Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: Charliebug on January 16, 2013, 09:31:28 PM

Title: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: Charliebug on January 16, 2013, 09:31:28 PM
I would like to preface this by saying I LOVE my Mom...she has so many wonderful qualities and she is my best friend- I would not trade her for the world.

That being said, she is a self-admitted "thoughtless" person at times. Even knowing this about her, I still find her lack of concern for others, including myself, sometimes to be frustrating and even hurtful. She can come across as very much self-centred and completely oblivious to anyone else's suffering but her own...and she suffers so much more than anyone else  ;)

There are times when my frustration comes out in conversations with friends, not in a ranting way, only in a give and take conversation (my closest friends know my Mom well enough to understand when I get frustrated...they have their own issues with their Moms too.) I have been in a situation recently at a social occasion where I was having a general discussion about the ups and downs of life with my Mom right now and someone, who was not part of the conversation, interjected with "Moms won't be around forever...you need to appreciate them while you can and not complain."  As lovely as this sentiment is, I don't think it serves any purpose but to try and make the speaker (me) feel bad about myself for ever daring to utter a word of complaint about someone *I* know intimately. Consequently I was a little  :o that this stranger was telling me how to think and behave. 

Does this fall into the category that because the conversation was in a public place anyone is free to throw their $.02 in or is it within the realm of etiquette to simply walk away and continue the conversation elsewhere?
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: NyaChan on January 17, 2013, 12:21:22 AM
When you say someone who wasn't part of the conversation, what do you mean?  A random stranger in line with you, or an acquaintance who was with you but you weren't specifically speaking to?
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: Charliebug on January 17, 2013, 12:32:22 AM
A person standing nearby but who was not part of the conversation "circle" is the way it happened in this case. It would be like having our own table at a restaurant and this person was at the table next to us...kwim?
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: LizC on January 17, 2013, 12:43:09 AM
I think it is a bit rude to butt in with platitudes, but the slightly evil side of me would be waiting for the next time it happens, and then say, "OH I KNOW! Mom passed in 1983... I know she's only hanging around because of love, though."

But again, evil.

So you're probable safe in giving Millicent Bystander a tight smile and turning back to your conversation in a slightly lower tone.
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: NyaChan on January 17, 2013, 12:50:31 AM
An eavesdropper then?  Honestly, sometimes people just need to vent and it doesn't mean that we don't love the person we are venting about, just that we are frustrated in the moment.  Strangers shouldn't comment on the content of conversations happening at a reasonable volume near them.  If it was someone you know and was likely to hear, is it possible that maybe you were complaining more than you realized?  But really, that's more of a social thing as far as oversharing on a topic than an etiquette issue.  As far as etiquette is concerned, it isn't appropriate to scold people in a situation like this. 

If I was at a party and a friend wouldn't stop complaining about something, I might say something to indicate that they were bringing the mood level down, but I wouldn't try to guilt trip them.  Inserting oneself into a conversation that didn't include me?  Wouldn't do it unless it was for a fun reason :) 
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: Charliebug on January 17, 2013, 12:57:05 AM
Definitely an eavesdropper NyaChan....and thank you Liz and NyaChan for your responses. I laughed reading yours Liz  ;D
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: mrs_deb on January 17, 2013, 01:00:08 AM
I have been the recipient of a similar sentiment from an eavesdropping do-gooder.  And, I'm sure, a person whose mother is a combination of June Cleaver and Mother Theresa.  Unlike mine was. 

I thanked him for his input and moved the conversation elsewhere.  Not sure what else you can do  :P.
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: JeseC on January 17, 2013, 01:11:29 AM
It's times like these when I like to provide a curt "thank you for the input!"  Generally it gets people to bug off.
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: Amava on January 17, 2013, 02:41:59 AM
Quote from: A Random Bystander
"Moms won't be around forever...you need to appreciate them while you can and not complain."

Apart from being a guilt-trippy platitude, this sentiment is not as beautiful or wholesome as people think it is. It is a faulty reasoning. Let me explain why I say this.

Yes, it is true, scary as it is: any person we love could be dead tomorrow. Heck, each of us could be dead tomorrow. Life is unpredictable and harsh sometimes. Experience irl, and stories we read in the hug folder, make that abundantly clear.

However, is that a reason to grin and bear every problematic behaviour of our loved ones today, to ignore every problem in our relationships?
No. It is, on the contrary, a reason to voice and work out our differences with them, so that we can enjoy our relationship, friendship, family ties to the fullest while we can. So that when they do pass away, we can look back on good memories, and not on a lifetime of unspoken resentment.

What is important though, in the context of "life can go out suddenly like a candle", is to always part on good terms, and to never forget to let people feel you love them, if you do.

(As far as all of this is possible, of course. For the sake of sanity, I'm talking in general here, and excluding toxic relationships. For example, for myself I have no interest in trying to "enjoy family ties to the fullest" with my own toxic bio-mom, or letting her back into my life. That ship has sailed. I'm talking here only about normal situations with everyday annoyances that can be overcome.)
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: cicero on January 17, 2013, 04:17:57 AM
how to respond? you *don't* respond to this rude stranger.

It's none of their business, they don't know you, they don't know your relationship with your parent, and they have no idea what you are going through. In a perfect world we would all never complain about anyone, and appreciate everyone. But - this isn't a perfect world.

and for the record - I don't like the sentiment.  it's like - duh, i know my parent won't be around forever.  but as a 52 YO dealing with an 82 YO father, yeah - it gets difficult at times. of course I complain and talk about it with my siblings/friends. by allowing myself to vent to others, i then have the strength and compassion to deal with my father in a more relaxed and calm way (well, for the most part, anyway).

Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: poundcake on January 17, 2013, 05:00:44 AM
Evil Poundcake would probably say something like "Thank you for that meaningless platitude," but really, it does help to remember that the person saying this is probably dealing with their own guilt trip about their own mother. If it's a stranger interrupting, ignore. If it's someone you know, it's fine to say something like "Phrases like that really don't help me with my real-life issues, so please don't use them, okay?"
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: YummyMummy66 on January 17, 2013, 05:15:23 AM
I always reply to somethng like this, "I realize that, but sometimes, a person has just got to vent.  You mean you never vent about anything in your life?".     
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on January 17, 2013, 06:29:00 AM
Quote from: A Random Bystander
"Moms won't be around forever...you need to appreciate them while you can and not complain."

Apart from being a guilt-trippy platitude, this sentiment is not as beautiful or wholesome as people think it is. It is a faulty reasoning. Let me explain why I say this.

Yes, it is true, scary as it is: any person we love could be dead tomorrow. Heck, each of us could be dead tomorrow. Life is unpredictable and harsh sometimes. Experience irl, and stories we read in the hug folder, make that abundantly clear.

However, is that a reason to grin and bear every problematic behaviour of our loved ones today, to ignore every problem in our relationships?
No. It is, on the contrary, a reason to voice and work out our differences with them, so that we can enjoy our relationship, friendship, family ties to the fullest while we can. So that when they do pass away, we can look back on good memories, and not on a lifetime of unspoken resentment.

What is important though, in the context of "life can go out suddenly like a candle", is to always part on good terms, and to never forget to let people feel you love them, if you do.

(As far as all of this is possible, of course. For the sake of sanity, I'm talking in general here, and excluding toxic relationships. For example, for myself I have no interest in trying to "enjoy family ties to the fullest" with my own toxic bio-mom, or letting her back into my life. That ship has sailed. I'm talking here only about normal situations with everyday annoyances that can be overcome.)

Very well put!!  I knew someone who had lost her mother and she used to pull this all the time.  Then going on 2 years ago one of my aunts died and a year ago my cousin used that line as a way to try and talk me into mending fences with my parents.   ::)
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: Ohjustlovely on January 17, 2013, 07:32:59 AM
How about replying, "Is that a promise?" And then turn your conversation back to your friends. That was what I once said to someone who interrupted me. She said something like, "Be grateful for your mother, because you won't always have her around, and you will miss her." And my comments prior to her interruption were mild and vague, along the lines that my mother would be controlling and snoop in my purse and suitcase which I didn't deserve as I never engaged in anything, and I over 21 and was out of the house and living on my own.
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: MamaMootz on January 17, 2013, 08:09:46 AM
I feel your pain, OP. I was once talking about Toxic Dad with someone and another person chimed in to let me know that a) he won't be around forever and b) Jesus says to forgive and if I were a good Xtian, I would forgive Dad for anything he's done. I don't want to get the thread locked due to religious discussion, but those two statements really chapped my hide. I wish I could say that I had a wonderful, polite retort for this person but I was flabbergasted and standing there with my mouth hanging open.

In retrospect, I should have said something like "In this matter, you should not trouble yourself for my sake." (stolen from Amy Tan).

p.s. Love what Piratelvr said and POD her 100%.

Edited to add: hahah I was PODing a POD. I mean to say pod Amava (sorry Amava) and Piratlvr's pod. Poddity, poddity, pod. 8)
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on January 17, 2013, 08:17:56 AM
Well I was just podding someone else, but I like that Amy Tan retort. 

It bugs me when people use religion as a guilt trip to push someone to forgive.  Having a toxic relationship with my own parents that are now cut off, I have heard the "Jesus says forgive!" Perhaps, but forgiveness does not mean I have to subject myself to being hurt over and over. 

Even my priest has said that forgiveness is good, but when we forget things, they tend to come around and get us again, and it is possible to forgive while protecting ourselves by putting up some distance between ourselves and those who hurt us.
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: MrTango on January 17, 2013, 09:01:42 AM
I think this is one of those situations where you can just look at the person as if they've just grown a third head, turn back to the person with whom you were conversing and resume the conversation as if the interruption had never happened.
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: Twik on January 17, 2013, 09:25:03 AM
I'd recommend saying, "I beg your pardon?!?" while looking at her as if you couldn't believe she would be so rude as to interject herself into your conversation. If she continues to lecture her, murmur, "Do I ... know you?" then shake your head and return to your own conversation.
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: Thipu1 on January 17, 2013, 09:55:16 AM
It's possible to deeply love a person but not particularly like them.  This happens with parents and adult children all the time.  Yes, each will vent to friend's about the other but, in essence, the venting is innocent.   

For a remark like that in the OP, I'd just put on my Teflon jacket and shrug it off. The interloper does not and cannot know the family dynamic being discussed. 

On 'Patience' Gilbert & Sullivan had something to say about those who, 'Utter platitudes in stained-glass attitudes'. 
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: BarensMom on January 17, 2013, 11:41:47 AM
I'm afraid I was guilty of this when younger.  My parents had their faults, but I knew they loved me and tried to do their best, in their overprotective way.  My friend, Lisa, wasn't so lucky.  I couldn't understand why Lisa wished for her parents' deaths, even after she told me some of the things that happened to her because of their poor parenting.  I would respond, "but they're your mom and dad, how could you say that?"  Lisa would snort and tell me that I didn't know what I was talking about.

30 years later, I've grown up and know better to say anything to my less-fortunate friends, much less than complete strangers. 
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: MrTango on January 17, 2013, 11:45:52 AM
I'm afraid I was guilty of this when younger.  My parents had their faults, but I knew they loved me and tried to do their best, in their overprotective way.  My friend, Lisa, wasn't so lucky.  I couldn't understand why Lisa wished for her parents' deaths, even after she told me some of the things that happened to her because of their poor parenting.  I would respond, "but they're your mom and dad, how could you say that?"  Lisa would snort and tell me that I didn't know what I was talking about.

30 years later, I've grown up and know better to say anything to my less-fortunate friends, much less than complete strangers.

I don't think you were necessarily in the wrong here.  First off, if she was talking to you, then you weren't butting in on a conversation of which you were not already a part.  Second, it's quite a difference to complain about something one's parent does and wish for one's parents' deaths.  I think it's perfectly reasonable to express shock when someone expresses a wish for another person's death.
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: BeagleMommy on January 17, 2013, 11:54:42 AM
I would be so tempted to use the one eyebrow raise, Spock voiced "Fascinating" and then return to my conversation.  Either that or a flat "Hmmmm".

We all need to vent about the craziness that is family.  I love my parents, DH and DS with all my heart, but sometimes they just grate on my last nerve and I need to let it out.  That's what girls' night with my best girlfriends are for, right?
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 17, 2013, 11:55:09 AM
Them: "You shouldn't complain.  Mom's won't be around forever."
You: "Thank goodness for that!"
 >:D

She/He was very rude for interrupting your conversation for any reason. My mom died when I was 23 and for a very long time I couldn't stand listening to anyone complain about their parents, especially for something I found to be trivial, but I never said anything. (Well once but that was to a co-worker who said planning her wedding would be so much easier if her mom was dead. And I responded "why don't you share that sentiment with her, maybe she'll oblige you." and I still feel bad about saying it 20 years later.)

Comments like hers are in the same realm of over hearing someone complaining about a flat tire and a stranger replying well at least you have a car.  Really not their business.  Or hearing a mom complaining about their child's messy room and someone remarking at least you have a child
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: wolfie on January 17, 2013, 12:22:19 PM
I hate the cousin of that one "I would give anything to have my mother around to snoop through my purse/critique my clothes/whatever you are complaining about  just one more time"
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: CrochetFanatic on January 17, 2013, 02:12:51 PM
Eavesdroppers need to butt out.  Once or twice, I've responded with the glacial stare and, "This is a private conversation."  Of course, they were very offended, but it was none of their business.  This person didn't know you, and apparently didn't know her place.
Title: Re: How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....
Post by: Amanita on January 17, 2013, 03:25:48 PM
In regards to the whole forgiveness thing, and how so many people are pressured by those around them to "forgive and forget", a book of mine has this to say:
"Forgiveness is earned by repentance. To forgive somebody who has not changed their behavior is to condone violence. (or whatever bad behavior)