dad's midlife crisis and daughter's un-knowningness.

by J.
(Canada)

My dad recently went through a very traumatic divorce, he was divorced by a woman he was with for 15 years, she is 20 years younger and I suppose felt like my dad wasn't meeting her needs anymore. She left after cheating on him numerous times. The whole break up was very ugly and a lot of pain was experienced. It's only been five months and I know that healing takes time ,but I feel like the stress may have sparked a mid-life crisis. He's changed a lot in the last little while, he's been seeing lots of younger woman and chatting with woman on the internet, it seems like he can never sit still, he's been in fights ( which is not like him at all ) , he's losing friends , he seems more cynical and angry. I guess I just feel overwhelmed. Since my dad's divorce he's been sharing all this with me, I've become one of his only friends ,and on one hand I want to be there for him and then on the other hand I feel like I shouldn't have to hold my dad up all the time ! It's just a hard thing to witness. I've always looked up to my dad to be the stable "know it all" sort of guy and now he's falling apart in so many ways. I want to be compassionate but I also feel like my own life is being consumed by all of his problems.

What's the appropriate thing to do this situation? Should I tell him how I feel? How do you help someone who might be going through a mid life crisis?

Noel's response

You do not mention your age, but I am guessing you are more than 15 years old. No matter what age, it is definitely not your job to care-take your dad when he is neither very aged, nor disabled. He is an adult.

I suggest you tell him, with kindness and using 'I statements', how you feel about him depending on you so much, and that you don't want to be his confidant. You might let him know you think he might be in a midlife transition (I would not use the words 'midlife crisis' as that could make him defensive). You could suggest he look at this website.

You might also suggest he take a workshop for people who have gone through divorce (look google for one near you). As you point out, his divorce has been very stressful, and divorce recovery programs are intended to help people deal with the pain of their divorce, and move on with their lives.

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