Scenarios: Should I let my estranged father back into my life for the sake of my kids?

Aug 22, 2022, 3:15 PM
(Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)...
(Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
(Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

On The Gee and Ursula Show, hosts Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin take listeners’ advice questions and discuss what they think you should do.

Even more scenarios: A mother asks me to stop watching ‘Squid Game’ on a flight, and I refused. Was I wrong?

Scenario: My parents divorced when I was very young. Afterward, I only saw my father once or twice a year. And when we did visit, he wasn’t really present then either. The only time he did pay attention to me was to discipline me in his old-school fashion. As an adult, I have decided that I have nothing to gain from having him in my life and have gone no contact. Here’s the problem. He is my kids’ only living grandparent, I would love for them to have the experience of having a grandfather, and he has expressed an interest in meeting them. I don’t know if I can trust him to be a grandparent though when he didn’t have the capacity to be a parent. I’m stuck between emotion and logic here.

Ursula Reutin: This is complex. And thank you, first of all, for reaching out, what I would say is that I would first have a meeting with your dad and talk to him and maybe set some boundaries first. But just talk to him first, since you guys have been in no contact. So, I would just let him know that you want to have that relationship for your children, but you also have concerns given how the relationship was as you were growing up. I am a firm believer that people can change and maybe he sees that he was wrong in the ways that he raised you. He won’t have the same kind of responsibility for your children, but I wouldn’t deprive my child of the chance to have a grandparent. If he abuses it, and it goes awry, then you know you tried.

Andrew “Chef” Lanier: I wouldn’t say that you’re depriving your child of their right to have a grandparent because if you’ve had someone in your life hurt you deeply, you’re also potentially exposing yourself to more hurt and you have to protect yourself, first and foremost. You cannot sacrifice your mental health or allow someone to abuse you for the sake of them developing a relationship with your kids. That being said, I agree with you that people can change, we tend to soften as we get older, especially for us guys, a lot of us turn into big softies when we are older. So I think it’s worth a shot. But I agree with you, you have to square away some stuff with your pops first, because that relationship can be beautiful, between grandfather and grandkids, even if it’s only occasional. You don’t want to, at the end of your life, look back and say, ‘you know I wish I was the person that reached out and tried to re-establish that for my kids.’

Gee Scott: What stands out to me in the scenarios is how this listener that wrote at the very end says, I’m stuck between emotion and logic here. Such is life, right? We’re all stuck in between emotion and logic. And I think Ursula and Chef hit the nail on the head when you said what you said, this is a very tough situation. You can’t deny what you have gone through in your experience with your dad, but also I want to reiterate what Chef has said. Men, especially as we get older, do we get softer? I am telling you right now, I’ve cried more in the last year over a movie than I have in a long time. But I want to say this, try to give him a chance. You’re the father, you’re going to protect your child, I would assume that you’re going to make sure that your father isn’t going to be allowed to take things too far. At least give him that chance. Is he entitled to that chance? No, I’m just saying find it in your heart to try to give him that chance.

UR: Especially since your kids have expressed interest. It could be surprising because it could be healing for you as well. I know, in cases where there has been no contact, it is something that gnaws at a lot of people. I also understand that there are families that are the ones you choose, that aren’t related to you by blood because they treat you better. I understand when people say as well. However, I also know the importance of family, and if that is something that always bothers you, maybe this is an opportunity.

AL: Can I go back to that last line about emotion and logic real quick? Yeah, I guess the question I would have for you is, are you protecting yourself and your kids? Or are you punishing your father? If it’s the latter, then you’ve got some stuff to work through and that’s not a good reason to withhold contact.

Listener: I think you have a point when it comes to older guys getting softer as age comes along, so maybe they should talk with the grandpa. Maybe his attitude has changed. But I wonder if it’s a learning opportunity, like you said, the grandpa might act differently towards younger kids compared to his son, who’s older now. You got to just educate the children and just have the older people mesh in with the younger ones. Maybe he got a little soft, but they have to mend the relationship together.

GS: I know I’ve gotten softer since doing this show.

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Scenarios: Should I let my estranged father back into my life for the sake of my kids?