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How can I approach my dad?


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This is going to be long, and I apologize, but I REALLY REALLY REALLY need some advice please.


A little background...


I grew up in a nice middle class neighborhood. Got just about everything I wanted. Excelled in sports from a very young age. My parents were high school sweet hearts, and did a great job raising me and my older brother. From the outside looking in we were the "perfect family". I was always a little mommas boy, but always craved my dads attention from a very young age. He taught me ball, and taught me how to skate (hockey). I remember as a child I always wanted to spend time with him. He worked out of town quite a bit, and any chance I got I wanted to play sports with him. Well, around age 12 or so, I started to "rebel". Started hanging out with kids from "the other side of the tracks", tried smoking, pot, etc. I wasn't really bad until about 14-15 though. For some reason around that age (14-15) I knew eventually my parents would divorce.


I couldn't really put my finger on why, I just knew. They never fought in front of me and my brother, and for the most part we still had that nice household. This is when I really started getting in trouble. Got my first minor consumption at 14, was stealing, breaking into cars, just being an idiot pretty much. The local cops knew me well from sports, and knew my family very well also (have a big extended family). They would always call home instead of bringing me in, and it was always my mom having to come get me, discipline me etc. I lettered and played varsity hockey starting in 8th grade, by 10th I was kicked off the team for poor academics. That is the same time my dad kind of just started ignoring me, and it was obvious I was a failure in his eyes.


My mother, god bless her sweet little soul, did everything she could to try and straighten me out. It got to the point when the cops called, she told them to just bring me to juvy. She'd cry, and sob begging for me to just tell her what was wrong, and got sick of watching me throw my life away. So I spent a couple weeks in juvy, and treatment on a couple occasions. During all of this, my dad was laid off from his sales job he had for 20+ years, and it was my moms perfect chance to finally move to the west coast like she always wanted to (we grew up in the midwest).


So by age 16, my parents were off to the west coast, along with my brother. I didn't want to leave the midwest, and during the time my parents couldn't control me anyway. I went to live with a friend of the family. About 3 months after we all parted ways with eachother, I got that phone call. Both of my parents were on the phone, and I already knew what I was about to hear. I hung up the phone, actually threw it accross the room, and continued messing up my life. I called my mom the next day and said if they were getting divorced I wanted to move out to the west coast with her. She explained she couldn't handle me, and my father was moving back to the midwest to take care of me. I'd never hurt so much in my life.


And a week later, walking down the street to school with a buddy, I see a green car pull up on the boulevard. I look over and see my dad, and wasn't even excited to see him. I gave him a hug, and felt cold, and angry. He got us a 2 bedroom apt, and immediately got a job with UPS until he could find something more stable, to take care of us.


I spent 90% of my time with my gf, and HATED being home alone with him. I saw the hurt all over his face from the "seperation" at the time, and felt no remorse for him. We didn't say more than 2 words a day to each other for the next year. They ended up finalizing the divorce 4 months later, that's what my mom wanted...my dad wanted to try and make things work, but her mind was already made up. They still remained on good terms, and talked every couple days.


For the next 2 years I flew out to visit my mom twice a year. We slowly rebuild our relationship, and became extremely close like we once were. During this time I also started to turn my life around. I quit hanging out with my old crew, quit doing drugs, and started to get more serious about getting my diploma. I don't remember the exact moment, or time that my dad and I started to get close again, but it happened. We started doing things together, bbqing, golfing, going to my families cabin etc. We started laughing and joking like we used to, and by 19-20 years of age, my dad became, and still is my best friend. If it wasn't for my parents divorce, I honestly think I would of never had a decent relationship with my dad, and I can't be more happy with it now.


2 years ago at 21, I decided I needed change in my life. I was working full time making good money, but I felt empty. I decided to pack my things into my car, and move out west with my mom until I found a place out there. I've seen my dad cry three times in my life. Once when my gpa died, then when my gma died, and the day I drove away. It was one of the hardest days of my life. All my friends came over to see me off, and we were all standing outside taking pictures. I planned on saying my goodbyes to my friends first, and my dad last. But my dad quicky came up to me, hugged me tighter than I've ever been hugged in my life, and cried. We hugged for a good 2 minutes, both crying, and by this time all my chick friends that were there were all bawling. He told me he loved me, and said he couldn't watch me drive away.


The last two years have made me who I am. I feel in love with the west coast, met a whole bunch of cool people, and found a place to call "home". I called my dad at least once a week, and he seemed to be doing good. He's dated here and there, but nothing too serious.


This brings me to now. I came back to visit over New Years (my dad), and some stuff happened back west where I got kind of stuck here (another long story lol). So I've been here for the past 2 months, applying for places back out west, and will be moving back within the next month or so.


Since I've been back, I've noticed my dad's not the same. I know he's depressed, severely depressed at that. He tries to play it off, but I KNOW something is terribly wrong. If I ask him, he blows it off and acts like everything is fine. I talked to a couple of my aunts (his sisters) and they've noticed the same thing. They tried talking to him, but he won't budge.


I know losing my mom was the worst thing that has ever happened to him. And after almost 8 years I think he's still broken. He's a good looking guy, has a great job, his own place, a motorcycle, plays golf religiously, absolutely the funniest man you'll ever meet, great personality etc...but he's dying inside and I don't know what to say or do to just get him to talk to me. He's always been like this, and it's one of the reasons my mom couldn't do it anymore. He's EXTREMELY prideful and stubborn, and deals with everything by not dealing with anything at all. He keeps it all in. Depression runs in my family...his sister is manic, my brother was just diagnosed with bi-polar a few years ago. His family deals with pain with drinking. I wouldn't say he's an alcoholic, sometimes he drinks more than others. Lately, he hasn't been drinking that much.


I just know I'll be gone soon, and I want to feel ok leaving not worrying about him. A very good friend of mine lost her father a month ago suddenly, and I can't imagine losing mine. I'm taking the time I do have here to spend with him like old times, but he seems so damn sad all the time. I'll ask him if he wants to go golfing, or go have a drink, he doesn't want to do anything.


He has a couple good friends from work, who he bowls with, and golfs with (leagues) once a week, but that's it. He talks with one woman in-particular online daily. And has talked to this same woman for a year or two from another state. They send eachother gifts and stuff, but they've never met. I asked him once "Why don't you guys just meet, you talk all the time" he says "What for? she's in another state"..OK, so WHY ARE YOU SENDING EACHOTHER STUFF?


He could EASILY find a woman in his area to date, his buddies try hooking him up but he never follows through. It just bothers me, and kills me inside to see him like this. ITS NOT HIM! I want to see him happy. I just don't know how to approach the subject with him.


Should I just be straight forward, and be like "Look I know something is wrong, and I want to know what it is". I don't want to make him feel cornered, but this is bs. My mom is also worried, she tried talking to him, but nothing. And she keeps telling me "You are the closest to him, talk to him, make him talk". I don't know how.


If anyone has any advice or opinions on how to go about it, please let me know, it will be GREATLY appreciated.

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Also I want to add. I went to visit my hometown (4 hours from here) this last weekend. I spent some time with my aunt (his sister), she asked about him, and said she can't figure out what is wrong. That she's tried time and time again to just get him to talk, but he finally got mad with it and said "They're my problems, and I"ll deal with it".


She told me she went and saw a well recognized physic a month after my gma died (about 3 years ago), and she told her things no one would know outside of my family. She told my aunt my gma and gpa were together and very happy. But that my gma was worried about two people in my family, but wouldn't say who. Which just makes me worry more.


I should also say, my parents never had financial difficulties. After the divorce, everything was split, and they each paid off their bills they had together. About a year ago my mom started getting calls about a credit card her name was on with my dad. She was unaware of it, and realized my dad must of put her name on it too. She was quit pissed, which she should of been. It was maxed out (about 5 grand), she talked to him about it (i dont know what it entailed wasn't my business). She also gave him the number to a company that helps out with bills. He's been doing that. He makes good money, and has been for the past 5-6 years.


I know he's trying to pay that off, but I really don't think money is the problem. He's always been kind of cheap, and I think if it was financial he would of sold his motorcycle by now.


He doesn't gamble, he doesn't look at porn online (yes I've checked lol), I'm just completely boggled.

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Hmmm, tough to say, but to be honest, he sounds like he's depressed - he's been through a lot, and a break up of a marriage can hit you really hard. I mean, I'm no expert at ALL, but this is the advice on the BBC website:


As with many mental health problems, there are a number of symptoms of depression and it's very rare for all of them to occur in one person. They include feeling generally miserable, as well as:


  • Variation of mood during the day. It's often worse in the morning, improving as the day goes on - but the pattern can be the other way around.
  • Disturbed sleep, usually waking early and being unable to get back to sleep
  • A general slowing down of thought, speech and movement
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Tearfulness for no reason
  • Short temper
  • Lack of energy and constant exhaustion
  • Inability to enjoy things
  • Lack of concentration
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Feeling that you're forgetful
  • Negative thoughts about the future
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Loss of identity
  • Blaming self and low self-esteem
  • Feelings of hopelessness and despair
  • Unrealistic sense of failure
  • Loneliness, even when around others
  • Becoming preoccupied with illness
  • Loss of appetite and resulting loss of weight
  • Reduced desire for sex


Have you tried talking to him about it? When my dad needed an operation, and was refusing point blank to do it, I did get him to go in the end. My mother said I was the only one who could have done what I did, which was "I am so worried about you. I care so much, and I worry so much, that it's affecting my life etc". That worked when nothing else had done, and now he's got his sight back!


My mother reckons that sometimes children can do that with their parents, that their worry might make them do something. SO if you were to tell your father how scared and worried and upset you are about him, that might be the trigger he needs, because YOU matter to him more than anyone else in the world. Just a thought.


I think it's really important that you try to get him to seek help for himself. Tricky I know, but I think that's key. And also offer him emotional support, as you guys are obviously very close.


Take care

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Thank you for your kind words Ellie.


Yes, my mother says the same thing, but she knows as well as I do, he's not one to be that open to talking to a therapist. We actually tried that, together, when he first moved back here when I was 16-17. We both didn't like the guy, and only went 2 or 3 times.


I never thought about he may be opening up to this woman online. I don't really know her, but I know she's not his "type" at ALL. I don't want to sound like a shallow jerk, but I've seen her photos, and frankly, she looks like white trash. I'm not even sure that she works. I mean she seems like a nice lady, just not even remotely close to his type.


He likes short(er) "small town" type women. Not just pretty, but well put together. I don't want to knock on this lady, but she doesn't take care of herself at all. And I've heard them talking on the phone, she's constantly complaining about everything. SHE is most definitely down and out too, maybe she's bringing him down?


I agree with you, I should just suck it up and confront him. I really wish he would see a therapist, I just know he thinks of that as "weak". I'm kind of the same way, but lately I've been thinking of going to one myself just to figure some issues out with myself.


I just feel like I have this timeline. That if he would consider going to a therapist it would only happen if I kinda pressured him into it, and I"ll only be here for another month or so.


I always kind of felt guilty when I moved away 2 years ago. And always told my mom I felt like I abandoned my dad (all of his family is 4 hours away). I know he's a grown man, and can take care of himself, it just sucks. I wish he'd pack up and move out west, but I doubt that is an option.


Unknown to me, my mother told him how I felt the first week I was back here over the phone. He came right to me and told me what she had told him. And told me not to worry about him, and that he likes being alone. And that he was happy I was happy, and supported my decision to move out there.


I know I'm growing into my own manhood, and need to establish my own life. I just want to know my family is okay. My mom has been with her bf for 6-7 years, and they will more than likely be getting married within the next year. It took me a year to be "ok" seeing her with another guy, and now his family is like my own. He's a great guy, and makes her happy and that's all that matters. My brother is still living out on the west coast, just got a new promising job with great pay. I'm slowly but surely getting my life square, I just want my dad to be happy with his.


I think I'll try to talk to him this weekend. Maybe drag his butt out to a bar/restraunt, get a couple drinks in him and tell him to be honest with me.


Thanks again Ellie, I appreciate it.

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Thanks Honey -


Reading through all the "symptoms" it's still hard to say. Like I said, for the most part he keeps a straight face. But it's just that gut instinct. He's not his usual cheerful self.


He's the type of person who could have a life threatening illness, and would keep it to himself to keep others from worrying. And lately my moms been saying stuff like "XXX you need to talk to him, what if its something serious and you move back out here and then find out?"...which I tell her to quit thinking so damn negative, but it's true.


I guess I should probably add he didn't no "FOR SURE" that my mother was with this guy until last summer. I know he had a very good idea, but she always asked me to not tell him. When I'd go out there to visit, I'd take pictures of my moms bf out, and only show him ones of me. Last summer I was living with her bf's son and wife for a couple months, and had to tell my dad they were "Friends" of my mothers. I finally broke, called my mom one night and told her if she didn't tell him, I was going to, that I couldn't lie anymore about it. She agreed and called him that night and told him.


I called him that night in tears, like a fricken baby, apologizing for not telling him. He assured me it was ok, that it was never my place to tell him, and it wasn't even his "business" to know. And of course he acted like everything was fine, I know it hit him hard though.


My mom and him to this day have remained somewhat of friends. They will talk every once in a while. And she always tells me that she still loves him a lot, and I believe her. She says that even though she could never be with him again, she believes they are soul mates. 25 years is a long time.


But yeah, I'm going to try and talk to him this weekend. I'll keep you guys posted on how it goes. Thanks again for the replies.

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