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May 8, 2012

My relationship with my father


Dear Asad,

I am a 37 years old man living in Canada for the past three years with my wife and four years old son. I have three sisters; all married and settled abroad and busy with their own marital lives. My parents are old and live in Jordan alone. We normally spend our vacations with them. As I am the only son, the responsibility of their care lies with me. I support them financially and ensure that I fulfill all their needs and they lead a comfortable life.

Recently they have shown a desire in coming to live with us in Canada. They love my son, their grandchild, a lot and he is very fond of them too. My wife is also keen on having them live with us. I like the idea of my parents coming to live with us as I know it would be good for them as well as for my son as they share a close and loving bond.

The only problem is that I don’t get along well with my father. In my opinion, he was never a good father to my siblings and I or a good husband to my mother. He was always much more interested in his business. He used to leave early in the morning and come late at night. He was never there for any of us siblings. He never came to our PTMs, graduations, convocations or other important events of our lives. Whenever my mother used to counsel him to spend more time with his us, he would get upset and berate her. Also, despite earning well, he was stingy with his money. He didn’t give enough at home. My mother had a very tough time in managing a house full of children. She literally had to plead or fight with him to get money out of him.

Then came a time when he lost all his money due to a few ill-advised risky business ventures. Life became much tougher for us. I had to get a part-time job while in college to support my education and family. Throughout this tough time in our lives, my father was not supportive at all. After losing his business, he spent more time at home and made life a living hell for us all. This went on for many years till I graduated and got a well-paying job. Many years have passed since then and he has become quite mellow, due to old age and ill-health. Part of me wants him to come and live with me so we could both form a special father-son bond, which was non-existent when I was growing up. But at the same time, there is a part of me which strongly resents the way he treated us and blames him for all the hardships that we as a family had to go through. I am in two minds. I don’t know what to do.

Hurt Son

Dear Hurt Son,

There is no denying the fact that the way your father treated you and the rest of his family was completely wrong. It seems he was a selfish man whose passion in life was to earn and save money. What you are feeling towards him is completely natural and justified. Having spent a lifetime with him and gotten no love and support from him definitely must hurt. Anyone in your position would feel the same resentment that you do towards him.

I must commend you for working so hard from such a young age to make a better life for yourself and your family. That shows character and determination.

You have mentioned that there is a part of you that wants to form a special bond with your father, and a part of you which strongly resents him. I would urge you to go for the former. You seem like a nice person, a good son, brother, husband and father. What your father did was wrong but that doesn’t mean that you should reciprocate in kind. He is old and weak now. He needs you. He wants to be with you. And you too want him to be with you. Your reservations are justified but don’t let them keep you separate from your parents. It’s not easy but try to forgive him, if possible. Try to let go of the negative emotions and bitter memories that surround you when you think of him. It will be difficult but for your own happiness you must learn to let go of them and move on with your life.

You mentioned that your father has become quite mellow in his old age. You also mentioned that he’s quite fond of his grandson and he of him. This is quite natural. Some men are quite strict with their own children but when they have grand children, they become quite kind and accommodating. Your father is the same. He is reaching out to his grandchild and through him to you. You should reach out to him too. This way, hopefully, you will have a chance to get the love and understanding from him now which you didn’t get before. Don’t let this opportunity pass by. Bury your hurt feelings and reach out to him. The outcome will hopefully be one of happiness and contentment.


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