I called my dad today after not being able to get into contact with him for about a whole week. I wasn’t surprised because he has a habit of promising to visit his grandkids and not showing up. The problem came up today, the sixteenth of December. I mentioned my SO and the children were going to Mississippi to visit SO’s mother for Christmas. He gets mad and screams that I’m always yelling about him not coming to visit but then I make plans behind his back. I explained it wouldn’t be behind his back if he had answered the phone. He seemed to calm down until I mentioned that my mother (they’re not together) was coming as well. He snapped, “Fine! Go to Mississippi”, and hung up on me!
Am I wrong for not taking his plans or feelings into account? My mom lives with me and my SO in the same state. We only see my dad if we drive four hours back to my home state and that’s if he decides he has time for us. Maybe I should’ve invited him but he’s never met my SO’s mom the twelve years we’ve been together while she and my mom are friends. Please help. I feel like I’m being selfish when I’m really not trying to be. 1216-15
Your dad has succeeded in guilt manipulating you into believing you are at fault. The only thing I would have changed is I would have left him voicemail messages asking him for his travel plans for the holidays so that you can make your own plans accordingly. One does not need to suspend life and keep plans on hold waiting for someone to make a decision or who procrastinates in communicating their plans as if they expect the world to wait with bated breath for the divine word to be given. It’s a classic case of “you snooze, you lose”. Sorry, Dad, but you snoozed and now you lose.
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Dad is being a jerk. While it may have been the polite thing to inquire about Dad’s plans, it doesn’t sound like he ever keeps his promises to visit. What is upsetting Dad is that you had the nerve to take control of the situation away from him and not let him manipulate you. Don’t put your life on hold.
Exactly. He’s not getting his way, so he’s trying to guilt you into feeling bad about being an adult and making adult decisions.
As admin said, about the only thing you could’ve done better would be to leave voicemails (if you did, you didn’t mention it) so he wouldn’t be completely unawares, but at the same time it’s understandable if he’s one of those people who never set up their voicemail box or always keeps it full. I’ve dealt with people like that before and it’s just impossible to leave messages for them in that case, and there’s really nothing you can do about it at that point.
Enjoy the holiday trip, and don’t let Dad guilt you. Put your foot down and be a grown-up.
I often find it helpful to calmly phrase terms in the form “If you X then I’ll Y”. “Great dad, I’d love to see you when we get back! If you let me know your post holiday plans, I’ll be there at the time and date we set. See you soon!!” and then he’ll ramble or get mad or whatever. Then calmly rephrase until he commits or you’re bored and can move on. “Okay! Once you let me know a day and time that works for you, I’ll visit you too!” <3
I love this idea – and I can think of a few moments I could have used this over the holidays! Thanks for sharing.
I have to comment here as I had an emotionally abusive father who would use guilt to move mountains in our family. He always felt justified, and if he could reduce me to tears – all the better.
My mantra that allowed me to cope: “You cannot reason with the unreasonable.”
Do what feels right in your heart. If anything my father taught me how NOT to treat my family.
Thanks for posting this comment. I need to remember your mantra. I have two emotionally abusive parents who have got a divorce when I was a child but did not, and now remain married but very hateful towards each other. They spend most of their time using me as a sounding board for their dislike of each other. My mother likes the glare and silent treatment approach when things don’t go her way (she can last for days) and my father likes to cry. This past weekend there was 48 hours of her not talking to him and 3 rounds of tears on his part. At least a dozen eye rolls between the two of them and one massive blow up over whether we were having chicken or ribs for dinner. Oh, and one screaming match over the fact that he found the naplins on his own after asking her while she was busy where the napkins were and then came back into the room to tell him where the napkins were. To which I finally broke down and started imploring “why are you mad about this? This makes no sense!” so, in future I will hold on to your ‘you cannot reason with the unreasonable’ this probably explains why my brother has moved 3500 km away and has never been home again since. He already had it figured out
21Feet – ((hugs)) to you. You echo my own past to a ”T”. Two abusive parents, me as the sounding board, both playing the martyr. They also stayed married. They are the reason I cannot even put a Christmas tree up. Only it was Mom who cried and father who was vicious. When people would tell me that they came from a “broken home” I would assure them they were danged lucky.
You CANNOT take it personally. You have to stand up for yourself. The moment you stop letting them bother and *get* to you is the moment you are free.
My mother likes to pull the similar, “Well fine, do/don’t _____!” assuming that we will change our minds to suit what she wants out of guilt. Problem for her is now we anticipate that she’s going to say that so we do what we intended on anyway. She still tries it and then gives us the silent treatment when we don’t comply.
Answer, “That’s great, Mom, we are in agreement! Glad that it is fine with you. Well, keep in touch.” Ignore the tone and take the words at face value. She’ll learn to say what she really means.
The best part is I live 1000 miles from her and many of these conversations happen via text now. So when she texts me, “Fine! (Insert passive aggressive comment here)!” I know what face she’s making and what tone she’s using but I usually respond with “Ok, sounds fine to me too.” Then I get the silent treatment for a week. The sad part is I don’t think she will ever learn.
My mom pulled a doozy this Christmas.
My dad has MS and as soon as they pulled into the driveway, my husband and sons went out to help him into the house and a comfy chair.
We have a cat, and my folks are NOT pet people.
When my mom called to say they just got off the highway and would be at our home in about ten minutes, I changed the downstairs litter box even though it didn’t need it, to make sure there were no kitty per smells.
My mom walks into the house, and before I get a hug, a hello or a Merry Christmas, she shoves a Yankee candle into my hands and says “Light THIS NOW, and put it on the coffee table!!! The last time we were here, your Dad complained about the cat smell for two days!!!”
I just looked at her, and at the candle and said sarcastically, “WELL!!! Merry Christmas to YOU TOO, Mom!!! I put all fresh litter in five minutes ago”.
She shot me a dirty look because of my sarcastic reply, and said “I have matches to light the candle if you don’t!”
We are very careful of our house smelling badly, and that was actually one of the reasons we never had a pet up until two years ago.
I was very offended and hurt….She could’ve gone about it a kinder way.
….kitty PEE smells that should read….
It almost sounds like she had been rehearsing that “speech” the whole way over in the car.
@Mark: It does, doesn’t it?
I also think the candle was for my mom’s benefit, not my dad’s.
My In laws had three dogs who would use the house for a litter box, and even though they were my husband’s folks, he often commented he hated going there because the smell was so awful.
While our home doesn’t smell like a bed of roses, we are very careful to make sure you can’t tell we have a pet as soon as you set foot in the door.
My sister lives in Florida and had a medium sized dog for years, until he passed away.
My mom would complain for days after a visit how much their house smelled like “wet mutt”.
No matter how fastidious I kept our kitty box my hubby ALWAYS complained within 10 min of me changing it. About how it STUNK SO BAD. Here it was the old litter had just left and the odor lingered long enough for him to walk through and smell it. There were times I had to march him to the wheeled (outside) trash cans or the dumpster to prove I just changed it. (one cat, good brand, odor controlling, plenty of litter in pan when changed and changed at least once a week-and I used pan liners and every few months the pan got a scrubbing and a yearly replacement)
Though I side with you thoroughly Just4Kicks she’d preplanned, prepared and was going to insist on the candle.
I’ve found “that’s brilliant! Thanks *so* much for suggesting it!” also works. It’s only going a little further than Cat & CW, but firmly attributes the course of action.
Maybe your families don’t work like mine, but being able to say to flying monkeys “oh, but it was all X’s idea, and we went along with it – why would she have suggested that if it wasn’t what she wanted?” does help. And I have learned to enjoy the silent treatment as a period of calm…
@Miriam: thanks, I’ll have to try that next time! 🙂
That’s more than being a jerk. I would say exactly what it is, but this is an etiquette site.
OP, take your vacation with a clear conscience, and if need be, don’t communicate with your “father” again. EHell Dame is correct: He lost out.
He didn’t tell you he was planning on coming. You’re an adult, so you have every right to make plans for your own Christmas without consulting him.
Holidays seem to bring out the worst in those we are closest too (or most vulnerable to)- but you don’t owe anyone an explanation of your holiday plans. If they want to get onto your calendar (or put you onto theirs) then they will make communication a priority. The fact that your father doesn’t keep the dates that he promises to attend with his own grandchildren would be something to take into account when deciding how much you want to invest in remaining flexible with respect to making or to changing your plans. Wasting time waiting on someone isn’t fun. Wasting more time feeling guilt or regret over needless drama is even more superfluous. I’d put a big, red mental “X” through any complaints he makes that your plans are inconvenient and limit contact even more. You could try telling him once, honestly, that you aren’t responsible for his happiness or his plans. If that doesn’t produce an epiphany… well, you tried.
That does sound an awful lot like gaslighting. He creates problems and someone half convinces you that it’s your fault.
I hope you’ve had a good Christmas. 😀
I would recommend you read this link on the forums.
I don’t know if your father is always getting mad. If so I think reading this link may help.
I wonder if it ever occurred to Grandpa that his failure to visit in the past, and his inaccessibility, are what caused the OP to go ahead and make other plans. I would almost bet that if she HAD gotten in touch with her Dad, and he had said he was coming out for Christmas, it would have ended up with him not showing up and her being upset about not going to the SO’s family gathering. If he wants consideration from the OP, he should start showing consideration to her.
It really doesn’t seem like people are given any time to make plans if the decision about where to spend Christmas is made the week before. That short a timeline is very difficult for most people to adjust to, and if OP usually lives spontaneously like this then I can understand how her father often is left out of the loop. Having said that, apparently he is also one who doesn’t plan ahead. But I don’t understand why OP doesn’t invite her father to spend Christmas with her while the kids and SO and mother are with the in-laws. Even if father declines it would still be a welcoming gesture.
Even though this was not stated, my assumption was that OP was also going to visit the SO’s family. I can’t imagine her mother would be going if she wasn’t, even though OP’s mom and SO’s mom are friends.
From the post, the OP said she couldn’t get in touch with him in over a week. If she started trying the week prior to the 16th, that would have given the father at least a 2 week window, and that’s assuming the OP hadn’t reached out to him before that attempt. Also, if the father has a tendency to just not show up, why should the OP ruin their own day waiting on him to be potentially disappointed?
CW – You’re right, it was two weeks notice. I still don’t understand how that is enough time to make travel and holiday plans, though, unless all parties are the spontaneous sort. As far as the father having a tendency to not show up – I’ve got family members like this, too, and I just don’t make plans until I see the whites of their eyes. In other words, I don’t make plans with them. If/when they show up we do whatever can be done on the fly or else I just keep doing what I was already doing, whichever I prefer. However, if the father says he’s going to be there for Christmas Day then OP does need to plan for that OR invite him over for when there are no other desirable alternative activities that the family could be doing, such as maybe the days after Christmas before New Year’s.
Lady V – OP specifically says “my SO and the children were going to Mississippi”. She made that clear. If that’s not what she meant then why did she write it? I don’t want to assume otherwise because then the whole letter is open to wide and varied assumptions and things get too messy to even begin to comment on. This is what OP wrote, so I’ll take her word for it.
She also said “my mother is coming as well”. If OP wasn’t included in the trip, wouldn’t she have said “my mother is GOING as well”? I stand by my original interpretation.
LadyV – Given what OP has written, the term that her mother “is coming as well” could just mean that she is coming with the kids and SO. It’s how I would word it if I was referring to an activity my family was doing even if I was not involved. It’s fine if you want to interpret OP’s submission. I don’t. I simply take what OP says as what she means.
Dee – there’s also the facts that: a) her father’s response was “Fine, go to Mississippi!” – which wouldn’t make sense if OP hadn’t indicated that she was going on the trip; b) she talks about inviting her father to go along – which, again, makes no sense if she’s not going. I think OP just phrased her post badly.
I expect that if OP had made plans with her father for Christmas day, this would mean everyone OP knows being out of town with other plans, and her waiting at home alone – for the father that never shows up.
If OP’s father was reasonable, then I could concede OP attempting this. However, I would definitely not want to spend all Christmas day – alone – especially knowing I could have had a warm, wonderful day with loved ones.
Bellyjean – Yes, it’s quite possible that any plans made with the father would lead to disappointment. That’s why I don’t make plans with my similar relatives unless I don’t care if they are broken. In this instance, then, if OP is home alone on Christmas Day and she doesn’t care one way or the other then she could very well invite her father to join her. If he shows up then she has fulfilled her duty as a daughter. If he doesn’t I’m sure she, ultimately, won’t be that disappointed, given their relationship. I wouldn’t expect her to make plans with the family hinging on the father’s attendance. But there are many instances in one’s life where a certain person attending or not would not affect the outcome in the least, and those are the opportunities where a person can invite the unpredictable relatives. It’s almost a win-win either way.
I doubt if OP wants to miss spending Christmas with her children.
“Maybe I should’ve invited him but he’s never met my SO’s mom the twelve years we’ve been together while she and my mom are friends. ”
If this is how he behaves, would you really want to bring him to visit your SO’s mom? You shouldn’t all have to spend the visit tiptoeing around his feelings.
He doesn’t visit you, has to be chased for communication and isn’t close to your family. All of this is by HIS choice. He is feeling alienated and the trigger for him was your family visit that didn’t include him. Boo hoo, he made his bed and now must lay in it. Don’t let him foist his bad feelings onto you. You were politely going about your life. I think it’s time for him to feel the distance and (maybe) pursue you.
Your father is being a manipulative jerk.
You did nothing wrong – he couldn’t bother to contact you. Don’t accept the blame he is trying to give you for his failure.
If his behavior is the pattern it sounds like (a habit of broken promises, perhaps he also over-reacts in this way all the time too) this goes way beyond jerk-hood into toxic territory. Don’t give him your mental/emotional real estate. He’s an adult, and is perfectly capable of coordinating plans like adults do. If he chooses not to, that’s on him.
At best he sounds unreliable, so I would lower my expectations accordingly. Don’t expect him to ever make a reciprocal relationship with you or your family a priority. The world (and the lives of you and your family) don’t revolve around him, and it’s not your job to either accommodate his delusion or to educate him on how adulthood works. His problems are not your problems. Not your circus, not your monkeys.
OP even if you had been able to speak to him you don’t need his permission to make plans that don’t include him. Also not all of your plans need to include him. It is ok to make the plans that suit you , your SO , your mom and your SO family first then either invite him if you want or to offer to make plans. That’s a pretty normal way to make plans.
Additionally if someone had the habit of canceling at the last minute/no showing I would never pass on something important to me based on “They may want to visit this week and they may even show up.”
I suspect that Dad’s real goal is to find fault and complain and lay guilt trips, and that no matter what OP did, he would have found some way to do it.
If he actually had wanted to spend time with his family, he knew full well how to make that happen, starting with picking up the phone.
Agreed! (With the caveat that people often don’t see how awful they are being- to them, they are just being their usual “normal” selves!)
I have no respect for someone who cannot be bothered to keep his/her word. Your father is unreliable. You are under no obligation to keep him informed of your plans unless you live with him. Since you don’t, it is his responsibility to ask you ahead of time when he can visit or to invite you to visit him. If he is not there when you arrive or does not arrive on the agreed upon date, you’d don’t need to try to accommodate him further.
Christmas visiting plans always needed a good month if not two to get hammered out. I would have started on the first, left voice messages, and also left a deadline on getting back to us (the fifteenth) after which we are making plans and yes I would have gas lit it by mentioning Mississippi.
Either he would have replied or not. 16th, make the plans, and whether you called him to tell him the plans or he called to scream at you, remind him he was given two weeks and a deadline. Merry Christmas and maybe after the holiday we can make plans to come see you.
You’re assuming he has voicemail. My father, who also plays these games, does not. He also only has a PO Box and will claim to have not received mail. Since he lives 500 miles away the only option I have is to continue calling or to ask someone, like my elderly Grandmother, to relay a message…which he may also claim to have not received.
Why bother? “Gee, Dad, sorry you didn’t receive the invitation. You missed a great party.” Just because he plays games does not mean you have to do it too. He could get an answering machine.
You have the option not to worry about it. Why involve granny in it? If you feel you have to contact him, send the invitation by certified mail so he has to sign for it. He can’t lie his way out of that one.
I think I would counter every “I didn’t get your message” with a “what a shame you missed out – you should get voicemail; you’d never miss out again!” and just become a broken record with that. His choice to be uncontactable, let him own the consequences.
Or you could do what my ex and his brother did, and buy a fax machine… When their mother finally alienated me enough to be given the cut direct, they had to have some way of contacting her!
I have done this in the past and it may end the argument. Where I live express mail is 2-3 days just more expensive. But you get hand to hand tracking all the way. Including who signed for it, when, and a facsimilie of the signature.
Include a priority mail SASE and a card already in it that just has to be checked. Yes I’m coming, No I don’t think so and a note that if it doesn’t arrive by X date you’re going to consider it NO and make your own plans. Mail it so it gets there two weeks before the clearly mentiond date they have to send the reply back by.
I had to do this once, printed off the screen that they did indeed receive it, then when they couldn’t bother to make an X and drop it back in box (right at the mailbox) then show up with the screaming meemies that they hadn’t gotten contacted and didn’t know, blahdeblahdeblah, I held up the copies of the routing of the mail and the sig. They’d been informed.
Haven’t had any more contact with them in several years and like it that way.
NostalgicGal, that’s brilliant!
I’ve done similar with read-receipt on email [forwarding the deleted-without-reading notification to the person hassling me for not passing on the message]. That particular blockhead took a couple of goes, but having the company CEO’s PA on his case improved his ability to ‘receive’ messages impressively quickly!
I hope the non-contact continues – silence can *so* be golden, when you remember what contact used to be like.
So far it’s still silence. Only thing I have to say that this is pretty darn expensive now (still cost a lot when I did it) but it was worth every penny I spent to hold up the entire hand to hand tracking, the page with the signature and time and where they collected that signature, and the receipt proving I’d bought the Priority mail prepaid mailer at the same time. They had received notice in plenty of time and I paid for the return reply myself. Just make the X on the card, slip it back in the already filled out and pre postaged reply, peel the strip, stick, and dump in mail. No need for phone, voicemail or any other high tech.
“The only thing I would have changed is I would have left him voicemail messages asking him for his travel plans for the holidays so that you can make your own plans accordingly.”
This presumes that he *has* voice mail/an answering machine. My elderly mother does not, and this led to a great deal of heartburn when she tried to call me on my birthday and got my voice mail.
But even if OP could reach him, given his track record of canceling plans at the last minute, she should have a backup plan in place, so if he fails to show, her family’s Christmas won’t be ruined.
I agree with “you snooze…you lose!”
My husband is late for everything, and I do mean everything (ok, to be fair to him the last six months he’s really been trying).
I have often joked to him that at his viewing, I’m going to wait 15 minutes after everybody arrives to wheel him out….those who truly know him would get a chuckle out of it.
(And before any says anything, no I would never actually DO that, we have a warped sense of humor in our family).
Anyway, I started putting my foot down years ago.
Several instances where he was late to go to dinner or the movies with the kids I would tell him he has a “15 minute grace period” and then we are leaving without him.
Of course he’d get peeved, but finally started to realize I wasn’t joking.
+1. Great backbone, I definitely admire this. 🙂
@Bellyjean: Thanks!!! 🙂
It only took me 15 years to hammer out my backbone, but after missing a few dinners, he got with the program.
I lean too far in the other direction, I’m always WAY too early.
Love your name btw….super cute!
Aw, thanks, @just4kicks! Right back at you. 🙂
And yeah – I’ve started to be “fashionably late” in recent years – which is really only 5 to 10 minutes after start time, lol. I’m usually one of the folks that help setup at house parties. 😛
LOL I know all too well the “late to your own funeral” jokes, thankfully nobody I’m particularly close to anymore is a chronic arrival anymore. I’m glad you stood up for yourself and kids when it came down to it.
On our first date, my bf was early…only to be shocked by the fact that I was even earlier. Hahaha, it really was one of those moments we knew it was meant to be. I can’t handle the disrespect for other people’s time, especially for something like a movie. Theres a start time, it’s not going to wait! Then looking for a seat in a populated cinema, often in the dark 🙁
We Bascombs are chronically early. We once set a dinner date for 6:00pm. The one who arrived at 5:50pm was considered late (jokingly).
My beloved grandad was a *huge* fan of “short cuts” when we travelled anywhere. These were known in the family as “circuitous routes” for good reason.
We were waiting at the chapel at his funeral for about 15 minutes before the hearse showed up, and the funeral director was incredibly apologetic; I don’t think he could understand why all the family was laughing.
Grandad had taken his last ever “short cut” and it seemed to sum him up perfectly!
My DH is still terrible at being called for food, being found to come eat, not answering texts about get here now (meal) is ready and got tired of cold old food, so I said I shall call you once. You have five minutes. I will then sit down and eat and put the rest away. You can then feed yourself.
About once a week he feeds himself but it has cut down on the fights about I should wait. I can’t anymore, diabetics can’t wait like everyone else most of the time. Two hours late for a meal is not excuseable since I had to start injecting.
If we have to go somehere I start rounding him up 30 min before we have to leave, if he needs a shower, I’ll start an hour before.
As we used to say at work, you’ve done your due diligence, so don’t feel guilty. You can’t make plans around someone who doesn’t cooperate in the planning. This is all on *him*.
Does Dad not have an answering machine or voice mail? Email? If not, you are perfectly within your rights to say, “Dad, I tried calling you for a week but you never answered and there is no way for me to leave a message for you.” Answering machines have been communication staples since the 1970s, so encourage him to join the late 20th century.
BTW, my 92-year-old mother has a landline with messaging and knows how to email. I don’t know how old Dad is, but he needs to get with the now-basic program if he expects to keep in touch when planning events etc.
My father, in his 60’s. Does not have a computer or a cell phone, has no voicemail and only receives mail through his PO Box.
And my grandparents in their late 80’s/early 90’s have cell phones and e-mail and know how to use them quite well. Age has nothing to do with it.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with not having voicemail or e-mail. One just has to understand that they’re more difficult to get a hold of, and not pitch a fit if someone (like OP) put in the effort to contact them and was unable to get through.
I’ve had to call plenty of people who either had not set up their voicemail on their phone lines or had a completely full box. In both cases, I was unable to leave messages. I made sure to call several times since a message wasn’t left, and the person I was calling understood if I was ultimately unable to reach them.
As a man in his early 60s, all I can do is whimper in empathy for you and in . . . . what? for your father.
I tried to buy my dad a disposaphone a few years ago when his health went sideways so he could be in touch or reached if needed. Something simple, sturdy, and I would pay for the service. Nope Nope Nope
My mom doesn’t want one either. Her old cordless needs a replacement but she won’t let me do that either. Some just want to stay with what they’re comfy with.
Me, I had a good friend corrupt me about 5-6 years ago and I have the latest of iSlabs. It’s smarter than I am….
Once families split apart because of moves or divorces, and add the families of the spouses of grown children, it is no longer a given that families of origin will celebrate all holidays together. Your father is unreasonable to expect that, OP.
How on earth is it even your fault? He’s supposedly an adult. He couldn’t be bothered to answer his phone. You can’t sit by the phone and wait for him to decide to be responsible. You made plans. If he doesn’t like them, that’s his problem, not yours.
You always have the option of hanging up on him when he gets manipulative and mean. You don’t need the stress and hurt. Do your thing and be happy. Let him be miserable, he seems to enjoy it.
My future brother-in-law is like this. We won’t hear from his family regarding plans, and then BOOM! mere days before the event is to occur, he decides what he wants to do. He and his wife are very last minute, and it drives everyone crazy.
For example, this past Christmas season, my fiance and I were getting a Christmas tree on a particular Saturday. We were going to pick it up in the morning; I was going to bake cookies I got at a cookie dough swap the weekend before. We were going to munch on cookies and drink eggnog while decorating the tree, and then we were going to go to a nice steakhouse for dinner.
The Thursday before (i.e. two days before), brother-in-law says that his daughter’s birthday party is that Saturday, and he’ll see us there! I told my fiance, “Nope. We’ve made plans. Please send our regrets. He knows when his daughter’s birthday is. It’s not like it’s a surprise every year.” Fiance agreed with me. Brother-in-law said, “But Niece will be so disappointed! It would mean so much to her!” Fiance said that we’ve made plans, and next time, he needed to let us know more than 2 days in advance. And that was that.
(I would like to say that we happily went along with our plans, but unfortunately, I was sick with a sore throat and fever and spent the day in bed, and the only thing I had to eat that day was some hot soup. Whomp. Whomp.)
Everyone loses- to be honest.
You already know he’s unreliable and forgetful – it’s your time to step-up~ if you truly wants what’s best for you & your family get everyone out of this funk of bad feelings- it’s a tough pill to swallow however you can let go of the past hurt & stop harboring on the past and have something to look forward to. —
How about you and your traveling to see family seeing your father?
Buy him a tablet- doesn’t have to be new can be used in good condition- show him how to use it and the apps. Put on helpful apps that he’d use. Skype, FaceTime, music apps, find music he likes load it, load pictures of your family through tout the years.