My dad is 57 and has some health issues. He does need help doing some things, but I honestly think he "milks" things to get more attention & so others will do stuff for him. I probably wouldn't feel this way if it hasn't been going on for my entire 33 years of being on this earth.

We lost my mom when my sister and I were only in middle school. After she passed, my sister stepped up and played the mama and sister role. She done everything she could for my dad to help & it got to the point he expected it. (He wasn't sick at this time.) Once she was able to work, she got a job & worked to keep our house going & make sure the bills were paid. She had to grow up way too fast & it's not fair. Growing up without our mom was very hard. Dad was very tough on us. We literally had to do everything for him.

I lost my sister about 7 years ago. I'm married & we have a young child together. My dad is having some health issues & is on Home Health.
I often think he makes things out worse than what they are. Don't get me wrong, I know he struggles sometimes but I don't think it's as bad as he lets on ALL the time. I take him to all of his doctor's appointments which requires me to get off of work. I even have to go help him pay his online bills. If doesn't know how to do something, he has me to do it for him. He expects me to drop everything I am doing & be there Johnny on the spot when he needs something. Even something simple like if he doesn't feel like going to his mailbox. (Let me add, he has a scooter that he can use to go get his mail & in fact, I believe he could even walk but chooses not to.) He will sit on his porch & ask his neighbors to bring him his mail.
My husband & I were going in once a week to help him clean up his apartment because he says he just couldn't do it. He made no effort to even try & pick up after himself. There would be trash in the floor that he dropped & wouldn't even pick up. I think he sensed I was getting irritated with it after he asked my 8-year-old son to clean up some of his bathroom mess. From that point, he said he would start doing what he could & if he needed help he would call me.

But he hasn't asked for help yet cleaning yet. All he does is make comments to me & make me feel bad about it. We would see him 2 times a week & I would talk to him 5 days a week for an hour & a half each time but yet it was never enough. He makes comments like, "You're going to regret not spending all the time with me that you can" or "God expects you take care of your parents & not run off & leave them". Just all kinds of comments that always gets to me.

I took a week off of work to spend time with my son & told my dad I had one day that week I could do for him but all he did was make comments that I didn't have time for him. He made the comment to me on Christmas day that he had no family left..all his family was dead. When I questioned what about me & his grandson, he replied with "Like I said, all my family is dead". That really hurt my feelings.

I go visit him but dread going because he always wants me to do something. Even if it's send a text message to someone. I'll be at his house & he will hand me his phone, "Here, text Larry for me & tell him I need him to call me." or "Here, read this for me & tell me what it says." Stupid stuff that he can do himself, but he chooses not to. He wants everything done for him & done right then. & God forbid I tell him no..."You don't love me anymore?" so there goes the pity, guilt stuff again.

It's a revolving door. I do so much but it's never enough for him. I can never please him. Apparently, he thinks I don't love him. He can do so much more for himself, but he uses his health issues to get what he wants.
This is only the beginning. He is stressing me out so much & my husband wants me to just walk away & not help him until he realizes all I am doing, but I want to do the right thing by being there. I have health issues of my own & can't keep this stress up.

Find Care & Housing
Your father is using FOG tactics to get what he wants from you....Fear Obligation and Guilt. Plus he throws in some passive-aggressive manipulation techniques on TOP of it all to add to your guilt. He's got it all down pat. I'd have drawn the line with him when he asked your 8 year old child to clean up his bathroom mess! That's over the top buddy. As is you speaking with him for 90 minutes a pop 5 days a week.

With people like this, no matter HOW much you do, it's never enough and they'll take every opportunity to let you know that your best efforts have fallen short. That you're worthless. So why bother? My mother was like that, and it took me decades to stop jumping thru fiery hoops to please a woman who would not BE pleased. I finally stopped trying, and putting myself thru the torture.

Set down some hard boundaries with a 57 year old man-child who CAN do for himself once you stop doing for him. Decide what day a week you'll go over there and how long you'll stay, what you'll do, and at what point you'll say ENOUGH and leave. Decide you'll spend 10 minutes on the phone with him a few days a week and that's IT. At his age, and with Home Health coming in, he needs yo do for himself or go into Skilled Nursing care with Medicaid. Period. Although I don't think laziness would qualify him for long term care.

Recognize what dad is doing to you and stop putting up with it. For all you've done for the man, you have nothing at ALL to feel guilty for, even though he's pulling out all the stops to MAKE you feel that way. Take care of you, your son and your husband and allow the man-child to take care of HIMSELF. It's time now.

Welcome to the forum. It's always a safe place to vent and get advice.
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to lealonnie1
TheYoungest2 Jan 16, 2024
Thank you! This is just what I needed. & I may have chuckled a little, or a lot, at the "man-child" remark. Hahaa!!

He has controlled me most of my life. I did hit an age where I put my foot down to him and wouldn't take his mess, but something changed in me when I had my son and I'm back to taking his crap. He will make a remark to me, and I fire back but he always ends up saying more hurtful things or I feel terrible for what I said.
He has run off most of friends because the way he acts and how he treats them. Then complains that since he's sick and "has no money" that nobody cares about him now. He caused my sister's marriage to be ruined and they divorced because dad wouldn't stay out of their relationship and her husband got tired of it.

I just want to honor my mother and sister and do the best I can for him. I wonder if they were here now what they would do. He's even made comments to me in the past that if my sister was here then he wouldn't be in the situation he is in. Take about a low blow...thanks dad!

And he is not a very religious man but does believe in the good Man above. However, he always makes comments to me about how I am biblically supposed to take care of him because he is family and I need to honor him.
He gets in my head too much. My husband is so upset about it and doesn't want much to do with him anymore which makes it harder on me.
Then I always hear my dad saying, "You can't ever come over because your husband controls you too much. Y'all need time apart. Too much time together is not good for y'all".

There is no winning with him. I want to change things and put my foot down but the way he makes me feel guilty, if something were happened to him, I don't know if I could live with myself at the thoughts of him dying thinking I don't love him or wasn't there when he needed me. We are already having a battle because he doesn't life insurance and expects me to sale his truck when he passes to pay for his funeral bill. I keep telling him that it takes time to sell a vehicle and the funeral home is going to want their money before the truck sales. And who knows if I'd even get enough to cover his funeral. I've tried telling him he needs to look into getting life insurance policy but he either wants me to look and call around for him or says he can't afford. But he refuses to take the cheaper option of cremation and told me I better not chose that route for him. So here I'm stuck either just looking for him a life insurance policy or paying for the funeral myself all because he won't do it himself.
See 3 more replies
Oh for heaven's sake.

I am 57. I have diabetes and lung issues. And I CONTROL those health conditions. I control them through diet, and exercise, and medications. I control THEM so they don't control ME.

My husband has more health conditions than you can shake a stick at. He controls THEM, the same as I do. So they don't control HIM.

Your dad is a USER. He is USING his conditions to control YOU and your behavior. Unless he is bedridden from COPD, there is absolutely NO REASON why he can't pick up his own garbage and pay his own bills online! None!

If your dad wants to let his health conditions control him, rather than him controlling them, that's his option. DO NOT let HIS health issues control YOU for one minute more! And do not spend one IOTA of time feeling "guilty" or "bad" or "disloyal" for this.

There is no excuse for his behavior; don't make one up for him!
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to notgoodenough
Beatty Jan 16, 2024
👏👏 hear hear bravo!
See 1 more reply
Youngest, I want to answer your comments saying: “I feel terrible even mentioning any of this. I love him so much but I'm so tired of it.” Now read on....

“I feel terrible even mentioning any of this”. You aren’t terrible. Brain-washed and a bit stupid, perhaps. What can you do about that feeling? Counselling?

“I hope this doesn't make me a bad daughter”. There are no rules for a ‘good daughter’, or for what makes a ‘bad daughter’. You are a daughter, obviously, but good or bad is a different matter. Obviously, for one parent you could be ‘good’, even ‘very good, a life saver’, while the other says you are ‘bad’. And each is a parent! You need to set your own standards, to be ‘good enough’ based on your own situation.

“I love him so much”. The guy is horrible to you. Why do you have to ‘love him so much’? You have had it drummed into you that you must, just must, love your father. I certainly didn’t love mine, for very good reasons. He stayed my father, and I stayed in limited contact, but it wasn’t anyone’s idea of ‘love’.

“I’m so tired of it”. That’s the best statement out of all of this. See if you can get some real sleep, without living in this nightmare.

Lots of love and support, Margaret
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to MargaretMcKen

He is 57.
WHAT health issues does he have?

He has never been happy and never been happy with YOU.
Why would you continue to knock yourself out, is my question, instead of moving away, moving on with a quality life?

You mention guilt. That's inappropriate. You were an abused child, not a felon.
You didn't do anything to create your father's problems and you aren't responsible for fixing them.
Parents are responsible for their children.
Children are not responsible for their parents.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to AlvaDeer
TheYoungest2 Jan 18, 2024
I love this, "Parents are responsible for their children.
Children are not responsible for their parents." That really stood out to me!
I needed that, thank you!
Dread. Great word that.

From in your gut *dread* is your body sending you a message. What is it telling you?

OK sounds a bit hippy.. but I have felt this dread before. Looking back, it was a really useful message.

Can you read this & tell me what it says?... Can you pass me that?.. I have a little job for you.. I thought you'd like to...


You suddenly say Holy Servitude Batman, what is going on here? Is this laziness, actual need or has this person become a control freak?

I used to visit a family member frequently. Social visits slid into work visits. Fine. I am happy to help but 'help' slid into EXPECTED.

It was hard to call out the BS from the tasks I knew DID need help with as there were real medical & physical disabilities.

Try going for a visit & just observing. See what clues you find in Dad's behaviour.

Is he struggling physically, low O2 etc. Is he thankful for tasks you do?

Does he ASK directly for help? Or just HINT?

Does he get a gleam in his eye when he HINTS & you leap to & DO?

What happens when you challenge him?

My person asked for a tissue. The box was within reach, so I said so. I got a sour reply "but I want YOU to give it to me".

My eyes were then open. This was mental illness or personaility issues. This was testing the limits of their new-found 'servant'.

My learning how to say NO commenced.

** I am not your Maid **
Start practicing this with haste.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to Beatty
TheYoungest2 Jan 18, 2024
You nailed, Beatty! All day nonsense!

He fusses because I never come to just visit. Well, how am I supposed to when it's constantly being asked to do something for him...LITERALLY! & I don't mean one little thing here and's constant.

He does struggle with his O2 getting low sometimes and I completely understand needing help when that happens. But he can send his own text without his O2 dropping. I questioned him one day as to why he couldn't do certain things while sitting. He told me his O2 drops, and he can't breathe when he moves his arms. Do you think that is a fact possibly? Because I feel like he's making it up.

Sometimes he hints and if I don't "take heed" to the hint, then he will bluntly ask me and say, "I've tried to drop hints, but you don't seem interested in helping". Sometimes he will ask directly also.
I've been helping him for the past several months put on his Dexcom for his diabetes. He will either show up at my house randomly wanting me to put it on or he will text/call and say, "My Dexcom needs changing. I need you to come over before this time." & Sometimes he will ask and be nice about it. It's just a mix and depends on his mood.
Anyways my point, I've asked him why he can't do it himself and he says because he can't see the back of his arm to do it. (He's a bigger guy.) I showed him a way to do it, but he said no that he couldn't. Well, while I was over there last week doing it, I told him the device wasn't working properly and I couldn't do it. He gets it from me and pops that Dexcom right on all by himself! I said look you can do it!! He responded with, "Yea, but it hurt my shoulder having to reach over like that."

See, it's little things like that that make me truly wonder even more if he's milking things to get me over there.

And if he needs something done like putting together something, he'll say he needs my husband to come help him do something. My husband gets upset and says, "No, he doesn't need help. He needs me to do it for him." Because he never helps physically, just sits and barks orders and tells him how to do it.

He even said something to me about how my husband was mopping his floor. Said he didn't do worth a flip. But there was nothing wrong with the way he mopped. It looked fine! When I told my husband what he said, he refused to go back and mop anymore. He should have been grateful we were helping instead of complaining about it.
See 2 more replies
You need to stop right now. DO NOT tolerate one moment of learned helplessness or practiced invalid behavior from your father or anyone else.

I have a name for the behavior your father is engaging in. I call it abusive neediness and it must be ignored.

My mother is very much like your father with the learned helplessness and milking the tiniest of health ailments. She's old now but did this her whole life. She always ends up disappointed and angry because no one. least of all me, will ever or has ever 'babied' her.

I was a an in-home caregiver for 25 years. I never 'babied' an adult and never will.

If your father is capable of doing for himself, he must be forced to. Do not enable him to become a mentally incompetent invalid wallowing in his own self-pity.

When the guilt-tripping starts up tell him to shove it and walk away. You'll be doing him a favor.

If you care about your father you will not 'baby' or enable him to become an invalid who has to be waited on hand and foot. If he can do for himself, he must be forced to.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to BurntCaregiver
NeedHelpWithMom Jan 16, 2024
So very true! She isn’t helping her dad by doing this. She’s crippling him if she continues to do everything for him.

It very sad that she feels horribly when her father tries to shame her for not doing more.

Her dad is the one who should feel ashamed of himself for asking her to do things that he could do himself.
See 5 more replies
Sorry that you are going through this. Your post has struck some nerves with me too. Feeling bad and having dread are not easy to get out of, but we should all try to work to figure things out so we dont have those feelings. I'm still working on this, its not easy.

Other posters have made some great points. I'll add three others.:

1) What if your Mom and Sister were looking down from above, and seeing what is going on, and you could hear from them on what they think about it. What would they say? Would they want you to continue with this situation?

2) You had mentioned that you may feel guilt and regret if your dad died while the relationship was not on a pleasant note. I've gone through this feeling before. and sense of fear, obligation and potential guilt. However can I give you something else to think about: what if you continue giving all this time to your dad, spending relatively little with your 8 year old, then when your 8 year old grows up there are some issues that possibly could have been prevented had you been able to spend more time with him. Would you not feel even more guilt/ regret for that?! Not being with your son when he needed you the most? As others have said, our main caregiving focus should be our children and spouse, not parent!

3) As a start, what if you went out of town, as far away as possible for 2-4 weeks. That may be a start. He's going to have to figure out how to manage on his own. Tell him you are going on vacation. Or if you need to, fib and say its a 1 month work assignment or something. THen, when you come back, shift to a "new mode" where you visit much less often. .....
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to strugglinson
TheYoungest2 Jan 18, 2024
Hi Strugglinson,

The part about losing time with my son really hit home. I've never thought of it that way but it's a great point. My son is my world! I just pray I never do my son the way my father is doing me. I strive to be better.
I do fear that my son will see my feelings towards my father and feel the same way towards him. I want him to be able to form him own opinion of him, if that makes sense.

Since I last posted, I have cut back on talking with my dad. Let's hope he doesn't try to make me feel guilty about it.

I really appreciate your guidance.
See 1 more reply
Sweetheart, you and your sister had your young lives stolen from you. You had no childhood, no carefree innocence that children should have. Perhaps your sister even "died early" (subconsciously brought on) to get away from this Ill Tyrant that your father is. You wondered what your mother and sister would be thinking of you from Heaven: They are sending prayers through time and space that the Tyrant not be allowed to dominate your life, ruin your marriage, and role model for your son a wife who is beaten down and submissive. THIS is what your mother and sister are saying from Heaven. You did not come from a healthy family, you came from tyranny and emotional abuse from a domineering, selfish father. You need to build up your own self esteem and then you might be able to start to create YOUR OWN healthy family. You truly don't know what one looks like, and that's not your fault. BUT: It IS your responsibility for the sake of your son: To behave and act differently, going forward from this day on. Get involved in community and church activities, have your son see a Mom who smiles and is happy with herself, a Mom who takes picnics with her husband and son, who visits towns nearby to explore, who teaches Sunday school, and I could go on and on and on. Your son needs to see a Mom with a strong backbone who smiles indulgently when the Tyrant father starts laying on the Guilt, who chuckles and says, "See you later, Dad, I explained to you that I would need to leave when you begin to try to make me feel BAD about myself". Then: leave. All your son will know about "family" is what he sees you and your husband creating. Your son deserves to see a strong Mom and Dad who love and protect him as their child, who center their world around him. Your son deserves this and more. AND, you, dear Youngest, deserve more self respect than you have, more belief in yourself as a smart, capable, caring woman with a backbone.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to fluffy1966
ForWhatItsWorth Jan 21, 2024
This is such a clear, well-written explanation and encouragement. I have gained some nuggets to apply to another situation of my own. Thank you fluffy.
See 1 more reply
Your Dad is just LAZY, and knows he can use and manipulate you constantly. He knows you love him, and knows you are also very gullible and easy to manipulate. You have served him far beyond a normal daughter who has her own family.
STOP feeling sorry for someone who is so selfish and doesn't reciprocate.

You have to STOP being his "On Call Free Slave." Otherwise he will ruin your marriage next. He has the nerve to tell you that YOUR husband CONTROLS YOU too much? He is the one controlling YOU! Does he even offer you gas money?

I'd be reminding him you have a full time job, and your priority is to your husband and son (you made marriage vows before God), so you need to spend more time with your own family, instead of being his unpaid slave.

Suggest it's time for him to start looking into some type of Assisted Living place. He will fit right in and love it....with 3 meals/snacks daily, his dishes done, housekeeping, laundry service and transportation provided. He will have paid helpers to wait on him daily. He will have activities and not have to do any work!

If he cries "broke" then help get him on Medi-Cal (which he probably already has), so he can get into a Board and Care home, or AL place. He should be in AL anyway, since he clearly needs CONSTANT assistance for everything, every day. He can't deny that - right up his alley!

Your TRUE moral obligation is to take care of you, your husband and son! He isn't financially supporting you, so you owe him NOTHING. You have enough responsibility to handle, besides kissing up to a lazy old man who has NO RESPECT for you. He is just lazy and an expert at manipulation. It works well for him, right? Why should he change when he has it made?

What if you get sick, or have an accident? Then who will be his "on call" slave? All the time you spend waiting on him YOU WILL NEVER GET BACK.

Nice try with the "honor your parents" Bible routine. Think about this...did he do everything (you now do) for his elder parents when he was younger? I bet he did nothing. Why exactly should you feel guilty?

Don't worry about his funeral. If it comes up, tell him you can't pay for it, period. It's not your problem. Tell him you and hubby are smart enough to have life insurance for yourselves.

Bottom line, you have your own family and responsibilities. Do you want a divorce, since he has a history of causing them? Start cutting back on so many calls, be too busy to run over, and when he tries to hand you his phone, put your hand up and say, "No, you can do it yourself." Turn and leave quick, with excuses, "Got to get groceries/have dentist appt/need to pick son up" and GO!

The stress you have from Dad will eventually cause health problems. You have been given good advice by others here. Listen to it!
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Dawn88
TheYoungest2 Jan 18, 2024
That's exactly how I feel sometimes - An on call free slave.
But I know I'm the only one who can put a stop to it. I shouldn't complain if I'm not going to change it, right? It's just difficult with it being my only living parent.

All that time I'll never get back is SO true! I cried on my husband's shoulder after reading all of these helpful answers. It just really opens my eyes. I guess somewhere inside of me I was hoping maybe I was just overreacting but now I truly don't think I am.

I surely don't want my marriage ruined. My husband gets so mad at him but I'm thankful he's been by my side.

Trying to leave when I'm at my dad's is hard! I'll say 500 times that I have to go but he keeps talking. I even make my way to the door, and he still talks. My husband told me that I need to just walk out when I tell him I'm leaving, even if he keeps talking. It's to the point if my husband is in the car while I run in to do something for dad, I'll tell my husband to call me in 15 minutes if I'm not back. I shouldn't do that because then my dad gets upset when he calls and makes comments like, "The warden is calling. You better go. I can't imagine living life like that. Must be miserable."
So there, I've put my husband in the middle of it without him even knowing and feel terrible. I don't tell my husband the comments he makes but I'm pretty sure he knows.

Yes, the stress has caused me health problems. When I went several days without talking to him after he made a rude comment to me that really hurt my feelings, I was stress free! Then he called one day randomly and got me upset because he was whining about his mail not being checked. I asked him why he didn't follow through with having his mail put on his porch. He said, "I ain't fooling with that crap! It's just a headache and I don't need people nosing around my apartment." I became stressed in an instant because he doesn't want to go get his mail, yet he won't follow through with having his mailbox on his porch to make it easier. He wants people to do it for him and it's ridiculous. I quit going over there just to check his mail for that simple reason!

While I wasn't talking to him for a few days, once he called me for help - his comment was, "I'm nothing but a pest that calls at the wrong time when I need something or just want to talk. I seem to be an inconvenience no matter when I call you so I decided that I won't keep calling and bugging you. If you really care about how I'm doing, then you will pick up and call me yourself." The guilt trip...again.
Oh sweetheart, I am in a very similar situation, and my instincts are so similar to yours. (In my case it is my husband, and he tells me repeatedly that I do not love him or care about him and never have.)

Thank you so much for sharing this. I have printed out the whole exchange, and am going to read and underline all the good advice you've gotten.

You are a person, too, with rights and needs equal to your dad's. You clearly have such a kind heart; it may be too late to help your dad, but for the sake of the rest of the world, and your son and your husband, please put yourself first. (Now, I just have to try to follow that advice myself ...)

Praying for you.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to EstherBernard
TheYoungest2 Jan 23, 2024
Esther, I am so sorry to hear that.
You got me crying this morning. I hope things get better for your situation as well. Prayers for you!! And thank you!
See All Answers
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter