Our mother recently passed away after a short illness. I stopped at a relative’s house for the funeral and saw my father dressed up and seemingly ready to attend.
Amy, I freaked out. My father treated my mother terribly during the divorce. They had only been in the same room a few times over the years for graduations and a wedding.
They were not hostile to each other, but they did not speak either. I know my mom wouldn’t have wanted him to be at her funeral and I told him that. (His wife was smart enough to stay away.) I went into bouncer mode and banned him from attending.
My brother and his wife supported me and told him it would be inappropriate for him to be there given the way he had ended the marriage and considering their non-existent current relationship.
He insisted he was only there “to support us” and had no malicious intent. We stood our ground and he chose not to attend her services and has been sulking ever since. He says we owe him an apology, but we think he’s his usual selfish, selfish, and eternal victim self.
– I’m not going to apologize this time
I’m not going to apologize: I am with you and your brother. If your father really wanted to support you through this difficult time, he would have reached out to you before he showed up to express his fatherly concern and ask how he could best support you.
Showing up where you think you’re not welcome is classic behavior for a trained border crossing. His demand that you apologize for your reaction to his insensitivity is simply misleading, but if your reaction caused a scene that made others uncomfortable, then this is something to acknowledge and perhaps apologize for.
Now that you’ve established strong boundaries with your father, I suggest you use neutral language and tell him that in order to have a better relationship, you need him to understand how deeply his actions over the past 10 years have hit you.
Use “I” statements that describe your feelings. A defensive (or offensive) response from him will underline your instincts, but you’ve had your say.
Dear Amy: I have five grandchildren. I had two children – a son and a daughter – but unfortunately my daughter passed away in 2014 due to illness. When she died, she left behind two young children.
Sometimes I feel like I’m doing more for those two grandchildren than for the other three grandchildren, and I feel guilty.
My son takes excellent care of his children, so I don’t have to spend as much money or time with them as I do with the other children. Let me know if I’m wrong about how I feel. Do I have to change now before they also recognize this imbalance?
grams: I am sincerely sorry for your loss. Your choice to perform for your grandchildren is natural – and commendable. If your daughter passed away almost 10 years ago, then your grandchildren already know about any difference in your attention to them.
Sometimes guilt can be a clue, pointing to changes you need to make. But I firmly believe in young people’s ability to accept the universal truth that life isn’t necessarily fair.
Shower all your grandchildren with loving kindness and discourage anyone in your life from keeping score. That also applies to you.
Dear Amy: The question of “Sadness and joytouched me. Hours after her engagement, her grandparent died and she was unsure how to share her good news in such a sad time. My fifth child was due on the first anniversary of my father’s death.
I apologized to my mother when I announced the imminent birth, and she said, bless her heart, it was good to have something nice to think about. I always, always remembered that.
Satisfying: This is beautiful. Thank you.
© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.