Money is my Dad's Weapon

I have never been materialistic like my dad who can’t talk about anything without turning it into some kind of financial deal. It’s partly why I chose to be a chiropractor and not join his property business.  When I married five years ago my wife who is a nurse and I had trouble affording to rent a flat let alone buying something.  My father told us renting was a waste of money and offered to help us buy a small flat. He also made it clear the money was a loan which he expected to be paid back with interest.  After a great deal of discussion we decided to accept his offer.  It’s been a nightmare ever since because he believes he now owns us.  He comes over whenever he wants to without warning and demands to know what we are doing and our plans for the future.  

He criticises us for taking even a modest holiday when we could be saving money and keeps saying he has a deal pending which may mean he will need us to pay him back.  I think they are empty threats and that he is using his wealth to control us.  He was very cross with us for having a third child saying we should know better.  It’s been the last straw for my wife who now can’t bear him coming over and interfering. She wants us to sell the flat, give him back his money and rent a home we can afford.  It will not be a surprise to know that he has been divorced twice, that my two younger brothers live in fear of him and I am not very good at standing up for myself either.   Can you help at all please.  




You probably suspected that your father would only give you money if there were strings attached, which you are sadly experiencing.  Your option is either to try and find a middle path or, as your wife suggests, cut yourself loose from any financial arrangement.  If you decide on the latter option you will have the stress of finding a new suitable place to live and moving in.  On the other hand you would have the enormous advantage of being independent.  

If you chose the middle path it could mean you suggested a date to end the  financial arrangement and in the meantime pay your father a certain amount each month until the loan plus interest has been repaid. This may cause you some financial stress and of course does not rule out the likelihood of your father continuing to interfere in your life.  

Whatever you and your wife decide about his loan, you need to stand up to him at last. Even if he has no further hold over you he may still feel able to make personal comments and criticisms that are both undermining and disrespectful. Your wife and children do not need to endure his insults so perhaps whatever you decide you can think about ways your intimate family and possibly your brothers can distance yourselves from him.  For example you could visit him less often and communicate electronically.  Also when you do meet up prepare yourself in advance that if he becomes unpleasant you will shut down the conversation or walk out of the room.