Conflict with my father



I am an only child. My parents brought me up in a very loving environment. I am now 30 years old, happily married and we have 2 beautiful sons (both 2 years old…the oldest one will turn 3 in a couple of days).

It all seems so great, however, my father, lately, has been acting very conflicting. My husband always treats him with great respect, however, my father does not like him because he (my father) feels inferior.

Let me tell you a little bit about my father.

My father used to be a heavy drinker. Not the type to become aggressive when he was drunk, but he did spend alot of his time drinking with his friends. Neither, has he been a womaniser.

In 1989, he decided that he would quit drinking, of course, my mother and I thought that it was just not going to happen since he was so deep into drinking. Well, it did happen, he stopped drinking the next day and its been 17 years now. Anyhow, in 1999 he had a heart attack and went through open heart surgery.

Ever since then, its been downhill with his personality and character. He seems not to like my husband very much (atleast that is the conclusion that I draw based on his comments to my mother) because he thinks that my husband does not like him because my husband never accepts help from him when doing labor (i.e., mowing the lawn, cutting wood, etc…).

Today, he wanted to mow our lawn and I told him that my husband and I had talked about it and it was best to hire someone because his condition does not allow him to do strenous jobs. He became offended and cused at me over the phone and hung up. I feel that he is losing it. He acts like a person who is going looney. I called him 3 times already within the last hour and he does not answer (well, he answered once and hung up again). He says that when he dies that we are going to be hurt because we have hurt him and that we are going to regret the way that we treat him (which is all good with respect). My husband respects him, too much. It hurts me that my father is acting this way. I have alot of respect for my father. I love him, however, I can’t take it if he ever tries to offend my husband.

I don’t know what to do. All I can think of is to ignore him. I don’t know if any of you have gone through something similar.

Can anyone advice or suggest something?



I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say, because it is a difficult situation. Your father is losing his independence and, like most people, is having difficulty accepting it, so it sounds like maybe he’s looking for someone to blame or put his feelings upon and it happens to be your husband.

My mom helps out an elderly couple who is in a similiar situation (losing independence, that is) and she gets blamed for a lot, but she just keeps on doing what she can without complaint and many times ignores when the wife says she can do something, which she physically cannot (she has something similiar to Parkinson’s and can barely move). Sometimes, my mom will just let her do it and then she falls or gets hurt and allows my mom to do it from then on.

Your dad and family will be in my prayers :).


Thank you, lotusblossom…



I believe your mother should make an appointment with his doctor to discuss his change in personality. It could be caused by some physical disorder that can be treated. Getting so angry over such innocent differences can be a sign of illness.



According to my mother, the doctor said that the meds he is taking can cause for him to have mood swings, which is totally understandable, however, it hurts me that my mother has to go through this more often than not. My husband, too, he does not deserve this, so my point is that in the meantime, we all take it and its very very hard.

Aside from the meds, his father (my grandfather) used to be the same (well, actually he might have been worst).

One time, many years ago (about 16 years ago or so) one of my aunts made and took some lunch to one of her uncles because he was ill. My grandfather found out that his own daughter had taken food to his brother and became upset at that and stopped talking to her because of that. Many years went by and my aunt suffered an anorism and died. For what I have heard, my grandfather did not attend the funeral…

I think my father carries some of his personality traits from his father (my grandfather) plus the meds don’t seem to make it any better…

My aunt was a good person. She loved to, or atleast tried hard to always be happy. She loved gatherings and more often than not she would have parties at her house just to see us all having a good time and to see each other. Her birthdays were very well celebrated. She loved to have a good time all the time. My grandfather eventually became very ill and his life hung from a thread for several days until one day, he passed away (7 years ago 4 years after my aunt passed away) and out of coincidence, he died on my aunts birthday…


Well, I’m no expert, but it sounds like your Dad wants to feel useful. Men do tend sometimes to consider their usefulness part of their masculinity and manhood. I know when my Dad retired (he had been a plumber), if I ever asked him for help with a plumbing problem, he would drop everything and dash to the rescue! He’d not only refuse to let me pay him, he’d insist on buying whatever parts I needed. I could tell from the look on his face how delighted he was to be needed.

Perhaps this is the situation with your Dad. From what you wrote, it sounds like everything went downhill after the heart surgery. It could well be that he feels useless because he’s so restricted physically. What I suggest is finding other ways in which he can be useful. And make it clear to him how much you need him, how whatever it is that you end up asking him to do just can’t be done (or done as well) by somebody else. It could be something as simple as asking his advice on something (although if you do that, you should be prepared to follow through on his advice, no matter what it is).

And be sure to tell him afterward how grateful you are and how much you need him! How I wish I could still do that with my Dad, how I wish I could just once more see how pleased he was at being needed.


I’m so sorry. This sounds a lot like my mom, only she has dementia. She cannot understand why she can’t drive or do the volunteer work she used to do. She gets very angry about it. She’s even told some of my siblings that she would have never had us if she’d known we would be so mean to her. It’s tough on everybody, to say the least.

Your father sounds as if he might be depressed. Consider that this might have been a long-standing medical affliction that he self-medicated with alcohol. Now he’s self-medicating with…nothing. Since the heart attack, he doesn’t even feel useful. (Also, if it was a massive coronary, the bloodflow to his brain may have been cut off enough to cause some damage.)

Most doctors are adamant that heart patients do what they can do. Have your parents ask your dad’s doctor specifically what that is, if they haven’t already. Patients and especially spouses very often assume a much more restrictive life than what a patient needs to have. Make sure that the issue of personality changes is brought to the doctor’s attention, too. Medical reasons should be ruled out. (You might also put a bug in the doc’s ear to mention sex…spouses are sometimes afraid of that, ruining the intimacy of their marriages. Talk about adding insult to injury!)

When you find out what he can do, let him do it. Encourage your mom to let him do it, too. Be creative about how he might be able to do the very most he’s capable of doing. When you ask your dad to help–or better yet, when your husband does–let him know that you and your husband will welcome any help that your dad’s doctor will allow him to do. My mom has a pace-maker and asthma, but she drives a riding lawn mower around. Maybe your dad can help clean gutters. Maybe he can’t hack up a log, but maybe he can chop kindling. Maybe he would appreciate being consulted on the best way to go about a certain project. (He might find that patronizing; you can’t tell.) The respect he wants is the same respect your kids are wanting about now…the respect that says he is competent to a man’s work by himself. Words can’t replace that.

Also, is he interested in doing what he can do best…being a grandpa? Kids love being read to and doing just about anything that Grandpa wants to do with them.

As for what he is not allowed to do…it isn’t that he can’t, after all. It is that he shouldn’t, because your mom, you, and all the family does want him around as long as possible.

If there is no arguing with him, though, there is no arguing. By all means let him go beyond what your comfort zone is, but you can only let him do what is within spitting distance of what is safe for him to do. If he gives himself a big coronary or a stroke, he’ll be able to do even less. Just like with your kids, you sometimes have to be the bad guy. It the big picture of eternity, though, it will come out in the wash. Hang in there.


Kay Cee,

I undertand, you are absolutely right about everything. I wish I knew exactly how to prevent these situations with my father. I even told my husband that since my father did not understand the fact that we care about his well being and that is why we care for him by not allowing him to do anything, that it was just best to let him do it, since it made him happy, and that if because of that, something were to happen to him (physically, like dying) that atleast he would die happily…:frowning:


Did they put him on any medication after his heart surgery? It sounds to me like he is having side effects to medicine he is taking.


When my father was alive, towards the end of his life he was fighting the idea of becoming ‘old and frail’. I asked friends for guidance and was told that if my Dad insisted on doing certain things that he should not be doing because he was no longer strong enough that I needed to ask myself - did I want to be right or did I want my Dad to be happy? Well, of course I wanted both but I was told that I might not be able to pull that one off. SO, I had to make a choice and I chose to let my Dad be happy. It was very tough on me, but it was in the realm of wanting to be the daughter he needed rather than the daughter he might want…so lots of stuff my Dad did the last three years of his life he probably should not have done. He went on those dumb week-long hunting trips, did household reparis, drove long distances for his company…and it made me nervous and made me worry for his health but when he did die (and I was the one who found him) it was 10 days after his heart surgery and 9 days after he was received back into the arms of the Holy Mother Church after a life that was not spent in the best of ways.

I think you and your husband should probably decide whether you want to be right or want him to be happy … now, if the two of you figure out how to do both I will be so JEALOUS…:wink:


You are absolutely right about this, its not only the fact that he is getting older, decapacitad, medications, and so many other things and on top their intimacy…

I am understanding him more now, however, I still can’t get over the fact that he does not like my husband, or maybe he envies him or is jealous of him… I don’t know what to think anymore…

Right now I even feel nauseus…:frowning:



I think I chose for him to be happy :o

I truly can not beleive that he even cussing over the phone… he was never like that … :frowning:


I try very hard to forget what he said over the phone… and yet, his words just pop up all of a sudden and I feel terrible knowing that he said what he said and how he said it…


I would check out all the medical stuff first…the personality change could be a by-product of the medication.

I am going to suggest the use of a Jesus Box for YOU…just to help you with the emotional part.

Get an old shoe box, decorate it any way you want, cut a hole in the top so you can put paper in it…then get a piece of paper and a pen and write out exactly how you are feeling. Don’t worry about spelling, syntax, grammar, or anything…just let 'er rip…like this:

why is Dad acting like this? is he nuts? well he is driving me nuts how could he think this way about my wonderful husband he better knock it off or I will brain him one oh of course I won’t but holy mackeral why does he suddenly think he is so horrible and is jealous of the man I love? He is driving me crazy!

Anyway, you get the idea…then when you are all done writing…for however long it takes, get on your knees with the paper and pray something like this:

Dearest Jesus, this is exactly how I am feeling right now. I need You to take these feelings from me and direct me as to how I may be of service to my Dad and my family. I can’t seem to change these feelings, Lord, so I am giving them all to you. Amen

then put the paper in the box and walk away.

If you have to do it over and over again, that’s ok. Jesus won’t mind.

I use a Jesus Box all the time - ok, yes…I can get a lot of resentments, now that I think of it (darn it) - and it really helps deepen my prayer life and get my feelings up and out so I don’t get sick over them.

You are in my prayers.


Should I Try Calling My Dad Again? It Has Been Over An Hour…

I Left Him A Message Saying For Him To Return My Phone Call…but I Get A Gut Feeling That He Won’t…

He Might Think That I Am Having A Guilty Councious And That Is Why I Insist In Calling Him…rather Than The Truth Is That I Want To Know That He Is Alright, After The Big Fit That He Threw…i Am Afraid That It Just Helped Him Aged Even More ( He Is 58 Years Old, By The Way…)

What Would You All Do?


ok, i called him again…and …no answer … :frowning:

Oh well, I dont know how long he will be like this…I feel that it could be for long and yet I have hope that it will not be for long…


I would love to try the Jesus Box, however, I feel that if someone accidentally sees what is in it…I will feel embarrases…:confused:


I really feel bad for my Mother…she is the one that lives with him…luckily my Mother works so that helps her unplug a bit…


I’ll offer some observations:

You don’t give Dad’s age or any details beyond the surgery seven years ago. Is he 55? 65? 75? For most heart attack/surgery victims, surviving seven years indicates he’s fully recovered; perhaps even healthier than before his attack. What you see as being protective towards his heart, he may see as a patronizing way of keeping him at arms length from his daughter and grandchildren. Or maybe he’s frustrated at being treated as a “cripple” (sorry for the non-PC word) even if it is warranted. BTW, who mows his lawn?

What does his drinking that ended 19 years ago have to do with things today? Is there perhaps more there that should be discussed with someone trained in counseling? Why does he feel inferior to your husband?

Lastly, if you live close enough for constant interaction with your parents after marriage, it may be more difficult for him to deal with “Daddy’s little girl” as an independent mother and wife in her own right. Are things balanced? Do you let (your) Mom to remain “Mom”, but ask Dad to change his role. Don’t expect the convenience of living next to Grandma & Grandpa to be a one-way street.


My father was exactly 50 years old(going on 51 that same year) when he had surgery. It has been over 7 years now. Healthwise, he has had some pitfalls. He had a bipass inserted a couple of years ago… He has been in the hospital a couple of times and he suffers from shortens of breathe, which he is getting tested on to see why this happens. Lung High Blood Pressure is out of the question since he was tested for that and everything came back good.

About the drinking, I think that it is indeed affecting him in a way that he tries to find other means of happiness, since he gave up drinking and maybe that has him acting that way, too (aside from everything else).

I understand that to him, I am still his little girl even though he does not say it…He did tell me he loved me yesterday when they visited us for a while…of course, I responded with the same …


Thank you to everyone!

You are all very kind.

Your words of kindness and advice have helped me tremendously in feeling much better…

I will keep you posted on what goes on later on…

Thanks again!!


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit