Post # 1
I am currently planning our July wedding, and one of the very few difficult moments so far has been working through drama with my dad’s side of the family.
A little background: My parents got divorced when I was 10. My father was/ is a severe alcoholic. He subjected me, and my 4 siblings, to a lot of painful situations- drinking while driving, openly discussing his affair, etc. I’ve had very limited contact with him over the past 15 years. He didn’t attend my high school or college graduation, proms, sporting events, etc. To this day, he doesn’t call on my birthday or on holidays. He is still very much involved with alcoholism, and lives full-time in a shelter for homeless men, is unemployed (despite having a PhD in Engineering), and whenever he completes treatment, he ends up being hospitalized a month or so later. It’s terrible, really, but I’ve become numb to it, and instead, have focused on my amazing family and super stepdad. I suppose I sort of gave up on trying to smooth things over with him out of self-protection.
So, clearly, inviting him and his side of the family has been a very big concern for me. I’m scared about him being there, and truthfully, I don’t feel like he deserves to be.
Interestingly, one of his sisters contacted me out of the blue today, asking if she could host a bridal shower for me in their hometown (about 4 hours away from my home). I haven’t seen this woman in about 10 years, and I am not at all comfortable being around her or my dad’s side of the family. They have been very unsupportive of us kids, and I find her offer to “help out by throwing a shower” to be inappropriate… we could have used the love and support years ago, when our dad left us.
So, Bees, do you have any advice- especially any tips on how to respond to this shower idea? I’d also love to hear from brides with similar relationships with a parent. Thank you so much in advance.
Post # 3
@FutureMrsHarris2014: I would thank her for the thought , but that tell her that you” do not feel comfortable attending a shower. Please express my regrets to everyone.”
My Dad was an alcoholic but a functioning one who stayed with my Mom. I wasn’t his target, that honor belonged to one of my sisters. Nothing sexual or abusive other than yelling, but I do remember the fear I felt as a child- not just that something would happen, but that he would walk out on all of us and leave us destitute. I think that’s where my frugality comes from,that and my ability to cook. It doesn’t take long to learn that if you can get a drunk to eat, they stop drinking- at least for that day.
If I were in your situation I would feel no obligation to invite my bio dad or any of his family.
Post # 4
@julies1949: Thank you so much for sharing your story and for the advice! I like your suggestion!
Post # 5
- Wedding: July 2014 - Prague
These people aren’t involved in your life. Keep it that way. Tell her thank you and no.
Post # 6
It is a hard one, but I might consider accepting. Maybe she is trying to build a relationship with you and mend things a bit and this is a gesture representing that. That doesn’t mean you forgive your dad or anything like that (the actions of your aunt have nothing to do with your dad). But maybe consider giving your aunt a chance. That doesn’t mean that is THE bridal shower- many people have multiples.
The tricky part of this, is the people who are invited to the shower are invited to your wedding… and that is completely up to you. It is a hard choice. Maybe the better idea would be to do something smaller. Kindly reject the offer, but maybe ask your Aunt out for lunch or coffee.
Post # 7
I think it’s clear from your post that you don’t want these people in your life. Why let your aunt get a foot in the door?
Four hours away is hardly convenient for you, the bride. I would politely decline without explanation. I woulndn’t engage in any dialog with any of them, frankly.
Post # 8
I wouldn’t invite any of your dad’s family.
If you want to talk to your aunt, why not turn down the shower but say you should meet for lunch? Maybe she’s feeling bad about the past and is trying to reach out to you.
Post # 9
@FutureMrsHarris2014: I would probably thank her politely, but decline. No need to give her a reason or explain yourself. Just say no and leave it at that.
My dad is a very good person, but he is an Alcoholic as well. Luckily, he’s a happy drunk (gets really red in the face and laughs like crazy). He has made some pretty bad choices though; for instance, driving me (and my sisters) home after drinking at a party. It was less than a mile, but still. He also wound up collapsing in front of us when I was 8 and mom wouldn’t let us help him because he was drunk. She let him lie on the floor the entire time we were eating dinner. Then there was the time he got an ultimatum from work – got to AA and get sober or you’re fired. It could have been worse though, he never got abusive with anyone.
There isn’t anything you can do for your dad. He has made his choices and has to live with them. Same goes for his family, who didn’t show you the proper love or support when you were growing up. If you feel that your Aunt is attempting to show how sorry she is for the past then maybe consider getting coffee or lunch sometime. . . but you don’t need to attend a shower or invite any of them to the wedding if you aren’t comfortable.
Alcoholism is an addiction. The only way to beat it is to make the choice not to drink and to get counseling. If your dad isn’t willing to do that then there isn’t much you can do. You have my sympathy.
Post # 10
@AlwaysSunny: thank you all so much for your input- a lot of really great points. I feel like I have a little more clarity today on the whole situation. This particular aunt is the most wealthy of the family. She tends to be “the organizer.” Truthfully, I don’t think her intentions are all positive. She threw a baby shower for my sister, and then didn’t attend herself… in fact, no one from that side of the family did. They seem to act out of obligation towards me and my siblings, because we are extended invitations for holidays, but only if we drive 4 hours to them.
I think I know what I need to do (which is politely decline), but I wonder how much of an explanation to provide. It’s tough, but I so much appreciate your input!
Post # 11
@FutureMrsHarris2014: Please don’t accept or let him come and ruin your day. Not only does he not deserve it, but you need to protect yourself and everyone else there that could be affected by his alcoholism
Post # 12
@HappinessIsInDaisies: Absolutely agree. I truly feel like I’m making this decision to protect myself, my family, my fiancé and his family. We’ve had to suffer so many times because of him, and I’m not willing to risk such an important day. Thank you for this reminder!
Post # 13
@FutureMrsHarris2014: No problem. 🙂
Sometimes remebering you have to protect those around you as well, helps put it into perspective (that’s how i thought about it for my wedding and im so thankful i did).
Its easy to be hard on ourselves and think we “should” or “should not” do something, but you and the people you have to protect are so much more important. You’re celebrating your love – So dont allow anyone who doesnt represent that love within a 100 mile radius of you on your day! (or any of the days/events leading up to it for that matter!)
Post # 14
Definitely don’t invite your dad or any members of his family. They definitely don’t deserve to be there!
As for the shower, I would sweetly say “Thank you so much for the generous offer! But someone has already volunteered.”
Post # 15
@FutureMrsHarris2014: its so tough- I feel for you. My dad is a functioning alcoholic and has 9 siblings that ALL have substance abuse problems. FI’s mom’s sister is a severe alcoholic. We are picking and choosing carefully who we invite and it’s causing stress because I’m worried it will cause drama between those that are invited and those that are not. But seriously we have to cut it off somewhere- one of my dad’s sisters tried to kill one of his brothers. Like, they are that crazy.
Go with your gut. If this woman is not in your life and has never been supportive of you, feel free to tell her no and be convinced in your decision you are doing the right thing. This is your happy time and you don’t need substance abuse and manipulative people making it difficult for you!! I want to give you a hug after reading about your dad. I hope that your family doesnt put too much of a damper on your wedding planning.
Post # 16
@FutureMrsT1221: Ahhh, I’m totally air hugging you through the computer right now. Your situation sounds even more difficult. I hope that things work out for the best! Generally, I’m pretty good about listening to my gut, but I’m naturally a people pleaser, so I have difficulty with any sort of conflict. Thank you for sharing your story! It does help to know that I’m not alone…
Also, I received a little more of a confirmation yesterday. Coincidentally (or not, given how close this happened to when my aunt reached out to me), my father sent me a four page letter mostly about his story with treatment, and only a small amount about me. I think that his intention was to find out now whether or not he would be invited, but I got hung up on a few things he said, like that he’s been sober since June 2010. So, why wait until October 2013 to reach out to me… just because I’m getting married?
Also, truly, it was about 90% about his fight to be sober, but really nothing about me and how difficult it has been growing up like this. I think that was my confirmation that it’s never been about me.