My father put his art ahead of his family. He neglected us, and eventually my mother divorced him. When I was a teen, he molested me. Now, I'm the only child who is willing to care for him, but I am sick of his insults and his lies. He has convinced all his friends that everything that led up to their divorce was all my mother's fault (in fact, he even lies and says that HE divorced HER), and holds me up to ridicule in front of them. He refused to help me in college (I always thought it was because I refused his advances), yet gives the impression to everyone that I was really bad, even though I worked my way through, had a family, and my husband and I deserve respect for raising raising good kids. I feel his behavior is NOT attributable to old age, but to his lifelong contempt of my mother and her children. I am getting so I don't want to have anything to do with him! He refuses to take a bath, and cleaning up the toilets after his incontinence is getting to me. He refuses to do anything to make my stay with him comfortable, yet he wants me to come back. (He lives all the way across the country, and when I go to see him, I'm far away from family and friends. Yet, he refuses to let me use the internet, even when I say I will pay, and I have to go outside to use my cell phone because he refuses to let me use the phone.) I can't tell my husband how abusive he was, and so my husband counsels me to go and take care of my father and not "abandon him," and that someday I will look back and think about how I treated my father at the end of his life. But, I'm getting so I don't want to go. Right now, my father is still mobile at home and even drives, but he is slowing down. He's in his late nineties and the day is coming when he will have to do something he never planned for, and that is to depend on his kids. None of us feel he cared about us when we were growing up--he certainly never made any sacrifices to feed his family-- and now we are going to have to put HIM first? He has no shame and has no clue about how he has treated us.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Blue, your husband cannot understand that which he does not know or that which you conceal. You are dealing with a narcissist, please read about Fear, Obligation and Guilt. Your father is a Polaroid Papa, you exist in pictures he shows off and your free services, not as a separate individual entity. Years of therapy helped me learn to let others live with the consequences of their decisions, to let go. You can help organize assistance but to quote others: you are not required to set yourself on fire to keep others warm. Please take care of you before you have nothing left to give and your father discards you without further use available. At least seek out therapy or pastoral counseling to understand.
Helpful Answer (8)

He abandoned you a long time ago and you were safer when he did. Leave it at that; let go, let God. Heal yourself first and foremost. Accept the fact that you cannot change him; he has no remorse; he is a predator by his own choice. He reaps what he has sown.
Helpful Answer (7)

"Taking care of someone who years before was abusive or neglectful of you is beyond what is expected of you. Caring for a family member who was or is physically or psychologically abusive is dangerous. ... Each case is different, but with most, I encourage some kind of continued management -- often through a social worker -- to make sure tha the caregiving team or the nursing home professionals are treating your family member well. This may be the best you can do given your history together."

This quote is from therapist Pauline Boss, in her book "Loving Someone Who Has Dementia." It applies, of course, to caregiving of any sort, whether it involves dementia or not.

And this is from Jeanne Gibbs: "How do I cope with caring for a parent who was abusive to the family when we were growing up?" From a very safe distance, and through professionals.

Also, it pains me that you feel you have to keep such significant secrets from your husband. Why do you suppose you need to do that?
Helpful Answer (6)

It sounds to me as though you are still putting on a show for everyone, rather than being true to yourself. You care too much about what others think of you, rather than about the truth that you know.

You've never told your husband about your childhood? Or does he know and still thinks that you should forgive and move on?

It sounds to me as though your father is (and always has been) mentally ill. This is a case for professionals. Stay far away. Send a card at Christmas.
Helpful Answer (5)

Blue, I would tell my husband the history. How else could he possibly understand what you are having difficulty with? I would stay as far away as possible. I had to do that with my twisted sisters when I was caring for my mom. The twisteds behavior towards me is what ultimately ended a very good caring relationship with mom. It got to the point I had to save myself.

I would never care for a parent that had been abusive to me as your father was to you. Find geriatric care manager to keep track of dad. Do not ask for frequent updates as it sounds you do not have the strength to establish boundaries right now. Find a therapist, there are some that specialize in caregiver issues. I had one that was absolutely wonderful, don't know what I would have done without her. Find caregiver support groups near YOUR home.

STOP those frequent trips to help Dad, there are others that have specialized training in dealing with elderly.
Helpful Answer (4)

Stay away from him - he molested you and treats you like crap. Hubby can take care of him if he so desires. You stay away and heal yourself.
Helpful Answer (3)

Blue, your duty is to your husband. You are concealing the truth from your husband. You can tell your husband the truth about your father molesting you, but you are choosing not to. Keeping this secret from your husband is hurting you and your marriage.

Marriages are built upon trust and you do not trust your husband enough to tell him your secret. You cannot blame your husband for your choices when you have misled him about your father. Your husband's opinions about your duty to your father are misinformed. And how could they not be when you are lying by omission?

All that said, you owe your father nothing. You owe your father neither caregiving nor forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. The healthiest thing you can do right now is to confide in your husband the horrible truths about your father and work on your marriage. Let your father find his own way. Predators usually do.

So sorry this happened to you. I wish you wisdom and peace as you heal yourself and your marriage from the damage keeping this secret has done.
Helpful Answer (1)

Why do you believe that your husband will never understand that your father molested you?

Why would you marry a man who will never understand that your father molested you?

Whether you answer my questions or not, you clearly need professional psychological help and marriage counseling. And this forum is no substitute for mental health counseling. Good luck, Blue.
Helpful Answer (1)

To everyone who has written, thank you for all your kind comments. I think the advice that I find some one else to care for him is sound, and I will follow it. I really appreciate the comment about "Polaroid Papa." Wow! That hits the nail on the head! My mother always said the same thing about how we kids were just for him to show off!
Helpful Answer (1)

Thank you also for your kind words and support. I'm steeling myself to confront my father, and this helps more than I can say!
Helpful Answer (0)

See All Answers
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter