OK - this time I'll ask what you think BEFORE I send the email

Since the last thread turned into such a trainwreck, let’s see what you think about this one before I hit SEND. I know it’s long and nasty and harsh, but that’s what I’m feeling like right now. I’ve felt this way about my dad many times before and I cannot see his behavior changing. Ever. After 27 years of dealing with him, I’m just about ready to cut him out of my life. Not necessarily because of one specific thing, but because of a lifetime of his crap.

Here goes:

I have to do this in an email because if I tried to talk to you on the phone, I’d lose it, and you wouldn’t listen. In fact, you’d probably hang up on me.

I’ve been wrestling with this in my head all morning, and especially for the last hour while I was trying to nap.

Your responses in our initial conversation this morning were really hurtful to me. Apparently, in your world, parenting is all sweetness and light and love and happiness. Well, in mine, there’s a few dashes of bitterness and dark and frustration and sadness too. I have enough of my own insecurities about my abilities as a mother without being told that my emotions are wrong and being made to feel guilty for them.

When I said something about putting Spencer out on the porch last night as a last resort, you were almost sympathetic. But when I said something about the little bastard pissing me off and driving me crazy you chastised me for saying that. You basically told me that I was wrong for feeling that way. I’m sure you never thought that your words would be construed in that manner, but you don’t think before you speak. Yes, rationally, I know it’s not something he does on purpose. But after 90 minutes of inconsolable screaming, crying, thrashing, and flailing, rationale goes out the window. Did that just not ever happen for you? Were you so disconnected from us as little kids that being unable to make things better for us didn’t affect you in some way? Or should I feel inadequate because I’ll never reach your zen-like ability to let things just wash over me? Because that’s how you come across, whether that’s your intention or not.

You’re not in the least bit sympathetic or empathetic when I’m having stressful times in my life. You never have been, and I’m beginning to think you never will be. You have absolutely zero ability to think about someone else’s feelings or reactions in any given situation. Your way is the only way and the right way. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m surprised it took Mom 20 years to divorce you if this is how you treated her when she was depressed.

Right now, I’m going through some really emotionally trying times. I can’t even remember if I’ve told you that I’m seeing a therapist because of the scorn you seem to have for those of us who are less than perfectly mentally healthy. Right now, I’m working on surrounding myself with emotionally positive people and experiences, and you are neither to me.

In fact, if I could play armchair psychologist, I’d say that you have a borderline antisocial personality disorder. Some symptoms include:
• Glibness and Superficial Charm
• Manipulative and Conning
They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.
• Grandiose Sense of Self
Feels entitled to certain things as “their right.”
• Pathological Lying
Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.
• Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt
A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.
• Shallow Emotions
When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.
• Incapacity for Love
• Need for Stimulation
Living on the edge. Verbal outbursts and physical punishments are normal. Promiscuity and gambling are common.
• Callousness/Lack of Empathy
Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others’ feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.
• Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature
Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others.
• Early Behavior Problems/Juvenile Delinquency
Usually has a history of behavioral and academic difficulties, yet “gets by” by conning others. Problems in making and keeping friends; aberrant behaviors such as cruelty to people or animals, stealing, etc.
• Irresponsibility/Unreliability
Not concerned about wrecking others’ lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.
• Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity
Promiscuity, child sexual abuse, rape and sexual acting out of all sorts.
• Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle
Tends to move around a lot or makes all encompassing promises for the future, poor work ethic but exploits others effectively.
• Criminal or Entrepreneurial Versatility
Changes their image as needed to avoid prosecution. Changes life story readily.

(As you can see, I’ve underlined what applies to you. But that’s just my unqualified opinion.)

So, clearly, as I take steps to move towards a more positive life, you don’t fit. At least not now, because I have yet to figure out the proper distance to keep from you. So take this for what it’s worth (which is the truth), and don’t expect to hear from me for a while.

And here’s the problem: he won’t get it.

Good for you for holding off on sending it for a while. Follow the old rule of writing exactly what you feel at the moment, and reviewing it later to see if it’s really what you want to express. With something like this, maybe hold onto it for a couple of days before taking action.

If you decide you do want to send it, ask yourself this:

  1. What do you want the result to be?
  2. How do you want your dad to react?
  3. How do you think he WILL react?
  4. How will you choose to deal with his reaction?

I’m not in favor of written communication for highly emotional issues like this, but you’ve said at the outset that you don’t think you could keep it together to say this in person, and doubt he’d listen anyway. In such a case, it might be wise to use snail mail instead of email. Writing things by hand has two advantages in my mind:

  • It forces you to take your time in organizing and expressing your thoughts, which means you’re more likely to say exactly what needs to be said, and no more
  • It prevents your reader from responding off the cuff, escalating the situation unnecessarily

In reading this without knowing the background, it’s pretty clear that your morning conversation was the proverbial straw. Will that be clear to him? Or will he think you’ve flown off the handle and made some pretty heavy accusations based on a single event?

Does he know what behavior you want out of him? You’ve said everything he’s done wrong – have you told him how to do it right? Will you state clearly what you expect from him if he wants continued contact? Your letter as it stands is all destructive, and not a whit constructive. That’s fine if that’s your goal, but if your real goal is to move your relationship forward, tell him how to do that.

What’s the point? I doubt that it will really make you feel better. The idea of catharsis is very over-rated, in my opinion, and there’s psychological research to back me up. Minimize your contact with people who make you feel bad as you say you are trying to do. Spending hours dwelling on them in writing is just as bad as spending time with them. They won’t change until they want to.

Hey, maybe you can save a copy of it so when that “little bastard” that is “pissing you off” so much that you are considering putting him on the porch can just use that in about 15 years. Yes, how dare your father show sympathy that wasn’t enough for you.

Here’s a thought: having children is incredibly complex and causes you to feel terrible conflicting emotions about the little bundles that you love so much and get so frustrated with. But if you’ve reached the point of frustration that you are telling your father that the little bastard is pissing you off, you are going to put him on the porch? And you can’t take some direction from the person you are venting to, meaning your father, who, by your own description lives life in a “zen” like happy state? I did a quick post search (not stalking, in other words) just to see if you were talking about a teenager here. Your kid is young. If that little bastard is pissing you off so much get some freakin’ help you’ll listen to and if you do cut your dad out of your life for having too happy of an outlook then please let your son at least visit so he can have a break from angry mommy and visit “too relaxed” grandpa every once in a while. Geez.

So receiving the e-mail won’t benefit him. And because the practical point of your sending would be for him to “get it,” sending it won’t benefit you.

Do what you need to do to protect yourself. Cut off communication, if that’s what’s needed. But from what you’ve related, trying to explain it to him will be an exercise in futility. If you feel you must offer an explanation at some point, don’t go beyond “you wouldn’t understand” - because apparently he wouldn’t. Don’t waste your time and emotional energy on the unachievable, rather try to redirect it to an area where it stands to do you some good.

Two thoughts:

If he is as described, he probably can’t be reasoned with. Some things simply aren’t possible.

If there were any chance of effectively communicating, a barrage of complaints, criticisms, and negative assessments is not a good start. It tends to shut doors, not open them.

Don’t send it.

I wouldn’t send that letter; you’ll only regret it later.

If his approach to problem-solving isn’t what will make you feel better, then don’t bring your problems to him. It’s really that simple. Based on what I’m reading here, I think you’d have far fewer frustrations overall with your father, if you’d just recognize who he is, accept his limitations and don’t push for more.

Stop playing armchair psychiatrist to try to fit him into some classification that will, I guess, make you feel better about not liking him. You play just as much a role in this game as he does, whether you recognize that or not. If you don’t like how he makes you feel when you go to him with problems, then stop using him as your psychiatrist. He’s not; he’s your father. Call your therapist when you’re feeling angry and don’t know how to deal with it. Call your father when you want to shoot the breeze and tell him you love him.

Best of luck.

I don’t know what the point of sending the e-mail is. You say he won’t “get it.” You admit if you tried to say these things on the phone, he’d hang up on you – as would I – so what exactly do you expect to accomplish?

I don’t know the history here, or the “the last thread,” but I think a grandparent would be justifiably concerned if his or her child referred to their child as “the little bastard.” I don’t think your father has any obligation to validate or “sympathize with” emotions that lead you to think of your son, and speak of your son, in such terms. That’s not the same as him saying that parenting is “always sweetness and light.” But calling your child names does not convey that you are frustrated with your own inabilty to make things better for him; that might be what you felt but it isn’t what you said, so you might consider that the (mis)communication issues are not all on your father’s part.

If you don’t want your dad in your life, then put him out of it. This doesn’t require that you ostentatiously drop him, but you can quietly stop responding to his e-mails, phone calls, whatever. If you do this without explanation or accusation, then if you find later you want him back in your life – which maybe you will, maybe you won’t – you won’t have said things you can never take back. Maybe the relationship can be repaired and resumed – when you’re ready for that, if you ever are.

But here are the things in this e-mail that to me are unforgivable and indicate you are intentionally setting fire to your relationship with your father:

“You have absolutely zero ability to think about someone else’s feelings or reactions in any given situation.”

“I’m surprised it took Mom 20 years to divorce you.”

“Right now, I’m working on surrounding myself with emotionally positive people and experiences, and you are neither to me.”

“I’d say you have a borderline antisocial personality disorder” – and all the underlining of bad personality traits that follows.

In short, I think this is a horrible e-mail, and only a long history of a bad relationship plus present rash emotionalism would explain (not justify) sending it. It reads as a direct attack on your father, and you don’t think he’s going to “get it” anyway.

If you truly are attempting to surround yourself with positive experiences, I would ask you to consider what positive outcome could possibly result from sending this, because I don’t see any. You acknowledge he’s not going to hear you anyway. (And, really, who would? Who would read this and think, My God, she’s right!) If you want to minimize your time with your father, or eliminate it altogether, you don’t need to send this e-mail to do that. So why send it?

The letter reads like you’re just trying to throw fuel on a fire for drama’s sake. It will not accomplish anything positive. Don’t send it.

This makes you *sound * like a crazy person. A crazy person with a copy of the DSM-IV. dont send it anywhere except the trash

I’m not sure what you expect to accomplish with the e-mail. If you just want to vent your feelings one last time before you stop speaking to him then this is probably a good way to do it. The e-mail is a very harsh criticism and you really don’t give him any idea of how he could or would change his behaviour.

You cannot expect people in your life to follow your script if you don’t give them a copy of the script. If, when you call him to vent about your son, you don’t want his advice but just want him to be a sympathetic ear, tell him that. He’s not a mind reader. If you only want him to say certain things to you or to act a certain way then you need to express that desire. If he chooses to say and act differently at least you’ll know you tried.

What your proposed e-mail tells me is that you don’t have any idea how to communicate in a way that will help your relationship with your father heal and grow. Maybe that’s not possible with your father because of your history but lashing out and telling him all the ways he’s failed as a human being is a bad start. You may find it momentarily cathartic but that’s about it.

Go out and buy a copy of The Four Agreements. It seems like you could use some of the advice in this book.

And remember the serenity prayer …grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. The only thing you can change is you. Turn your focus inward and work on your issues. Things with your son and your father will fall into place and into better perspective if you are at peace.

I’m sure you could think of some more ways to attack him. Spend some time, think of them, tack them to the end, and then send it out ASAP. :rolleyes:

…then go kick him in the balls and spit in his eye.

Seriously, I don’t know that there’s anyone here who’s going to tell you to send that letter. It sounds unreasonable and utterly mean. And “diagnosing” someone with a mental illness is absolutely never, ever a good way to deal with an issue between you, because it makes you look pretentious and desperate.

Further, I can’t say I wouldn’t have been concerned to hear someone talk about their child the way you say you did, at least, not if you appeared to sound serious as opposed to joking. I certainly would not feel obliged to support them in it (although if it were someone about whom I didn’t care, I’d probably ignore it to avoid making waves).

Obviously, there’s context and history here that we don’t know, but on the basis of the letter in and of itself, it sounds like an overreaction and a bad idea to send it.

I’ve got awful parents and I haven’t confronted them. The pyschologists always tell you to confront them, but I’ve thought about it at length and I don’t see what that would do. My parents are in their sixties now. So I am supposed to try to talk to a pair of sixty-something year old people who won’t remember a lot of what I say and will see it differently through the shadow of years? I don’t see a reason to hurt them deliberately even though they did it to me. Better to let it wash and put it behind me.

That being said, write all the letters you like. Write tons of them! But don’t send any of them. It won’t matter, they won’t learn, and you can grow beyond them without it. If you need to cut your father off, do it, and do it completely, but this kind of e-mail probably won’t do anything.

Or in other words, what everyone else said.

Don’t send this e-mail. Just cut off the contact until you can speak with him in a rational, civil manner. As stated earlier, if you know he won’t get it by phone or by e-mail, why bother? It might feel good to get it all off your chest now, but I think that, like with the e-mail you sent earlier, you might begin to doubt yourself later.

I’ve noticed you seem to be doing a lot of self-examining lately, which is wonderful. But it’s a good rule of thumb to avoid examining others in the same way, which is what it seems like you’re doing here. Yeah, he seems like an ass. And I’m sure he is in some respects. But you’re not him, you’re not his therapist and you have a significant bias against him and you’re currently upset. So even if you did know him as well as you know yourself, whatever conclusions you come to will be tainted by your bias.

And for what it’s worth, I completely empathize with you about your child. They’re tough to deal with and I wonder almost every day if I’ll ever be good enough, patient enough and calm enough to get through it all with my sanity and somehow wind up with a happy, smart, kind little kid. Sometimes I vent about it to my husband and, instead of offering me the sympathy I wanted, he offers me suggestions on what I should be doing, which drives me absolutely batty. Unless I tell him, “I just need you to listen, not tell me what to do,” he winds up saying something like, “Well, what were you doing when he started crying?” He doesn’t mean, “You idiot - you should give him whatever he wants,” (he usually means exactly what he asked because he’s trying to help) but since I’m upset I’m bound to take it that way anyway. Then I get mad and it’s all downhill from there. Sometimes it’s best to set expectations to begin with.

I don’t understand what you want from your father. You want him to see things your way? You want him to agree that, yes, your approach to parenting is better than his? You want him to validate your feelings and choices? Why do think it’s possible or even desirable for him to change his mind about these things? Is he in charge? Do you live with him? Is he interfering with your parenting choices somehow? You have your way and he had his. You have your opinion and he has his. He’s not your husband; you don’t need his assent to do things or feel things the way you feel them.

Like others, I don’t understand what this message is intended to accomplish other than drama.

You call your child a “little bastard” and then have the gall to attack someone else’s parenting skills???

What do you hope to accomplish by sending the email? You are not going to fix anything.

Just cut off contact with him if that’s your true desire.

Don’t send the letter - it won’t accomplish anything good. You know the old saying; the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. If your father is nothing but a negative influence in your life, just stop interacting with him.

I think I have a glimpse of what you’re trying to say to your father buried within that email, but what you have written is incredibly counterproductive. Not only does it not communicate your feelings very well, but it makes you look defensive, passive aggressive and like you’re just lashing out at random. The armchair psychologist part is particularly awful – diagnosing someone by cutting and pasting a list of symptoms and underlining all the ones that match up with your negative opinions of them is, well, crazy. You’re not a psychologist. The only thing a normal person can take away from that list is that you’re angry at your father and that you think he might benefit from therapy.

If you do decide to email him, take Beadalin’s advice and get your message clear in your head before you write it out. Focus on the key points and leave off the attacks (e.g. I’m not surprised mom divorced you). Shoot for something about 1/3 to 1/4 the length of your OP.

For example, here’s a quick edit of your OP which I think is already a lot more readable and to the point.

It sounds like you have a lot of pain from your relationship with your father. But folding it all up in a piece of paper and sending it to him won’t take it away from you, it’ll just be adding to it. Don’t do it. If you must cut him out of your life, don’t do it this way.
Also, maybe you could use some help with your situation with your son. Tantrums that last an hour and a half could be indicative of some emotional or developmental problem, or maybe you just need to find a different way to discipline. Either way, some help would seem to be in order.

Another vote for NOT sending this. Especially with the diagnosing. My mother is borderline and NO borderline will admit it freely.

I think you need to take a while to cool off then MAYBE write another letter without blame and without the psych dx. Just share your heart and if you have to sever ties at least for now, then so be it.

At times I have gone for months without speaking to my mother. If the situation calls for it, I am prepared to make it years, even forever. It’s not what I want but it may be what I need at some point. You need to do what is best for you right now.