Daddy, Don’t

In Parents on November 29, 2009 at 11:00 pm

Dear Yenta,

My father emailed me out of the blue saying, “I’ve booked a ticket.” Without a word of discussion about my holiday plans to spend Christmas with my Englishman’s family he tells me he’s flying over the pond. Having worlds collide (my father meeting my boyfriend’s mother) on one of the biggest holidays of the year would shoot my nerves to the moon. What do I tell my father?

In A Quandary,

Dear In A Quandary,

It is never too late to set boundaries with a pesky family member. Often when drawing limits for people, they lash out angry and afraid that you are rejecting them. Over time, the more limits drawn, the more they see that you are still there, still loving them, just in a capacity and fashion that works for you.

Can you tell your father no to this, explain that it is too much for you to share this time so unexpected? It is ok to be honest, explain that you yourself are meeting your man’s family for the first time, and that bringing your father along is not appropriate for this Christmas visit. Even if he is hurt, at least he will know a rule, “Call before you book your ticket.” He needs to know that you are a woman now, with a life of your own, which means knocking before entering.

To lessen the blow, make it clear that you do love him and do intend to see him by making plans in a way that works. For you. This way he sees that even though his impulsive behavior doesn’t yield the results he is looking for, there are other ways to your heart. It sounds like your Dad really loves you but might be afraid to be less intense about it, in fear that you might walk. Show him you love him and watch him learn not to squeeze his baby girl so tight.

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