My father and his son and daughter from his first marriage no longer speak to each other. For various reasons, they have pretty much been strangers all their lives.
It came to a head when my dad walked out on my sister’s wedding without saying a word to her. To this day, he doesn’t have a clue that my sister is furious and hurt over this. They haven’t spoken since.
I love all three of them and try not to take sides but I keep feeling like I am in the middle.
When my sister was pregnant, he made no effort in the space of eight months to contact her to see how she was getting on – and he never asked me how she was, either.
She had the baby and when my father eventually found out through me (two weeks after the birth), he felt rejected and became depressed. He said he was quite hurt that, as usual, he was “the last one to find out”.
My sister is upset that he hasn’t reached out to her but hasn’t made much of an effort either. I feel like I’m trapped between two warring parties. They probably love each other deep down but have not been part of each other’s lives for a long time.
I feel like there’s been too much mutual rejection and resentment for them to be able to start afresh. My question is: how do I assure my dad and my brother and sister that I love them all dearly but that I am tired of being stuck in the middle?
Also, is there anyway that I should try to get them to talk or should I steer well clear of this one?
I think you simply need to say to them what you’ve said to me at the end of your letter – you love them all dearly but you don’t want to be piggy in the middle any more.
Be clear that from now on you won’t talk about the issues they have with each other when you visit them, unless they are prepared to swallow their pride, be grown-up about it and sit down together to try to resolve things.
I agree that it’s not fair on you and maybe if you remind them of this and explain you find it upsetting and stressful, they’ll think again.
And they could all do with a few home truths. Your dad knew your sister was pregnant – why couldn’t he have reached out to her then? And why didn’t he apologise for walking out of her wedding?
As for your sister, instead of telling you how hurt she is about all of this, she should tell your dad.
If you stop getting involved and stop trying to get them to reconcile, maybe that will force them to build the bridges themselves.
Ultimately, they have to want to do it and it’s up to them to work it out.
* More of our agony aunt Coleen Nolan’s advice on your sex, family, health and relationship problems