Phone, write, or email


when a face to face conversation is not possible? A few weeks back I posted about not going to my dad’s house over the Christmas holiday even though he offered to pay for the trip (I don’t want to deal with the stress and criticism he freely pushes on others, including myself). Well, it has been almost a month since we have spoken (I have made attempts to call his house, but no responses, and the last time my younger sister was quite rude to me on the phone). My daughter’s birthday passed in that time (his first grandchild) and not a single person (my dad, step-mom, sister, brother) from that house even called to wish her happy birthday. My dad has a history of giving the silent treatment when he doesn’t get his way (which can last for years, which happened to my brother and two step-brothers during their teenage years, yet I am an adult). The only times he broke them is when the person he was ignoring appologized. I truly believe that I was not in the wrong here (I thanked him for the invitation but said that it just wasn’t going to be a possibility for me this year).

I have no plans to appologize for something that I did that was not wrong. However, those “Message from the Catholic Church” commercials keep coming to mind and I want to try to make things right but to also address how I am hurt and upset with my dad’s lack of decency. Should I address my hurt via phone, letter or email? Phone will be the most difficult to reach him, but I want to try to contact him and talk about in the least informal manner that is available (he lives in DC, I’m in Chicago). What would any of you suggest?


I have relatives that can be difficult at times, even to the point of cutting off communications. Probably your best course of action as far as good communications go is telephone. We have been using a program called Skype to basically videoconference with my inlaws since we are in Baltimore and they are in Illinois.

Other than that, I would implore you to apologize to your father.
Don’t apologize for the act that you don’t think was wrong, but instead apologize for his hurt feelings, or for offending him, whether or not you think he actually had the grounds to be offended. This is not insincerity, but simply humbling yourself in favor of good relations with your family.

I will keep you in my prayers.


I was thinking this too (phone, apologize if it will help).


I should clarify a little. I have tried calling and have not received return phone calls. I don’t know if this changes anyone’s advice, but it is difficult to talk to someone who isn’t willing to talk.


Work on making plans with some folks who are healthy, happy and loving. From previous posts, your family sounds like a toxic group that would be better avoided for the holidays.

…and please don’t waste any more time obsessing about whether you have offended them merely by communicating a very reasonable decision about where you will be spending the holidays. Trust me, they are devoting no time to worrying about whether they have caused hurt/offense by ignoring you or your daughter. More likely–they are angry because you are no longer being weak and allowing them to control you. Refusing to be manipulated by controlling, self-absorbed people is not “unchristian;” it is healthy, appropriate and most likely a necessity to protect your daughter.

Stay strong and focused on what is healthy in your life. Take a break from attempting to contact them–say for several weeks. If they contact you, be pleasant, keep the conversation brief and free of arguments or accusations. You have done nothing wrong. You don’t need to apologize to anyone.


Sounds like your Dad & my Dad should get to know eachother!

My Dad will hold (is holding) a grudge for 40+ years… and NOTHING is ever his fault. He’s most definitely a “My way or the highway” type…

Whoever said “One of life’s greatest injustices is not being able to choose your own parents” is a flippin genius.

If he won’t accept calls, emails, etc. send him a registered, return receipt requested letter via mail. The letter will have to be signed for, and you’ll get confirmation of delivery. In the letter explain why you’re not coming, and “thank you” for the invite.

The ball is in his court now - you KNOW he got the letter.


It seems to me that your dad expects you (and probably everyone in his life) to jump through whatever hoops he sets before you. Don’t do it. You’re an adult now–you don’t have to answer to him for any decisions you make, nor do you need to apologize for anything. Actually, by ignoring him you will be setting boundaries with him that will let him know that you will not allow yourself and YOUR family–your husband and children to be manipulated by him. And stick to your guns!


I hope you do not take anything I am going to suggest in the wrong way. Sometimes people think I am being uncharitable when I am trying to be very specific and up front and blah blah blah.

OK - here goes:

What in heaven’s name makes you think he (your father) is going to be moved by a letter from you telling him how hurt you are when he is the type of person who gives you the silent treatment for saying “no thank you, Dad”, ignores his first grandchild’s birthday and is basically throwing a big old tantrum until he gets his way?

I had a difficult father. I had to learn to be the daughter he needed rather than the daughter he wanted. It was very difficult. However, when he died I was the only one of his three children he had a good relationship with and a lot of that had to do with my refusing to expect him to be anything other than what he was - a selfish, self-centered, charming, loud, rather ruthless and outright goofy man.
Ten days before he died he made his confession and received the Eucharist for the first time in 35 years.
I would, if I were you, get a lovely box of note cards. Once a month I would send him a little note telling him what was new in your life and his grandchild’s life…maybe put in a little snapshot, and then mail it off. IF he returns it, too bad…keep sending a little note. Eventually he is going to do one of two things - completely cave or die. Either way you will be in the clear with the man.
Just STOP expecting him to be any different than he is - and keep him in your nightly prayers.

Love, Leslie the big mouth from Modesto


Leslie, I love your replies!
I think you should use the first note to say something to the effect of, “Sorry you’re upset about our Christmas plans. I still want you to be part of my life, so I thought I’d let you know what’s been going on here…”


originally posted by LSK
Eventually he is going to do one of two things - completely cave or die.

I know this is a very serious subject but I loved that line. Had to acknowledge it.
I too had “difficult” parents. They did not speak to me for 12 years because I was divorced. Finally, at the age of 44, I realized they were never going to change. Only I could change my reactions to them. So I did. Thank God. They both died within 9 months of our reconciliation.


I have to second Leslie’s post. Send a note, a cute pic, and then just enjoy your life. Find some positive, happy people to call your “family”…spend Christmas with them! :smiley: Life is too short to spend letting large children make you miserable. If he wants to live that way, let him…


Leslie gives good advice!

I grew up without my dad. He wouldn’t talk to me because of something between him and my mom. He is also the type to hold grudges for YEARS. We are now very close and he even apologized to me. Today he called me 8 times! Haha new sort of problem from the silent treatment.

But anyhow we got to this point because I accepted that he is a selfish, self-centered, grudge holding man who does only what he feels like. I accepted that anything he might say is not a promise (even when worded “I promise…” ) but is instead a nice thought he had… He means “It’d be kinda nice if…”. In other word I stopped expecting him to be anything other than what he was… and then I refused to go away.

Like Leslie said, It’s not easy. We have hopes of what we expect a father to be and we get angry and hurt when we dont’ get it, but the only way to be at peace is to accept him for who he is and act in a loving way anyhow.


Leslie, I just want to thank you for your advice. Your suggestion will be taken. It seems to be the most loving, yet not opening the door for further manipulation and tantrums (yes, my dad seems to have tantrums for the littlest things). He did say once upon a time infront of my other siblings that I’m probably his only child (out of the 6 of us) who would take care of him when he’s old. I don’t think his opinion changed, I just think he wants a battle of the wills and where, in the past I would give in, the cards are different now b/c I"m a parent and need to set an example for my daughter. Thank you again.

In Christ,

P.S. I don’t think you’re a loud mouth.


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