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11 Apr 2006

Dear CS

Me again, I know this will be way too long, but I just need to get this off my chest and hopefully get some good advice.

I gave up quite a lot to move to the Platteland and start a business with my husband and my father. When I took the decision to do so, my mom and dad were still happily married and we were of the opinion that we were starting a nice little family business. Half way through, mom and dad got divorced, due to ugly reasons, she is an alcoholic who gets abusive when drunk, and he had an affair.

We went through hell, but we stood by them. Now, my dad has a girlfriend, the same woman that he had the affair with, and all of a sudden we cannot seem to stop arguing. Whenever the 2 of us are together, he screams and shouts and I end up crying. I am then told to stop balling my eyes out. The biggest problem here is that the new girlfriend is merely 2 years my senior and all of a sudden she (according to him) knows everything as she has suffered, while I had a good and easy life he is the dad, I am the kid, despite the fact that she is my age, she gets treated with more respect than me. Yeah right, easy life with an abusive alcoholic and an adulterer as role models.

To make matters worse, he cannot understand that while I welcome her into his life, I cannot apply the same principles to our business and I will not have her become part of the business too. What happens if they break up or he dies and I am left with his baggage. All of a sudden I am unsure about my future, I am investing lots of time and money here and I am losing my dad. We used to be very close. I am also taking out most of this on my poor long suffering husband, he deserves better than this, and I feel responsible for getting us into this mess. I am investing his money in this as well!

I feel we should keep business matters separate and not involve his new girlfriend into our lives, we should stop getting so emotional and get on with business as usual. A couple of years down the line I might end up loving this woman and be willing to give her a chance business wise, but for now, why make such a fuss about it! He also wants to leave some of this behind to her one day as a token of his appreciation, but meanwhile, I am the one working my butt off!

I am constantly nervous, I am nauseous all the time, and all of this is really taking its toll on me. What gets me most is that both mom and dad keep telling me how they are getting on with their lives, and they just expect me to fall into step with them, nobody has given me a chance to say how I feel and how angry I am at both of them. The way they are carrying on, they were the only ones affected by the divorce and I must just keep on breathing, smiling and never showing any emotion. I have lost 3 kg’s in the last month and I am skinny to start off with!

My husband feels we should call it a day, pack up and leave and go and build a life elsewhere, as my dad is always right, and we are always wrong. How can we get through to him and let him know we are not 6 years old, but educated adults who also know a thing or two about the business. We cannot get through to him as he is just always so busy with his new little family!

Please give me some advice on how to deal with this grumpy old man
Answer 404 views

01 Jan 0001

Hello Holly,
Family businesses are always fraught and risky undertakings, and I gather that they tend to last less long than ordinary businesses. One of the reasons is that it is hard to talk sensible business issues when there are so many emotional issues involved. I would hesitate to invest any more money in the business while the future is so uncertain. Could your Dad afford to buy out your and your husband's interests and investment in the business, and take it over, letting you two afford to move away and become independent ? You do need to have a joint meeting wih him, as calmly as possible, and explain the realities, making it clear that you are a pair of well-educated adults, who cannot accept investing time or money in a business where you are not respected.
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