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Problematic Father

Hannie wrote:

I do not get on very well with my father. Throughout my childhood he had been both verbally and physically abusive towards my family.

Now that I am older I still feel extremely uncomfortable visiting him - although he is no longer violent, he is still a nasty, manipulative and domineering person. I feel anxious most times I see him. He is always critical and quick to take offense, always threatening to cut me out of his will.

I have cut down contact with him greatly, but still love my mother very much and have tried to see her when he's not home, but it's difficult as he is almost always home too.

Is this the best way to handle it? Should I simply cut off all contact with him? For all the times he is pleasant, there are 100 times he causes nothing but pain for me.

Dear Hannie

Perhaps it all depends on his will, but I suspect that people who threaten to cut you out already have.

The important issue, I suspect, is how your relationship with your mother will work out. And you won't know unless you discuss it with her.

It may be that she understands your position, and will work with you to find ways to meet without him.

But be prepared for other possibilities too. She may be fiercely protective, and make things worse. She may want to leave him. She may already feel isolated, and need your support.

Avoidance will probably solve your problem, but not necessarily solve *the* problem.

I think what I'm saying is that the problem might not be yours alone - but it might look different through your mother's eyes.

Do listen to her, as what is a minor inconvenience to you may be her whole life. But do have that conversation - carefully.

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