Gransnet forums

Estrangement

How to start reconciliation? (Very long sorry)

(98 Posts)
Ironflower Wed 29-Jan-20 04:35:33

Firstly I'd like to say that I am not a gran. I've been reading these forums for a while and this community sounds really lovely honestly. I haven't had any luck with advice in Parent groups as they are so harsh and quick to say things like restraining order. This is about my parents. I'm going to try and make it as short as possible sorry, but for true advice I feel like it has to have a lot of the story in it. Also please be gentle, I'm 9 months pregnant lol.

This is about my parents, I actually have a great relationship with my in-laws.

Over the years the relationship between my parents and my family has declined dramatically and we are now no contact. I still answer phone calls and talk to my mum. To hopefully make it shorter I'll list particular incidents in dot points.

- My dad was physically abusive to my older brothers (not me). He would grab them by the hair, push them against the wall, screaming and spitting in their faces.

- When I got married my parents were very jealous of in-laws even though we actually lived with my parents for a short time while our house was being built per their invitation. Things were okay, we did as asked.

- Most of the real problems started when we had our first child. My dad constantly said and did nasty things. The first event we held at my in-laws house was my sons baptism (engagement party and baby shower were all at my parents). I had 50+ guests as well as a 3 month old baby to look after. I showed my parents everything and spent some time specifically talking to them at different times but they ended up storming out of the event because they said they weren't getting enough attention. My dad almost closed the car door on me as I was trying to talk to him and ask what was wrong.

- I went back to work a couple afternoons a week and my parents wanted to watch our son. I was fine with this. Honestly the abuse of my brothers was a long time ago and I had never been struck. It was okay. I didn't have many instructions, but no hitting/smacking (son was 1), and don't give old formula. Try to get to nap if possible. Nothing fancy. A few months in my dad had been giving son hotdogs every single day. So I tried asking if maybe it could just be a treat food every once a while but not every day because of how unhealthy they are. My dad snapped at me that I was full of s* and ignored me for the rest of the day.

- One of the things that makes my dad most angry was that we never let him do the landscaping on our house. My dad is a builder. Initially we were happy to let him, hubby is a draftsperson and got engineer boss to design our retaining walls. In australia any retaining wall over 300cm must be engineered. These retaining walls were over 2000cm. My dad started carrying on that none of that was necessary, he wouldn't listen to any of the guidelines or laws. Hubby was getting so stressed as he just wouldn't listen that I said just hire someone. This is now thrown in our faces all the time.

- I'm pregnant again. I had post birth complications and so had to have an ultrasound. My parents watched both children at a mall nearby. I gave my parents open formula but told them it was only good for 15 minutes after that there was fresh formula in the bag. I return over an hour later and my dad is giving newborn the old milk. I try telling him that its old milk but my dad just starts shaking his head, rolling his eyes and turns away from me preventing me from taking newborn back. My husband and I decided here that we had really had enough of my parents constantly ignoring us.

- My dad is constantly nasty to me. Calling me names, telling me to shut my mouth in front of my kids (he does this to my mum too). Note I'm not arguing with him when he says this, it could be a simple thing like showing him something I was going to buy. I actually never argue with my dad, honestly he scares me too much.

- My dad also treats the kids horribly if my husband is around. If they walk up to him he will push them away. My husband is the nicest and kindest man he has literally never said anything to my dad despite the way he treats me.

- I tried writing a letter to him about how I felt when he called me names etc. It did not go well lol, and he wrote a nasty letter back signing his full name and not dad.

- My parents still come to kids celebrations but they always sit in a corner ignoring everyone (even the kids) and storm out halfway through. They have two other grandchildren and during my 2 year olds party my dad spent the entire time with niece and nephew not even acknowledging my son on his birthday.

- Christmas 2015 we are at their house as usual about to go into the pool. Oldest son is 2. We didn't quite know at the time (he has severe autism), but we knew that something was wrong. My dad takes son to the pool and then says no we go to the toilet before pool. Son was completely nonverbal and we had not started toilet training at all. I told my dad no, we weren't starting at that time and I didn't want to confuse him. He completely ignores me of course and marches son to the toilet (who's upset at leaving pool). We can hear protesting and its been a few minutes I send hubby in (I was very pregnant with Son 2). Pool is right outside toilet window so I hear all. Hubby says 'come on lets go time for pool' my dad argues 'NO he's going to the toilet.' Hubby tries again and again but my dad refuses to listen. He has restrained my 2 year old against the toilet. Eventually hubby just grabs son and takes him. My dad doesn't say a single word to us the rest of christmas day and we leave.

- When he was 3 oldest son is finally diagnosed with severe autism. This has been a huge problem in the family. My parents have even said to my face its my parenting (we don't hit him). At 6 my son is still mostly nonverbal and attends a special school. My parents refer to his classmates as mongoloids, retards, subbies (subhuman), all in front of him. I try to tell them its not appropriate but they gave some excuse that they are older and they don't the fancy new terms. I don't care what term, but slurs are never okay. They insist that son 1 is naughty and pretends that he doesn't understand anything. It can seriously take me 10 minutes to get him to pick up a plate. He'll pick up everything else or not know what to do with it. He doesn't understand but tries so hard.

- An example of this was my son not coming down from a playground. It wasn't that he didn't want to, he was stuck in a routine of only going down when one of us climbed up. He also didn't understand instructions of go down the slide. My dad starts raising his voice at him and immediately I stop him and actually argue with him telling him to leave him alone.

- Another huge issues is differences on medical treatment. Nephew was 2 and hospitalised with respiratory distress. Parents had to administer ventolin twice daily when he went home. I watched my brother holding him down to do ventolin and my parents stand over him while he's doing this saying they don't agree and that he's drugging him. Son 2 has bad asthma. He has been to hospital alot and even with ventolin and a preventer he has asthma attacks. I know that my parents wouldn't give him ventolin if he needed it, they have made it very clear how they feel about medicine.

- My parents love to drive me and the kids around. I'm not sure if its reliving old days or control but I put a stop to it. Despite me getting his car seats professionally installed my dad took them, took off safety clips and used a knot to anchor them. It was not safe and my dad is known for road rage and driving up to 50kms over the speed limit when hes angry at someone. This led to so many nasty calls that I was destroying their lives because I would rather meet them somewhere rather than be driven around.

- The first time we went out with me driving my kids, my dad would only walk 5m behind me, sit at a different table to me and ignore me. Son 2 (2 at the time) walked up to him and he pushed him away. I didn't go out again.

- Last year oldest son started kindergarten and my parents called me. They said that they no longer wanted to go out with just son 2, they had a special bond with son 1 because they had watched him when he was little. They have always favoured Son 1 and ignored Son 2. They demanded that we give them the kids once a fortnight overnight. I declined (asthma, not acknowledging son 1s special needs). Son 1 being autistic can wake up shrieking in the middle of the night for hours. Its draining, exhausting and he lashes out kicking etc. it can even be frightening to see. I just couldn't trust my dads reaction to this.

- Another argument, I tried to talk to my mum when she demanded to know why they couldn't watch the kids. I pointed out many examples and said these things need to happen first. For example, I need to be able to show them how to administer ventolin, I need to trust that they will give ventolin, they need to learn more about autism. I suggested they come along to a therapy appointment. They refused all of this and we were low contact.

- Another example we go out for a family birthday dinner. Son 1 melts down as soon as get to new restaurant as he has just woken up. My dad asks if he can take him to the playground. I say maybe later, I'd really like to calm him down first, and help him calm rather than rely on playgrounds to cheer up. The very next day I get a phone call that my dad has taken off to another state and is going to disappear because I won't let him do what he wants when he wants. Spoiler alert he does come back.

- We're kind of okay talking when my dad rings me. He says he wants to go on a family holiday but I have to tell him within the next 2 hours if we can go so it can be booked. We tell him we need way more time than that, hubby needs to see if he can get time off work etc. We do actually agree to go (hubby would've rather walked over hot coals but he left the decision to me). Also note I'm pregnant with our third. Trip is booked. My parents are paying accomodation, we pay our fuel and food, nice gesture on their part. HOWEVER I became extremely sick right before the trip. Not talking morning sickness, talking liver disease (ALT and AST were 450 and 350), I am vomiting (because of liver) and there were other physical problems with the pregnancy (baby was trapped and had to be manually moved by a doctor - incarcerated uterus). I also had active epstein barr virus, I couldn't eat, drink, or do anything. I was in and out of hospital. I was in hospital the day we were supposed to leave and my dad rings. My husband tries telling my dad how sick I am and my dad just keeps telling us to come the next day. He keeps making me feel guilty. I am released and the next day I ask hubby crying if we can just go (trip is a 9 hour drive with many points where there are no hospitals)

- During the trip I start bleeding and am told by birthing unit that I will probably lose the baby. I am miserable, so sick and meant to be on bed rest but we go. I try to sit and rest as much as I can. We do go to 2 theme parks with my parents. My dad tries to guilt us into driving an hour in the afternoon (after themepark) to IKEA and walking around with my aunty. I decline immediately and he has a bit of a tantrum. Honestly the trip didn't go too bad we thought. We weren't impressed with how my dad treated nephew (2 years old), he smacked him all the day most of the time with no warning and for small things 2 year olds do. When he wouldn't stop crying after being smacked, my dad lost his temper and shoved him hard. As soon as we returned I had a medical emergency and was admitted for several more days in hospital.

- We thought everything was fine. I spent some time at my parents house in the next, I went out with them. My dad did of course make some nasty comments but I brushed them off. However we asked if they wanted us to come over on fathers day and also celebrate Son 1s 6th birthday (same weekend). They seemed happy however when we got there my dad refused to leave the kitchen. Hubby said hi to him and he turned and walked away. Hubby told me, but I kind of brushed him off, maybe he was having a bad day. My dad was still talking to me. I definitely knew something was up when he started pushing his grandkids away from him, playing his computer, in general ignoring everyone but me. We ended up just leaving quite perplexed. I asked my mum and she said she would tell me later. It took her a month to call me. Apparently while on the holiday when we were walking back from the pool, we were nearly at the hotel room so hubby called out to Son 1 to catch up and hold his hand to walk in. My dad had been holding his hand and this was so offensive and horrible of my hubby. I was right there, it was nothing. It didn't matter how many times hubby asked my dad if he wanted to take Son1 on a ride etc. it meant nothing because he said "catch up ***" (name omitted).

So thats where we are. I haven't talked to them (apart from my mum ringing me to say what an awful person hubby is because of pool incident, that we are awful parents for keeping grandkids away (its mostly been them pushing the kids away). I tried to talk to her and ask how do we reconcile? What do u want the first step to be? She said no to just me and her having lunch, said no to all at dinner or the park, she said all of that takes to long. The only thing they will accept is me ringing them and asking them to take Son1 out for the day (not son2 lol). I of course said no and reminded her of the few things I wanted from them, that I told them a year ago, before they ever babysat (accept autism diagnosis, give ventolin etc).

So we're at a stale mate. I want to suggest family therapy but they think all therapists and doctors are scammers. I'm honestly just tired of my dad's temper tantrums. You'll notice I haven't mentioned my mum very much. My dad abuses her just as much. She showed him an item she wanted to buy on clearance and he said 'shut up shut up' and covered his ears and walked away? She was nearly crying. I feel bad for her but she constantly excuses his behaviour. He has her on a $20 a week allowance and told my husband that he should put me on an allowance. Hubby still laughs about this to this day. There has been so much more happen, but this is already too long.

I want my parents to be able to watch my kids grow and spend time with them, but I cannot trust them alone with them and they refuse to have anything to do with the grandkids unless its alone.

Do any of you lovely people have any ideas or things that have worked for you? I really can't take this stress much more.

dragonfly46 Wed 29-Jan-20 05:50:44

I am sorry but if it were me I would stay well away from your family. You have to concentrate on your children and lovely husband.
Your dad will never change. I feel sorry for your mum but it does sound as if she backs him up.
I would not normally advise this but you have to distance yourself for your own well- being.

Nezumi65 Wed 29-Jan-20 07:28:02

I would cut contact. Especially with the autism - you will have years of them not getting it (I have a severely autistic son) & honestly life is stressful enough. Your father’s behaviour towards your autistic son also sounds abusive & as he grows it sounds as if your parents will not be able to understand the type of support he needs. You’re going to get more bullshit about parenting etc.

They sound very controlling

Nezumi65 Wed 29-Jan-20 07:30:52

If he is smacking your nephew he will be smacking your children as well.

Nezumi65 Wed 29-Jan-20 07:38:01

And I don’t see how you can reconcile unless your father acknowledges his part in all this.

Susan56 Wed 29-Jan-20 08:22:56

Like dragonfly I would never normally advise anybody to cut contact in fact I would never normally comment on something I have no experience of.However, I was so horrified reading your post.
I think you need to concentrate on your own little family.
You cannot leave your children with a man who is physically abusive and who sounds downright cruel.Also if he will not acknowledge their asthma and your oldest son’s autism they will be at risk if left with him.
I don’t think it will do your children any good emotionally to spend time with your parents.
You sound like a lovely daughter who has gone above and beyond to try and ensure your children can have a relationship with their grandparents but sadly unless your parents change which seems unlikely I don’t think it can happen.
I wish you and your little family all the best💐

Iam64 Wed 29-Jan-20 08:28:07

I started to read your post carefully but its so long I skimmed quickly.
I do understand that you wish your parents could be in your life and the lives of your children. Everything you say about them says it's right to keep away. You simply can't leave your children in the care of a man like your father. A grandfather who will insist on attempting to toilet a 2 year old before allowing him in the pool, who will actually argue in front of the child he's restraining with the little one's father. That'a real Red Flag.
Look after yourself. Stopping contact is likely to raise all manner of unfinished emotional business for you. Take care of yourself and your family.

Ironflower Wed 29-Jan-20 08:36:01

Thank you everyone. I know I can never trust him to be alone with them. I've tried so many times to get along with my dad but he is just so stubborn and set in his ways. It's just really sad that that means no contact. I feel a lot of pity for them, they have no hobbies, interests or friends. I also do feel sorry for my mum, she doesn't understand that abuse doesn't always have to be physical.

Newquay Wed 29-Jan-20 08:36:47

I, too, didn’t read all the post but, really, a reconciliation? Why? Put your children’s safety first (and your own sanity too!) and keep away.

Chewbacca Wed 29-Jan-20 08:37:55

Post is too long for me to be able to assimilate all the information but, from scanning through it, I'd just cut your losses, and contact, and keep well away from your family. Concentrate on your own family unit, and what's best for them.

yggdrasil Wed 29-Jan-20 08:38:03

You say you have a great relationship with your inlaws, so your children do have grandparents.
Drop all contact with your father. Send him a copy of this post and then cut him off. Do not read any replies from him.

Dottygran59 Wed 29-Jan-20 08:46:02

Oh Ironflower, I too couldn't bring myself to read all of your post, it was just too uncomfortable.

Darling, you can't allow these people near your children, they are the most precious little people in your life and need and deserve your protection.

I know it will be hard to cut contact, and as Iam has acknowledged, there will be emotional fall out, but the sooner you cut ties with these toxic people the sooner you can start to deal with this fall out.

We loving grans on here will be completely unable to comprehend how your parents behave towards your children, and I doubt you will get anyone urging you to try to reconcile with them.

Imagine that you were one of your children. Would you want grandparents like that in your life?

My heart goes out to you, it really does, you sound a lovely young woman and fantastic mum, but please, please, don't let this vile man and the woman who enables him near your children, or you and your amazing husband again.

They are your family now, love and enjoy them.

Nezumi65 Wed 29-Jan-20 08:47:36

I can see why you are concerned about your mum. But she is an adult who can make her own choices & you have to prioritise your family unit of husband and children. You father is abusive & it would be damaging to continue to expose your children to that.

You could leave it as a final - I don’t want to to do this but in order for us to have a relationship this needs to happen: so you leave a door open?

What does your sibling think. The asthma stuff is terrifying

sodapop Wed 29-Jan-20 08:47:55

Like other posters I would not encourage you to break off contact with your family. In this case however I agree totally with dragonfly46. It appears you and your husband have done your best to include your family but they are making things impossible.
Time to withdraw from them and concentrate on your children and husband, it will be hard for you but their attitude to child care is so wrong. I hope you find a way through this Ironflower good luck.

Madgran77 Wed 29-Jan-20 08:48:33

Drop all contact with your father. Send him a copy of this post and then cut him off. Do not read any replies from him.

Sadly on the face of what you describe, I have to agree with the above advice from yggdrasil. But not sure how you an maintain contactvwith your Mum either. I think your and probably your husbands perspective on this has been lost because of such abusive behaviour. I think you both need counselling to help you make decisions for your families future away from this abusive behaviour that you have suffered all your life [ flowers]

Ironflower Wed 29-Jan-20 08:50:47

@Newquay I guess reconciliation isn't the right word. I would never leave the kids with them. Honestly I just want peace. I'm tired of my mum ringing and either crying or saying horrible things every fortnight. I'm tired of jumping every time a car pulls up (they have let themselves into my house before and turned up angry another time). I think what I crave is just impossible. I'm about to have a baby that they will probably never meet. I'm happy to talk to them about the kids on the phone, let them skype with the kids, even spend a small amount of time with the kids if hubby and I are there (and they behave), send them pictures of the kids, but I just can't get through to them that they have really messed up

Ironflower Wed 29-Jan-20 08:58:21

Thank you everyone. It's been 5 months since I've seen them. Only contact has been the calls from my mum. I definitely don't want my dad ever manipulating my boys the way he did to us. I do dread to think about how my dad would treat special needs teenagers. I think I knew that this would happen as things built up, but it still makes it very hard. My husband and in-laws are amazing. I do like the idea of just bluntly telling my mum a last message of " I don’t want to to do this but in order for us to have a relationship this needs to happen" or even sending this thread (that might be a bit too confrontational for me). Maybe then she'll leave me alone for a bit

Dottygran59 Wed 29-Jan-20 09:00:33

Ironflower, I have read the whole post now, and honestly it's worse than I thought.

There can be no satisfactory outcome or happy ending here. They are not prepared to listen or compromise. I know that you think that we are being harsh, and that you hoped for a more measured response than you have had from your peers, but honestly, love, trust the wise grans on here.

I really wish you would have some counselling, you really do need it - you have grown up in an abusive home and your parents are now behaving towards your children and nephew as they did to you. You simply can not continue to have any sort of relationship with them. They do not think that they are in the wrong. That will never change. You will never change their behaviour.

I wish I could encourage a reconciliation, I can not imagine being seperated from any of my much adored grandchildren, however this behaviour is not that of loving grandparents.

Please keep posting if it helps, and take care

Ironflower Wed 29-Jan-20 09:06:47

@Dottygran59 I don't think any of you are being harsh. I was torn to shreds in a DIL group. Counselling is definitely something that I need to look into. I'm happy to do it. I think I'm starting to accept that they won't change. I don't think they can. Thank you everyone xx

Bathsheba Wed 29-Jan-20 09:08:48

Goodness me, you have done everything you can to try to involve your parents with your family. But I'm afraid they will never accept merely 'being involved'. Your father in particular wants to be in charge, call all the shots, and that simply is entirely unacceptable.

I cannot believe how much he has already put you all at risk, denying your son's autism, wanting to withhold his ashthma medication, insisting you travel for 9 hours immediately after being hospitalised while heavily pregnant with a serious health scare. This is not the behaviour of a loving father or grandfather. I think you know in your heart of hearts that nothing you do will ever change him. He is a selfish bully and a dangerous one at that.

Like other posters here, I never thought the day would come when I would be advising someone to cut contact with their parents, but I honestly think you have no choice. Keeping your distance from them is the only way to ensure your, and your sons', physical and emotional wellbeing.

Please don't ever leave your boys in their charge again - I feel particularly concerned about the appalling physical abuse meted out to your brothers and fear that your sons would suffer in the same way at his hands if you're not there to stop him.

Good luck ironflower - love the name! You hold on to that iron resolve and keep your family safe and happy xx

TwiceAsNice Wed 29-Jan-20 09:12:27

I think this behaviour of your fathers is so bad I would suggest no contact whatsoever ever again. He is highly abusive and controlling and will never change. I know I left someone similar.

I’d change your phone number and keep your doors locked I’d be so concerned. If possible I’d say move house with no forwarding address!

Honestly you are a saint and your lovely husband has been far too patient. You have a lovely family and the children will have loving grandparents on your husbands side. Cut all contact now it will not end well whatever else you do and your children need protection above all else. Put them first, you sound like great parents in every other way.

FlexibleFriend Wed 29-Jan-20 09:15:59

I can't imagine why on earth you'd want anything to do with these people. You've tried being reasonable and for what? for them to behave like 5 year olds. You're job is to protect your children so don't attempt to reconcile. Sorry but I'd stay as far as possible from these people.

eazybee Wed 29-Jan-20 09:18:36

You have a complex relationship with your parents, particularly your father, and it seems as though autism runs through your family. However, attempting to create a relationship between your father and your children is foolish, verging on the dangerous, based on all the incidents you have detailed. Road rage, constant smacking of your nephew, language about your son's schoolmates, wilful refusal to follow instructions about safety and medication, and a complete intolerance of other people's point of view; all indicate this man is not suitable to be in charge of children.
You say you are scared to death of your father yet you persist in encouraging contact with your children, and you must ask yourself why. It is very unlikely his behaviour will change, and I doubt he would tolerate therapy.

You are not completely estranged but are maintaining telephone contact. I understand your concerns for your mum, but the safety and well-being of your family is paramount.

NotSpaghetti Wed 29-Jan-20 09:20:25

I also think you should seriously consider counselling- though for some reason I notice you are hostile to this.
Don't totally cut this option off. It can be so liberating if you find the right person.

eazybee Wed 29-Jan-20 09:20:36

I am sorry if my post seems harsh, but I do believe your children are at risk if they spend time with your father.