My dad took my groove back!!

I am a 42 year old divorced and single female. I have recently moved into my father’s home to care for him. He is in his 80’s and needs someone to cook and clean, etc. My son is with me, he is bipolar and just got out of a residential treatment facility for being severely depressed and suicidal. I do date when I find the time, and only when I have someone to be with my son… I thought this was a win/win for everyone involved, but my father has always been very possessive/controlling and we have only been here for a month and it has started. I can’t date, I can’t talk on the phone, he yells at me and starts fights constantly over who I am seeing and why I have to talk on the phone to so many different people (some are my son’s counselors, others are friends, they are NOT all guys I am only talking to two guys at present).. he calls me a whore in front of my son and openly asks me why I have to have sex with every guy I “chase” in front of my son.. needless to say, my son cannot take this, and I can’t either.. I am under enough stress without this constant bickering.. he doesn’t know me at all.. I do not chase men, and I only get out maybe once every other week to see ANYONE including dates, friends, etc. not including my religious events, which are once or twice a month depending on what is going on, but he yells at me about that too… I am ready to walk out of here and never see the man again, and I do not know what to do. I have tried talking to him calmly about the situation, but today he TURNED OFF THE PHONE so I couldn’t get any calls, he has done this before, he has hidden my purse and my keys so I couldn’t go ANYWHERE. If I leave here. He will have no one to care for him, but I am at my wits end and my first priority has to be my son… WHAT SHOULD I DO??????



Dear Stella,

There are many adults in your situation in regards to being their parent’s caregiver. It is a very stressful task, so I empathize with your frustrations. It is unfortunate that you’re in a verbally abusive situation. There are many men that get to certain points in life and become angry and bitter. You didn’t mention your mother/stepmother, so assume he is alone aside from you and his grandson? Realize he’s at that last stage of life where he is reflecting back on good and bad decisions made. I don’t know what type father he was, but if he was bad, maybe he thinks this is the time to amend for those mistakes but doesn’t know how to communicate them effectively?

Playing devil’s advocate, before you get your grove back, let’s take a step back and assess what your true priorities are. True meaning not the priorities you tell people, but what they really truly are. When you ask the right questions you will be able to come up with the right solutions for your future. To address your concerns you have to be honest with yourself and the situation.

Why did you move into your father’s home? Are you living with your father for financial reasons, or is it truly because you need to take care of him? Does he need medical attention? How is his health? Are there any alternatives (e.g. Meals on Wheels). Why is dating the first issue of concern following revealing what is going on with your father and with your son? What do you hope to get or achieve out of the dating process? What about dating in this current situation makes your son your first priority? What actions would truly make your son your first priority? What are the pros of staying to take care of your father and what regrets may you have if you choose to leave to escape the situation or in order to date? Do you feel it is worth the possible regrets you may have if you leave? Why or why not?

As a 42 year adult, you should understand that sometimes what we want is not necessarily what we need or should be doing. Sometimes our wants don’t align with our responsibilities. Based off the info you provided, how is dating a win win for everyone?  Doesn’t that just benefit you? You’ve been there for only a month and have implied you have dated on more than one occasion with two guys? You said you don’t chase men, but didn’t address not sleeping with them part? Are you seeing the picture you painted? Thirty days, two guys, multiple dates…not really a good look. Let’s say he’s wrong, you’re not chasing men and they are all coming to you. Let’s be real…who doesn’t like attention? There is nothing wrong with getting compliments and having your self-esteem boosted. But it’s about what you do after you get that attention that your dad has the problem with.

I’ve been in a similar situation with a family member being a caregiver of a parent, yet felt scrutinized for her dating practices and lack of sound judgment. Those situations are frustrating, yet you can’t let your desire for companionship allow you to make bad choices. Your father’s reactions didn’t just start when you moved in. There is a history there of decisions that you have made in the past that has led him to his current frustrations and tone. Does that make the words he says to you right? No. But there may be some truth behind his anger. Understand that as a father, when a man approaches our daughter, we (knowing how men think) want to know their true intentions. You have a son that was just released from a medical facility, you are divorced, and now here is Johnny Come Lately? Any father would be leery.

Once again, I am not saying that your father was justified in calling you a harlot, but as a father we never lose that instinct to protect. Not to mention your dad has lived a lot of life, and people his age tend to say what’s on their mind. His methods may not have been favorable, but ultimately he’s probably thinking that you should focus more on other things…like yourself, your son, your father…versus seeking attention outside the home. Focusing on yourself doesn’t mean dating, it means sowing into your health, mind, spirit, etc. His methods may not be the best, but most guys bottle things up and don’t communicate our emotions in the manner women think we should. And let’s be honest. If he was nice and asked you not to go on a date, would you listen? So no matter what his approach, you’d still do what you wanted to anyways…probably the reason he snaps.

So what should you do? Honestly the only person that can answer this question for you is you. So I’ll ask again. What are your priorities? Do you want to take care of your dad, or date? If you want to date and hang out and have fun, then leave. But be leery of the decision you make because tomorrow is not promised for anyone. No matter what you feel about your father, he brought you into this world and the Word says to honor him. Coming from someone who has lost a parent, the last thing you want to do is live with the regrets of a selfish decision because somebody may have been crass, but spoke an iota of truth. Try to look at it from his perspective, then talk to him again about WHY he is calling you these things and what he wants from you as a daughter. What are his expectations for you in the house, and for your life in general? People control because they fear you making a choice they cannot handle. So what does he want from you and for your life? And remember, he’s probably lonely as well. Try to take him with you on church trips and encourage him to be social. If that doesn’t work, maybe invite some men over from the church to spend some time with him and get him social.

Being a caregiver is a daunting task. I agree that you need to take breaks, but adding another person or people through dating to this already hectic, stressful situation may not be the best solution at the moment. No one can make that choice but you. But, are there other solutions to giving you a break or you getting out for a while? And what might those other maybe more healthy situations be? It’s not that you should never date, but that seems to be your main goal from the limited information you provided. So you need to sit down and be honest with yourself and truly decide why you are doing what you are doing, and what is best for the future of yourself, your son, and your father.

Before you make a rash decision, I implore you to seek a support group. There is starting to be a condition referred to as Caregiver Stress. Some signs of this are agitation with loved ones, resentment towards other family members, lack of proper sleep/exercise, feeling of being trapped and depression (among many others). These feelings could lead you to make bad decisions. There are many sites, but maybe you can start here – The site gives tips, resources and support for others in similar situations.

Keep your head up Stella. Pray about it, sure the answer will come. Just be receptive to listen once you get a response on the direction you should go.


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