that has come up since then, he either shuts down or explodes. I think what hurt me was that I didn't know he was so hostile toward me. I thought we had moved on, but I guess now I know how he really feels and that's hard to take in. 


You need to keep reminding yourself that this is not about ANY failing you have. This is about HIS failings.

He is the one who rejected you, his precious daughter, when you chose to marry a man of another faith. That says VOLUMES about him, not you.

You have done nothing wrong. You do not need his approval. I know it hurts because as children we are programmed to seek our parents' approval. What you need to say to yourself now is that any disgust you heard in that phone call is all about him, not you. You are a worthy person without him.

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I have no advice. I have an odd relationship with my parents and have spent the last 25 years in perpetual low-grade grief over it.  If I was in your situation, I would be feeling very, very low right now.  As I was reading your post and got to where he cursed and your mom asked what you were talking about, I could feel how that must have cut you.  It made my eyes tear up.  I’m so sorry.  People are very hard to deal with.  

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10 hours ago, Meadowlark said:

 

So today I asked my dad to please pick my son up from school since it was an early dismissal and the baby will be sleeping. (we have kind of a reciprocal relationship as we help them with whatever they ask and they help us out with childcare occasionally, etc) I asked very politely and told him how very much I would appreciate it. He said yes, no problem, happy to do it. They live 1 mile from us and the school is 6 minutes from their house. 

We then had what I thought, was a pleasant conversation. My toddler was in the room and kind of babbling, and he asked what she was saying. So I went on to tell him what she's been doing lately. I also tried to explain where to go to pick up my son as I knew it would be chaotic for someone who's not familiar. That's really about it.

Well, I guess I talked too long. (whole conversation was about 10 minutes). Because when I said "bye", I waited on the line for a few seconds.  I then heard him exclaim "Jesus Christ!" in a very annoyed and exasperated tone. Then I heard my mom say "What was she talking about?" and then the line went dead. 

Am I the only one who thinks this is a little nuts? I can't imagine why a grown man would be so bothered by a pleasant conversation with his daughter-apparently I took up too much of his precious retired time? What in the world? I guess I knew deep down that he didn't really like me, but this sealed the deal. I almost called him back and asked him why he was so upset, but I refrained. What would you do? What would you think? 

my outsider guess would be the instructions of where to go to pick up your son was received, not as helpful, but as implying you thought he couldn't figure it out on his own.

I also am at an age when I prefer to resolve things, not bury them under more layers.  I would call and apologize for whatever it was that offended him, and that you want to have a good relationship with him.  no caveats, etc. IF he expounds on what bugged him (and that was it), you can say you found the pick up area confusing the first time you did - and you wish someone had told you those things the first time you picked up your son.

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1 hour ago, gardenmom5 said:

my outsider guess would be the instructions of where to go to pick up your son was received, not as helpful, but as implying you thought he couldn't figure it out on his own.

I also am at an age when I prefer to resolve things, not bury them under more layers.  I would call and apologize for whatever it was that offended him, and that you want to have a good relationship with him.  no caveats, etc. IF he expounds on what bugged him (and that was it), you can say you found the pick up area confusing the first time you did - and you wish someone had told you those things the first time you picked up your son.

My guess was that he lost track of the details of the instructions and was now faced with an impossible sounding geography to deal with.

I know that I am like that.  My husband remembers every business on a street, in order.  I never even notice them.  So when he gives me instructions and starts listing out all these landmarks, it gets me so confused that I just shut down.  I need no more than 3 directions, and they need to be more or less vectors.  Like, “Turn left on Main Street”.  They need to not include any mention of landmarks.  

People are different in this regard, and sometimes information overload leads to frustration.

I don’t mean to excuse his behavior, but that was what came to me when I read your OP.

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I assume he did not mean for you to hear his "Jesus Christ." 

My first thought was that maybe he had something else he intended to do and ended up on the phone longer than he expected.  With my mom (also retired), she has certain shows she listens to at certain times every day, and if you call during that time, she's not going to be thrilled.  It's one of the reasons I don't call her much - I never know what I'm interrupting.  😛

Other possibility - he got distracted by the conversation and burned his lunch or overflowed something he was filling or similar.  Or he forgot about a pill he was scheduled to take.  Who knows?

Or the description about where to pick your son up was hard to follow, or he already knew and didn't want to listen to it again.

I wouldn't let him know you heard the frustration in his voice.  Pretend he hung up before he said that.

But since you are so sure it was annoyance at you, I would scale back the amount of help I ever asked him for, especially on short notice.  That's kinda how I roll though.

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1 hour ago, Carol in Cal. said:

 My guess was that he lost track of the details of the instructions and was now faced with an impossible sounding geography to deal with.

I know that I am like that.  My husband remembers every business on a street, in order.  I never even notice them.  So when he gives me instructions and starts listing out all these landmarks, it gets me so confused that I just shut down.  I need no more than 3 directions, and they need to be more or less vectors.  Like, “Turn left on Main Street”.  They need to not include any mention of landmarks.  

People are different in this regard, and sometimes information overload leads to frustration.

I don’t mean to excuse his behavior, but that was what came to me when I read your OP.

I recall the time my sil tried to give me directions to something in the city in which I live - and she doesn't.. (she has ZERO ability to give directions -  nary a street number/name mentioned.  shoot me now.). .. . . just. give. me. the. address!  (and zip it.)   I refuse to let her give me directions on how to get anywhere anymore.

Edited by gardenmom5
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I would make an appointment with a mental health professional to help me deal with my parents. Obviously you can't make them change, but it's not right or fair that their bad attitude towards you should make you feel bad like this.

In the meantime, I'd try to stop trying to figure out what made him say that. Trying to get into another person's mind on incomplete information never works out. The only way for you to know is if you ask him directly and he tells the truth, and I wouldn't want to do that either.

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I don't know about this particular situation but I just wanted to say that my parents never liked me. My mom maybe a little more than my dad but she has passed away now. My dad is involved with my kids but I always knew as soon as the kids were grown he would have nothing to do with me. So as my kids got cell phones he just calls them and makes plans with them directly. My youngest still has no cell phone but last week my dad called my 15 yo's phone to ask to speak with my 10 yo. So I guess he won't talk to me at all anymore unless he has too? 

I am 44 yo and still trying to figure this out. I grew up knowing no one in my family liked me and honestly I thought I just had a really crappy personality. I finally over the last few years realized it really wasn't about me. I have made friends everywhere I go and obviously I am not unlikeable. I have been financially independent since I was 21 and have never asked my parents for help beyond that. I have done everything in my life "by the book" and there is no objective reason for parental rejection. It is wild. 

There honestly is no reason I am aware of for this to be the case. If I ever tried to confront my dad or open up a discussion he would tell me I was imagining things.

So- you are not alone- but I am sorry. It stinks.

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1 hour ago, Indigo Blue said:

Just having some more thoughts....and maybe it would help others here posting in this thread or other similar threads.....but to be clear, it works for ME and may not be the best thing for someone else because someone else may have a situation where things could really be talked out/worked out. It just depends on how dysfunctional things are, I guess.

For me, it's easy when things are going well to think that maybe things are finally okay. But I've learned to stop thinking that way. When things are going along nicely, well, things are just going along nicely. I no longer have any expectations that things will be okay. It's not about holding grudges or having a hard heart. It's about getting to a place inside your head where you just can no longer be hurt.

Again, this may not be good advice for some. For some, it may be.

I clearly need to get to that place inside my own head. I was in absolute tears last night, and I hate that other people can make me feel that way. It's hard not to believe it's about you, because that's how they make you to feel. But the advice to start thinking that it's about THEM, not ME, is one that I am going to tell myself over and over again today.

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9 hours ago, Carol in Cal. said:

My guess was that he lost track of the details of the instructions and was now faced with an impossible sounding geography to deal with.

I know that I am like that.  My husband remembers every business on a street, in order.  I never even notice them.  So when he gives me instructions and starts listing out all these landmarks, it gets me so confused that I just shut down.  I need no more than 3 directions, and they need to be more or less vectors.  Like, “Turn left on Main Street”.  They need to not include any mention of landmarks.  

People are different in this regard, and sometimes information overload leads to frustration.

I don’t mean to excuse his behavior, but that was what came to me when I read your OP.

Just wanted to clarify that we didn't discuss the directions. As it turns out, he picked up my son once in the fall and he told me right away that he remembered the pickup line, etc. So we didn't even talk about that. 

I really think it's just that he didn't want to be on the phone, was annoyed that I talked too long, and probably innately just doesn't like me. Bottom line-I need to learn how to deal with that and safely keep my distance.

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2 minutes ago, Meadowlark said:

Just wanted to clarify that we didn't discuss the directions. As it turns out, he picked up my son once in the fall and he told me right away that he remembered the pickup line, etc. So we didn't even talk about that. 

I really think it's just that he didn't want to be on the phone, was annoyed that I talked too long, and probably innately just doesn't like me. Bottom line-I need to learn how to deal with that and safely keep my distance.

is he really that incapable of saying "I need to go now, bye"?  he's the one who asked what your daughter was saying - that prolonged the conversation.  HIS choice.

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27 minutes ago, teachermom2834 said:

I don't know about this particular situation but I just wanted to say that my parents never liked me. My mom maybe a little more than my dad but she has passed away now. My dad is involved with my kids but I always knew as soon as the kids were grown he would have nothing to do with me. So as my kids got cell phones he just calls them and makes plans with them directly. My youngest still has no cell phone but last week my dad called my 15 yo's phone to ask to speak with my 10 yo. So I guess he won't talk to me at all anymore unless he has too? 

I am 44 yo and still trying to figure this out. I grew up knowing no one in my family liked me and honestly I thought I just had a really crappy personality. I finally over the last few years realized it really wasn't about me. I have made friends everywhere I go and obviously I am not unlikeable. I have been financially independent since I was 21 and have never asked my parents for help beyond that. I have done everything in my life "by the book" and there is no objective reason for parental rejection. It is wild. 

There honestly is no reason I am aware of for this to be the case. If I ever tried to confront my dad or open up a discussion he would tell me I was imagining things.

So- you are not alone- but I am sorry. It stinks.

I can relate to some of this.  My parents often acted irritated with me as I was growing up.  My father died a few years ago.  I have an ok but not super close relationship to my mom.  I went to therapy for PPD many years ago and I really learned what was about me and what was not about me.  It is very freeing to realize other people's anger, bad moods, and dysfunction is not my responsibility.  I highly recommend seeing a therapist to puzzle this out if possible.  It was SO helpful to me.  I think I had low grade depression and anxiety for years over these relationship issues and it came to a head when my hormones were out of whack.  I grew up as a very sensitive child in a house where no one had time for emotions.  I had no PPD after my 2nd pregnancy.  

And honestly, my parents were not horrible parents.  I think they had a poor upbringing and were doing the best with the tools and ability they had during my childhood.  It's been helpful to have some perspective on their backgrounds.  My dad was a much kinder person his later years and my mom has made some progress too.  But it's hard to bridge 30 years of feeling like an irritation and burden to your parents.   It's ok to acknowledge and understand the good and bad sides of the relationship and have healthy boundaries or even cut people off for your own emotional well being.  

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Things about the original post and thread that concern me are:

1. The immediate dismissal of the possibility if cognitive decline.  I have experience with my own family members in this department and know that every single person who ever had cognitive decline up to a certain point had no history of it, then at some point they did. For some it came on suddenly and with others it was gradual.  If at the point it started we said, "Well they don't have a history of cognitive decline" in spite of behavior that does fit with cognitive decline (admittedly among other possibilities) it would've been a serious problem for everyone involved.  It also would've been an odd unwillingness to face possible changing realities that commonly affect a large percentage of elderly.

2. The continual unwillingness to consider other possible reasonable explanations.  Yes, people should listen to their guts and move to a safe place, but once in a safe place it's worth considering all possibilities.  I truly think a mental health professional is in order in this situation because it may very well be that you're right in assessing the situation, or you might have a personality type that is prone to skewed vision related to your emotional state.  I know people in both categories, and as an outsider with limited information, I think it's important to consider both possibilities.

3. OP, you clearly has a strained relationship with the parents, so I'm wondering why you would choose to have them so involved in your life.  What exactly is the motivation?  To prove something about yourself to them?  As some sort of perceived duty? Chasing some sort of idealized relationship that clearly can't exist because of dad's long standing poor social interactions?  Because you think losing naptime with the baby is somehow worse than all of this angst? I think there are problems with being realistic here, based on this admittedly short thread with very limited information. Based on what I read about your dad, I would only have called him to pick my child up if I couldn't physically leave my house due to a medical crisis and I had no other choices of people to call.  Would I have risked waking a baby?  Yep. Children should not be around someone that emotionally volatile without their parent present, ready and willing to leave as soon as that starts.  He may not have a history of it with the kids, but that's something else that could immediately change on any given day. Again, a mental health professional would be worth talking to in order to address why you haven't change your expectations and interactions of him in spite of plenty of consistently bad behavior on his part. 

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22 hours ago, Faith-manor said:

Well,  think that's a little bit of an extreme response. Now that said, there really are people who HATE talking on the phone so ten minutes is practically an eternity. I would not necessarily think that it related to the incident 14 years ago, but more that they simply do not like chit chatting on the phone, and then responded inappropriately. My husband has to talk on the phone a LOT for work so when our grown kids phone home, he often hands the phone to me. If I am not home, he works really hard to get them off the phone in 2 minutes. LOL, He doesn't have the energy for it after being in conference calls all day. They are finally learning this. Short, sweet, to the point, get the heck off the phone now.

 

 

This was my first impression. Some people are "just the facts" kind of people. Perhaps he was a little offended that you thought he needed instructions to navigate the school parking lot and what someone like me would have perceived as helpful hints, he took as superfluous talk calling into question his ability to find his grandson.

It can see that it's hurtful - especially coming from your Dad but I would bite my tongue and let it slide or refer to it later jokingly as in: "Sorry I kept you on the phone for a while. I like talking to you." After all, what could he say to that??? 

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1 hour ago, Indigo Blue said:

I'm so sorry, Meadowlark. 

Just think like this.....are you being irrational? Do you curse like that behind people's back when the phone call is ended? Can you see yourself doing something like that to your own children even if they have annoyed you? ....

I sometimes make an exasperated comment after a phone call is ended.  I did it just this morning.   I don't dislike the person, but I dislike it when she nags me, comments on my kids' faults, makes me talk about work in the early morning, and disturbs my rare chance to enjoy music while alone in my car, all at the same time.  😛

I sometimes comment to myself after hanging up from either of my sisters, when they have called me to borrow my emotional or financial resources for what I see as a never-ending crisis that is largely of their own making.  I love my sisters, but their drama can be stressful and exhausting.

And I definitely sigh and roll my eyes after some conversations with my beloved children.

Plus, I really dislike talking on the phone in the first place.  It stresses me out and doesn't bring out the best in me.

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1 hour ago, Meadowlark said:

Just wanted to clarify that we didn't discuss the directions. As it turns out, he picked up my son once in the fall and he told me right away that he remembered the pickup line, etc. So we didn't even talk about that. 

I really think it's just that he didn't want to be on the phone, was annoyed that I talked too long, and probably innately just doesn't like me. Bottom line-I need to learn how to deal with that and safely keep my distance.

 

Meadowlark, I am not sure you can extrapolate from one remark at the end of a phone call that he dislikes you. As I said previously, I'd probably joke about being "longwinded" on the phone and see what his response to that is. If he admits he is not a phone talker, then you know it's that and not you.

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11 hours ago, Meadowlark said:

I clearly need to get to that place inside my own head. I was in absolute tears last night, and I hate that other people can make me feel that way. It's hard not to believe it's about you, because that's how they make you to feel. But the advice to start thinking that it's about THEM, not ME, is one that I am going to tell myself over and over again today.

 

I hope you get a shift. I wrote earlier about having 25 years of an undercurrent of grief about my relationship with my parents.  When I visited them this past June, though, a shift happened.

My parents cannot be real with anyone.  They have many walls.  The biggest wall is to be cheerful All The Time and to constantly entertain everyone with humor and jokes.  There is no room for real connection.  Connection is constantly deflected with various types of jokes.  And so when there were inevitable problems, we could never talk about it.  And when I thought I’d hurt them, I could never talk to them and find out.  And when they hurt me, I could never bring it up.  They’d flat out say, “We don’t want to talk about that,” and then make a joke.  

Finally, this summer, I was visiting my parents (we live far apart), and my mother’s sister was there in the room (as were a bunch of us).  We were all playing a funny game where you make up stories and tell them to each other.  In the middle of the game, my mom and her sister received a phone call that their eldest sister had died.  

My aunt looked sad and got teary-eyed.  Obviously.  Now, the death was expected, as the eldest sister (who lives far away so they couldn’t be with her) was known to have only a few days left of life.  

But my mother—yikes.  She saw that my aunt was sad and she cannot handle people’s sad emotions, so she launched into a bizarre monologue about how they were expecting June to die, and how actually it was great she was gone because she’d been in such decline, and really why should they be upset because June had always irritated them anyway and they’d never much liked her, and really, my mom was happy that it was all over.  She even said the words, “I’m happy she’s dead.”  

We all sat there in a bit of shock.  My mom picked up her papers (where she’d written her funny story) and said, “Well, let’s keep playing.”  The others slowly reached for their papers and I said, “Um...I don’t think it’s appropriate to play a funny game within 5 minutes of hearing your sister has died.”  My mother looked very surprised and said, “But my story was so funny!  I wanted to share it!”  I told her she could share it tomorrow, but that now it was time to end the evening.  I felt like I was talking to a 5 year old.  We were at my aunt’s house, so I stood up so that my mom and dad would leave with me.

As we were gathering our stuff, my mom kept telling her sister to be happy that the eldest sister was dead.  Right before we left, when my mother was half out the door, so she couldn’t start monologuing again, I hugged my aunt and said, “It’s ok to be sad,” and she burst into tears.  Which was the normal response.  I don’t care if you never liked your oldest sister, it’s still sad when you get the news she died.  

Later, my mother asked me why I had wanted to leave and why her sister was upset, and I had to explain to her that most people feel sad at death and need to cry about it.  She said, “But I don’t understand.  June was dying and we all knew it and she was sick and we didn’t really like her anyway...” Again, it was like telling a small child about death.  My mother then told me she’s never felt sad at any human’s death.  She’s only been sad about death  when one of her pets dies. But she feels nothing when humans die.

And that was the shift. My relationship with my parents is, obviously, weird.  They’re happy and funny...but there have been problems that are impossible to address and those problems have caused me unresolved pain.  

But I realized that day that my mother is incapable of expressing true deep human emotion.  She has told me a bit about her turbulent childhood, and I realize that she’s hiding behind a gigantic wall, protecting the little person she was growing up.  I’m never going to be able to scale that wall, so our relationship will always be shallow and we’ll never really be close.  

But the grief ended that day.  25 years of mourning the disconnect, and I finally realized what @Indigo Blue said is true;  It’s never been about me.  It’s always been about my parents’ own issues—their own deep seated issues that I cannot overcome.  (My dad is clearly autistic or something along those lines, but it wasn’t dx’d when he was young, so he has a host of his own issues.)

 

I hope you get to that shift.  It changes everything.  This time last year, I’d have been like you and crying if I heard a conversation end that way.  This time, after my visit in June, I would be able to release it.  I really hope you can release it.  

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Before I had kids, I was an emergency dispatcher at a small agency, where it was me and one other person in a small room with a lot of down time, and officers going in and out most of the day.  Most of my coworkers had adult or older teen children who called their parent at work for this and that.  And I kid you not, every single one of them would be kind and "normal" on the phone with their kids, and as soon as they hung up the complaining and swearing and eyerolling would start, no matter what the conversation was about.  It seemed that none of them were able to have functional relationships without behind-the-back irritation and annoyance.  They'd make stuff up if they couldn't find anything to bother them. 

It was a line of work that naturally attracted negative personalities with a permanent stick up their butts, but it was shocking how they all extended the same irritation they showed "frequent callers" and obnoxious sergeants to their own family members.  It's not you, there's a surprising number of people that just are this way and seem to need invisible conflict to maintain a relationship.  Of course, I may be reading into it when the truth is a more benign explanation, but I heard so many times the "parent-half" of those kinds of conversations that it stuck out in my head immediately.

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1 hour ago, Garga said:

 

   She’s only been sad about death  when one of her pets dies. But she feels nothing when humans die.

And that was the shift. My relationship with my parents is, obviously, weird.   

But I realized that day that my mother is incapable of expressing true deep human emotion.  She has told me a bit about her turbulent childhood, and I realize that she’s hiding behind a gigantic wall, protecting the little person she was growing up.  I’m never going to be able to scale that wall, so our relationship will always be shallow and we’ll never really be close.  

But the grief ended that day.  25 years of mourning the disconnect, and I finally realized what @Indigo Blue said is true;  It’s never been about me.  It’s always been about my parents’ own issues—their own deep seated issues that I cannot overcome.  (My dad is clearly autistic or something along those lines, but it wasn’t dx’d when he was young, so he has a host of his own issues.)

 

I hope you get to that shift.  It changes everything.  This time last year, I’d have been like you and crying if I heard a conversation end that way.  This time, after my visit in June, I would be able to release it.  I really hope you can release it.  

there are some good youtube videos on the subject of "childhood emotional neglect".   I came across them as I was watching vids on cptsd.   

 

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1 hour ago, BarbecueMom said:

Before I had kids, I was an emergency dispatcher at a small agency, where it was me and one other person in a small room with a lot of down time, and officers going in and out most of the day.  Most of my coworkers had adult or older teen children who called their parent at work for this and that.  And I kid you not, every single one of them would be kind and "normal" on the phone with their kids, and as soon as they hung up the complaining and swearing and eyerolling would start, no matter what the conversation was about.  It seemed that none of them were able to have functional relationships without behind-the-back irritation and annoyance.  They'd make stuff up if they couldn't find anything to bother them. 

It was a line of work that naturally attracted negative personalities with a permanent stick up their butts, but it was shocking how they all extended the same irritation they showed "frequent callers" and obnoxious sergeants to their own family members.  It's not you, there's a surprising number of people that just are this way and seem to need invisible conflict to maintain a relationship.  Of course, I may be reading into it when the truth is a more benign explanation, but I heard so many times the "parent-half" of those kinds of conversations that it stuck out in my head immediately.

OMGosh, I forgot all about this.

When I had my first industry job, the men (it was ALL men except a couple of secretaries) were such sweethearts to their wives, and then complained about them relentlessly and continuously behind their backs.  I found this so awful that I decided never to get married, and it was 11 years before I did.

AND, at work when I WAS married, the only things I heard about kids from their parents were complaints and drama and problems with parenting decisions.  So much so that once I had a baby I never ever talked about it.  I had no vocabulary for expressing my joy in being a parent and my love for my child and my delight with the whole thing with those people.  I saved that for others.  

Wow, I have not thought about this in years.  Looking back on it, I think that at least some of those husbands were reasonably happily married and just going with the flow.  And I imagine that the co-workers loved their kids.  But those were carefully guarded secrets, habitually.

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15 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

 

He didn't want the extra directions..if you trust him enough to give him the job, you trust him to figure out how to do it.  He would ask if he needed to.

Also, if you didn't ask if he had a few minutes to talk, its disrespectful not to ring off when the request interchange is over.  Its like you are saying 'as a retiree, you obviously have nothing to do, so let me tell you blah blah blah' that is really not of interest to him.  He already knows the ages/stages of children.   So, yes, your suspicion that you talked too long is spot on.  No dislike of you personally, if you wanted to talk about something of interest and he had time, he'd be happy. 

So you're saying I shouldn't have bothered to ask if he knew where to go, what time to be there, which entrance to go into so he didn't get caught in chaos? Well, I actually just thought I'd try to be helpful and make the pickup experience as easy as possible. When he said he knew, I didn't push it. 

I also find it odd that you think me talking to my father on the phone for 10 minutes max, was disrespectful. We can respectfully agree to disagree on that because no matter what the angles are, I will not be scapegoated into believing that his inappropriate reaction was in response to me  1) making sure he understood the details of pickup, and 2) talking for about 3 minutes about his granddaughter. I suppose I could get on board with not jumping to the conclusion that he doesn't like me. But, I do believe that years of "stuff" has contributed to a less than stellar view. 

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1 hour ago, Garga said:

 

I hope you get a shift. I wrote earlier about having 25 years of an undercurrent of grief about my relationship with my parents.  When I visited them this past June, though, a shift happened.

My parents cannot be real with anyone.  They have many walls.  The biggest wall is to be cheerful All The Time and to constantly entertain everyone with humor and jokes.  There is no room for real connection.  Connection is constantly deflected with various types of jokes.  And so when there were inevitable problems, we could never talk about it.  And when I thought I’d hurt them, I could never talk to them and find out.  And when they hurt me, I could never bring it up.  They’d flat out say, “We don’t want to talk about that,” and then make a joke.  

Finally, this summer, I was visiting my parents (we live far apart), and my mother’s sister was there in the room (as were a bunch of us).  We were all playing a funny game where you make up stories and tell them to each other.  In the middle of the game, my mom and sister received a phone call that their eldest sister had died.  

My aunt looked sad and got teary-eyed.  Obviously.  Now, the death was expected, as the eldest sister (who lives far away so they couldn’t be with her) was known to have only a few days left of life.  

But my mother—yikes.  She saw that my aunt was sad and she cannot handle people’s sad emotions, so she launched into a bizarre monologue about how they were expecting June to die, and how actually it was great she was gone because she’d been in such decline, and really why should they be upset because June had always irritated them anyway and they’d never much liked her, and really, my mom was happy that it was all over.  She even said the words, “I’m happy she’s dead.”  

We all sat there in a bit of shock.  My mom picked up her papers (where she’d written her funny story) and said, “Well, let’s keep playing.”  The others slowly reached for their papers and I said, “Um...I don’t think it’s appropriate to play a funny game within 5 minutes of hearing your sister has died.”  My mother looked very surprised and said, “But my story was so funny!  I wanted to share it!”  I told her she could share it tomorrow, but that now it was time to end the evening.  I felt like I was talking to a 5 year old.  We were at my aunt’s house, so I stood up so that my mom and dad would leave with me.

As we were gathering our stuff, my mom kept telling her sister to be happy that the eldest sister was dead.  Right before we left, when my mother was half out the door, so she couldn’t start monologuing again, I hugged my aunt and said, “It’s ok to be sad,” and she burst into tears.  Which was the normal response.  I don’t care if you never liked your oldest sister, it’s still sad when you get the news she died.  

Later, my mother asked me why I had wanted to leave and why her sister was upset, and I had to explain to her that most people feel sad at death and need to cry about it.  She said, “But I don’t understand.  June was dying and we all knew it and she was sick and we didn’t really like her anyway...” Again, it was like telling a small child about death.  My mother then told me she’s never felt sad at any human’s death.  She’s only been sad about death  when one of her pets dies. But she feels nothing when humans die.

And that was the shift. My relationship with my parents is, obviously, weird.  They’re happy and funny...but there have been problems that are impossible to address and those problems have caused me unresolved pain.  

But I realized that day that my mother is incapable of expressing true deep human emotion.  She has told me a bit about her turbulent childhood, and I realize that she’s hiding behind a gigantic wall, protecting the little person she was growing up.  I’m never going to be able to scale that wall, so our relationship will always be shallow and we’ll never really be close.  

But the grief ended that day.  25 years of mourning the disconnect, and I finally realized what @Indigo Blue said is true;  It’s never been about me.  It’s always been about my parents’ own issues—their own deep seated issues that I cannot overcome.  (My dad is clearly autistic or something along those lines, but it wasn’t dx’d when he was young, so he has a host of his own issues.)

 

I hope you get to that shift.  It changes everything.  This time last year, I’d have been like you and crying if I heard a conversation end that way.  This time, after my visit in June, I would be able to release it.  I really hope you can release it.  

Thanks for sharing your story. Wow. I'm so glad you got your shift because that's tough. My parents are somewhat like your mom-not ever wanting to open the can of worms. They'd much rather just shove everything under the carpet and pretend that we are the Cleaver family from the outside.

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Just now, HeighHo said:

 

exactly.  

I didn't say talking for ten minutes was disrespectful.  I said talking for ten minutes without getting his okay that he wanted to take the time is disrespectful. When you call someone just to chit chat, it is respectful to ask 'do you have a minute, or should I call back at a better time'.  Its disrespectful to assume that they are doing nothing.

Well I did ask my mom if he was available to talk, so I assume if he wasn't he would've said he'd call me back or something. I mean, isn't that what we all do? We call people knowing that they will answer if they can, and not if they can't. I don't think it's disrespectful. I didn't assume he was doing nothing just by asking to chat with him.

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1 hour ago, HeighHo said:

 

 

No, its not what we all do.  If one interrupts another person, live or over the phone, one does not assume they were not in the midst of something they wanted to do,  and if not an emergency, one asks if they have some time available.  The interrupted person then has the option to decline or defer.  You asked about pick-up, an almost emergency, and  any chit chat following should have been prefaced by asking if he has a few minutes to talk about la la la.  

 

Count me as another one who doesn't see it that way, especially with parent-child or sibling relationships. Sure, I guess it's nice if people want to inquire, but it's not disrespectful to fail to do so. We're all supposedly adults. People who are too busy to talk are free to let the phone go to voice mail and call back when they are free. They can tell the caller "Hey, I'm in the middle of XYZ, is there something you need?" They can make any one of a dozen different kinds of statements to signal that they have no more time to spend on the phone. What WOULD be disrespectful is for the caller to ignore those statements/cues and continue monopolizing the person's time. (I have a relative like that.) But the OP didn't do that.

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1 hour ago, HeighHo said:

 

exactly on para 1.  If you'd asked him to make dinner, would you give instructions?

I didn't say talking for ten minutes was disrespectful.  I said talking for ten minutes without getting his okay that he wanted to take the time is disrespectful. When you call someone just to chit chat, it is respectful to ask 'do you have a minute, or should I call back at a better time'.  Its disrespectful to assume that they are doing nothing.  It isn't you he dislikes, but your hen party behavior.  He likes short and to the point.  Probably gets enough hen party at home. 

I agree with this point.

for the 2n paragraph

1 hour ago, Meadowlark said:

Well I did ask my mom if he was available to talk, so I assume if he wasn't he would've said he'd call me back or something. I mean, isn't that what we all do? We call people knowing that they will answer if they can, and not if they can't. I don't think it's disrespectful. I didn't assume he was doing nothing just by asking to chat with him.

and your comments:

he's an adult and *should be* perfectly capable of saying "I need to go.  talk to you later".

someone commented that if the toddler was close to the phone, those with hearing issues (re: hearing changes with age) could find it very distracting and harder to understand what was being said. even today, background noise can come through much louder on a phone than in person.  that also could have been what prompted him to ask what the toddler was doing.

OP - the time you are spending on this is indicative it would have been less upsetting to just wake the baby to pick up your son.  (I had to wake the baby a lot.  I didn't have the option not to.).

I'm also one who thinks it would be better to discuss this with your dad, and clear the air. not stew about it.

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1 minute ago, gardenmom5 said:

I agree with this point.

for the 2n paragraph

and your comments:

he's an adult and *should be* perfectly capable of saying "I need to go.  talk to you later".

someone commented that if the toddler was close to the phone, those with hearing issues (re: hearing changes with age) could find it very distracting and harder to understand what was being said. even today, background noise can come through much louder on a phone than in person.  that also could have been what prompted him to ask what the toddler was doing.

OP - the time you are spending on this is indicative it would have been less upsetting to just wake the baby to pick up your son.  (I had to wake the baby a lot.  I didn't have the option not to.).

I'm also one who thinks it would be better to discuss this with your dad, and clear the air. not stew about it.

I don't know how to explain it-but it wasn't like that. He has no hearing issues and my toddler wasn't even being loud. But, I understand that it's impossible to know the exact details as I do. And yep-definitely not going to ask in the future.

I also know that you're right-I've "stewed" about this long enough. Letting it go. I wish to thank all of those who offered a virtual hug or word of encouragement. It helped a difficult situation be a little more bearable. 

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5 minutes ago, Indigo Blue said:

Meadowlark, you didn't do anything wrong. You just called your dad to ask a favor and overheard him blasting out his annoyance as he ended the call. (For whatever reason. It doesn't matter.) Taking into account the past history with him and the fact that you've been unsure of things for quite some time, it hurt your feelings. It's simple. Then you opened up about it here. Nothing wrong with that. That's what we all do here. I hope you feel better soon.

Exactly.

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Meadow Lark… Of course we can’t know exactly what he meant in the situation.  I’m going to go ahead and absolutely take you at your word that this is been a very difficult and strained relationshp  and that he doesn’t deal well with points of conflict. You don’t need to prove it to me nor explain it- I believe you.

I’ve been where you’ve been in some regards… Understanding the nuances and subtleties of a difficult relationship, and overhearing unintended remarks…and trying to reconcile things- realizing that the relationship isn’t as calm as I had hoped.

And then when to talk to others who don’t know the history or relationship, I’m made to feel  as though of the problem and responsibility is somehow mine, or that I misunderstanding or miss reading the situation. 

So I’m pretty huge on validating and taking people at their words. It seems like this is hurtful to you and that you were genuinely struggled with this relationship. And I honor that.

 Bluntly, sometimes what it comes down to is exactly what it looks like… The difificult person is being an ass.

 

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I believe you that it was how you said. I am sorry that your dad was annoyed to have such a short conversation with you. I know that must be hurtful. I think you know things have been strained but you wanted to preserve what little relationship you did have because they were your parents. Since you guys have helped them and they helped you it is not unreasonable to ask a favor. I am sorry that you found out what your dad thinks of you. You did nothing wrong. He is the one who has emotional and attachment issues and now you can try to keep that in mind and keep your distance more. 

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2 hours ago, Meadowlark said:

I don't know how to explain it-but it wasn't like that. He has no hearing issues and my toddler wasn't even being loud. But, I understand that it's impossible to know the exact details as I do. And yep-definitely not going to ask in the future.

I also know that you're right-I've "stewed" about this long enough. Letting it go. I wish to thank all of those who offered a virtual hug or word of encouragement. It helped a difficult situation be a little more bearable. 

background noise is louder on the phone than the person in the room with it.  I could hear the (normal day) wind when my daughter was walking outside.  It was very distracting.  If I had been standing next to her, I wouldn't have noticed it at all.

it's disappointing when we can't have the relationship with a parent we would wish - but sometimes that just isn't possible.  if you can't talk to him about this, it sounds like you are trying too hard to have a relationship that really isn't' based on mutual respect, and you end up being hurt.  do you want your kids to emulate that?  (the subsuming yourself to have a relationship with another person)  they are watching you.   cultivate the relationship with them you wish you had with your parents, but don't.  one day they will be adults.  while it doesn't make -up for the disappointment of what you didn't have, there is still a great deal of satisfaction that you are/were the parent you wish you had.

read boundaries by townsend and cloud.  be realistic about what a relationship with your parents is capable of being (not what you wish it was), then let the rest go.  (cue 1ds singing "let it go")

 

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