conflict with father

I have ADHD. I know that this is a web site for marriages but I have a different kind of relationship problem.  I seem to always have this underlying conflict with my dad.  I'm not sure why.  Yesterday I had a "blow out" yelling argument with him in a parking lot.  We both left if a hurried "huff" with slamming car doors.  The content of the argument is not all that important.  It involved the way he talked to one of my children.  I didn't approve and said, "Dad, that's enough".  He stayed and helped me put the kids in the car then handed me my bag without a word and started to leave.  I should have let it go but I didn't have enough strength to control myself.  I asked if he was mad at me.  He said, "No", then mumbled as he always does, half sarcastically, "I just never say the right thing so I should just keep my mouth shut".  In my own stupid uncontrolled way, I said, "What is wrong, why are you always saying that, I appreciate everything you do".  He said he didn't want to get into an argument.  I responded angrily, "fine, then I'm going to go home and not feel guilty".  He said he didn't want me to feel guilty.  I told him that I always do when things like this happen...From there, it exploded and phrases like "you will respect me because I am your 75 year old father" started flying.  I was just trying to defend my child and myself but I do it in a very unhealthy way. 

Needless to say, I haven't been able to function since.  I was up late last night and I'm just walking in circles today.  I'm trying to do the right thing but my brain won't let me get past it to even rationally apologize.  I'm having a hard time even taking care of my children today.  I have so much work to do but all I do is cry.  I am angry, sad, guilt ridden, physically nauseous, and dysfunctional all around.  Any advice from someone who doesn't have ADHD but may have a similar issue.  I'm open to opinions as to the "right thing to do" and will not be offended by anything.  I'm trying so hard to get better.  Please help.


Some thoughts to consider...

Hello- Hard to Function...

I'm new to this site. Thank you for posting about your experience with your dad from yesterday. I do not have ADD. My husband does. However, I think all of us- "normal" brain functioning or not, have been in similar situations. And it particularly hurts when it involves your parents and your children. My mom and I frequently seem to rub each other the wrong way.  We have had our fair share of "never say the right thing" huff and puff and stomp off experiences. I too have been consumed with the anguish about the encounter the next day, or several days. It's a yucky feeling to be "angry, sad, guilt-ridden, physically nauseous and dysfunctional" from the fall-out of an encounter like that.

I feel a little too new to this site to "give advice." First, I want to say I clicked on your name to learn a little more about you by reading a few of your previous posts and comments. (Which by the way is such a great feature of this website! We should all do that- it adds depth to our posts and helps us get to know each other! Way to go Melissa Orlov for setting that up in this forum!) and I noticed, Hard to Function, that you hadn't posted much (nothing since March), but rather mostly commented about other people's posts. So, I figured this issue is really, really bothering you.

Anyway... my ADD husband tends to be very intense- maybe even aggressive- when he is defending me or a loved one. It doesn't come across like a gallant gentleman, defending his woman. I wasn't there so of course cannot comment how you came across. I'm just mentioning that this "defending me" issue has been the source of A LOT of extended-family conflicts in our world. Also, I don't know how old your kids are- I'm assuming young since your dad helped you put them in the car. And I don't know your family dynamics or anything about your dad- so my general principle may be off base for you. But  a few things come to mind... 1) Respect your elders is a principle I try to stick by. I'm not overly zealous with manners and etiquette. It just seems like the right thing to do. Elders deserve respect simply because they are our elders. Call that old fashioned or backwards thinking. Of course there are lots of cranky, no-good old people out there (and sadly some may be our parents) but it's my principle and it feels right to me to have this principle. 2) The grandchild-grandparent dynamic is something to consider. There are lots of things to ponder and mull around and everyone will undoubtedly come to their own conclusions. Do I want to preserve the grandparent-grandchild relationship at all costs- giving each the opportunity to love one another without my disapproval and judgment? Are my children old enough to make their own assessments about how grandpa talks to them? Is this a teaching opportunity where we can discuss it together? 3) Recognize that this hurt you. It bothered you a lot. Cut yourself some slack. Take a bath. Eat some chocolate. Tell the children the encounter with grandpa hurt you. Ask them to help you laugh. Get silly with those kiddos. try it. Then go back to your room and cry again. Remember that communication and relationships are hard and acknowledge that you are trying and learning and that's good. Now go back and get a popsicle or a mango or put some silly music on. 4) Forgive. And... apologize. First in your own head and heart. No, I don't mean rehearse the words you're going to say. Just choose to forgive and apologize. And keep trying it in your own mind until the feeling is sorta right. 5) Wise advice I have received multiple times is... "choose your battles" and "in a year from now, or 5 years from now, will this really matter?" Think about it. Will you specifically remember the parking lot exchange and these specifics? I'm guessing no. But you will remember the difficult dynamics of communication and relationship that you have with your dad, because it keeps repeating, right? Disapproval, inability to control responses, anger- huff, doors slamming, responding angrily, guilt, feeling unappreciated--- all these emotions and dynamics on both parts. Just know that by reflecting on it you are growing and evolving. It's not easy. And he's the old guy so he might not change.  And you're the ADD one, so you might not change! So... cut yourself and him some slack. And just try again next time.

Hope you start to feel better. I look forward to getting to know you and share with you through this forum, Hard to Function. Hang in there.

Sending a smile... from HeavenHelpMe

BTW... how old are your kids? I have two-year-old boy/girl twins!



Thank you

Dear HeavenHelpMe,

I so appreciate you taking the time to reply to my plea.  Your words make sense to me.  I love my dad very much and he is my biggest advocate in life.  Maybe that is one of the reasons I feel so terrible.  My children and I happened to run into him at the grocery store today (I think God planned it after all my praying!)  I was planning to head to his house to talk with him but was nervous about how to begin.  The first thing I said to him was "I'm sorry Dad".  I wasn't able to get the rest out before he stopped me and said "Things like this happen, it's in the past, lets move on".   I was relieved as far as feeling awkward but still feel a very deep sadness that what I said hurt him.

My parents know that I see a psychologist once a week.  They don't acknowledge that I have ADHD but I think that is mostly because they only know the stereotype hyper child (which I was not).  I have been trying to deal with the turmoil inside of me ever since I was young.  I have very loving parents who provided me with the best childhood ever.  I'm not sure why I have so many issues with them.  I have to be very careful not to let my mind think that my issues are the fault of someone else. 

I have found this website to be a relationship saving tool for me.  It has helped me understand that my husband's reactions to me are not meant to be malicious or abusive.  His reactions are pretty typical to other spouse's who have to deal with the warped sense of reality of their loved one.  I didn't know you could look at all my past comments.  I am actually very embarrassed by them.  I have been trying to TRULY take control of my ADHD since October of last year.  The road has been long with many, many bumps and bruises that I have dished out.  Earlier this year when I first started coming to this website, I thought that I had hit bottom and felt a need to share my story and my advice with everyone.  Since then I have been trying to work on the "ego" part of my ADHD.  I am back on this website now because I logged on to see if I could erase my comments.  (Haven't figured out if that is possible yet).  I even changed my blog "name" today because I felt it no longer fit me.  I use to go by "Not defined by ADHD".  I am learning that I am very much defined by my ADHD. 

I have two daughters, 4 1/2 and 1 1/2.  We do have lots of silly moments together and they are the reason I continue to admit that my ADD behavior is unacceptable. 

I may never hear from you again but wanted you to know that your response really helped me.  At one time in my life I was a very light-hearted, silly, fun loving person with lots of friends.  Thanks for reminding me to act silly again.  And thanks for treating me like a mom and not "one of those ADDer's"  It is nice to know that everything doesn't have to be just my fault and that other nonADDers have similar situations (although handle it much better!!)

You certainly have your hands full with your twins!!! If your husband has ADD, you probably have to manage most of the family stuff, too.  The kids and I would be so lost without my husband.  I hope you find what you need on this web site.  Would love to chat again sometime. 

Sending you a smile back and wish I could give you a hug!  hard to function

Parents....  You have ADHD,

Parents....  You have ADHD, now I am taking a leap here but it is also very likely so does your Dad.  Some of the things you said make me think that, 1) he was saying something to your children you didn't approve of, 2) when you told him that was enough he got Mad...3) he exploded you will respect me..... 

I don't think there is anything wrong with defending your child, that is what parents do, even if the person you are defending them from is your own parent.   My mom is ADD (and has no clue she is, but there is NO doubt in my mind) I know my mom has good intentions BUT some of the things she does are not Safe for my children and I feel i have to babysit them when they are together, ridiculous I know.  She wanted to take my  60 pound 10 year old son for a parasail ride yesterday, I just said No mom I don't think that is a good idea and I wont let him do it. So she said maybe next year. In my mind I said Maybe when he is 15. 

 The only advice I can give is when he does/says something you do not approve of, state your opinion as calmly as you can and end the conversation. "Dad please dont use that tone with my children, thank you for helping me today" don't keep it going, don't ask if he is mad, KNOW he was upset why did you bother asking (because you couldn't help it) and it just created the opportunity to argument. 

Thank you

Dear funnyfarm,

I love your name!!

Thank you so much for your input.  I think it is true that the things one person doesn't like about someone else are the things that most resemble what he/she doesn't like about him/herself.   It seems that I tend to get into arguments with others when they show the same types of behaviors that I catch myself doing.   The truth is that I probably have said a lot worse to my children.  I think when I hear someone else acting as I do, I see how ridiculous it is and I really get angry at myself.

As far as not being able to "help it" or stop myself.  I am just not there yet.  I know it is hard to understand if you don't have ADD.  I tried to explain it to my husband, too, but he doesn't understand either.   I say that I couldn't help it not because I am trying to use it as an excuse.  My behavior is wrong.  But, the feelings in my brain are so powerful I have to do a lot of self talk to stop them.  When I'm in a heated argument and a lot of emotions are involved, I just haven't learned how to stop and do self talk.  I do take medication which helps a tremendous amount and I see an ADHD specialist.  I also am trying to learn all I can about ADHD so I can approach my issues in the right way.  You and everyone on this website has helped me with that and I continue to be grateful.  I know that I don't have the control I need yet, so I try to avoid tense situations and take a lot of deep breathes.  But, I fail a lot. 

I would have such a hard time talking with your mother!!!! I am such a worrier, I put band aids on my little girls' knees BEFORE they go to play!!! That way, they can't get too banged up on the concrete, right!!! 

Sending thanks from my funny farm to yours!

hard to function