unixknight

Drawing the Line With Dad

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So I have a dilemma that's coming my way like a bullet train.

My father, who lives in Ecuador, had a stroke about a year ago.  He's recovered mostly, but hasn't fully regained the use of his left side, and lost 25% of his brain.  His personality is mostly intact but he's lost a lot of memories, and when he doesn't get his meds he can become disoriented and violent.

About a month ago, he came back to the U.S. to visit and was staying with friends.  He intended to move up to get a temporary room in this area after a while and he (and my stepmother) had made arrangements to get a room.  That fell through, and I was informed (not asked) that he would need to come stay with me, in my new house that I just bought.  Now, when I say I just bought it, I mean I had been living in it for about 3 weeks when I was informed that he would be coming to stay.  That meant I had to lay out a bunch more money to get the spare bedroom that isn't really a spare bedroom ready.  Had to buy a bed, get cable installed in that room, had to move everything that was in that room to another part of my basement, (which is another story which will probably trigger another thread) and generally deal with my dad who is a poor houseguest (no other family in the area will have him anymore) under the best circumstances, made worse by his diminished mental abilities.  All this when my wife is 2 months from having another baby and we're trying to get the house in order.

But that, aggravating as it is, is not what my request for advice is about.

Today, my dad happily came to me to tell me that he now has a driver's license again.  I am deeply concerned that he isn't really able to drive.  I'm also worried that he's going to expect to be able to use my car or my wife's.  (My dad doesn't ask for things, he expects them.)  I do not feel comfortable with him driving, and I definitely don't need the financial risks of having him drive our vehicles with our resources stretched so thin right now, having just moved.

I don't know what to do.  No matter which way I choose I'm either going to be a nervous wreck, or I'm going to feel guilty.

Edited by unixknight

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I had my mother in law decide to come live with us after she was fired from her job.  That stent lasted for a year and was pure misery.

Normally, I would tell you to lay down the law as it is your house and your dad is a guest.  I had to do this over and over with my mother in law, and she eventually got annoyed with me, got her life together, and moved out.  That said, seeing that your dad just had a devastating  stroke (and, unlike my mother in law, is presumably frail and older), you may need to be gentle.  Still lay down the law - it is your house and cars and your rules are what goes - just do it gently.  And if your dad disagrees, remind him he is a guest but is more than welcome to move somewhere else if he wants to play by his own rules.

Don't feel guilty -it is your life, house and cars.  Your dad should be extremely grateful you are willing to share at all.

Edited by DoctorLemon

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9 minutes ago, DoctorLemon said:

I had my mother in law decide to come live with us after she was fired from her job.  That stent lasted for a year and was pure misery.

Normally, I would tell you to lay down the law as it is your house and your dad is a guest.  I had to do this over and over with my mother in law, and she eventually got annoyed with me, got her life together, and moved out.  That said, seeing that your dad just had a devastating  stroke (and, unlike my mother in law, is presumably frail and older), you may need to be gentle.  Still lay down the law - it is your house and cars and your rules are what goes - just do it gently.  And if your dad disagrees, remind him he is a guest but is more than welcome to move somewhere else if he wants to play by his own rules.

Don't feel guilty -it is your life, house and cars.  Your dad should be extremely grateful you are willing to share at all.

Amen. 

I'm so sorry that it's happening to you bro. Because your dad had a stroke, you obviously want to be delicate, understanding and loving to him. If it was my dad, I'd be crushed and I'm not sure what I'd do. 

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Yay families!  God's best way to challenge and refine His children.

So easy to give advice here.  It's always easier to give advice than take it myself, so be warned, I'll probably offer something that I'm not actually doing myself.  

- Separate the valid guilt from the inappropriate guilt.  The valid guilt means you did something wrong and you need to change something.  The other guilt is not to be allowed to have any power over you. 

- Dad gets away with expecting things, because of all the people who just give him what he wants.  That won't change until his age and condition catches up with him, or until you decide to stop being one of those people.  That probably means a huge massive family-splitting melodramatic painful bunch of drama, with everyone offering opinions and choosing sides and all, followed by you needing to actually stick with your guns and not cave.  After all that, you'll find people either accept the new reality and accept you, or they don't.  Your job would be to take a good hard look at kicking out a mentally ill sr. citizen, and then diving into my first advice.  If you are honoring your father, if he has a place to stay and is safe, if your precious wife is respected and agrees with your decision, then all the guilt should be the inappropriate kind only.  Then you go do it.  Livestream it to Facebook, and we'll log in and hit the like button.  

- Just doing what dad wants and letting him live the rest of his years with you, may be a perfectly valid decision.  But your wife's desires and opinions should take precedence here - she matters more than your father's desires and opinions.  When the two conflict, your wife needs to win. 

Edited by NeuroTypical

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49 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

 If you are honoring your father, if he has a place to stay and is safe, if your precious wife is respected and agrees with your decision, then all the guilt should be the inappropriate kind only.  Then you go do it.  Livestream it to Facebook, and we'll log in and hit the like button.  

Unless your wife is a giraffe. I REFUSE to sucked in to another one of her live streams. And you should know she's probably not really pregnant and just faking it.

** If you've been confused since "giraffe", it's best just to skip this post.

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Unixknight, so sorry you are in this situation with your father.  He sounds very difficult.  

I agree with the others...boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.  You are very kind to have done what you have done so far....for example, in your situation, I might have cleared a guest room...but cable to the bedroom?  No way.  Nobody in my house has TV in the bedroom.  I say this so you will recognize that you have been very kind and generous already.

I share your concerns about your father driving.  AND about him using one of your vehicles to do it.  I think you need to put your foot down.  Yes, do it kindly and gently, but FIRMLY.  

Here's my thought about families....before my husband and I got married, we agreed that if our parents ever needed us they could come live with us.  After all, they raised us, right?  So taking care of an aging parent in return seems fair.  BUT remember when you were a kid living in your parent's home...they had rules and boundaries.  There is nothing wrong with you having some rules and boundaries of your own now.  

If your dad has the means to get his own car and insurance, that's his business.  BUT I see NO need for him to drive your car.  You have no reason to feel guilty about keeping to some reasonable boundaries!
 

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Thanks for the replies and advice, everybody.

I know your advice is sound, and it does coincide with what I feel is the right thing.  The barrier to it being "easy" is that, as I mentioned, my dad is the sort of person who doesn't react well to being disagreed with.  When he decides something is a good idea, then it's a good idea.  Period.  If you disagree, he will pursue the matter with you relentlessly until you give in from sheer exhaustion, if not from seeing the indisputable wisdom of his way.  (This is part of why my parents divorced.)  If I have to draw the line and set this boundary, it's not going to be a one-time incident.  It's going to be a long, continuous war with a series of battles.  I do not look forward to this. 

The other factor is, as I mentioned, that my dad is a terrible house guest.  He feels no hesitation at all in imposing himself on others (remember, his perspective is the only one that has any value).  My step mother has actually been a mitigating  factor in this, as she's at least aware of the inconvenience, and seems to rein him in somewhat.  She's an ally, but at the same time part of the problem.  My wife feels my step mother has intruded into her space and instead of at long last having a kitchen she can remodel herself according to her own tastes, now feels like she's sharing a kitchen with someone else.  The "spare room" they're occupying was intended for my adult kids when they come to visit, which will probably be exceedingly rare now, and if they do they'll be on the couch or sharing the bunk bed with my 8-year-old.  My stepmother insists on cooking my dad's meals since she's controlling what he eats, which at lest means we're not expected to feed him. 

All of this is amplified by, as I mentioned, the fact that we  just bought this house and we don't feel like it's ours.  Many of my plans for upgrades and improvements are on hold, and I don't know for how long.  Maybe I'd feel better about it if I felt I had a choice, but I don't. 

I've come to realize that buying a house is like hitting the lottery.  The moment people find out about it, they descend upon you wanting to benefit from it too.  I had someone asking to stay with us before we even signed the paperwork.  I managed to avoid that one, but I'm still stuck storing his stuff.  (But that's another story)

Sorry to vent like this.  I know most of that isn't directly relevant to the car question, I just like having people who "get it" to vent to.  My Bishop got to hear all about this on Sunday, too.  :rolleyes:

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2 minutes ago, unixknight said:

)

Sorry to vent like this.  I know most of that isn't directly relevant to the car question, I just like having people who "get it" to vent to.  My Bishop got to hear all about this on Sunday, too.  :rolleyes:

Dude, I don't think you ever have to apologize for venting here. 

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I'm so sorry Unix, it sounds like a difficult situation.  My mom stayed with us for a week before my first child was born -- it was a disaster.  My mother-in-law begged us to come live with her for awhile when my husband got laid off.  We stayed with her for a couple weeks and it ruined our relationship.  Seriously....she called my children "mindless robots"....

I hope things go better with your dad and step-mom, but it sounds like them getting mad and moving out could be the best case scenario.

Oh, and feel free to vent here!  We get it!

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2 hours ago, unixknight said:

Thanks for the replies and advice, everybody.

I know your advice is sound, and it does coincide with what I feel is the right thing.  The barrier to it being "easy" is that, as I mentioned, my dad is the sort of person who doesn't react well to being disagreed with.  When he decides something is a good idea, then it's a good idea.  Period.  If you disagree, he will pursue the matter with you relentlessly until you give in from sheer exhaustion, if not from seeing the indisputable wisdom of his way.  (This is part of why my parents divorced.)  If I have to draw the line and set this boundary, it's not going to be a one-time incident.  It's going to be a long, continuous war with a series of battles.  I do not look forward to this. 

The other factor is, as I mentioned, that my dad is a terrible house guest.  He feels no hesitation at all in imposing himself on others (remember, his perspective is the only one that has any value).  My step mother has actually been a mitigating  factor in this, as she's at least aware of the inconvenience, and seems to rein him in somewhat.  She's an ally, but at the same time part of the problem.  My wife feels my step mother has intruded into her space and instead of at long last having a kitchen she can remodel herself according to her own tastes, now feels like she's sharing a kitchen with someone else.  The "spare room" they're occupying was intended for my adult kids when they come to visit, which will probably be exceedingly rare now, and if they do they'll be on the couch or sharing the bunk bed with my 8-year-old.  My stepmother insists on cooking my dad's meals since she's controlling what he eats, which at lest means we're not expected to feed him. 

All of this is amplified by, as I mentioned, the fact that we  just bought this house and we don't feel like it's ours.  Many of my plans for upgrades and improvements are on hold, and I don't know for how long.  Maybe I'd feel better about it if I felt I had a choice, but I don't. 

I've come to realize that buying a house is like hitting the lottery.  The moment people find out about it, they descend upon you wanting to benefit from it too.  I had someone asking to stay with us before we even signed the paperwork.  I managed to avoid that one, but I'm still stuck storing his stuff.  (But that's another story)

Sorry to vent like this.  I know most of that isn't directly relevant to the car question, I just like having people who "get it" to vent to.  My Bishop got to hear all about this on Sunday, too.  :rolleyes:

From reading the above, maybe you should consider helping your father transition into a nearby apartment, particularly if you have a stepmother living with you.  Your situation sounds just like the situation with my mother-in-law (minus the health problems).  For me, the problems did not end until my mother in law finally got tired of clashing with me, got a job, and moved out.  

Are your father and stepmother bringing in any social security?  Perhaps he can transition to an apartment nearby?  Remember, many, many people out there survive on $1,000 per month or less.  If ends are not quite meeting, perhaps you could chip in a couple hundred a month, if possible?  (I had to do this with my mother in law when she first moved out because the money was not quite there for her apartment.  I called it the "freedom tax" and happily paid every month).

If your father moving into an apartment is not going to work, what about converting a garage, or maybe putting a used RV in the backyard for your father to live in?  At least then, your father is not in your physical space and you have your own space.  The ultimate plan could be to build a separate room or wing outside of your house, with its own entrance, where your father could stay in an area physically separate from your home. (think: Suburban Commando, where Hulk Hogan is living).  What about installing a tiny house in your back yard?  These can be surprisingly cheap and nice, particularly if you are willing to do some of the building yourself.  I guarantee, you will feel less tension if your father is living in different quarters than you (even if he is still living on the same property).

Do you have any siblings?  If so, perhaps they can help shoulder the burden.  My mom is proudly independent, but we have talked, and when she gets too old to live alone, me and my two brothers are going to have her live at each of our houses, two months at a time.  That way, she can see all of her grandchildren and not overstay her welcome!  

At very, very least, if your father is just camping at your house indefinitely and has absolutely no options, if he is getting social security, you should charge him rent.  That way, he is contributing to something and is not totally freeloading, and you derive at least some benefit from his presence.

Finally, set rules regarding privacy and boundaries and DO NOT BACK DOWN.  YOU are the alpha male in your own house, not your father.  Do not let yourself revert to being a child in your own home.  If you have to confront your father every day because he is not respecting your authority and your rules, do so.  He will eventually get the message and either submit, or move out (my mother in law chose the latter).  It is difficult and unnatural, but very important when confronting a belligerent parent who wants to invade your life.  This goes DOUBLE if you have young children in the house.  Your first responsibility is to your wife and children.  You need to make it clear that, if you think for a second that Dad's presence is interfering with the well being of your wife and children, he will have to find another living arrangement.

I know the above advice sounds harsh, and fortunately it is not necessary most of the time when a parent moves in.  However, having experienced a belligerent mother in law invade my house, I found that sometimes you do have to stand up to people and forcefully show them they cannot do anything they want.  I am sorry, but this is reality.

Edited by DoctorLemon

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I have to start this post with a caveat... I'm Filipino.  We have a completely different culture when it comes to families.  For example, I and my siblings would have a cow if my parents decide to stay with friends or even their own apartment at their age (and health issues) while we're alive... we would consider it an insult!  My parents, of course, wouldn't dream of staying with friends or their own apartment instead of with their own children, so it all works out.  That's just the way it is in Filipino culture.  This kind of relationship takes a lifetime of cultivation.

This, of course, is not the way American families and American culture is because of the uniquely American spirit of Independence.  But, that said, I think this particular situation could benefit from an injection of Filipino-style multi-generational load-sharing.  If it's going to cause so much havoc to have your parents live with you (especially due to the financial strain), then it might be a good idea to consider paying for an assisted-living apartment for them to rent.  Now, because you're financially outlaying for their care, you can tell your parents that you want them to give you power of attorney for their SS/Medicare or some retirement plan that they have so you can start managing their finances to hopefully have their resources used for their own care.  You are now in the case where the son becomes the parent taking care of the elderly... so, a shift in power is necessary.  This way, you can have some semblance of control while you help your parents through the rest of their lives.  In Filipino families, this is automatic - the parents, when they shift over from having the children live with them to having them live with their children, automatically hand over their resources/decision-making/power to the children.

As far as juggling starting your own family while taking care of your elderly parents, this actually is a good thing.  This is a great way to start your children off on the kind of relationship where when you get old and sickly they'll want you to stay with them.  They see you doing it to your parents, so it becomes a normal thing to do.  In my own family, my parents refused to stay with me.  They are staying mostly with my nurse sister in Texas and then with my doctor brother in the Philippines.  They, of course, have this planned when we were still little kids.  So, my kids are growing up without that 3-generational-house experience.  So, what my husband did, he went and asked these elderly Filipino couple in our ward to live with us and be our kids' "adopted grandparents".  They have a son that lives here but his wife refused to have them stay with them because they're Mormon and their house is Catholic.  So, the son rented an apartment for them.  My husband thought, there's no difference between staying in an apartment or staying at my house as far as his son is concerned - and he can save a lot of money since he won't have to pay for rent or utilities!  So, it worked out perfectly.

Anyway, that's just my 2 cents and it may be worth less than that because of this cultural difference.

 

Edited by anatess2

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Once again, I appreciate the advice and feedback, everybody.

I don't know how long my dad plans to be in my basement but I do know he eventually plans to return to Ecuador.  One of the reasons he came back to the U.S. was to get his immigration issues straightened out so that he can come and go freely.  (He's going for citizenship.)  So some sort of permanent solution, whether it's separate housing on my property or an assisted living situation aren't the way to go here.  Also, my financial resources are stretched tight as a drum.  Moving house costs a lot of money and I don't have much contingency spending left. 

So yeah, the situation isn't permanent but I also don't know how long it will be.  I intend to try to talk to my stepmother in private at some point to see what she has in mind, since she seems to be making these kinds of decisions.  When they originally came in, she said 2 months but I don't know whether that's a reliable estimate now.

So eventually, this issue will solve itself.  It's the car situation that I really needed advice on, and I appreciate the input.  I've decided that I will not allow my dad to drive my car or my wife's.  I'll tell him as respectfully as possible, but I won't be apologetic about it and I won't hem and haw over it.  If I do, that will be seen as a sign of a lack of resolve and my dad responds to that like a shark smelling blood in the water.

I don't mean to characterize my dad as a bad guy.  He isn't a bad guy at all.  He's just utterly clueless about how his actions impact others and he can't stand to lose face enough to acknowledge it even if it's made clear.  He doesn't mean to cause problems for people, he just refuses to see when he's doing so.

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I have full confidence that you'll do the right thing for you, your father, and your family. 

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53 minutes ago, unixknight said:

I don't mean to characterize my dad as a bad guy.  He isn't a bad guy at all.  He's just utterly clueless about how his actions impact others and he can't stand to lose face enough to acknowledge it even if it's made clear.  He doesn't mean to cause problems for people, he just refuses to see when he's doing so.

I totally get that.  At the end of the day, the only way to stop an unstoppable force, is with an immovable object.  With gumption (and a wife whose comfort and happiness you are defending), you can be that immovable object.  

[The following represents a hypothetical - no idea what it would really look like.]  You could do it in the initial confrontation.  You could do it 93 minutes later as the confrontation continues.  You could do it as you calmly pick up the phone to call the cops because he won't leave and he's trespassing.  You could do it as the rest of the family, (including your wife temporarily), loses the gumption and begins taking his side.  You could do it the following week as the phone calls and door knocks won't stop.  Because after there is no doubt left in anybody's mind that you, for the first time in anyone's memory, stood up successfully to dad, they'll finally accept it.  Dad may even come to respect you for your stand.  

Or, it might just take firmness, and then firmness again.  Basically, the immovable object only needs to be immovable as long as the unstoppable force is pointed at it.  Afterwords everyone can relax.

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On 4/13/2017 at 10:59 PM, Backroads said:

Does he want to buy my junker car? (half kidding).

Hehe if we weren't in Maryland...

So here's an update.  My cousin apparently invited my dad and stepmother to stay with her family for 3 weeks.  As of last night, they're staying in her house.  Now, I don't know if this was a true invitation of if my stepmother pulled some strings.  Apparently the guest room is very cold (it's in my basement) and my father has always been very sensitive to cold...  even for an Ecuadorian.  I think, if the cold is what initiated this, they're hoping that by the time they come back, it'll be warmer.  (Joke's on you, dad.  my housing development is built on clay.  I'm pretty sure this basement stays cool year-round.)

It's also possible that they picked up on the uncomfortable vibe from my wife and me.  I'll feel bad if that's the case, but I don't know that I could have done better.

So I get a reprieve from some of the drama.  Still can't do the upgrades and renovations I want to do, but I'll take what I can get.

Edited by unixknight

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On 4/12/2017 at 1:30 PM, unixknight said:

So I have a dilemma that's coming my way like a bullet train.

My father, who lives in Ecuador, had a stroke about a year ago.  He's recovered mostly, but hasn't fully regained the use of his left side, and lost 25% of his brain.  His personality is mostly intact but he's lost a lot of memories, and when he doesn't get his meds he can become disoriented and violent.

About a month ago, he came back to the U.S. to visit and was staying with friends.  He intended to move up to get a temporary room in this area after a while and he (and my stepmother) had made arrangements to get a room.  That fell through, and I was informed (not asked) that he would need to come stay with me, in my new house that I just bought.  Now, when I say I just bought it, I mean I had been living in it for about 3 weeks when I was informed that he would be coming to stay.  That meant I had to lay out a bunch more money to get the spare bedroom that isn't really a spare bedroom ready.  Had to buy a bed, get cable installed in that room, had to move everything that was in that room to another part of my basement, (which is another story which will probably trigger another thread) and generally deal with my dad who is a poor houseguest (no other family in the area will have him anymore) under the best circumstances, made worse by his diminished mental abilities.  All this when my wife is 2 months from having another baby and we're trying to get the house in order.

But that, aggravating as it is, is not what my request for advice is about.

Today, my dad happily came to me to tell me that he now has a driver's license again.  I am deeply concerned that he isn't really able to drive.  I'm also worried that he's going to expect to be able to use my car or my wife's.  (My dad doesn't ask for things, he expects them.)  I do not feel comfortable with him driving, and I definitely don't need the financial risks of having him drive our vehicles with our resources stretched so thin right now, having just moved.

I don't know what to do.  No matter which way I choose I'm either going to be a nervous wreck, or I'm going to feel guilty.

I've never been afraid I offending people, even family when it comes to making hard decisions like this. Though I haven't needed to yet (been close a few times), I am always prepared to speak in correspondence to what needs to be. In your situation, I would lay down the law ASAP. Show love and understanding, but explain to him that in your home he will not be expecting things.

I don't know what kind of culture you had, have or want, but I would create a culture that is not patriarchal, but rather based on stewardship. It is your home and you are in charge. I would go as far to say that this is doctrinal as well and God will have your back the whole way.

I believe the counsel in gen 2:24, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother", is teaching that we are to go off and create for ourselves, in a sense, our own kingdoms separate from our parents in finances, decision making, child raising and home building.

I'm not saying cut all ties, family is essential to exaltation, but so is agency and the ability to lead 

Edited by Fether

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What a good son you are. I feel that you genuinely care for your father but I strongly believe that at this point it is best to say no to your dad. You might feel guilty at first but it is what is best for all of you and he is at risk of accidents given his condition. I suggest that you explain carefully to your dad why you need to decline his request to drive a car or SUV, who know's maybe he'll understand.

Edited by Strongerie

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1 hour ago, unixknight said:

 but it still looms on the horizon.

Been thinking and praying for you. 

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So update.

One of the reasons for my dad's trip was to get surgery on his throat, where a benign tumor makes it hard to talk a lot.  It seems my stepmother located a hospital near some of her family where the surgery can be done and they even provide transportation for the patient, so after being back in my house for a couple weeks, they headed off to stay there.  The plan is for them to have the surgery, recover there, and then work on the citizenship thing.  Date to return to Ecuador is the end of October.

So at some point, and I don't know when, they mean to come back to my basement. 

As for the car thing... My dad wanted me to pressure my middle son (who is 21) to give him the car to drive.  (My son has the car that was my dad's when he was still living here in the U.S. full time.)  Needless to say I didn't do so.  I also warned my son about this effort and instructed him to keep that car at all costs and I told him why.  Fortunately it didn't come to a head, as it seems my stepmother, always the mitigating factor, talked my dad out of trying to drive.

For the moment. 

So again, the situation is stable but not guaranteed.  We'll see.

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Given your dad's state of health, and significantly diminished brain capacity, I think you have a responsibility to other road users not to let him drive. I hope it's not too hard to keep a set of car keys hidden or out of reach of an elderly, ill man?

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On 4/13/2017 at 11:51 AM, unixknight said:

 One of the reasons he came back to the U.S. was to get his immigration issues straightened out so that he can come and go freely.  (He's going for citizenship.) 

...

So eventually, this issue will solve itself.  It's the car situation that I really needed advice on, and I appreciate the input.  I've decided that I will not allow my dad to drive my car or my wife's.  I'll tell him as respectfully as possible, but I won't be apologetic about it and I won't hem and haw over it.  If I do, that will be seen as a sign of a lack of resolve and my dad responds to that like a shark smelling blood in the water.

I don't mean to characterize my dad as a bad guy.  He isn't a bad guy at all.  He's just utterly clueless about how his actions impact others and he can't stand to lose face enough to acknowledge it even if it's made clear.  

Good, because that's the part I can help with. He's not listed as a driver on your insurance. If someone rear ends him while driving, it could throw a wrench in his citizenship process to be driving while uninsured. It would be too much of a financial burden to add him as a driver, should he suggest that. (I don't know how true those last two points are, but I'm sure you can make them true enough for an argument's sake.)

Don't be afraid to calmly leave the room during an argument or heated discussion if it becomes clear that either one of you is too upset to listen to reason and/or the Spirit. Walk around the block, take a shower, do something mindless for ten minutes and see if the conversation is worth coming back to. Right or wrong, that's something I do. As I once told my rage filled sister while she was living with me: I will not allow contention into my home. Make that scripture the first vinyl lettering you add to the decor in your new home.

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