May 2018
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my dad is actually doing a pretty good job being respectful lately


icon: "shock (a gif of the character Mick from Moonlight making a shocked/confused face, with eyebrows going up and then scrunching together. in between repetitions is a white screen with the text w t f)"

[last spring my dad made an agreement with me which established boundaries and respected my needs]Early spring last year my biodad, who owns the house in which I live, threatened to kick me out if I couldn't pay an unreasonable amount of rent, so I told him I was going to move out as soon as possible. After he tried to rent it to my cousin and she flaked out, he seemed to come to his senses since the house is not in rentable condition to any unrelated person. He sent me an email with a proposal of me covering the house expenses. I proposed some amendments on the methods and included that they can't come visit without at least 2 weeks notice, they can't go through my stuff, etc and he agreed. I also said that they need to respect my need for calls to be scheduled, and they have mostly done that, with the exception of my birthday. While it is not a pleasant thing for me to get an unscheduled call ever, I can understand and forgive the impulse there.

He also included this, in the hyper-formal fashion typical of his writing:

"Also, I have given careful thought to your name.  [Your maternal grandfather] was faced with the prospect that one of his daughters decided not to use her birth name and replaced it with a name of her choice.  Her birth name was [birthname] and her newly chosen name was [chosen name].  Mr. [maternal grandfather] honored her decision and called her [chosen name].

     I am no better than [maternal grandfather's full name], my kinsman and father, and I will follow his example, if required.  If you ask me to refer to you as James, I will honor your request.  Simply ask.

     My name, however, is [M], to the whole world except my children.  I request that my children refer to me as Daddy or Dad.  You only have one daddy and his days are numbered.  This is my request."


So I agreed to call him Dad, which I hadn't ever done (I went right from "Daddy" to his first name). I feel doubtful that he respects my name when talking about me to others, but I'm trying to use "Dad" more in my head so it doesn't feel so weird and uncomfortable.

He came in town to visit a relative who is sick (someone I don't know) and before planning that trip he asked if he could stay at my house. He did a great job of checking in and not using pressuring or controlling language, so I said yes, and I offered to take a day off to spend it with him.

He finished his trip to the sick family member and his longtime mentor and arrived at my house on Sunday. He bought himself some groceries before arriving, and we sat on the front porch to have dinner together. He asked if it was okay to reheat meat in my house (I'm a vegetarian) and I said yes -- amazed that he thought to ask, and that it seemed like a real question. We had dinner and a thoughtful conversation -- which was a little one-sided as he talked a LOT but listening takes less work for me most of the time so I was okay with it. When he seemed to not listen I pointed it out and he paused and listened.

Yesterday was the day I took off to spend with him, and it was a good day, overall. We had breakfast together, went to a park I love and took a long walk, and then went to dinner. I gave him a book about trees that I had been thinking of mailing him, and he actually looked at it and smiled and said he thought he would enjoy it. Love of trees is one thing we share, though he cannot let the subject pass without emphasizing that he is fine with cutting trees that need to be cut because they lean dangerously or whatever. Every. Single. Time. we talk about trees he says that. I get it, okay? I'm not about to criticize you for loving then too much so enough with the preemptive defensiveness! I feel for him about it though.

When we got back we loaded up the paper recycling for him to take in his truck, and while I know he wanted to complain that there was so much cardboard (he thinks its dirty to keep it around) he didn't complain or pressure, and even verbally assured me that he didn't want to do anything but complete the chore for me. In the past he would have said "this has got to go. I'm going to load it up, come help me." So he was doing remarkably well with being respectful.

We talked a lot which was so exhausting because he twists himself in knots sometimes to avoid saying things which don't actually need to be avoided, and he is stubbornly wrong about almost anything to do with social justice. But I finally said something that got through yesterday when he was talking about how he doesn't trust or like cops and how they're assholes to him and he thinks its not about race.

I told him that maybe the cops who harass are all assholes who would prefer to treat everyone like shit, but they expect, looking at a white man, that there is a greater chance of him having powerful friends. An asshole cop still doesn't want to get in trouble so he is going to take out his shittiness on the people he guesses as the least powerful. Dad told me "you just said something powerful there" and agreed that that would be a consideration for cops. I thought to myself "not any less powerful or true than the other things I have said but somehow this didn't get caught on your defenses."

This is why I talk back to privileged ignorance every time I have the chance. This was like the third time we had the same conversation in one day, and I tried something slightly different and this time I got through. There are little cracks in everybody's privilege that can bring understanding, but the only way to find those cracks is to push against their privilege over and over and over in different spots.

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Comments
delicatexflower ══╣╠══

i'm glad you got to experience the feeling of being respected by your dad. i think it probably made his visit with you a little less stressful. i hope he continues to show you respect. *hugs*
artless
belenen ══╣artless╠══
thank you! I truly marvel at it. on some level I worry that it's a trick but I'm trying to take it at face value and not be too cynical.
misc-girl-tea time
delicatexflower ══╣misc-girl-tea time╠══

i understand completely. after my mom died, i learned--even though i had more bad memories with her, i appreciate the very little & small good memories with her. i hope only good comes out of this for you! <3 <3
free'n'wild
moonlit_ink ══╣free'n'wild╠══
It's nice that your dad is trying harder to be respectful of you and that the time you spent together went pretty well. I liked what you wrote about how to get through using different angles or ways of pushing against the privileged ignorance of others. I hope the relationship between you and your dad continues to evolve in a positive way.
progressing
belenen ══╣progressing╠══
Thank you! I hope it continues to evolve positively as well.
wantedonvoyage ══╣╠══
Sounds like some good progress. The name thing is big, and it's good that you're willing to meet him halfway even though it's an edge for you.
belenen ══╣╠══
it is good progress! I like to encourage people who are trying to grow, whatever form that takes.
diabological ══╣╠══
This is my first time reading about your dad, but it sounds like he is learning about boundaries and respect. That gives me hope since I'm no contact with my mom because so far she hasn't been able to learn these things. It was really thoughtful of him to ask if he could heat up meat in your kitchen. I'm glad something you said about priveledge permeated for him. That's a really hard conversation to have. I've tried so many times with mom and in the past she has preemptively said racist things just to bother me. There is a peace in being seperated from her but I'm thinking of giving her another chance.
analytical
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
It took something really major in his life for this to happen (I'm writing a post about it now which will be friends locked) and it has been a long time coming! I can relate to having no contact -- that has been the general goal for me for the past 15 years or so.

My mom is horrific about boundaries and with her I'm not trying at this point. A while back I decided not to be taking any first steps with people who violate boundaries. I need to see them make progress FIRST because otherwise it's likely that I am just being too optimistic and they're gonna run roughshod over me.
lostincandyrain ══╣╠══
This sounds like great progress! I'm impressed not only with the respect he showed you, but with your respect in trying to meet him in the middle on the name thing, and taking the time off. Hopefully he appreciated it, and it helps encourage the good behaviors! It's nice also just to know that you are important enough, and having a relationship with you is important enough to him, for him to try.
analytical
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
I do hope that he understood that taking time off was a sacrifice, and that spending so much time with him was a sacrifice. he has a hard time understanding nuance so I didn't want to emphasize that it was draining to spend time with him because I think all he'd hear would be "I hate being around you" which is not the case.
Looking down the barrel of a gun
celluloid_jam ══╣Looking down the barrel of a gun╠══
I also rent from my dad, who is like a bull in a china shop when it comes to respect and language. It gets difficult to be around him because he just will not hear a perspective different from his own. I'm glad that it sounds like you are making progress with your dad.

I get the privileged ignorance thing. I just don't have the patience to try, try again with him. I end up shutting down because I am so furious that it will only end badly if I don't.
analytical
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
I definitely didn't bother for many years because I don't cast pearls before swine! but he is starting to open up to the idea that he can be wrong, so it's becoming more worth the effort. I 100% support not wasting energy on people who refuse to learn.
pax_athena ══╣╠══
Thank you for sharing this, especially the approach that worked in the end.
(I wonder whether it is often easier for people to believe that some people are horrible in general and just don't act on the impulses in some cases than to accept that some people can be nice and perhaps even good in some situations and horrible in others. Huh ...)
diabological ══╣╠══
I hear you. If my uncle were not completely supportive of me and on my side, I couldn't be negotiating communicating with mom right now. It does seem hopeless but at least I'll be able to say that I tried everything I could.
Original ★ seamstress of shadows
ragnarok_08 ══╣Original ★ seamstress of shadows╠══
That sounds like great progress :)
kiwi ══╣╠══
This was really heartening to read.
callmebee ══╣╠══
1. I liked reading about something positive about your bio parents, it made me feel optimistic for you.

2. It's interesting that I, too, recently had a conversation with my dad that was respectful, and in which he treated me as an equal rather than an errant child. He actually listened to me and conceded some of the points I made, and I left feeling confused and excited.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.