My fiancé’s married sister died four years ago. Her daughter, now nine-years-old, lives eight hours away from the rest of our family.
Her father’s very condescending towards his late-wife’s family.
We all attend major holidays at the parent’s home, but at Thanksgiving I ended up crying due to his criticism of our parenting of our two-year-old.
My fiancé warns me to say nothing, because his parents fear they won’t be able to see their granddaughter if we upset him.
He’s confined to a wheel chair with cerebral palsy. I believe his nasty attitude relates to his history with his in-laws plus a lack of self-esteem.
Yet I’m afraid that next time I’ll be unable to refrain from speaking out about his behaviour.
I’d initially said I didn’t want to attend functions with him there anymore.
My sister-in-law is also uncomfortable with his conduct towards the family and wanted to speak privately to him.
But the parents seem more concerned with pandering to this volatile son-in-law.
Should I assert myself as I normally would, or respect the in-laws’ wishes and allow him to continue being rude in front of the children?
My fiancé still wants to see his niece but her father won't allow her to visit without him being present.
Consider the most important people in this difficult family scenario: First, is the young girl who’s lost her mother. Next, are the grandparents desperately trying to keep contact with the girl and fulfill their responsibility to their daughter.
The young children with parents present are unlikely to be affected by this man’s criticism unless he’s directly ordering them about. Your child is more affected by your reaction. You can discuss, age-appropriately, what rudeness is, and why it’s wrong and hurtful.
Unleashing retorts to the man will surely cause him to keep his daughter from these visits with the parents and her family, including your fiancé.
These occasions aren’t frequent. If you’re uncomfortable, change the subject, leave the room, and create a break for the children to learn some holiday songs, colour some cards, or just have some playtime.
My group of friends (since high school) gets together at least annually. We take weeklong trips, despite our varying financial, geographic, and family challenges.
However, one of the women (A) is somewhat disabled; another woman (B) considers A to be manipulative and attention seeking. B berates A to her face, loudly and angrily, and to the rest of us behind her back.
That friend, A, has always had health challenges, and most of us are content to accommodate… e.g. frequently waiting for her, etc. A is a good, sweet person, who has been coping with a chronic illness her whole life.
But the angry friend, B, resents special accommodations for A. Her rudeness and condescension make the longer get-togethers unpleasant for everyone.
Yet, when on her good behaviour, B can be a very interesting person.
I told A months ago that I couldn’t meet for longer than a dinner in the future because I can’t take the conflict.
I see no option than to stop attending the longer visits.
Any Better Ideas?
Your “option” rewards the bad-tempered, mean-spirited woman (B), and leaves the sweet health-challenged person (A) feeling it’s her fault that you’re not there.
Where’s the backbone in your group? Why haven’t you all told B that her behaviour’s unacceptable and ruining these get-togethers?
Tell B to shape up and stop berating this person or she’s not welcome.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding two siblings who’d exclude a third from Christmas dinner with their parents (Dec. 15):
(Ellie - Since the parents may face these same sibling grudges at Easter, I’m publishing this late reader-response.)
“Their parents might consider writing/emailing all of the siblings the same message, telling them that dividing up the family on this special day is hurtful to the parents who refuse to “side” with any one of their children.
“Therefore, they’ve decided to forego visiting with any of them on these holiday occasions.
“There’ve been divisions between myself and my own four siblings, which have usually been overcome to some extent.
“For the sake of a single visit such as Christmas, it seems strange that siblings #1 and 2 feel so strongly against having sibling #3 present.
“The parents might think that there’s no major rift between them, but their actions seem to say otherwise.”
Tip of the day:
When a huge rift is the likely from your speaking out, consider who are the people you’ll be hurting most.