How to have conversations at dinner without getting personal?

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I love my dad I really do. He moved in almost 2 years ago. My wife and I were enjoying the empty nest. I work at home and my wife works outside of the house. We like to have some quiet time before dinner which my dad grants us. He has his own living room. We have dinner together every night. The issue is my dad can't converse. He can tell great stories but can't hold a conversation, it always reverts back to him. My wife calls it "I / my syndrome". His conversations always start with I or my. I get it he is lonely and he and mom were a pair for 60 years. My wife will ask me a question and he will answer it before it comes out of my mouth. She will make a comment on something during the day and he always answers with a story of his or does the "Cliff Clavin I know how that is built, the history etc....". We try but I get fed up and now I don't talk during dinner (very awkward). I know he is trying to fit in. We cant discuss political subjects (same side why bother). I ask about his church activities or lodge and pretty much nothing from him. He only pipes in when I or my wife ask each other a question. Or he listens to one side of a phone conversation (kids call during dinner a lot and we will take it out of the room) and makes assumptions on the conversation. It is not that I don't try I do but dinner is getting uncomfortable (especially the noises he makes at the table can one person make that much noise?) Any topic is fair game for something he has done so I don't even try any more. He claims to be hard of hearing but yet listens to every conversation and then it is topic of his phone calls to friends and family (he has his phone on speaker and we cant help but hear it on the other side of the house. There seem to be no boundaries. Yesterday he figured out how to listen to a voice mail in my car while I was in range in the store then asked about the topic (my daughter) Dang technology. Don't get me started on social media (my sister got him on) he found my page and shows everyone (I did not friend him because he lives with me) but he back doors the social media and tells everyone what I am doing (I know that is social media) I am posting less and less now because of that. It's not that it is out there it is how he makes comments (always out of context). This turned from a question into a rant, sorry. How do you have conversations with people where you don't want it to be a story? Last night it was the comments on how I was as a kid eating.... because we put peas on the table. It was cute then but not now. Driving on the car is bad as it is the same issue, I can't have even the slightest conversation with my wife so 3 hour car rides are painful. Anything I say in the house becomes gossip for the family or worse, my friends.

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When we have a holiday gathering my father is like this. He tells you a story like it is the first time you have ever heard it yet it is probably the 1000th time. He gets mad if you tell him you already know the story and will continue.

The worst part is now all he wants to talk about is his bodily functions or lack of them. I have had to flip out on him several times regarding 'potty' talk at the dinner table. I go out to dinner with him about twice a month and we basically eat in silence because he only wants to talk about what he has done in the bathroom and I refuse to discuss that. I have asked him why he feels the need to tell me these things and he insists that he thought I would want to know. Who would want to know that?
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Thanks, all good suggestions. My wife loses her appetite as well. It is fumy, no noise until he sits down. Mainly due to his weight. He says he is losing weight but by sight not on this end. He is sedentary all the time. Says he is getting out of the house but that is code for going out to eat. I live on leftovers for lunch and I HAVE A JOB! But he goes out for his lobster roll or hears of a new restaurant from one of our friends and he immediately goes there before we get a chance to and tells us all about it, Cross that one off the list! He asks all the time if I am going to (on business) a certain area so he can get a certain type of food. "You can just drop me off for a few hours". I am on the road for business, I don't have time to play tour guide.There are days when I leave at 7 AM and get home at 11 PM. Then I am eating grocery store salad or something on the weight watchers plan not gourmet restaurants my way on business. Sure there are times I go out on business but that is my deal not to be shared with family.
He wont eat lunch at home here because it is lonely (I do every day, by my self). He will eat lunch if I make it for him (sorry my lunch hour is about 15 minutes). I make breakfast for my wife in the AM before she goes to work. Lunch is on your own here. I make dinner every night. Not a bad place if I say so myself. I will try the just keep talking routine. I get it he is lonely but hey I didn't plan this! Thanks for listening!
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oh and the noises.......they have turned out to be a great diet tool for me. I lose my appetite quite often just hearing them...lol
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this could be my story except with my mom. 2 years in and our dinners are the EXACT same way. eating in silence now every night.....AWKWARD cant even describe it. Stare ahead and pray for it to end. What a sad situation. We haven't even got to experience empty nest syndrome yet. You can only listen to a person talk about themselves so many times before you just start trying to block them out ( which is impossible to do if they are talking ) car rides might be worse. she talks to herself on those......taking it one day at a time........
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I agree with Mincemeat, our elders world is so narrow now. Dad [94] doesn't have much in the way of new things to talk about so he jumps into what he did in college.... to someone new it's like an episode from the Big Bang Theory with the physics lab and engineering lab, but to hear the same story for the 100th time, it's not so interesting even when trying to picture Sheldon and Howard to make the story more interesting.

And the gossip, oh my gosh, makes me wonder where on earth did my parents come up with what the neighbors are doing. They see a large truck down the street, so they quickly assume that neighbor is moving and why they are moving and where they are probably moving, etc. They had stories for every neighbor :P
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I know it's not funny but I had to smile at your reference to Cliff Clavin: "It's a little know fact......"

You said the magic word: boundaries. Boundaries are being crossed. Mincemeat had a good suggestion in that you and your wife forge ahead with conversation during dinner. If you ask your wife a question or vice versa and your dad weighs in even though no one was talking to him, wait him out when he speaks then pick up the conversation with your wife. Just bypass him and his comments. Do it over and over again.

About his table manners and noises, I had the same issue with my beloved father. I knew about his table manners before he moved in with us so I never had "family dinners". I would cook and sit everything out and we would fix a plate when we wanted to eat. My dad would sit at the kitchen island with a book or the paper while he ate and I made sure to eat after he was done. It got so my dad would fix his plate and then take it to his room to eat in front of the TV. We had plenty of "together" time so I didn't feel bad that we all didn't eat together.

Regarding social media my daughter (22) had the same issue you do with your dad. She got on Facebook and was inundated by requests from family. Her grandmother, her uncles, etc. She found that she couldn't post things at times because she knew her grandmother would see it. Not that she wanted to post profane things but it's hard to mess around with friends on Facebook when grandma is looking over your shoulder. A number of my daughter's friends had the same issue so they created alternate accounts. Now my daughter can remain in contact with relatives and they can remain in contact with her but she has a separate account that's just for friends. Her initial account is her first and last name, her alternate account is her first and middle name only. Create another account for yourself and friend-request everyone you were friends with before except your dad.

Have you explained to your dad that your life, your conversations with you wife, are not fodder for his Facebook page? That it's an invasion of your privacy? Again, boundaries. You must set them and make sure that your dad is aware of them as well.
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I have lived with this with my own father for the last decade...me, me, me. It had gotten so bad once that after a family dinner with my siblings, we gathered in the kitchen after dinner for coffee so we could catch up on what all the "other" families and the children have been doing. We laugh now about that night because my father stomped into the kitchen and demanded that we stop having our conversation and come into the living room to watch the weather with him. My father is now so bad that he just talks over anyone who has the audacity to bring up a subject that is not of interest to him. Always stories with a negative or embarrasing ending much like telling how you ate as a kid.

Part of this is because their world is so narrowed....and I suspect that early dementia turns people into self centered folks, intolerant of much interest in others and empathy towards others. (Harsh, I know) Nosiness and gossiping about what we and neighbors do is also high on this list.

I am not sure if this is good advice, but we just got to the point that if we wanted to talk about what WE wanted to talk about.....we just forged ahead, redirected the conversation back, multiple times to what we wished to talk about.

My best to you....caring for difficult older men is an olympic challenge.
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