Monday, June 25, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Continue cashing Dad's checks or not? Do what's best for you

Q: My father was a nightmare. When I was a kid, he would tell me I was "a b---- just like your mother" and throw things at me; he even threw me down the stairs once and broke my arm. By the time I was 13, I realized I hated him and wanted him gone. Eventually I convinced my mother to leave him. I was 15 then and it's been about 10 years since I've seen or spoken to him.

Over the years, my father has sent me cards on my birthday and other holidays, telling me how much he loves and misses me but never acknowledging what he did. He always sends sizable checks, usually several hundred dollars. I've always cashed the checks and thought of the money as child support he owed me. When I was younger and struggling to put myself through college, I desperately needed the money.

Now I'm done with school, have a good job and don't need the money, but the checks keep coming.

On the one hand, I feel he still owes me a lot. On the other hand, through the process of repairing my relationship with my mother, I've found I no longer hate my father. I've come to understand he is severely mentally ill.

If I were a better person I could donate the money to people who need it more than I do, but if I cash the checks I'm most likely going to spend the money on myself.

I've been thinking the right thing to do is release him from my life permanently. I think if I stop opening the cards and cashing the checks, then I can give him back to God, if that makes sense. What do you think?

Torn

A: When someone has been through what you have, I'm inclined to vote for whatever you believe will help, as long as it isn't destructive. Your idea for releasing him is not a destructive one — and yes, the way you describe it makes perfect sense to me.

There's one thing that stops me, though: "If I were a better person." That's both an alarm and an opportunity.

The alarm is self-evident, since you spent your formative years being systematically put down. That means putting yourself down, even with just a throwaway comment, is no throwaway matter.

The opportunity: Depositing your father's check and writing another for the exact amount to an organization that, say, helps abused kids, or aids the mentally ill, or supports struggling parents to help break the abuse cycle, might provide you with a surprising source of strength and validation. Inform your father of the donation with a brief note, even.

You could also use the money — or your own, certainly — for good counseling, if "torn" is a chronic condition for you, and not limited to matters of money from Dad.

Not that you need to choose either of these paths to prove your worth; you're grounded and self-sufficient at an age and to a degree that would be impressive for someone without a rocky childhood, much less for somebody with one. You don't need to prove a thing to anyone.

Except, perhaps, yourself, which is ultimately how I suggest you frame this decision: Do yourself proud, in whatever shape that takes.

Comments

Tell Me About It: The ability to cope is part of our humanity

Q: Iím curious if you believe or think things "happen for a reason" and "God/higher power only gives us what we can handle," or are things just random? I ask because my mom told me some sad news about a relative. I would never be able to cope with th...
Published: 06/24/18

Tell Me About It: Dad despairs at state of gender relations

Q: Day after day, we have new news of a famous man who has done unspeakably stupid and offensive things to women ... for decades. Society is, somewhat belatedly, starting to take these accusations seriously.But change is needed at the opposite end of...
Published: 06/22/18

Tell Me About It: Future in-laws are insisting on an open bar

Q: My fiance and I are getting married in my familyís hometown and my parents are hosting (and paying for) the wedding. My family are minimal drinkers. My fianceís large extended family is accustomed to weddings with full open bars.My parentsí initia...
Published: 06/21/18
Plan your weekend: St. Pete Pride, Hall and Oates, Pixies, Logic, comics Jay Pharoah and Bobby Bones

Plan your weekend: St. Pete Pride, Hall and Oates, Pixies, Logic, comics Jay Pharoah and Bobby Bones

Rainbow connection Pride weekend: One of the largest Pride celebration in the Southeast happens this weekend in St. Petersburg, bringing a rainbow of activities. Things set off on Friday with the free SP2 Concert at North Straub Park, hosted by Coc...
Published: 06/20/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

HIS KIND OF NIGHT: Luke BryanItís been three long years since Tampa has seen the well-groomed hide of Luke Bryan, the Hollywoodiest hunk in Nashville. But heís about to make up for lost time. On Saturday heíll headline his biggest-ever show here, a b...
Published: 06/20/18
Top things to do this week: Go Skateboarding Day, Hollywood medium Tyler Henry

Top things to do this week: Go Skateboarding Day, Hollywood medium Tyler Henry

Tyler Henry: Hollywood MediumTyler Henry, the so-called Hollywood Medium who stars in an eponymous E! hit show, is coming to town with a live show called "Life Lessons I Have Learned From the Departed." The soft-spoken 22-year-old has done readings f...
Published: 06/20/18
5 things to do under $5: USF Summer Plant Festival, Bridal Show, free show by AnastasiaMax

5 things to do under $5: USF Summer Plant Festival, Bridal Show, free show by AnastasiaMax

1 Summer Plant Festival: If you think you canít get anything to thrive in Floridaís brutal summers, check out the vendors with fruit trees and advice on how to grow them, along with hundreds of blooming butterfly plants, herbs and tropical and exotic...
Published: 06/20/18

Tell Me About It: Wife punished after being victimized

Q: At a work happy hour, a male co-worker groped me. He later "apologized" with the qualification that I had been sending him mixed signals.Iím married, he has met my husband, Iíve never led him on. And when it happened I was incredibly clear that it...
Published: 06/20/18
Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What's changed for 2018

Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What's changed for 2018

Pride weekend kicks off in St. Petersburg Friday with a free concert hosted by a RuPaul’s Drag Race star, a parade along the downtown waterfront on Saturday and an expanded expo of vendors and art on Sunday in the Grand Central District that ga...
Published: 06/19/18

Tell Me About It: Mom/daughter dynamic feels controlling

Q: I am afraid I may be a controlling mom of my young adult daughter, but we have a dynamic in which she seeks me out often, solicits my advice, and makes me too important in her life. I admit to offering that advice because it is hard for me to draw...
Published: 06/19/18