Should I Re-connect With My Father?


I stopped talking to my father fifteen years ago. I was thirty and I could clearly see that his aim was to undermine me and make me feel inadequate. 

I moved countries and got on with my life. Occasionally I would feel a little guilty but then I would go through a couple of things he did and said and how my mother was too scared to stop him and the feeling would disappear.   


I have never missed him as a person but I have felt sad that I didn’t have a father to share the good things that have happened to me.  I am the managing director of my own travel goods company, employ over fifty people and have sales all round the world.  I also have a wife who cares about me and three small children. 

A few months ago I heard in a roundabout way from a distant cousin who knows one of my wife’s friends that my mother had passed away.  I was surprisingly affected particularly as my father didn’t contact me, even though he could find me quite easily.  He must be nearly 80 now, an old man with no one to look after him. My younger sister tragically died a few years ago in a car accident.  I thought perhaps I’d write him a letter of reconciliation and see where we go from there.  I don’t like him as a person but to be honest I don’t want to feel guilty when he too passes away.  I realise it is a risk and can bring up all sorts of bad memories.  My wife who knows a lot about my past, thinks I should just let things be.  Can you help?  


How sad that your mother died without you knowing anything about it or being able to go to her funeral. There may have been many reasons why your father didn’t let you know but it does sound rather punishing. It is not surprising her death has affected you deeply particularly as you have not seen your mother for a long time and presumably she never met your wife or saw her grandchildren. It is possible that your feel guilty about this and it has become part of why you are thinking about reconnecting with your father?

Think carefully and don’t rush before you make a move. Allow yourself to grieve for the loss of your mother. Perhaps you would like to mark her death in some way by visiting her resting place, or to connect with another family member who knew her well. We advise however that you separate these feelings from those you feel about your relationship with your father.

When you process your grief you may feel clearer about what if anything you would like to do about contacting your father. If you decide to get in touch do so gradually and without any firm goals. It might be a good idea to start by sending a card of condolence with a short note rather a letter of reconciliation and see what happens. He may or may not get in touch and you will have the option of taking it further.

You are right that it is highly likely to bring up old memories so accept that and be prepared to process them as best you can.