From a young woman in the U.S.: I’m 23 and I recently moved back home with my parents so I could spend a year saving up to go to grad school. I have lived out of the house permanently for 5 years before coming back this year. In the house is myself, my parents and my two younger brothers (16 and 19).
My father is someone who gets very stuck in his ways and is always working. He owns his own business so he is a very busy man. I guess you could say he’s stubborn. This can come off very rude and condescending to someone who does not know him. Lately he has decided not to speak with my mother who is a stay at home mom.
We are not sure what (or if) she did to set this off, but every time she tries to speak to him he ignores her and usually walks away, where as with me he will listen and speak. This is not something that my mom just informed me of it is something that I’ve been witnessing every day for the past couple of weeks.
She doesn’t seem to be letting it affect her, but it is really affecting me. I feel like the middle man in their relationship and like I’m walking on eggshells around them. It’s not a great or healthy environment to be in, especially when I’m so used to being out of the house and living independently.
I do work full time so I have that escape, but I feel so tense when I’m home that I just don’t even want to be here. I feel terrible for my mom that she’s going through this without knowing why, and I just want to talk to my dad and let him know how it’s making me feel and how it’s most likely making her feel as well. I just don’t know how to handle this stress. I keep crying at night because it hurts to see my parents in this place in their relationship when I always thought they were perfectly fine.
Thank you for writing. As difficult as it may seem, what you should do is mind your own business. You are living at your parents’ home to save money, not to be an in-house therapist. Your parents are going through a rough spot. You can share your concern in a loving way once, but then it’s up to them to figure it out. You are not in the middle of their relationship unless you put yourself there. In fact, if you try to be a counselor, you may unintentionally reduce their motivation to work with each other.
My guess is that they both know why they are distant with each other. Maybe they think that if they don’t talk about it, it will blow over. Maybe they’ve been through this kind of situation before. Your mom seems to have a strategy for managing (not letting it affect her). Your dad may be also engaging in a strategy he’s used before. They haven’t yet decided if they want to get into some couples therapy to deal with whatever it is. They may not think it’s necessary or they may not be ready.
My best advice to you is to go about your own business and leave their relationship to them. You are sharing their home but you don’t really live there. You’ve been an adult on your own too long for that. Maintain a normal loving relationship with each of them but don’t talk about what is going on between them. Go to work. Go out with friends. Help out with household chores, of course, but work on maintaining an independent life even while you are dependent on your folks for a place to live for awhile.
I wish you well. Dr. Marie
My Dad Refuses to Talk to My Mom
Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker
Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
APA Reference Hartwell-Walker, D. (2019). My Dad Refuses to Talk to My Mom. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 23, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/10/16/my-dad-refuses-to-talk-to-my-mom/
Last updated: 14 Oct 2019 (Originally: 16 Oct 2019) Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 14 Oct 2019 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.