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Boundary issues with Dad?

I am 27, H is 29, we have been married 3 years, together for 12 years. I recently graduated from vet school and we are currently living with my in-laws so we can get a head start on paying loans back. We moved back to our home city, where dad is. Parents divorced when I was 13, and dad is currently in his 3rd marriage.

Dad has always been controlling, and I am now starting to realize how it affects the rest of my life. Since we have moved back to town (January), he has wanted to get together every weekend. I work as a brand new veterinarian 50-60 hrs/week, with every other weekend off. While I have tried to be accommodating for his wants, H and I are starting to feel like I “have” to go see dad, rather than “want” to go see him. Dad and H have never really gotten along, they tolerate each other. H never wants to go with me because he says that I change my behavior when I am around Dad and it is awkward.

Dad has told me that it isn’t fair that I spend the majority of my time at my in-laws, and comparatively little with him, especially now that we live in the same city. He knows that we live with them. He tells me that I need to manage my time more evenly between “H and his family” and “my family”.

Recently, Dad asked me what I thought was a fair amount of time to spend with H and his family, and what was fair to spend with my family.  I said I didn’t know, and he stated that it would be a good thing to find out. When I asked him what he thought was fair, he suggested that H and I come over to his house once a week for dinner or game night.

Dad has also said that I only see him when it is convenient for me, on the way to something else. Recently, I did see him for a few hours, and then left to go see my mom…on mother’s day. He is clearly upset that I didn’t spend enough time with him (about 4 hours), or that I didn’t see him a different day instead. I asked what other instances he was referring to, and he mentioned instances from 6+ years ago.

I am frustrated, and H is upset that Dad is suggesting, (or perhaps passively demanding?) that I schedule time to see him each week. At first, my thought was that this was not a very unreasonable request. But the more I think about it, and have asked people I trust, the more I am feeling the pressure of being controlled and manipulated. H says I need to tell Dad that I am an adult and have my own life to live with my husband, and that I will see him if I have the time, energy, and desire to do so. I don't know that I have the strength to have that conversation with Dad. I am afraid of how he would react. 

As a caveat, whenever I do hang out with Dad, I meet him at a place of his choosing, and then we go in his car from there to wherever he wants (bookstore, shopping, his house to do…. absolutely nothing at all). Most times I watch him play games on his ipad. So I come home frustrated and irritated, and H has to deal with that. H has said that he would be willing to go camping, hiking, bowling, etc with Dad and his wife occasionally. Certainly not once a week, but every so often.

What does FM think about my situation? The comments I have placed in here are things he has said several times over the years. Is Dad’s behavior controlling and manipulative, with boundary issues? My thought is to ignore his comments. I could instead invite him to things that H and I will be doing, rather than hanging out with him and allowing him to dictate our time together. Any advice is appreciated! Thanks in advance. 


Re: Boundary issues with Dad?

  • Your father needs to get his spare time off his hands!

    That's his whole problem. He needs to find a hobby, join some group. volunteer, mentor -- anything --- and stop bugging YOU.

    Stand up for yourself. YOU decide when you can see him, not the other way around.
  • VORVOR member
    Eighth Anniversary 500 Love Its 500 Comments Name Dropper
    I don't know if it's controlling asmuch as your dad sounds kind of lonely. Even if he's married- sounds like he's trying to grasp onto something with you. However, that doens't mean he's "right". I do think you need to have a talk. I'd approach it from what what you yourself said - I'd tell him "I want to WANT to see you but right now I only see you because I feel I have to. I don't like this feeling, dad. I need to not be pressured about how I spend my time. (and on the note of how you split your time) I need for you to focus on the QUALITY of our visits, not on the amount of time. It's never going to be perfectly equal. (use equal, not fair. Two different meanings). Even if I didn't live w/ my ILs, it still will never be perfectly equal. You need to stop focusing on that. Be happy with the time we do have together and stop focusing on when we don't." And you ened to also just say that you're very busy, you're married - you want to make time for him, but the more he guilts you over this, the less you want to make that happen. HE's putting all this on you to solve. Put it back on him! And really- think about how you FEEL about all this. You aren't happy, right? Does that stop him from saying what he says? Nope. So- stop tiptoeing aroudn HIM so much. He's an adult. He should be able to handle this discussion. And if he can't, if he only gets mad and doesn't listen, doesn't hear you - then maybe he is more controlling than it seems at this moment.
  • Well he is treating you like a commodity and there is no way it will be equal considering you live with your ILs.

    I do think that PP is right that he is lonely and is looking to you to provide him  a lot of if not his sole source of companionship.  However, that isn't your burden to have right now.  Find a schedule that works best for you and your husband and then tell your dad.  If that means you see him for dinner every other week, so be it.  At a certain point, you will have to be ok with your dad being upset / disappointed with you.  Trust me, I have had to upset my dad and have my husband.  Now, I honestly believe that it is part of growing up, coming to terms with your parents being upset with you.

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