Feet of Clay

26 Nov

Dear LetterBalm: I was eleven when my parents divorced. I went to live with my father because I adored him and blamed my mother for the divorce because my dad told me it was all her fault. He said she had cheated on him. (Later, I found out he was the one who had cheated. He’s never admitted it or apologized for his lies.)  When I decided to live with my mom, my dad told me he would never forgive me. He said all kinds of hateful things. Well, several years later, he’s with another woman who has three bratty kids. He plays the dutiful dad who’s always reaching out to me and who wants all of us to get along. How can I make him understand I want nothing to do with him?

–Knows the Truth

Your dad has let you down bigtime. He lied to you and badmouthed your mother to you – divorcing parents should never, ever criticize their spouse to their children. You clearly have seen the light, and you owe your dad nothing. Ms. L.B. assumes you are talking with a professional who is helping you put things right in your own mind, and she suggests a phone call with your dad instead of a written letter or e-mail, which your dad might use against you in the future. Bounce ideas off your therapist or a trusted friend. Keep it simple and don’t allow your dad to respond:

Dad, from now on, here’s what’s going to happen. I will have only limited contact with you – occasional phone calls, texts and e-mails. Why? I don’t want you and your new family in my life. For years, you lied to me about mom and the divorce. You have never admitted that it was your cheating that split apart your marriage. You told me hateful things, including that you never wanted to see me again. And, now, you are reaching out to me. Now, you want everyone to get along, to be one happy family. I can’t do that. It’s taken me years to understand your need for all your lies and spite. But what I can’t forgive is that you’ve never taken responsibility for your actions or apologized to Mom or me for the things you’ve said and done. I hope you’ve found some happiness because you’re my father. And, maybe in the future my heart will soften, but not now.

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