Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: norrina on June 07, 2013, 04:54:52 PM

Title: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: norrina on June 07, 2013, 04:54:52 PM
Relevant background:
I graduated law school in May '12, took the My State bar exam in July '12, and was officially sworn in as a licensed attorney of My State in Nov. '12. Due in part to the poor economy, and in part to wanting to practice a specific type of law, I had no success with finding a position with an established law firm, though I made diligent efforts for many months. In Aug. '12 I decided to open my own practice, and I had all systems in place to open my firm's doors the day that I was sworn in. Since then I have had some good months and some lean months, but overall I had been able to get by. Admittedly, this survival has been due in part to a very generous monetary gift from my grandparents at the time of my graduation (before I had decided to open my own practice), which is now gone, although I do still have a retirement account that I can break into if absolutely necessary. My fiancé is a full-time student, and will graduate with his bachelor's degree in International Business in Dec. of this year.   

On to the dilemma:
Since November, every time I have talked to my grandfather he has asked me if I am "looking for a job yet". The first gazillion times I explained that I was greatly enjoying working for myself, and that I would really like to continue in that path if I could make a go of it. The last time he asked I responded that I have a job, and I really like it.

Perhaps that finally got through, because when we spoke today he didn't bring the subject up again. Instead though he wanted to discuss my fiancé's career prospects. My fiancé has been tracking the job market in his field for some time now, and the possibilities look promising, though we won't know for sure until he is in a position to actually start applying. I told grandfather some of the big name positions that we had seen. Grandfather then wanted to know if DF was only looking at jobs in our area, and when I replied that he was grandfather latched onto that as the new wrong-thing-to-do. I explained that DF has a son here, and that we are not willing to relocate him again (we moved here 2 years ago for DF's son's mother's career), so we will be staying here until the (now 12 y.o.) child is 18. That only got a lecture about how much that was limiting DF, and he needed to look into international positions. I reiterated again that that would not be possible, if for no reason other than DF has a child here. At that point grandfather dropped it, but I suspect this is not the last I've heard of the subject. (It actually isn't the first time it's come up either, come to think of it.)

So, eHellions, I need suggestions. How do I respond when my grandfather, who is elderly, and has been very generous with me my entire life,

Right now my thoughts are to respond to his lectures on the necessity of looking for a "job" or seeking international employment with "That is an idea," and then doing our own thing. But what I really would prefer is to shut down the idea that it is okay to tell a 34 and 40 year old how to conduct their career path or raise their family. I'm not sure how many times I can listen to grandfather suggest that DF take a job out of the country when doing so would mean all but never seeing his child.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: NyaChan on June 07, 2013, 05:03:47 PM
Since its your grandpa and he's getting older, I'm going to advocate for a softer approach.  I am wondering if maybe grandpa is worried that you will find yourself in financial trouble, or not secure and he might not be around to help you out (or maybe just the worry that you will be in financial trouble).

I would sit him down and ask him about it.  "Grandfather, the last few times we've spoken about jobs and the future, you really pushed hard on DF and I making different choices.  Why is that?  Are you worried about something?"

Not the best wording, but that general feel for it.  If he has some specific concern, you may be able to resolve it by calmly explaining.  If he has no specific concern, this could be a case where someone who is getting older is trying to keep themselves involved in your life by giving their advice which they feel (IMO wrongly, but still worthy of tolerating) they are entitled to give.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: Aquamarine on June 07, 2013, 05:07:13 PM
"Oh DF is doing great and my job is going great too".  Then ask questions of him to change the subject.  Many elderly are easily distracted and redirected.  Sit down and make an actual list of questions that you can ask him to change the subject, it will make things easier for you on the spur of the moment to have this handy.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: PastryGoddess on June 07, 2013, 05:27:07 PM
"Oh DF is doing great and my job is going great too".  Then ask questions of him to change the subject.  Many elderly are easily distracted and redirected.  Sit down and make an actual list of questions that you can ask him to change the subject, it will make things easier for you on the spur of the moment to have this handy.


 :o :o :o  Can I trade my relatives for yours  ;D
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: doodlemor on June 07, 2013, 06:06:48 PM
I'm afraid that as long as Grandpa is alive he is going to give you unnecessary advice.  He likely was raised with the mindset that youngsters listened to their elders and did what they were told.  My family tended to be like this, too.  Aaarrrrgh, so aggravating!!!!!!!

The only advice that I can add is this.  When he suggests that your DF take a job away from his child you should be a shocked and affronted.  You could say something to the effect that DF would not be the man that you love if he would abandon his son, or that DF has more integrity than to run away from his son, whom you both love very much.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: Brisvegasgal on June 07, 2013, 06:15:07 PM
I totally agree with NyaChan on this one.  Ask him if he is worried about something specific. A discussion may help. If it doesn't then I think you need to continue being kind about it.  I'm not sure your grandad is being rude or forgetful or is caught with attitudes of the past.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: gmatoy on June 07, 2013, 07:00:22 PM
I just want to add that if Grandpa lived with or near his children and was a good parent, you can point out that one of the things you looked for in a partner was that he was or would be a good parent, "like you, Grandpa!"

That bit of "honey" might make him look at this differently.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: norrina on June 07, 2013, 07:41:54 PM
To those that brought it up, I know that grandfather's questioning comes from a concern about financial stability. I briefly lived with my grandparents in my early 20s (3 months while I was taking a program in their area), and about 6 months after I moved away I ordered my credit report and it was sent to their address. Rather than forward it, my grandmother saw fit to open it.  >:( I had about $2500 in credit card debt, and clearly I have been headed for financial ruin ever since.  ::) I started law school debt free but did have to take out substantial student loans to obtain my law degree, and that bothers them. I have explained income-based-repayment, but they are not appeased.

Neither of my grandparents are easily distracted, they're like a dog with a bone. So bean dip doesn't work very well.

DF and I do both have back-up plans (he could go back to the field he was in before school if necessary, I substitute teach for a little extra cash), but these plans do not seem to be mollifying the grandparents. It's interesting, on the one hand grandfather seems to understand that jobs are hard to come by these days (hence thinking DF should look abroad for work), yet on the other hand he thinks I should just snap my fingers and have a job rather than carrying on with this uncertain self-employed business.

I was completely appalled that grandfather would suggest DF move away from his son, but I didn't let the extent of my distress show, which may have been a mistake. Then again, while grandfather did work a local job that let him be home with grandmother and the children every night, I don't know how involved he was as a father. It was a different mindset then. And that may be part of why he doesn't see a problem with DF going away for extended periods of time, in his day the mother did the bulk of the childrearing anyhow, and it was largely unheard of that a father would need to coordinate parenting time with an ex, much less have 50/50 time such as DF has with his son.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: *inviteseller on June 07, 2013, 08:19:50 PM
Your grandfather comes from a time where women (if they worked) worked for someone, not for themselves and when the father was the breadwinner and the mother raised the child.  He is probably like my dad (who is 80) who still believes the way he grew up is the right way..we tease my dad when he gets in these moods that it is not 1940 and Donna Reed is no longer meeting her husband at the door with her pearls and a martini, and children are seen AND heard.  Just keep gently telling him that you have your own practice and it makes you happy, and that DF knows what opportunities are out there, but helping raise his son is just as important as a job.  Tell him that you know he worries but these decisions you have come to have been well thought out and what you both want in life. 
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: TootsNYC on June 08, 2013, 10:34:41 AM
There are no "magic words." (Did you see art's great post on that?)

Can you fix it so that you stop caring about Grandpa's opinion on this? You love him, sure, but it's completely NOT necessary for him to agree with you. He can have an opinion different from yours--that's fine. You and your fiance don't need to follow his opinion.

Maybe you just get out of the conversation and off the topic as fast as you can. Be Teflon.

Say "hmmm"  a lot. If he asks you questions, say, "Grandpa, please don't quiz me. That's really no fun." And then change the topic, even if it's just to say, "Excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom" so that you can walk away from him. (A bit of behavior modification there--he brings up the topic, and--whammo--he loses all your attention and company.)
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: norrina on June 08, 2013, 11:27:32 AM
There are no "magic words." (Did you see art's great post on that?)

Can you fix it so that you stop caring about Grandpa's opinion on this? You love him, sure, but it's completely NOT necessary for him to agree with you. He can have an opinion different from yours--that's fine. You and your fiance don't need to follow his opinion. ...

Training myself not to care is probably going to be my best bet. In our infinite wisdom, DF and I decided to invite our immediate family to stay in a big beach house with us for the week surrounding our wedding. This is more likely than not going to mean a week of opinions on every aspect of our life decisions, so I need to learn to let it roll off my back or I'm liable to have a mental breakdown before the week is out.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: CookieChica on June 08, 2013, 03:39:09 PM
This is a little OT but your fiancée IS in the market to apply for jobs now. I work for a global company and we started hiring summer grads in November. In the next month, decisions will be made about December grads.

Okay so there's more of the unsolicited advice you want to avoid. I'm in a similar position to you where I often "need" to explain myself to my generous grandfather. It's gotten better since I gave him a great grandchild so maybe try that?  >:D
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: CaffeineKatie on June 08, 2013, 05:15:44 PM
Also, if your family is anything like my family, the fact that you accepted a generous amount of cash from them (in their mind) gives them the eternal and unlimited right to meddle in your finances for the rest of your life.  I'd go broken record on them--"we have our plans in place--thanks for asking."
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: Redsoil on June 08, 2013, 06:14:50 PM
"Grandpa, I understand your concern, and I'm touched that you worry about us.  But you know, I'm really positive about the progress I've made in opening my own practice - it's looking really solid for future growth, and I've done well in a such a short time.  DF has some thoughts on managing his career so he can ensure his son has his Dad around and we think that's really important.  DF is very responsible about his parenting obligations, which I think is great.  We'll keep you up to speed with developments."  Then beandip / go off at a tangent about work issues/areas of particular interest to you in your field etc.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: norrina on June 08, 2013, 09:37:47 PM
This is a little OT but your fiancée IS in the market to apply for jobs now. I work for a global company and we started hiring summer grads in November. In the next month, decisions will be made about December grads.

Okay so there's more of the unsolicited advice you want to avoid. I'm in a similar position to you where I often "need" to explain myself to my generous grandfather. It's gotten better since I gave him a great grandchild so maybe try that?  >:D

That's actually very helpful to know about the timing of applications, thank you. Like I said, DF has looked at job postings, but I don't know if he realizes that at least some companies may be hiring so far into the future.

As far as great-grandchildren though, the practice isn't doing quite that well yet.  ;) Also, my brother did give him great-grandchildren, and that just opened up a whole new arena of opinions.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: checkitnice on June 09, 2013, 10:58:41 AM
I would also beandip the heck out of this one.  I like Redsoil's idea about going on about a tangent rather quickly.  Don't give them so many openings to start in on the job issue.  Unfortunately though, stock phrases are often the only thing that works with elderly relatives.   ::)
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: CaffeineKatie on June 09, 2013, 06:05:10 PM
 Also, my brother did give him great-grandchildren, and that just opened up a whole new arena of opinions

OK if that isn't proof that there's NO point in talking to him about this, I don't know what is.  I'd pick a set phrase that's a polite version of "It's none of your business" and repeat, repeat, repeat!!!!!!!
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: bopper on June 10, 2013, 08:26:03 AM


Grandpa, I *own* my law firm. I don't need to look for a job.
Grandpa, are you suggesting that DF move away from his son?


I am assuming Grandpa is older.  I have no idea if he has memory issues.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: Oh Joy on June 10, 2013, 09:46:37 AM
I've read about how an important part of the aging process includes reviewing our life's experiences and applying our life's knowledge to them...which is part of why storytelling is so important to our older relatives, even if they don't know that's why they're doing it.

This sounds like a great opportunity to ask him questions about what he did, or how he made his career and family decisions.  It's a distraction from your choices, and you might each benefit in some way from him telling the stories. :-)

Best wishes.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: CakeBeret on June 10, 2013, 10:41:08 AM
My favorite technique to use on stubborn relatives is to gush about your happiness and then beandip.

"When is he going to get a real job in another country?"
"Actually we are so happy with how things are right now. He loves being here with his son and he's not ready to move. He's been coaching his son's baseball team, did you know that? They beat the Tigers last Tuesday, 7 to 2."

"Have you found a job?"
"I love what I'm doing right now and can't imagine doing anything else. My favorite part of my job is XYZ. It's so fulfilling to help the unicorns defend their right to have rainbows. The history between the unicorns and the rainbows is really fascinating, have I told you about it?"
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: norrina on June 10, 2013, 11:53:51 AM
Thank you for the suggestions everyone! Please keep the ideas coming, I'm sure that I will come up with a combination of phrases. I don't have my perfect response worked out yet, but the ideas are definitely helping me get there. Gush and then beandip sounds really nice; though I'm not convinced any amount of beandip is going to put grandfather off the scent.  :-\

As far as I can tell, there are no memory issues with grandfather. It isn't that he forgets that we have already had this conversation, it is that he didn't like my answer last time and hopes that if he brings it up again it will end differently this time.

My best bet is probably to see if I can get him talking about something else. He does love to share his knowledge on various subjects.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: cwm on June 10, 2013, 02:13:22 PM
As far as I can tell, there are no memory issues with grandfather. It isn't that he forgets that we have already had this conversation, it is that he didn't like my answer last time and hopes that if he brings it up again it will end differently this time.

Are you sure your grandpa isn't my dad?

Honestly, the best thing I've ever used to deal with someone like this is a simple response repeated over and over any time it's brought up. "Thanks for your concern about my career. I've looked into some other options, but right now I'm in the best position I could be in."

"Thanks for your concern about DF's job options. We're looking into our options and we're sure we'll find the right job for him as soon as he graduates."

Just don't mention that the other options you've looked into were some time ago, or that the only options you're looking for DF are local. Just repeat variations of the same thing every time he brings it up. If that doesn't stop it, politely mention after the third repetition that it's not up for discussion. Be as stubborn as your grandpa is. If he won't let it go, don't give in. Make sure you have the final say on it, and that final say is exactly what you want to say.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: Mikayla on June 10, 2013, 02:49:00 PM

I would sit him down and ask him about it.  "Grandfather, the last few times we've spoken about jobs and the future, you really pushed hard on DF and I making different choices.  Why is that?  Are you worried about something?"


I like this best. OP, you ask what you should respond, but there's no reason you can't initiate the convo, and there are advantages to it.  It's a variation of the question-as-answer concept, and it works well.

Listen to what he says, but also have some bullet points in your mind.  There are 2 biggies, I'd think.  The first is that this is a different world than his.  Heck, dig out those stats that say the average person changes careers (not jobs) 4 or 5 times.  This is a totally different mindset than his world, where people worked 40 years at one job and got a gold watch when they left.

The second bullet has to do with both you and DF doing continuous gut checks on where you are right now, and that you are both very happy and excited about how you've positioned yourselves. 

Oh...and on the child, don't get sidetracked by limited job opportunities in your area.  Just ask him point blank: "Grampa, with your beliefs on family, you can't be suggesting I'd be better off with someone who didn't put parenting above all else".

Then just make sure to get closure on this convo, since you don't want repititions of it.  If you have to end up telling him his questions make you uncomfortable, and/or even sad because he's worried for no reason, do so.  You don't want to play whack-a-mole with this.  Address it once and then make it clear you hope the topic is shelved.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: sammycat on June 10, 2013, 07:05:54 PM
Grandpa, I *own* my law firm. I don't need to look for a job.
Grandpa, are you suggesting that DF move away from his son?


I like these.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: norrina on June 10, 2013, 09:18:03 PM
Grandpa, I *own* my law firm. I don't need to look for a job.
Grandpa, are you suggesting that DF move away from his son?


I like these.

I like the first one. My concern with the second is that grandfather thinks we can all just pack up and follow DF wherever. I can't (see law firm that I own, above), and it wouldn't be fair to relocate DFSS, both because we've only been here for 2 years, and because it would take him away from his mother. DF and his ex have week-on/week-off custody right now, so if either of them moved away one parent would end up with summers and the other with the school year. It isn't an arrangement either of them is interested in considering. But if I get into all of that with grandfather then it's just another line of "discussion" about how we should be making different choices.

I might try something along the lines of, "Grandfather, DF's commitment to his son keeps him here where he can be a full-time parent. The health and bond of our family is the most important thing to us."
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: lowspark on June 11, 2013, 12:04:42 PM
Also, my brother did give him great-grandchildren, and that just opened up a whole new arena of opinions

OK if that isn't proof that there's NO point in talking to him about this, I don't know what is.  I'd pick a set phrase that's a polite version of "It's none of your business" and repeat, repeat, repeat!!!!!!!

Pod. My stock "it's none of your business" phrase is "I'll take it under advisement."
You just have to come up with a phrase that works for you. "Thanks for your input Grandpa!" or "I'll think about what you said" or some phrase that gives him a sort of validation for advising you which might be the very thing he's looking for while emphasizing that it's your decision, not his.

I think the problem with your approach is that you are viewing his suggestions as a debate, and therefore you are responding with logical arguements. But he's seeing it as him having the only right answer so your responses are falling on deaf ears.

That's why it's best not to prolong the conversation with any response other than an acknowledgement of his kind intentions and the indication that it is ultimately up to you (and your fiancé) to decide.

edited to fix a typo.
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: Thipu1 on June 12, 2013, 03:57:36 AM


Grandpa, I *own* my law firm. I don't need to look for a job.
Grandpa, are you suggesting that DF move away from his son?


I am assuming Grandpa is older.  I have no idea if he has memory issues.

Older people don't necessarily have memory issues.  They have perception issues.  They often tend to see us as we were rather than as we are. 

MIL is mentally very sharp.  However, she seems to have forgotten a decade or two.  As a young man, Mr. Thipu had brief problems with credit card debt.  As a result, our financial condition is of
great interest to her.  She often asks about the state of our mortgage.  That was paid off 15 years ago. 

She also treats her Grandchildren as if they're just out of college.  All three are in their 40s and have well-established families.

I tend to agree that Grandpa hasn't forgotten that the questions have been asked before, he just hasn't liked the answers he's heard. 
Title: Re: Need something better than the stock phrases
Post by: acicularis on June 12, 2013, 07:14:26 AM
As far as I can tell, there are no memory issues with grandfather. It isn't that he forgets that we have already had this conversation, it is that he didn't like my answer last time and hopes that if he brings it up again it will end differently this time.

That sounds like my mother! It's frustrating and infuriating. Usually I have a stock response, and make sure it's not too long (if it's too long, it sounds like I'm justifying, or that the topic is open for further discussion). Sometimes I preface it with "As I said before. . ."

Eventually she lets go of these topics, but I'm not sure it's because of what I've said so much as how I've said it. I remind myself that I'm an adult and don't need to justify anything to my mother (yes, at 50 years old I still have to remind myself that I'm a grownup!), and speak with confidence, not defensiveness.