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30 December 2015 @ 12:18 am

My dad visited from Christmas eve until he flew out this morning. Everything was totally great until yesterday, when Andy went back to work. My dad suddenly lost it at us.

My dad called my son a mean kid to his face and then told me my messy house is ruining my kids and that the fact that I won't get rid of my dogs proves I've picked my dogs over my kids. He said all of this in front of my four year old while I did nothing but cry, mostly because I did not want to fight in front of the kids.

I asked him to leave so he went to his hotel and he had a very early morning flight but I was so afraid because snow was coming but his plane took off on time.

He was verbally abusive to me when I was 3 to about 10. Now I'm feeling a little frightened and lost. Please just reassure me that my house is not so messy that I am running my kids for life or whatever. I already know I have the least mean kid of all time. Get this, he also said my son is a little behind with speaking. Those who know him will know how ridiculous that is to say!

Ultimately, I know he was way off base. My house is messy but not, like, cps messy, and I think there are much much more important things in the lives of children than clean houses. But it was weird when he started yelling at me how I was suddenly a ten year old, frightened, and believing everything I was hearing with all my heart. I can't let him say things in front of my son because I can't let my son internalize these things like I did. And even now when I know he was spewing crazy, I still find myself repeatedly justifying that fact to myself.

My mom says to expect it to get worse as he ages. He is 70 and very active but his dad was dead of a heart condition by this age and his mom lived to be 84 but extremely senile. His mom was emotionally and physically violent all her life so it's hard to say if she got worse as she aged.

I'm feeling better now that he is out of the state. But I have decided I do not want to be alone with him without a man present ever again because that was frightening. And he respects men more than women and never says anything mean to me in front of Andy.

Plus he kept commenting on how "desegregated" Saint Paul is. I think the word you are looking for is diverse.

jennydcfjennydcf on January 2nd, 2016 09:40 pm (UTC)
I agree with what everyone has said here. He sounds like an abusive asshole and you shouldn't ever have to deal with that kind of vituperation, especially in front of your kids and in your own house. I also think that it was good that you were able to throw him out and have made the decision not to be with him without a man present.

As for your reaction--parents leave a deep imprint, and we often react to them as if we were our childhood selves, especially when they're triggering unhappy or traumatic memories. It's frustrating to not be able to be your adult and rational self when that's going on. Please forgive yourself for that, Jess. You rallied and you recognized that what he said was mean, wrong-headed and much more destructive than anything you would have exposed your children to. That's a big step on the path towards recovery from this kind of episode.

I also want to assure you that having a cluttered house where everything isn't put away or constantly vacuumed or whatever is absolutely not going to damage your children. Very few if any working mothers have such a thing these days, unless they have the money for paid help or are incredibly anal about their homes. What will damage your children is emotional abuse like the kind your father aimed at your son, a parent who shames himself or herself about not being tidy and feels miserable about it, (and/or makes their kids constantly ashamed or miserable about it), and an environment so sterile that the child doesn't develop a decent immune system. I'm all in favor of SOME picking up and cleaning and of avoiding unsanitary conditions, but I've had periods when things got pretty bad, both in childhood and adulthood, and I've done just fine.

As long as there's love, support, kindness and general happiness in your home things will be all right. Neatness and cleanliness and organization aren't totally unimportant, but they're not the most important things, by a long shot.