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Wanting to be daddy’s girl again

Honestly M,

I hope you are good at sorting out family issues. My dad and I have not spoken to one another in several years. I guess you need a short version of our history and what led to this in order to help. I really don’t have a dramatic back story to tell; it just kind of happened over time.  My parents split when I was little, my dad saw me every other weekend and everything was pretty normal.

Skip to my early adult years. Every time my dad would call or visit, he would end up either borrowing money from me or guilting me into paying for visit. We live about 7 hours away from each other and he would visit about twice a year. Our visits never seemed to be about me or us spending time together. Our time was spent with me taking him to all of the places he wanted to go and doing all of the things he wanted to do. I paid for everything. Every time he blew into town, I was expected to drop what I was doing and devote all of my attention to him. It didn’t matter if I had to work, he expected me to take off to chauffer him around. All of our phone calls were about him, his problems and what he needed. I rode this rollercoaster with him for many years.

One day, I just broke. He called me on a Tuesday to let me know he was coming into town and let me know what all he wanted to do while here. I had a huge project due at work that week and told him that there was no way I could see him that week. He not only dramatically showed how offended he was, but he hung up on me. As the tears poured, I tried to get him back on the phone.  Finally, after about 3 days, he answered my call. He acted as if nothing had happened and told me not to be so sensitive.

I was stunned. I decided that I needed to lay down some ground rules with him. I tried to talk to him about it over the phone, but it just caused more arguments. I began to call him less and there were days I ignored his calls.

After about a year of that along with some pretty heated arguments, we just drifted apart. I feel like he should have been more understanding of where I was coming from and he should have been a better dad. He was more like a client that I had to entertain while he was in town. So, what do you think? Is it too late to try to repair our relationship? How in the world do I even go about it?

Thanks,

Wanting to be daddy’s girl again

Dear Wanting to be daddy’s girl again,

This is definitely a tough one. It is hard to give family advice only having one side of the story and not personally knowing the people involved. However, I can for sure give you some general guidance on your situation.

First, it’s never too late to try anything. We never know until we try and not knowing is often worse than getting a poor outcome. You should reach out to your dad. Life is so short and the fewer regrets and unanswered questions we end up with, the better.

Call your dad, but before you do, have a plan.  In life, we need boundaries. We need our yes and no values. There are situations we can tolerate for the greater good and situations that we will not. Our own mental wellbeing is important. Write down a few statements. These statements should be your expectations from your dad, what you are looking to get out of renewing your relationship with him, what you will not tolerate and what you are going to feel if he does not respond the way you feel he should respond.

Secondly, take a couple of days before you make the call. Allow yourself to process your feelings over all that has happened and make sure you are in a clear mindset. It is important to reassure yourself that you are ready to take this step because you truly want your dad in your life. You need to accept that he is who he is and not make him into something you create in your mind.

At the end of the day, he is your dad and you are his daughter. There is an importance in your roles within each other’s lives. He may have been searching for the same answers as you all of these years, then again, he may not have thought about it at all. This is a revelation that you need to be prepared to face. As long as you go into this journey with a pure heart and a clean slate, I feel that you will be fine. Keep in mind that it may just be closure you are looking for in this situation. No matter how it turns out, you will be able to move forward and possibly make peace with some old ghosts.

I wish you the very best of luck. May your outcome be filled with happiness and healing.

Honestly,

M

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