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Name: Riz
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My dad feels like a stranger to me. - October 2nd 2020, 12:54 AM

Yeah I know that thread title is probably exaggerating the situation, but hear me out.

First, a little bit of background. My parents were separated ever since I was 9, and they finally got divorced this January. They never blamed me for the divorce; my mom watering the reason they broke up down to being mostly because of my dad breaking his promise about having another kid and therefore giving me a sibling. All in all, the whole situation was pretty easy for me, and I hardly even remember a time in which my parents were together.

So basically, my dad and I had a good relationship for most of my life so far, that was until I turned 12, and then things went pretty downhill from there. My dad and I have pretty much no similar interests, and he barely wants to do anything. He's extremely socially awkward and he barely talks to me. He never bothers to ask me about how I'm feeling; never bothering to help me out with my emotions or pretty much anything besides that glorious child support check he gives my mom every two weeks. Our political opinions are wildly different as well, so it sure is fun when he disrespects me or my friends with his bigoted bullshit.

Then there's him ignoring my aspergers diagnoses and never bothering to help back when I needed It most, but that's a whole other matter really.

Then of course, his girlfriend is another matter. She's a nice lady, don't get me wrong, but it's pretty obvious he likes being around her more than me. I just feel like I'm being replaced.

In the end, just going to his house every other weekend makes me feel depressed and it makes me wanna cry. My therapist says that maybe I could ask my mom if I can see him only once a month, but I just know that my mom would get mad at me and my dad would start shit again. My mom is stressed out enough, she doesn't need me or my dad making it worse.
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Jeez, get a life!
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Re: My dad feels like a stranger to me. - October 7th 2020, 08:04 PM

Hey there,

Sorry you haven't received a reply yet but also welcome to TeenHelp!

I don't think you are exaggerating at all!

I'm wondering if there may be reasons why your until recently good relationship with your dad has declined recently. It might be a combination of your asperger's diagnosis and his girlfriend.

You mention that your dad is socially awkward, doesn't ask you about your feelings, ignoring your diagnosis and not helping you. Is it possible that your dad may have (undiagnosed) aspergers? It may be that since you were diagnosed, he may have noticed similar traits in himself, but may not want to acknowledge it, perhaps out of shame or denial or other difficult emotions. This may be be behind him ignoring your Asperger's diagnosis. Acknowledging that you have Asperger's, though in your best interests, means acknowledging that he may have Asperger's as well. Of course, he might not have it, but it's just something to think about. Is there anything in particular you want your dad to do? Maybe you can be direct with him and say that you would like him to ask you how you are feeling? Or maybe you can just tell him how you are feeling and how you would like to be supported?

It sounds like your dad spends a lot of time with his girlfriend and that you are feeling replaced. Even though he may really like spending time with his girlfriend a lot, it does not mean that you are being replaced.

You say that going to his house every other weekend makes you feel depressed and your therapist has suggested perhaps seeing him less. I'm wondering what you want to do? It sounds like you previously had a good relationship with your dad before, is it worth trying to re-establish this? Perhaps you can think of things you used to do together- Are these things you can do again? Or are there similar things you can do? Perhaps something just for you and your dad, rather than with his girlfriend around as well. Alternatively, if you want to see your dad less, then that's entirely your choice and it's okay to see your dad less if it's what you feel is best for you. I'm also wondering why you feel your mom would get mad at you, if you asked to see your dad less? If you do decide to go down this route, you don't have to explain that you don't want to see your dad because of how you feel, if you think this might cause problems.

Hope this helps a bit and feel free to update us

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Re: My dad feels like a stranger to me. - October 9th 2020, 03:10 PM

Hi Riz,

Thank you so much for reaching out! It must be a really confusing time, but you can get through this.

Divorce is never a blissful thing - it leaves a scar especially on the children involved. Watching your parents drift apart is no doubt one of the most painful things for children to witness and undergo, so you did the right thing by reaching out. Since you're not living with your dad and therefore not seeing him as much as you see your mom, it is natural for your relationship with him to be affected.

It seems to me that the divorce has hit not only you, but your dad hard too - he has had to drift apart from you. His awkwardness with you could be a reflection of the emotional repercussions of the divorce he is going through. Perhaps he feels guilty, or perhaps he blames himself in a way. Since a parent-child bond is precious no matter what, divorce or otherwise, it is good that you're concerned about your relationship with him. It pays to remain in good terms with both your parents though they might have fallen out with each other. Since this is a troubling situation for you, perhaps you might want to broach the subject openly with your dad? I'm sure he must be also upset about not being able to interact comfortably with you. Even if you don't have similar interests, you can still be on peaceful and friendly terms with one another. See if you can get him to share how he's feeling and if he's willing to put in more effort to look after you emotionally and as a fatherly figure; beyond the financial support he's sending.

You might feel that his new girlfriend is occupying too much of his mental space, and that might be true, but your dad will not be able to push you away forever. His preoccupation with his girlfriend might just be his way of "escaping" his own reality. Anyhow, it might be a good idea to speak about how you're feeling with your dad (with no one else around, just the both of you) and see if it resolves some matters. At least that way, you would have done your part in trying to mend ties with him. And like Holly said, the fact that you've previously had a good relationship with your dad means that there is definitely scope for you both to work on rebuilding that. You can even remind your dad about the old days and ask him openly if he wants to revive it, because you want to continue having a good relationship with him. Remember what I said about a parent-child bond - it's one of those unbreakable things. No matter how much situations drive us apart, blood is indeed thicker than water.

If you feel that things don't improve much after talks, perhaps it would be a better idea to not continue seeing him too often. Going to his house shouldn't be a further source of distress. Speak to your mom openly about this. I know she must have a lot of things to worry about, but your mental health and welfare are incredibly important. What you're going through is a consequence of your parents' decision to opt for a divorce (of course I'm not judging them here!), so you have the right to speak with her about your issues with your dad. Also, you never know, establishing a bit of distance from him might propel him to be more proactive towards interacting with you. After all, absence makes the heart go fonder.

So take this step by step: first, try to resolve this with him by speaking to him. If it doesn't work, establish a distance and see how it goes.

It must be really overwhelming, but every cloud does have a silver lining - you just have to look for it. Be strong, this too shall pass and better days will come

Take care, and feel free to DM me if you have any questions!
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