How to live with Extremely Worldly Parents

PineTreeFarmer

Woodpecker
Woman
Orthodox Inquirer
My dad moved to Vegas after he remarried a few years ago. He is 63, and he was married to my mother for 32 years, and I was pregnant with my second child when they divorced. He has always been pretentious, and I come by a bit of it honestly, but I am completely heartbroken by his behavior. I wonder if he has been developing Alzheimer's, because he just keeps going and has managed to remove us entirely from him brain. I think, maybe, if his wife constantly redirects his thoughts, that maybe he has an easier time forgetting us. My sister in law said my mother in law was so unfriendly when she went to visit that my sister in law cried for two days.

He travels about 4 months out of the year, and when I told him I wasn't going to vaccinate my children or myself to join him, he has basically forgotten us? The only tells about what he's thinking are the extremely sus dates he attaches to his travel plans; a first cousin's anniversary, or or someone's younger boyfriend's birthday whom I've just told he and his wife about for a return date.

He never calls, never initiates conversation, I have no idea what's going on with him except that he has married a very goal oriented, well-to-do woman who is frankly, kind of mean.

My mom told me to call and talk to him, but honestly I can't not cry long enough to talk to him. And the extreme lack of decorum in calling to talk things out just isn't who we are. He can't stand to listen to me fuss or cry. They invited my one and only sibling to their wedding as my dad's best man, and her son's entire immediate family. None of the rest of us.

Tl,dr; Other than praying for them and remaining calm, pretending that the reason we don't visit with my father with my children is still COVID, how would you guys about managing to reconnect with your parent in this situation?
 
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EuropeanCanon

Woodpecker
Trad Catholic
My dad moved to Vegas after he remarried a few years ago. He has always been pretentious, and I come by a bit of it honestly, but I am completely heartbroken by his behavior. I wonder if he has been developing Alzheimer's, because he just keeps going and has managed to remove us entirely from him brain. I think, maybe, if his wife constantly redirects his thoughts, that maybe he has an easier time forgetting us. My sister in law said my mother in law was so unfriendly when she went to visit that my sister in law cried for two days.

He travels about 4 months out of the year, and when I told him I wasn't going to vaccinate my children or myself to join him, he has basically forgotten us? The only tells about what he's thinking are the extremely sus dates he attaches to his travel plans; a first cousin's anniversary, or or someone's younger boyfriend's birthday whom I've just told he and his wife about for a return date.

He never calls, never initiates conversation, I have no idea what's going on with him except that he has married a very goal oriented, well-to-do woman who is frankly, kind of mean.

My mom told me to call and talk to him, but honestly I can't not cry long enough to talk to him. And the extreme lack of decorum in calling to talk things out just isn't who we are. He can't stand to listen to me fuss or cry. They invited my one and only sibling to their wedding as my dad's best man, and her son's entire immediate family. None of the rest of us.

Tl,dr; Other than praying for them and remaining calm, pretending that the reason we don't visit with my father with my children is still COVID, how would you guys about managing to reconnect with your parent in this situation?
I can only sympathise but have no advice. My relationship with my own mother fell apart over the covid nonsense but it had been on the skids for a long time. Keep hoping and praying but ultimately sometimes you have to just let go. Its a hard situation.
 

Tom Slick

Kingfisher
Orthodox
Here's one possibility: You described the woman as mean, which could also be someone who is selfish and is influencing your father to be the same way, to merely focus on himself and not be concerned about other people, except for his new wife.

Maybe the reason your brother was invited to the wedding is that this new woman is more comfortable around men, perhaps because she is good at manipulating them, whereas she prefers not to deal with other women if she doesn't have to.

If the above is an accurate guess, then I'd say it's very difficult to have relations with selfish people who have the attitude that things are "on their time" or always on "their schedule". The way I see it, the new woman has a strong influence on your father and if you want to have closer contact with him you have to go through her. Schmooze her, whatever. And/or pray a lot for them.

I had a friend who married a woman like this. She cut off everyone in her family and just grudgingly and minimally accepted offers and invitations from her father. She would cut off anyone at the drop of a pin without remorse or a second thought as long as she had one stable relationship she could control and depend upon, such as my friend. Before him, she had a bestie, but she dropped her as soon as they married.
 

IconWriter

Woodpecker
Woman
Orthodox
Gold Member
As you say, "praying and remaining calm" is important, as is forgiveness, since we all have weaknesses. Sometimes you have to let go and let people "be". Perhaps, I would just send a kind letter or card from time to time, only to keep the door open in the meantime. I'm sorry.
 

TexasJenn

Woodpecker
Woman
Orthodox
He never calls, never initiates conversation, I have no idea what's going on with him...

My mom told me to call and talk to him, but honestly I can't not cry long enough to talk to him...

Tl,dr; Other than praying for them and remaining calm, pretending that the reason we don't visit with my father with my children is still COVID, how would you guys about managing to reconnect with your parent in this situation?
I like the advice above to let go and send a nice card occasionally.

My dad has never once reached out to me for any reason. The only reason I have a relationship with him is to make things more pleasant for my mom.

I've learned to accept that this is the best he can do and it's not about me. A wise person described people like him as "limited" - if he could do better, he would do better. But he's limited and can't do any better than he does. Accept that, make your peace with it, and move on with your life.
 

EuropeanCanon

Woodpecker
Trad Catholic
I've learned to accept that this is the best he can do and it's not about me. A wise person described people like him as "limited" - if he could do better, he would do better. But he's limited and can't do any better than he does. Accept that, make your peace with it, and move on with your life.
I think there is a lot of truth in this. My father passed away 13 years ago and we were never close. I respected him and he was a good father but we never really had any emotional bond as he never really had been affectionate to me as a child. As a teenager I kind of acted out against him a lot which made it worse. Looking back I realize now that I did this in a misguided way looking for attention, in other words negative attention was better than no attention. But at the same he was a good provider, gave us a safe and happy childhood. Last year I was visiting with a friend of mine who is a priest and he told me that a few years before he died he saw my father at church and he got talking to him. In their conversation my friend asked after me and my dad told him that he always prays for me because I was going through a rough time, which was true then. The point is that he never spoke to me about what I was going through at the time but when my friend related this story to me I realized that he did care about me but he was "limited" in his ability to communicate that to me.

So why do I bring this up - only to suggest that sometimes we have a picture in our minds of what love is and if it does not come to us packaged in this way we can sometimes not recognize it. If you think about it we probably do this with our heavenly father all the time, forget or doubt he loves us when we are going through something hard because we have a picture in our minds of how a loving father would deal with us that is probably wrong or at least only partially true especially in relation to our knowledge of the full picture of what is going on. After my priest friend told me this story I realized how hard I had been on my dad especially when I was a teenager.

When we become estranged from somebody its probably at least worth considering that maybe we just have expectations that cannot he understood or satisfied by that person. I am not talking about if they have done heinous things to us, that is a different sort of thing.
 

PineTreeFarmer

Woodpecker
Woman
Orthodox Inquirer
As you say, "praying and remaining calm" is important, as is forgiveness, since we all have weaknesses. Sometimes you have to let go and let people "be". Perhaps, I would just send a kind letter or card from time to time, only to keep the door open in the meantime. I'm sorry.
Thanks. I did just get his new guitar picks in a cars signed by all 6 of his progeny. I do let him be. I just get really sad about it sometimes.
So why do I bring this up - only to suggest that sometimes we have a picture in our minds of what love is and if it does not come to us packaged in this way we can sometimes not recognize it.
Frankly, the fact that he bought a house in Vegas within walking distance of an Armenian Orthodox church before I ever heard Roosh being spoken of in a positive light, or a conversion, has been a really interesting piece of marginalia to roll around in my brain, as I've begun to look for an Orthodox church to visit sometimes. The nearest one to me is 90 minutes away.
And a lot of things come packaged in a way I don't recognize immediately. I just, feel sick that he is absent. Like something is missing that will never be replaced. It's almost like missing someone who isn't dead like they are dead. It's overwhelming and makes me feel physically ill sometimes.

We do have a lot of non verbal communication, and I know I was a very difficult child to raise. WASP brains are a lot. Maybe they all work that way to a degree.


Thanks for the thoughts. We live wayyyy out in the woods and sometimes I don't have enough other humans to help me contextualize what's happening to me emotionally.
 

Ah_Tibor

Pelican
Woman
Orthodox
(Idk my mom saves aluminum foil, sometimes you just have to love people for who they are)

I have an arms-length relationship with dad for various reasons, I try to check in occasionally but just accept it for what it is. Try to take the good things away from your upbringing and cope with the rest.
 

Pray_Everyday

Robin
Woman
Other Christian
As others have said, I have no advice but I feel for you.

My father has passed, and I am estranged from my mother (because she's at least partially responsible for my father's death). My father died a little over half a decade ago, but had it happened in the last couple years, I know it would have been labeled "covid" - the whole "mysterious illness", unexplained cause, death-by-ventilator scenario. Anyway, knowing him, he would have been all in on the scamdemic scenario, as he saw himself as a man of science. He had a high opinion of Gates, for example, and never took serious any of my attempts to share any of my "conspiracy" truths - he wouldn't even listen about not getting the flu shot. So if he was still around it's almost guaranteed that the plandemic would have caused a rift, sadly.

Regarding my mother, I do pray for her daily, and have forgiven her, which was very difficult to imagine before I became a Christian. While my father would have probably died regardless, the fact that he died alone without anyone to hold his hand, gasping for breath, because of her, would just infuriate me every time I thought about it. But after much prayer I have forgiven her, and pray for her salvation and wellbeing. I'm still on the fence about if we should spend spend time together, as I don't want us to fall into our old destructive patterns and now I have my own children to look out for and protect (I'm pretty sure she would not agree with some of the decisions our family has made, and she is the type to want to "help" by getting others involved...).

In short, I have no advice but I just keep praying.
 

TexasJenn

Woodpecker
Woman
Orthodox
I just, feel sick that he is absent. Like something is missing that will never be replaced. It's almost like missing someone who isn't dead like they are dead. It's overwhelming and makes me feel physically ill sometimes.
Have you ever tried expressing your feelings to him and asking for what you need? According to a good counselor I know, this is the healthy way to communicate in such a situation.

If you've already tried this and it's been fruitless, you might just have to learn to accept the situation for what it is.

We live wayyyy out in the woods and sometimes I don't have enough other humans to help me contextualize what's happening to me emotionally.
Looking back on my single days before marriage, I think my worst habit was being too in my shell, staying at home too much, not getting out and doing things with friends. Granted, it was during the pandemic, so everything was weird. But if I had that time to do over again, I'd make more effort to spend time with positive, uplifting people. It's not healthy to be isolated and cut off from supportive social connections. I suggest you try to get out more, even once or twice a month, to go to church, volunteer, visit friends or family. It makes a big difference.
 

DanielH

Ostrich
Moderator
Orthodox
Tl,dr; Other than praying for them and remaining calm, pretending that the reason we don't visit with my father with my children is still COVID, how would you guys about managing to reconnect with your parent in this situation?
I wouldn't. You're the child, he raised you. I'd make minimum efforts, say happy birthday, send the occasional picture with some nice words perhaps. Never make any political or controversial non-religious statements known/visible to him. People joke and say this kind of thing is a two way street, but really more effort should be coming from your father. At 63 he should be preparing for death and what comes after, and should have plenty of free time, you're raising a family, you can't be wasting your time trying to swim against the current.
 

MrsD

Sparrow
Woman
Orthodox
I thoroughly agree with what @DanielH said. Your father should be wondering how he can make things better. He isn’t, but still. It’s worthwhile to shift that perspective so you aren’t left feeling all the responsibilities and guilt. Also you’re a grown woman, your focus needs to be not on your parents. A lot of us ladies fall into this sentimental trap and forget/neglect our new family responsibilities and the salvation of our own families and soul. Not at all saying that is what you’re doing. I don’t know you. Just generally saying that this is an appealing trap out there.

I know from my own experience it is emotional and painful when you have a person who should be able to fulfill a certain role in your life like a father and yet it isn’t happening. I get these emails from the orthodox quote of the day, and a couple weeks ago there was one about love by Bishop Ignatius. I am not great at copy/paste on my tablet here, but I have this link: http://orthodoxquoteoftheday.com/?search=Love
Scroll a bit down , he talks about love being disordered after the fall, and much of what we feel when we say we love is emotional toward ourselves. Maybe you don’t relate but I sure do, and it is helping me.
I know you’re far from a town and church but something that does help is having a priest to do Confession with. He has helped me a lot with seeing how the best thing for my relationships in general not just my estrangement with my parents Is prayer and also giving peopIe the space for the consequences of their actions. Hugs to you. I know it’s hard.
 

Ah_Tibor

Pelican
Woman
Orthodox
Looking back on my single days before marriage, I think my worst habit was being too in my shell, staying at home too much, not getting out and doing things with friends. Granted, it was during the pandemic, so everything was weird. But if I had that time to do over again, I'd make more effort to spend time with positive, uplifting people.

I kind of regret not getting out more in college. There were some trips I could have taken, or I could have made more friends in general, but didn't. In retrospect, I had undiagnosed health problems and a lot of anxiety/depression which didn't start clearing until my mid-20s, but it does get harder to do things like that as you get older. On the plus side, everything is fun and new to kids and they are easily entertained.
 

PineTreeFarmer

Woodpecker
Woman
Orthodox Inquirer
(Idk my mom saves aluminum foil, sometimes you just have to love people for who they are)
My mom is a hoarder, but I love her very much. I
I wouldn't. You're the child, he raised you. I'd make minimum efforts, say happy birthday, send the occasional picture with some nice words perhaps. Never make any political or controversial non-religious statements known/visible to him. People joke and say this kind of thing is a two way street, but really more effort should be coming from your father. At 63 he should be preparing for death and what comes after, and should have plenty of free time, you're raising a family, you can't be wasting your time trying to swim against the current.
He just called to tell me he had open heart surgery last week and is doing well. Told me to get a passport so we can go to Europe. <3
 

messaggera

Pelican
Woman
Other Christian
Have you ever tried expressing your feelings to him and asking for what you need? According to a good counselor I know, this is the healthy way to communicate in such a situation.

Is this counselor your Orthodox priest?

Would you be so kind to clarify the title counselor that you have provided, as the individual who’s advice you* are applying to this situation? (5:9 -13)

With sincere seriousness though:

Every dad and daughter relationship is different; even though the situations may be similar in nature the advice provided may be ill (3: 17-23)

Applying this advice may be ill if the daughter is narcissistic, because there would be no change in behaviour between the dad and daughter’s communication patterns. She is always expressing her needs and not seeking why he feels the way he does in a relationship.

Or as @MrsD notably suggested below a mother is to focus on her family and salvation; as where it may be added, by @IconWriter’s clever suggestion, to keep the lines of communication open with written correspondences. In order to honor him as your dad and show your Christian love.

A lot of us ladies fall into this sentimental trap and forget/neglect our new family responsibilities and the salvation of our own families and soul.

Best to counsel with a priest and God’s Word for advice.

* not a personal criticism on OP statement, just an observation / discretion disclaimer for younger impressionable minds. God has the answers and He works through His earthly (and heavenly) servants.

God bless.
 
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Max Roscoe

Ostrich
Orthodox Inquirer
I'm heartbroken to read of the OP and other's poor relationships with their parents.
I am not yet a father, but cannot imagine being so isolated and distant from my children's lives.

If OP was not invited to his wedding, nor to any follow up social meeting, it seems he doesn't want a very strong connection with you. I don't know how good a father he was, but you only have one family. I would reach out and call on birthdays or Father's Day if you still want a connection with him. Because one day he will be gone forever and you will have no power to do anything about it. But if there is no reciprocation or joy, then it may be more unpleasant to endure those calls than to skip them at some point.

I had a girlfriend whose father would not come to her college graduation. Supposedly because covid made travel difficult but.. that really upset me, and my relationship with her was far more insignificant than his. I have a close friend from church who knows less about his daughters lives than I do. They are graduating college and getting jobs and he doesn't even know what they do.

I'm sorry to say this is more "normal" than not in Current Year. As I said I can't even understand how a society becomes so atomized and secular that your own family is not the most important thing. It seems for many, it is not an important thing at all. Prayers for you. Maybe you can find a way to reach out to a sibling, aunt, uncle, even a cousin and use this as an opportunity to build a strong relationship with them.
 

PineTreeFarmer

Woodpecker
Woman
Orthodox Inquirer
Is this counselor your Orthodox priest?

Would you be so kind to clarify the title counselor that you have provided, as the individual who’s advice you* are applying to this situation? (5:9 -13)

With sincere seriousness though:

Every dad and daughter relationship is different; even though the situations may be similar in nature the advice provided may be ill (3: 17-23)

Applying this advice may be ill if the daughter is narcissistic, because there would be no change in behaviour between the dad and daughter’s communication patterns. She is always expressing her needs and not seeking why he feels the way he does in a relationship.

Or as @MrsD notably suggested below a mother is to focus on her family and salvation; as where it may be added, by @IconWriter’s clever suggestion, to keep the lines of communication open with written correspondences. In order to honor him as your dad and show your Christian love.



Best to counsel with a priest and God’s Word for advice.

* not a personal criticism on OP statement, just an observation / discretion disclaimer for younger impressionable minds. God has the answers and He works through His earthly (and heavenly) servants.

God bless.
All I do is care for my family. I have tried to express to my whole family that it's my main priority, especially until my children are out of the house.
My dad had a very large family, and was very poor, and moved away when he was very young to join the military, where he met my mother who was also poor white trash, but not quite as poor. I think my Dad's excited to see everyone well fed, able to read, thriving, moisturized, hydrated, lice free, not having to help build tombstones with their dad to feed a family of 11. And I probably would've had just as many kids as I could if we hadn't been utterly alienated by our rural lifestyle. Instead I just have a set of Irish twins.
I haven't asked an Orthodox anyone anything, except in DMS a couple of times. There is no Orthodoxy where I live. Just hundreds of empty churches and old country houses and land. We do have regular prayer meetings with rural folks.
 

PineTreeFarmer

Woodpecker
Woman
Orthodox Inquirer
I'm heartbroken to read of the OP and other's poor relationships with their parents.
I am not yet a father, but cannot imagine being so isolated and distant from my children's lives.

If OP was not invited to his wedding, nor to any follow up social meeting, it seems he doesn't want a very strong connection with you. I don't know how good a father he was, but you only have one family. I would reach out and call on birthdays or Father's Day if you still want a connection with him. Because one day he will be gone forever and you will have no power to do anything about it. But if there is no reciprocation or joy, then it may be more unpleasant to endure those calls than to skip them at some point.

I had a girlfriend whose father would not come to her college graduation. Supposedly because covid made travel difficult but.. that really upset me, and my relationship with her was far more insignificant than his. I have a close friend from church who knows less about his daughters lives than I do. They are graduating college and getting jobs and he doesn't even know what they do.

I'm sorry to say this is more "normal" than not in Current Year. As I said I can't even understand how a society becomes so atomized and secular that your own family is not the most important thing. It seems for many, it is not an important thing at all. Prayers for you. Maybe you can find a way to reach out to a sibling, aunt, uncle, even a cousin and use this as an opportunity to build a strong relationship with them.
We actually talked today, and he sounded very excited to see everyone. Glad we don't have to get a vaccine to fly anymore!!
The father of my children is an alcoholic and we haven't seen him in two years. That's coming up soon. I agree.
I try to always choose joy, I was just at the end of my emotional leash when I started the thread. Clearly prayer worked, and I was sensing something. I'm glad he's well after having talked to him.
 

TexasJenn

Woodpecker
Woman
Orthodox
Is this counselor your Orthodox priest?

Would you be so kind to clarify the title counselor that you have provided, as the individual who’s advice you* are applying to this situation? (5:9 -13)
The counselor I'm referring to a licensed professional counselor who helped me more than anyone improve my relationship with my dad and my feelings about that relationship. Her very fundamental advice to express your basic feelings, then ask for what you want/need, was transformative for me. Ideally it would go both ways, so both are expressing their feelings and wants/needs.

My priest gives good advice, too, but it's more general - be kind, pray, don't judge, that kind of thing. I've found that when it comes to the fundamentals of communication in good relationships, I often get more concrete advice elsewhere.

Of course, it's just my opinion and anyone is free to take it or leave it :)
 

Ah_Tibor

Pelican
Woman
Orthodox
My dad had a very large family, and was very poor, and moved away when he was very young to join the military, where he met my mother who was also poor white trash, but not quite as poor. I think my Dad's excited to see everyone well fed, able to read, thriving, moisturized, hydrated, lice free, not having to help build tombstones with their dad to feed a family of 11. And I probably would've had just as many kids as I could if we hadn't been utterly alienated by our rural lifestyle. Instead I just have a set of Irish twins.

I actually was going to bring this up-- I think there's a tendency to call people worldly/materialistic/et al when often they grew up poor or otherwise insecure and working hard to be well-off makes them happy. So I don't necessarily think it comes from a bad place.

My dad constantly has money issues and thrift shops/dumpster dives all the time and I think that kind of stress can be a sort of materialism, too. So that's the opposite end of the spectrum but it's not always better.

(I grew up "poor" too but American 90s working poor wasn't that bad and my mom is good with money, so it often strikes me how the quality of between me and my husband was neglible.)

Sometimes you just have to reach out to people. My husband's parents rarely, if ever call or visit, and we only live an hour away from them, but I tell him to do it regardless. We had my father-in-law watch our son for few hours recently and he was tickled pink. My mom harasses me constantly (out of love, I call her too) but I always have to be the one to go visit her, and I do it anyway, because I know one day sooner than later that won't be the case (and she'll probably be living with us in a few years). I do talk to my dad somewhat frequently and my brother probably a few times a week.

Anyway, life is short, and sometimes we have to do things that are awkward or inconvenient!
 
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