My Dad – It’s complicated

My Dad and I have a rocky relationship that I really want to improve.

When I was a teenager, I stopped talking to him and completely cut him out after my parent’s divorce. He had stopped trying and I feel like he should have kept trying. I don’t understand how and why he gave up.

I’m 43 now and we have reconnected and are trying to rebuild this relationship.

About 6 months ago we went on a vacation for a week to Disney in FL. It only happened because I paid for everything to make it happen. While we were there, me, my dad and my sisters, made plans to stay in contact and really rebuild our relationship.

But once came home nobody followed through! He didn’t even try to see me for Thanksgiving, or Christmas, OR my birthday and we haven’t even been talking. I had to call him just to even be able to talk to him on Thanksgiving. I tried to make plans to see him for Christmas and after telling me he couldn’t because he would be in Kansas for a business thing, he actually went to Boston to see his wife’s son! I only found out because they posted pictures on Instagram.

NOW he messaged my sisters and me out of the blue to set up seeing us today. It was completely out of the blue and on his terms and I am so anxious. I don’t want to go because I know he is coming with an agenda. He’ll bring notes and a list of questions. I just want to have a normal conversation with him.

I try to give him benefit of the doubt because he is remarried with 10 adopted kids, but we are his children too. He’s not being the father he should be to me and my sisters and I know we teach people how to treat us. I don’t want to tolerate or re-enforce his behavior. It makes me sad when I see other father-daughter relationships because I want us to be close, so while I don’t want to go and respect myself, I also want to go so I don’t miss a moment with him.

If I’m going to go, then I want to establish expectations. I want to have rules and goals for how this relationship is going to go, but I also think maybe I should just sit and shut my mouth.

What should I be doing to rebuild my relationship with my dad?