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When Dad And Work Deadlines Clash

After my divorce, I moved in with my widowed father. The house now belongs to me. It is in my name, all notarized with my father, my brother and me. In the notarized document, of course, my father has the right to live in the house until he dies.

He has been difficult to live with at times… as I’m sure we have been for him as well. I work for myself… and a client graciously allowed me to use some of their office space. They don’t ask for rent or money for Internet. I am very grateful. At the beginning of the year, they moved their offices to another building. They made a space for me as well. However, there isn’t as much privacy or access to conference rooms, etc. Still, I remain grateful… after all, it is completely free. But when I want to work in a team, it isn’t anywhere near as convenient as the old space was. I am working on an important project with a colleague. We have tried to work in the office space… but we feel we are too disruptive to the other people… we have tried to use the common areas… too noisy. We have tried working in restaurants. It’s not very efficient. Today, we had a lot of work to do. It was not possible to work at his place, as he has family visiting from out of town. So, we decided to work at my house. My father was upset enough when I said a colleague was coming to the house to work. He couldn’t understand why I have an office in town, yet we wouldn’t be using it. I tried to explain. I have also set up a small room in the house to act as a home office. But for the moment, there is only small desk. If I had a bigger desk or two desks… we could have worked in that office and closed the door. Instead, we used the kitchen… big kitchen table.

He arrived at around 2:30-2:40 in the afternoon. We were making good progress. Didn’t want to break the rhythm. At one point, we realized it was getting on… it was close to 5:30. We were finishing up when I could hear my father muttering and sighing in his room… not super loud… but certainly loud enough for anyone to hear. My colleague left at 6. My father came storming into the kitchen, telling me I was NEVER to do that again. That it was stupid… he couldn’t believe it… on and on. I said… wait a minute, it may happen again. I need to work… I often need to work in a team, and until I can afford my own office space… or have 2 desks in the small room… it might just happen again. Especially on an important project. He was livid. It was most certainly not going to happen again… I was NEVER to do it again while he was living in the house. I said, perhaps we should just calm down and agree to disagree for the moment. I don’t want to say… I will do what I think is necessary because this is now MY house… and I will do what I need to to earn my living properly. I don’t want to go there with my dad… because he has been very generous to me… and it may not sound that way by this story… but he is a generous man who has alway helped his family.

But I don’t know how to deal with outbursts like this. I can appreciate that he may have found it difficult this afternoon… even though it was only for just over 3 hours, in one room. But his routine was disrupted and I know that is tough for older people. But he always (in this and other situations) immediately goes ballistic. The stress is very hard to deal with… because I always feel like I can’t do what I need to do in my own home. This situation is just one among many. And for him there is no middle ground. Although I’m sure that from his perspective, he feels like he has made so many compromises and he’s living with it… But there is not discussion around this… it is simply no discussion… trying to keep a balance… and then craziness. I’m not sure how to handle it, because I respect my father and all that he has done… but I also need to live my life!! 0423-14

I reread and reread this submission and I keep coming back to the same conclusions.   You have bent over backwards to not impose on the employees at the office and your colleague’s visiting house guests but apparently your generous father must bend to accommodate you bringing work into the common areas of what was once his house.   And yes, I did note that you twice referred to your father’s former house as now being yours which is a rather interesting perspective for you to have considering that where you are now is directly the result of your generous father taking you into his home after your divorce.  There is something niggling in my mind that wonders if Dad had known he’d be viewed as an annoying guest in his own home whether he would have agreed to sign over the ownership of the house.

And I don’t buy it that you lack a second desk in the home office and therefore  must use the common living area of the home to conduct your business.   I see desks for sale on Facebook neighborhood sale groups all the time and Craigslist.org is full of inexpensive desks.   Even a 6 foot folding table is less than $50.00 from Samsclub.com.     You really cannot afford a $50.00 table?

It appears you signed on to care for an elderly parent in exchange for owning the house.   Welcome to the realities of living with aged parents who don’t deal with changes to their routine and may be in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimers.    You have a hard choice ahead of you because I don’t think running a business and caring for an aged parent in the same space is conducive to the success of either.   Your submission almost had the feel of you setting up the justifications to remove Dad from the home so that your ability to conduct business was not further impaired.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lisa April 29, 2014, 3:52 pm

    And it’s really difficult to read this post….which feels like a neverending run-on sentence….because the LW constantly uses “dot-dot-dot” instead of breaking his thoughts into actual sentences.

    Rent a motel room for the afternoon. Problem solved.

    • The Elf April 30, 2014, 7:24 am

      Eh, that might create more problems than it resolves.

  • Jo Bleakley April 29, 2014, 4:43 pm

    Sorry, but have people missed the TWO seperate posts where the OP came back and stated that she PAID for the house? It wasn’t signed over and she doesn’t just ‘own it on paper.’ She stated on two seperate occasions that she paid cold hard cash for it. Which changes things considerably for me. Dad owes HER an apology, not the other way around.

    • Ava April 30, 2014, 12:32 pm

      I have re read the story and I do not see where it says anywhere that money was exchanged for the house. Just that dad signed it over to OP and brother. And no where in the story does OP identify gender. Are you reading the same story?
      “After my divorce, I moved in with my widowed father. The house now belongs to me. It is in my name, all notarized with my father, my brother and me. In the notarized document, of course, my father has the right to live in the house until he dies.”

      • Ava April 30, 2014, 12:33 pm

        Never mind. I get what you are saying now. I didn’t read the older responses. So I was confused.

  • JO April 29, 2014, 5:36 pm

    A lot of differing opinions here – including my own. @heather, I’m glad you’ve pointed out that many comments here are based on assumptions, not things you stated in your post. Hopefully, you can look at your post now and see how some of those things seemed implied. I really think now, especially since younstated this had just happened, you were writing while still flustered and thrown from the whole situation, which may have slipped into your writing tone. Please remember, we are all neutral parties here, with no knowledge of the situation aside from what you offered. Therefore we must try to fill in the holes based on our own experiences.

  • Rosie April 29, 2014, 5:51 pm

    I have read the OP’s comments, and it doesn’t sound as though she means any harm or to cause discord. Having said that, though, she does need to make other arrangements going forward and not conduct business in the house, however rarely that might be. Elderly people do not generally tolerate very well disruptions in their routines, and it does cause them discomfort. I don’t see where anyone has commented on this, but that time period might well have been when her dad needs to rest or nap. Since this incident seems to have caused her father to be upset, the kind thing to do would be to figure out another way to meet clients other than at the house. This is his home also, and his needs should be respected more than the occasional need to conduct a meeting. Presumably, the OP is intelligent enough to be able to research other venues to meet at that are low or no cost. They can be found, and will result in a win-win situation for all concerned!

  • LisaB April 29, 2014, 5:55 pm

    The OP could also look into coworking spaces. They are usually very inexpensive; the ones in my city charge as little as $50 for a desk and all the coffee you can drink, and they often have a conference room that can be reserved for meetings or group work.

    Or look on Craigslist under Housing—Office & Commercial for shared offices or low-cost small offices.

  • BarensMom April 29, 2014, 6:08 pm

    It seems that all of you have missed the point the OP made at least twice: She bought the house from her father, albeit at a discounted price. Just saying.

  • Laura W April 29, 2014, 6:35 pm

    I have noticed a trend lately on Ehell that disturbs me. This thread is one more example. People read things into the OP and comment on them, criticizing the OP for things he/she never said. Many commentors have stated that the OP’s father gave her the house. She never said that. She very graciously accepted the criticism at first. However, she has come back twice to tell us that she paid for the house. She admits she got a good deal, as would be expected, since her father benefits also. I think the criticism in many of the comments is very harsh, and assumptions are being made that are not reflected in her post. As I have said, this kind of harsh criticism without basis in fact seems to be happening with increasing frequency. I love this site because people are usually civil to one another, but I wonder if this isn’t changing for the worse.

  • Dira April 29, 2014, 6:39 pm

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of OP taking over the kitchen, Father’s ‘ballistic’ behaviour and refusal to engage in discussion is hardly justified. I think both their lives would go better if he got his head around the fact that his offspring is sharing his house as an equal adult, not a dependent child, and as such he needs to be willing to negotiate ground rules rather than giving orders.

    • JJ April 30, 2014, 1:20 pm

      Ding ding ding, we have a winner. OP’s father threw a temper tantrum more befitting of a five-year-old* than a grown man over what can’t really be described as more than an inconvenience (regardless of whether you agree or disagree that it was okay for her to use a common space for a few hours). It’s been my experience that delivering ultimatums rarely has a good outcome. Screaming at OP that “this will never happen again!!!!!” was rude and immature, and only put her on the defensive. She may be HIS child, but she is not A child anymore, and I think it can be difficult for parents to grasp that sometimes.

      *A lot of posters have bent over backwards trying to give the father the benefit of the doubt here and citing all sorts of reasons or excuses (dementia, etc.) for his behavior. Obviously, it’s hard to tell when we’re only getting snippets of a situation, but I don’t see why people are so hastily jumping to conclusions that benefit the father and castigate the OP. Sure, dementia or other age-related afflictions could be playing a role here, but it’s just as possible that OP’s father is just a cranky person with control issues regarding his adult child.

  • Kathryn April 29, 2014, 7:19 pm

    It would be polite if everyone could read through the comments before posting. Heather (OP) has stated at least 2 times that she PURCHASED this home from her father. She is not living in it for free. As such, she likely has a mortgage to pay as well as other expenses for HER home which SHE owns because she BOUGHT IT. And as such, needs to be able to work to be able to pay for these things.

    I am so exasperated reading the level of judgement and assumption based on nothing. It’s an etiquette site; isn’t the polite thing to do to read and comprehend the conflict, especially as it is being articulated upon further, before jumping to ugly conclusions? Doesn’t politeness mean not assuming the worst if you can help it?

  • Compelled to Respond April 29, 2014, 8:43 pm

    I think many of the posters missed the fact that the OP purchased the home from her father – he didn’t just sign it over to her. He was aware of her need for working space when she moved in and they need to work out a compromise. As to utilizing a room at the library – not all libraries have space for public use and with budget reductions, not all libraries are open during the day or every day.

    It is hard working with your parents in the same house. Give the OP some slack. Her father may think they she isn’t working if she doesn’t go to an office.

  • Cat April 29, 2014, 8:48 pm

    I think most of the posters missed the fact that you paid for the house and that it was not a gift or an exchange for taking care of Dad. That makes a difference to many people.
    The bottom line is that, if Dad is in his right mind, the two of you should have sat down together and reviewed the options beforehand. Dad feels it is a huge inconveniece to him for you to work in the home you share. You feel that you have to work; and it is the safest and quietess place for you to get your work accomplished. If you were in college and had a study group, you’d have the same set-up, most likely.

    Maybe Dad can have some place to go and do something he enjoys, and let you do your work in his absence. Perhaps you can explore other options like the library or renting an office space for a few hours. If you can reason together, accept that you each have an agenda in this, and seek a mutually agreeable solution, you will both be much happier.

  • Rosie B. April 29, 2014, 9:26 pm

    Legally speaking, OP does have the right to do what she wants with the house since she paid for it and owns it. However, she shares the house with her father (who she said is usually very kind and generous to her), and part of sharing a home with someone is learning to get along with one another–regardless of who legally owns the house. If her father “has the right to live in the house until he dies”, then sacrifices must be made on both ends. To me, it seems unfair that the father wouldn’t allow his adult daughter to hold work-related meetings in her own home, but was that really what he was mad about? Is it possible that the OP hadn’t informed him there would be guests coming over, or that the father had planned on eating dinner or taking a nap or something during the time the meeting was taking place? Perhaps the OP could sit down and talk with her father about why exactly he’s so opposed to her having work meetings in the kitchen and they could figure out a plan from there. (In the meantime I’d suggest checking Craigslist or consignment stores for a second desk, assuming there is space for one in the office.)

  • Angel April 29, 2014, 9:31 pm

    I think your dad overreacted a little bit. That being said though, what exactly is to stop you from heading over to one of those warehouse clubs and picking up a folding table for your home office–this way you can conduct your business without plopping yourself down in the middle of the house–often where a kitchen is located.

    Even though the house is technically yours, your dad still has a right to be there–just as much right as you do in fact, and you need to compromise. And unfortunately if disrupting his routine upsets him this much you need to consider this next time you need to work from home with a colleague. Worse comes to worse the two of you split a motel room for a few hours–if it’s only an occasional thing, it should not be that big of a deal.

  • Angela April 29, 2014, 10:21 pm

    I can easily imagine this case with my 80+ year old stepdad, who can be a very lovely man. But he gets very cranky if he’s not in control of the situation at home. He also is a little funny about who comes into the house. We gifted my mom several times with some cleaning from the person who cleans our own home. Although he didn’t outwardly object, it was rather clear that he really didn’t like her being there. I wonder if similar issues are up with OP’s dad.

  • missminute April 29, 2014, 10:28 pm

    The OP has been quite defensive and I don’t want to cast aspersions but I wonder if she did in fact buy the house or if she’s back-peddling because she’s come across quite badly. Reading between the lines, it does feel that her father is a difficult man prone to tantrums, and that she wants an excuse to kick him out.

    • Rap April 30, 2014, 11:48 am

      Well, she’s being accused of forcing her dad out of his home based on nothing. Some people are suggesting she’s lying about buying the house. She’s been called a whole of things that aren’t very nice. There are even people chastising her for forcing her dad into his room and not allowing him out for four hours even tho that doesn’t appear in the origanal post. Neither does any suggestion that she wants to force her dad out. There’s no real suggestion of dementia on dad’s part – take it from me, some parents are *mean* and *have tempers* and they had those traits in their twenties but the OP is getting publically whipped for stealing her poor dementia addled dad’s house and cruelly throwing him to the streets. I can see why she might feel a little defensive.

  • NostalgicGal April 29, 2014, 11:05 pm

    Working at home is not always a god given right; lordie knows I’ve had office and studio space IN my home more than once.

    Dad, even though he sold the house (S-O-L-D it) to his child; it still feels like his; his home has been his castle for so long, and a) child has grown up, b) child is now the houseowner c) child has to bring work HOME?????

    Fix the office space at home pronto; even if it’s a card table for a second desk. OP it may be your house now but it’s still his house too. If you have office space then use it, when you’re home.

    If the office space at out-of-home location isn’t suitable; then start sourcing other things to do; as others have said there are flex places and I even had one where I time where I rented; it gave me a literal closet with a desk in it; but a shared reception area, receptionist, ’employee lounge with kitchenette’ and a couple of meeting rooms. Sharon our receptionist smiled at everyone, kept the mail sorted, would sign for stuff, answer the ‘in’ line and take messages for those of us that didn’t have phone service (extra to have one of the multiline phones with your own extension); and we had fax, copier and such available. If Sharon had to do extra for one of us ‘closet people’ (used with a smile) then we were billed extra; but it was reasonable. If you needed the meeting room you checked schedule with Sharon and could book or block time… or use flex (nobody else had it booked, help self, and clear out at 4 as someone has it booked…)

    When I had office and studio at home, the hardest part was teaching everyone else INCLUDING my spouse that just because I was home, it didn’t mean I didn’t have to WORK. I sat down at the desk or the workbench, I had to put in my time too, just that my commute was 11 steps into the basement. That could be part of the OP’s dad’s issue; it just doesn’t make sense; that an hour worked is an hour worked no matter where it happens. Work is done at work and you are NOT at work when you’re at home….

  • Rebecca April 30, 2014, 12:44 am

    Caring for an aging parent gets more and more difficult, rather than easier and easier. I think Dad was being unreasonable (a work colleague over in the afternoon and gone by 6, occasionally, should not be a big deal) but to keep the peace you may want to pick up a cheap desk on Craiglist for your home office.

  • Mojo April 30, 2014, 4:08 am

    When we need extra office space, for a large meeting or training day, we rent a serviced room in town. There are lots of companies offering this service now.

  • WendyW April 30, 2014, 10:46 am

    I will admit I am kind of amazed that a lot of people seem to be insisting it is the OP that has to accommodate her father, simply because he is elderly and owned the house first. I am making the assumption that the father is retired, meaning that the OP is the only who is actively earning a living right now. While the father may have retirement money, I know that it is often very limited income. I simply don’t understand why so many are giving the OP such a hard time for trying to earn a living. Someone even suggested here that if the OP is having to work from home in the kitchen on occasion that maybe the OP needed to find another job. Jobs are a precious commodity in many places and that may not be an option for the OP. It sounds like she is trying to make the best of an awkward situation and her father is not being understanding or supportive at all. I think the father needs to be a little more understanding.

  • lnelson1218 April 30, 2014, 12:19 pm

    There doesn’t seem to be any kind of easy solution for this.

    I am of the opinion that OP, (and I am going to assume regardless of what kind of trouble it will get me into) that OP is probably paying for some of the upkeep of the house. If this is the case, unless terms to very specifically spelled out before the house was put into her name, she should be able to have people over and in complying with the norms of common courtesy, Dad would be “warned” about this plans. To believe that because she is living with her father is should give up a life is silly.

    I wouldn’t have even thought about checking with a library about using office/conference space until reading it here. Not everyone knows everything. But having had to book places for employers, I also know that sometimes there just isn’t anything available without weeks notice and planning ahead, not always a luxury in the working world. I will agree with all the suggestions that the home-office should quickly be better set-up in case this does happen again.

    However, having lived with my mother a few times as an adult I can also see how parent/child can fall back into patterns that were there while growing up. Dad is the parent and therefore might feel that his word is the final word.

  • Northlight April 30, 2014, 1:58 pm

    The OP purchased the home from her father with the understanding that he would remain there and she would help care for him. I doubt the understanding included her being treated as a child with limited ability to do things in her own home.

    Part of sharing a space with someone is that both of you behave like grownups. That means the OP should give adequate warning that there will be meetings occurring on a limited basis for discrete periods of time. The father should then be expected to accommodate that very reasonable request or negotiate times in which it would be more convenient for him. It should be made clear to him that this does not mean he has to hide in his bedroom or avoid the kitchen. He should simply exercise the common politeness to refrain from practising the tuba, salsa dancing in the living room or attempting to hold a long discussion with the coworker.

    I find it disturbing how many people seem determined to infantalize the father. There was no indication that he is suffering from any major illnesses or cognitive dysfunctions. Rather that he is an older adult who may need assistance in the future. There is no reason that he should be expected to behave as anything less than an adult, simply living for a long time does not give one licence to behave poorly. My 88 year old grandmother is one of the most calm and levelheaded people that I have ever met. She is also wonderfully adept at living in a house with a seemingly endless parade of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren visiting or staying with her as need be. She conducts herself as an adult given the fact that she has been one for quite some time.

  • cdubz April 30, 2014, 3:44 pm

    In my mind it really doesn’t matter who owns the house. I just see two adults who live together who need to be considerate of one another.

    If I were in this situation, I would make a special dinner for my dad, and when we sit down tell him very sincerely “I’m sorry that I did not consider your feelings more closely when I brought *coworker* over to work. I was in an incredible bind, but that is no excuse to dismiss you. I will go out as soon as possible and buy a second desk for my office, so if I am ever in a bind like this again, *coworker* and I will be in the office and you can feel comfortable going about the house.”

    That’s it. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong in this situation anymore, what matters is that you and your father need to move past this to keep a healthy living environment.

  • crebj April 30, 2014, 10:02 pm

    Get a bigger desk, set up a home office and be done with it.

    • The Elf May 1, 2014, 11:56 am

      That implies she has space for two in a home office, but if she does it should solve the problem.

  • Maebyreturns April 30, 2014, 11:03 pm

    Why is it acceptable for the father to become livid and only express this after everything is over and his temper has fully risen? He chose to let it continue on for hours and say nothing instead of asking to have a word with his daughter. Maybe she would have been annoyed for being interrupted, who knows, that’s another issue, but I don’t understand why it isn’t being addressed that he chose to sit there in discomfort and let his temper build while the OP had no idea. A “sigh” does not exactly translate to “livid” and “never again.”

    Maybe I missed something, and correct me if so, but I’m just thinking of all the times my roommates have been loud – and I would never, ever confront them for noise that had occurred before I’d sent a text letting them know I was trying to sleep, about to go to bed, needed/preferred quiet right then (like if I had a migraine). I understand that there are some slightly different power/relationship dynamics here than just roommates. I still don’t think it’s polite for the father to let his frustration build and let loose on her instead of politely asking her to fix it the first time it bugs him.

  • Bruce Alan Wilson May 1, 2014, 12:09 pm

    Some hotels have conference rooms one can book for a day or an afternoon. This is an option.

    Did the OP tell her father in advance about the meeting, or did she spring it on him suddenly? That makes a difference.

    Is this sort of volatile behavior from your father common? If so, he may be in the early stages of Altzheimers or some other form of dementia. You may wish to drop a word to his doctor.

  • Jen May 2, 2014, 12:12 pm

    Could the OP and her business partner not just head to the library and do their work there? There is lots of space to spread out, no time limit, and it doesn’t cost a thing. Not to mention, a wealth of information available if they require anything for their project.

  • Anonymous May 2, 2014, 2:37 pm

    @Jen–I assume you’re asking if the OP and her colleague could work in the library proper, as opposed to in a conference room, right? Well, maybe, and maybe not. First of all, the library might enforce the “quiet” rule, which would preclude conversation (or, conversely, maybe the OP’s city’s library *isn’t* quiet, and screaming children are common there), second of all, there might not have been space available at the time the OP had her meeting, considering that April is exam time at most community colleges and universities, so the library might have been full of students, and third of all, what if they had to discuss confidential information? They couldn’t have done that in the middle of a public library. Anyway, if the library had been an option, I’m sure that the OP would have looked into it.

  • Katie May 4, 2014, 1:36 pm

    Some of the responses on here are mind-boggling!
    The OP used the kitchen table of the house that she bought to do some work with a colleague for a few hours one afternoon.
    The idea that this is somehow unacceptable is making me laugh out loud.
    I’ve got no idea why so many people are being so critical of the OP. I feel like I’m reading from an alternate universe or something.

  • Leah May 5, 2014, 10:17 am

    I find it ironic how many comments in a row just said “People need to read the previous comments, she paid for the house!”

    If YOU would read the previous comments maybe you wouldn’t repeat that verbatim when forty people before you just said it.

    • kit May 7, 2014, 12:10 pm

      I find it ironic that you haven’t noticed that comments here need to wait for moderation so don’t appear as soon as someone clicks “submit”. Therefore, all those comments were probably waiting to be published together.

  • kit May 7, 2014, 12:17 pm

    I didn’t read the comments on first page but – IMO who paid and who bought and who is father or child is rather irrelevant. Your roommate comes home, possibly hungry, and there you are sitting with a coworker in the kitchen. Your roommate is polite, won’t disturb you. Waits. Waits for one hour, for second hour, for THREE AND HALF HOURS until he at last can go to fridge or stove or snack drawer or coffee maker or whatever without disturbing anyone. WOW, that’s already quite inconsiderate in my books! Get a room AND a table! I had never before heard of anyone keeping one’s home office in one’s KITCHEN, and thinking the rest of family must just suck it up. One more wow. Wait, is the kitchen of the open type so your dad listening to TV in living room would have disturbed your work, too? Why, somehow, I am not surprised at all that you are divorced…

    • Cecilia May 12, 2014, 8:24 am

      Kit- the divorce comment is hitting below the belt and completely uncalled for. You have no idea what caused the divorce and your assumption is rude and mean-spirited.

  • Enna May 10, 2014, 6:30 am

    I think the OP’s father did over react – if it was a one off meeting/work thing then what’s the problem? If the the OP was bringing home one night stands all the time, getting drunk, being anti social, smoking illegal drugs then it would be different. But the OP isn’t.

    The OP mentions that there is not a lot of privacy at work: it could be the OP works with very senstive information. The only thing I agree with Admin’s advice it is imoportant to have the correct working space and accomdation. It’s not good to take work home with you.