Father's Day




My father has always been rather obsessed with Father’s Day.  He enjoyed being spoilt every year and my mother, brother and I always had to come up with some outing for him.  While our mother was also expected to make an elaborate meal. He refused to go to a restaurant, even when she was paying, as he felt that my mother was taking the easy route to avoid spending hours over a hot stove.   

A year ago however he left my mother for someone much younger. He’s also withdrawn from my brother and I offering lots of excuses why he can’t see us.  He did however ring me a few weeks ago asking if I could look for a book he thought he’d left in the family home.  At the end of our conversation he said: ‘Now you won’t forget my father’s day card will you son?’   Adding ‘Do send it to the office.’  I saw right through him.  He wasn’t at all interested in finding a book. He just wants our approval of his abominable behaviour to our mum and to prove to his colleagues that we were happy with his former young secretary who has become his new partner. 

Neither of us want to send him a gushing card that tells him he is ‘the best dad in the world,’ or even a plain one.   But we don’t want to make things any more difficult for mum. I know he will blame her for putting pressure on us, as he’s blamed her for everything that went wrong with their marriage.  When I spoke to her about it she said she didn’t want to get involved and it was up to us to decide.   


Your father sounds needy and obviously wants his decisions endorsed.  But you and your brother don’t have to play his game. You can each make your own minds up about how you want to continue your relationship with him.   It is understandable that his recent departure still feels raw so try to take a step back, think through the situation and not make hasty decisions. However difficult your family breakdown is for you, sadly it happens often and over time things can, to some extent, heal.   

What is unlikely to change is your father’s attitude and behaviour and that needs to be managed as carefully as you can for all your sakes.   Our advice is to be the person you want to be, and if you choose to send your father a card for this weekend then go ahead. Think about what you might have done if he hadn’t demanded one. Perhaps you would have chosen an innocuous card that just says: ’Happy Father’s Day’ and sent it to his new address.  There is no need to change your plan and pander to his ego by sending a gushing card to his office. 

The fact that he is keeping you all at a distance at the moment gives you time to decide how you want to communicate with him from now on. It is so important to balance protecting yourselves from your father’s entitled manner with being as good a son as you can be.