Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: NyaChan on May 24, 2013, 07:43:40 PM

Title: How should someone react or respond to this? Update #14 Final #16
Post by: NyaChan on May 24, 2013, 07:43:40 PM
Imagine you are sitting and working and another person sticks their head in the door.  You have a nice conversation which ends on a mention of a third person who is not present. They start to leave, but turn and say "She [the third person] is pretty upset at you for getting mad at her that day.  I'm sure you'll work it out," and then ducks out the door.

What are you supposed to do or say back?  They left before I could say anything that time, but I suppose that is because they could likely see on my face that I was taken aback/not reacting positively. 

Since I bet it would make a difference, the conversation was with my mom and the third person was my sister who lives in another city. 
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this?
Post by: JenJay on May 24, 2013, 07:57:41 PM
I'd ignore it. If your sister is upset enough to want to talk to you about it, she will. Your mom should stay out of it. If, on the other hand, your sister mentioned it knowing your mom would say something then that's really passive agressive so I'd still ignore it.  :)

My mom did something similar once. My only reaction was to mention to my brother, next time I spoke to him, "BTW Mom told me you were annoyed about Thing. I'm not upset at all, I don't blame you for being annoyed, and I didn't call to bring it up. I just wanted you to be aware that venting to her might not stay with her." He appreciated knowing.
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this?
Post by: Jocelyn on May 24, 2013, 08:02:21 PM
OK, so now you know the reason for the conversation. ;)
In this case, with the 2nd person leaving immediately, I'd invoke my right not to respond back to her. I'd bet she knew that a negative reaction from you was a possibility, but she wanted to have her say. So, she had her say. If she's sure you'll work it out, you don't need to give her any feedback. Work it out however you think is appropriate. Which may include ignoring the situation.
Your sister may or may not be upset at you. She may have been upset temporarily, during which time she spoke to your mom. Obviously, your mom is distressed at having 2 of her kids not being in perfect accord. So now you know how your sister MIGHT be feeling, and how your mom IS feeling. Ball's in your court about how you respond to THAT.
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this?
Post by: Hmmmmm on May 24, 2013, 08:47:46 PM
I wouldn't act upon it. But I would appreciate the heads up since it would explain any potential coolness I might be experiencing from the other person.
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this?
Post by: gemma156 on May 25, 2013, 12:18:54 AM
I would ignore it.  In fact I did, when my own mother then insisted that my sister was very upset with me (over slights only known to her) I just reply that that's unfortunate as I don't know what is talking about, if she's that upset then perhaps she act like a grown up and approach me with her concerns.  If it's not that important then she won't.  Then I walked away and did something else.  Your sister's issues are just that, her issues. 

It's not up to you to do anything to address the issue, if your not aware of what she may be upset over.  In my family the women got upset over very silly things they believed you did on purpose just to upset them.  In my first pregnancy I ended up in hospital fighting for my life and then I found out my sister got upset as I had deliberately got sick on her birth month - just to upstage her.  Of course over the course of the year I was attention grabbing, just because I had to relearn how to walk, talk and read and needed assistance in just getting back my independence.
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this?
Post by: m2kbug on May 26, 2013, 01:15:35 AM
Probably just drop it.  If mom was right there, I would probably press for details, but if she said something like that before hanging up or leaving the house or room, I probably wouldn't make any special efforts to chase her down or call back. 

Given my mother is one to twist details around to fit whatever fantasy she has concocted, it's possible I would call up my sister and ask.  We tend to fact-check among each other all the time when it comes to what Mom says.  I guess it would depend entirely on what the subject was and if it's worth rehashing.  Otherwise, Sis can contact me if she needs to.  Maybe she was just venting and there was not much more to it than that. 
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this?
Post by: Pen^2 on May 26, 2013, 05:15:37 AM
I wouldn't respond much beyond, "then I look forward to person C discussing it with me." If the third party really does have a problem, it is not appropriate to solve it using your mother or anyone else as an intermediate. They need to approach you directly. You have no idea how slanted or warped information gets when it is fed through someone else, and you really can't and shouldn't base things on such information. You discuss things involving person C with person C and no-one else.

At this point, forget about it. If your mother repeats it, then respond in a similar way to the above and then bean-dip.

The most I would do, at a later time with person C and only if it was appropriate, is to bring up the fact that the second person was gossiping about something person C had said to him/her. Either the intermediate is making things up, which person C should be made aware of; the intermediate is not keeping mum on things person C told him/her in confidence; or that you will not respond to a passive-aggressive attempt at problem resolution/blaming.

If person C actually put the mother/whoever up to it and says, "but I asked mum/whoever to talk to you about it," then I would make it clear that you don't talk to people that way (via others) and that because you respect person C and your relationship with him/her, you don't discuss these sorts of things with others, but rather, directly. It's not fair to the intermediate either to involve them unnecessarily in others' issues.
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this?
Post by: NyaChan on May 26, 2013, 10:48:31 AM
I actually know what my mom was talking about.  I graduated last weekend and my sister and I had an argument when we were alone - I was absolutely mad at her.  I know, however, that there is not one person in my family who will understand why or accept it as a legitimate reason to be mad so talking about it with my sister or anyone else for that matter is only going to make things worse.  When my mom says work it out, I'm pretty sure she means, call your sister and apologize for upsetting her. 

Pen - I love that response.  I know it is immature, but ignoring it with no response is so hard!  It's hard to describe the tone of what she said, but it was almost dripping with....not condescension, maybe judgement and a sense of long-suffering momness- as if she were trying appeal to my better self (read guilt me) once again to no avail. 

She has now taken to asking me twice a day if I've talked to my sister.  I haven't.  That isn't unusual, we don't talk very often with our schedules being so busy.  I guess the crux of what bothers me is that if my sister is upset about something, she should bring it up with me.  But she won't.  It's like they've pre-judged that I was wrong without ever hearing my side of things (not that it would help, come to think of it lol perhaps it is more efficient this way) and are just waiting for me to grovel.  I don't have a problem with my sister from that argument anymore - I know I'll never get an apology or understanding for what had upset me and I've chosen to just let it go.  If she wants to talk about it though, I'll bite the bullet and do it. 

I'm going to keep the line about waiting for my sister to speak to me about it in my pocket for later as I'm sure it will come up again, and it does really speak to my main gripe about my mom bringing it up to me and then walking out.
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this? #7 - More
Post by: camlan on May 26, 2013, 11:11:13 AM
This type of behavior was how my family operated. No one ever confronted the person they were upset with directly, it was always done through a third party. A fairly messed-up way to operate. My mom would come and tell me that Dad was upset with me. The expectation was that I would go and apologize to Dad, whether I felt the apology was necessary or not. Or Dad would come to me and tell me how upset he was that Oldest Brother borrowed the car without permission, and expect me to go to Oldest Brother and tell him this, at which point, Oldest Brother was expected to go to Dad and apologize. The underlying rule was that you didn't upset other members of the family. Even if they did something that really upset you and that any normal person would understand why you were upset. Keeping the peace in the family overrode everything else.

And, as the family scapegoat, it was always my fault.

Somewhere in my early 20s, I realized just how messed up this whole operating system was. So I simply refused to play the game anymore.
If someone came to me and told me Mom was upset with me, my reply was, "Well, if Mom wants to talk about it, I'm willing to discuss it with her." If someone came to me with a tale of woe about the behavior of another family member, expecting me to rush to that person and relay the message, I'd reply with "Gee, sounds like you need to discuss this with Dad/Mom/Brother/Sissy."

There were some stunned looks at first, but after about 6 months, people left me out of their little game playing. The whole mess still continued, and to some degree still continues, but I am left out of it, and that's the best outcome I could hope for.
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this? #7 - More
Post by: weeblewobble on May 26, 2013, 12:56:12 PM
Nyachan, it may be a case of you being the "Reasonable" child, meaning your parents know that you can be reasoned with as opposed to your sibling, who is less likely to be manipulated.  They know that you care whether your parents are upset with you, therefore, they can demand that you apologize - even if you aren't at fault - and it is more than likely that you will do it because you don't want your parents to be mad at you.  Your sibling may be more stubborn or difficult, so your mother knows she is less likely to care enough to restore family peace.

DH and I went through this to a degree with his sister.  She would get upset about something, usually about a boundary we'd set with her, then go to his parents and complain.  DH's parents would try to get us to either change our minds about the boundary or to apologize for upsetting her just to get her to stop being upset and restore quiet. (Note I didn't say peace, just quiet.) 

For a long time, we would apologize because we love DH's parents and don't want to upset them.  But eventually, we realized we were just continuing the cycle and stopped. SIL got even more upset, and tried to keep the cycle going because she didn't understand that we'd changed our MO.  (We compared it to her jabbing the buttons on vending machine, because she's not getting the results she wants, even though she knows the machine isn't working.  Part of her brain refuses to accept that the button is not producing the desired result.)  DH's parents were disappointed in us for being hard-hearted and "causing trouble," but they eventually got over it. 

Some responses to your mom could be:

"I'll talk to Sis when I'm ready."
"This is between Sis and I."
"Mom, this isn't something I need to discuss with you."
"Mom, let me handle this."
Or just,

Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this? #7 - More
Post by: Marbles on May 27, 2013, 03:43:06 AM
"When she's ready to apologise, I'm sure she'll call." >:D
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this? #7 - More
Post by: livluvlaf on May 28, 2013, 10:26:17 PM
I wouldn't bother to respond. You have no responsibility to "make up" just because your mother wants or thinks you should.

If your mother asked to listen to your side of the situation, that would be a different story ... but again, you have no responsibility to do so - esp if you had hoped to keep the matter private.

If your sister wants to discuss the matter with you, she should discuss it directly with you. She was discussing it with your mother merely for sympathy.

Good Luck!
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this? #7 - More
Post by: snowdragon on May 28, 2013, 10:34:35 PM
I graduated last weekend

Nya Chan, Just wanted to say congrats!
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this? #7 - More
Post by: NyaChan on May 28, 2013, 11:31:56 PM
I graduated last weekend

Nya Chan, Just wanted to say congrats!

Thank you :D   I actually ended up texting my sister.  She is moving to a new place and I just sent a general text to check on how the packing was going.  She responded normally as if nothing was wrong.  My mom is still asking if I've spoken to her, but I'm not discussing it with her.  Until and unless my sister actually comes to me to say she is upset, I think you are right that ignoring it is best. 

weeblewobble, unfortunately it is kind of the opposite.  I'm the unreasonable one for them and my sister is the one they can count on.  Doesn't really matter if the facts don't always match up to that categorization anymore, the label still sticks  ::)
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this? #7 - More
Post by: NyaChan on May 30, 2013, 07:58:15 PM
Update:  So my mom had still been asking me if I'd talked to my sister each day, sometimes more than once.  Today she got more explicit.  We were just chatting and all of the sudden she goes all quiet and serious which always means trouble for me. 

Mom: "You know you need to talk to your sister.  She is really upset. You need to call her and apologize and fix this."
Me (kinda sorta cutting her off):  "If she is upset with me than she can talk to me about it.  I find it really insulting that you didn't even ask me what happened, but you are assuming that I am the one who needs to apologize.  I'm not discussing it with you."
Mom:  (in a small, super hurt voice) "Ok...."

and I left before she could say more.  So upset right now.  We were having a good day until this - she knows how stressed out I am, that I haven't been sleeping properly, and that I had just gotten out of the bath which I took precisely because I was so stressed out and she just ruined it because I am all tense again  :(

I really don't understand why, if my sister is so upset that my mom is acting this, she doesn't just say so.  Honestly my mom doesn't seem to get this, but my sister and I often go months without talking to each other.  We might text every now and again if we have something specific to say, but we don't just call and chat.
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this? Update #14
Post by: Free Range Hippy Chick on May 31, 2013, 05:28:24 AM
NyaChan, I'm sorry you're upset, and I understand why you are, but I honestly don't think you need to be. No matter which of you and your sister is in the wrong - and that's assuming that either of you is, and that it's not just one of those family things that blows up because of a difference of opinion - it is not your mother's business. You are not out of order in telling her, politely, to keep out of it, which is what you did. I don't think you were out of order in telling her that you were insulted that she was taking sides without ever hearing your version, and I certainly don't think you did anything wrong in planting the idea that perhaps your sister needs to apologise to you and not you to her.

I second Marbles' suggestion if the matter is raised again: "When she's ready to apologise, I'm sure she'll call."

Important point here: if your mother's feelings are hurt it is NOT YOUR PROBLEM. Say that out loud, several times. She wasn't part of the original argument, so she doesn't get a vote about it. The only people who do are the 'combatants' - you and your sister - and you get to sort it out whatever way suits you. Your mother is entitled to her opinion, but she's not entitled to have anybody pay any attention to it.
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this? Update #14
Post by: NyaChan on June 18, 2013, 02:36:48 PM
Final Update -  Sorry, I realized I never actually added this on, possibly because I was in a state of shock.

The next night after a very awkward day of us not really talking, I was watching TV when my parents went up to bed.  Then my mom came back down all shifty and half frowning.

In a kind of odd voice, she said:  "I was thinking about what happened and I realized that I never did ask you what your side was.  I know it's too late now, but I'm sorry and I'll try to be more careful. That's all, good night."  And she left.

I half expected the world to come to an end, because I could not recall any instance of getting an unequivocal apology from my parents before, no hedging, no blaming me, nothing.  She hasn't brought up the matter since then and has only asked if I've talked to my sister a couple of times in the context of "did she tell you about this funny thing?"   :)
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this? Update #14 Final #16
Post by: TootsNYC on June 18, 2013, 03:01:15 PM
If you ever want to, you might make this point to your mom:

"Sometimes a person is just venting. They assume that they're safe venting to their mom. And they don't actually intend to ever pursue their gripe with whoever it is they're venting out. Sometimes they absolutely intend to completely let it die. But they want to vent because it helps them mentally put the matter to rest. And they think they're safe venting to their mom.
  "But when you then pursue the issue, you take something that *would* have completely died away without ANY bad feelings, and you turn it into some big whole thing. And you end up with BOTH sides being upset over something that would have just faded away into background noise.
   "You need to leave the relationship between me and Sis alone. Don't interfere. Otherwise you make it hard for either of us to back down, or hard for either of us to forgive and forget.
   "So no, I don't want to tell you my side of it. I don't want you to talk about it with either of us ever again. We aren't enemies--we've been in quite cordial contact over other things, just as we always are.
   "Let us manage it. That way it won't get messed up."
Title: Re: How should someone react or respond to this? Update #14 Final #16
Post by: BeagleMommy on June 18, 2013, 03:24:16 PM
NyaChan, let's hope this becomes a precedent with your mom.  It's a start.

Congrats on your graduation!