Author Topic: "Most offensive Thanksgiving dinner ever" letter  (Read 8407 times)

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elephantschild

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"Most offensive Thanksgiving dinner ever" letter
« on: December 04, 2012, 09:38:52 AM »
This is the "Boyfriend's Family" question.

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/dear_prudence/2012/12/dear_prudence_i_just_had_the_most_offensive_thanksgiving_dinner_ever.html

I'm torn. When she said he was "nonapologetic," I wanted to yell, "Get out NOW!"  But Prudie makes the point that he would naturally be a bit defensive and, while it's not the time for an ultimatum, it opens up a conversation between them. 

What do you think?

Speaking for myself, the description turned my stomach. I wouldn't want any more to do with them. But would that make me call the relationship quits? I don't know.  :-\
"But there was one Elephant -- a new Elephant -- an Elephant's Child--who was full of 'satiable curtiosity, and that means he asked ever so many questions."
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Roe

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Re: "Most offensive Thanksgiving dinner ever" letter
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2012, 09:46:16 AM »
I wouldn't hold it against the boyfriend, after all, he can't control others.  However, I would think long and hard before continuing the relationship.  I can't even imagine having children with someone whose family is so...so, like them

BarensMom

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Re: "Most offensive Thanksgiving dinner ever" letter
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2012, 09:51:07 AM »
Well, there's always "the branch doesn't fall far from the tree" argument.  The LW would have to decide based on her BF's behavior if he shares the same ugly opinions as his family. He could be on his best behavior right now because he is in medical school and/or trying to impress the LW.  Once he marries her/becomes a doctor, that veneer could slide right off.

Personally, it would make me take a giant leap back from the relationship and observe his interactions with others w/o the rose-colored glasses.

VltGrantham

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Re: "Most offensive Thanksgiving dinner ever" letter
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2012, 09:51:55 AM »
DH's family, not all of them, but a great many of them, is quite awful in some respects.  Not so much with the racial slurs, but they are openly bigoted against anyone who is homosexual.

We've been married nearly 20 years and I would have missed out on a wonderful husband and father had I just broken up with him because of his family. 

However, I'd also be lying if I said it hadn't caused some friction in our marriage and a lot of drama in our lives.  What I'd need to know in this case is, would the boyfriend expect her to continue to attend gatherings with his family for the rest of their lives?  What about exposing any potential children to this?

Is her boyfriend going to support her or his family when it comes down to it?  DH was willing to be my support and take on his family, draw definitive lines in the sand, etc.  If he's not willing to be that supportive, I too would have to think long and hard about continuing the relationship.

WillyNilly

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Re: "Most offensive Thanksgiving dinner ever" letter
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2012, 09:53:15 AM »
I think the letter writer is wise to be concerned.  And I think she should get out now.  I think Prudie was deadset wrong when she wrote "You say he's your boyfriend, not yet your fiancÚ. So it seems premature to start dictating that you want to limit the exposure of your nonexistent children to them."  I've made that same mistake, and it is a mistake.  The time to worry about very serious long term compatibility is not later, once things have gotten super serious.  Its before that time, while its still easier to leave the relationship.  Because the deeper in your get the more excuses you make to yourself about having to just deal with it because you've come so far.  early on when its a cleaner break is the time to say "you know what?  I'm never ever going to be ok with this and unless you can say we will absolutely never ever expose our children to time spent one on one with these folks, this just isn't going to work out."  Navigating the holidays and who to spend them with is hard enough when everyone gets along, add in aberration of the inlaws by a spouse and its a huge major issue.

CaptainObvious

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Re: "Most offensive Thanksgiving dinner ever" letter
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2012, 09:53:52 AM »
Well, there's always "the branch doesn't fall far from the tree" argument.  The LW would have to decide based on her BF's behavior if he shares the same ugly opinions as his family. He could be on his best behavior right now because he is in medical school and/or trying to impress the LW.  Once he marries her/becomes a doctor, that veneer could slide right off.

Personally, it would make me take a giant leap back from the relationship and observe his interactions with others w/o the rose-colored glasses.

That is a bit of a leap, there are a lot of people who are not anything like their family, nor do they sudden;y transform after marriage.

Sharnita

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Re: "Most offensive Thanksgiving dinner ever" letter
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2012, 10:09:40 AM »
Do you apologize for the sins of others?  I mean, what does that accomplish?  They aren't regretful and they aren't going to try to change.  She already knows he isn't like that and he did warn her ahead of time.  I am not really sure what she means be that or what an apology from him would do. For me it would probably be pretty meaningless.  He isn't their parent so it isn't like he had any part in raising them - to look to him for apology or explanantion would likely make him more defensive.

Venus193

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Re: "Most offensive Thanksgiving dinner ever" letter
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2012, 10:22:10 AM »
My college buddy became a victim of reverse snobbery when he got married.  He could not tolerate his in-laws, most of whom were openly against higher education and some of whom were outright dishonest in ways that went way beyond social lies.  Early in his marriage he told me he hated spending any time with them.  I suggested that he do so on the things that need to be on the calendar (like Christmas and his MIL's birthday) out of respect for his wife.

I don't think he did and eventually his wife drifted away from him in ways beyond the normal stuff that couples fight about.  She served him with divorce papers at his office... on Valentine's Day.

GSNW

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Re: "Most offensive Thanksgiving dinner ever" letter
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2012, 10:42:24 AM »
If the boyfriend really understands how offensive and hateful his family is, why would he expose gf to that?  I would not be prepared for a lifetime of putting up with crude and vulgar behavior and the arguments that would result (especially since the boyfriend seemed mildly embarassed, which IMO is not a strong enough reaction).  A difficult family is one thing, hate and prejudice is quite another. 

wolfie

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Re: "Most offensive Thanksgiving dinner ever" letter
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2012, 10:52:26 AM »
If the boyfriend really understands how offensive and hateful his family is, why would he expose gf to that?  I would not be prepared for a lifetime of putting up with crude and vulgar behavior and the arguments that would result (especially since the boyfriend seemed mildly embarassed, which IMO is not a strong enough reaction).  A difficult family is one thing, hate and prejudice is quite another.

Because they are his family and he has wonderful memories of them in other situations were race and sexuality never came up. It's really really hard to just drop your family when you have actual abuse against you - I can see why he just ignores it with a "well that is how they are". He is probably also hoping that it really isn't that bad... maybe they changed in the meantime...

CaptainObvious

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Re: "Most offensive Thanksgiving dinner ever" letter
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2012, 10:55:04 AM »
If the boyfriend really understands how offensive and hateful his family is, why would he expose gf to that?  I would not be prepared for a lifetime of putting up with crude and vulgar behavior and the arguments that would result (especially since the boyfriend seemed mildly embarassed, which IMO is not a strong enough reaction).  A difficult family is one thing, hate and prejudice is quite another.

Because they are his family and he has wonderful memories of them in other situations were race and sexuality never came up. It's really really hard to just drop your family when you have actual abuse against you - I can see why he just ignores it with a "well that is how they are". He is probably also hoping that it really isn't that bad... maybe they changed in the meantime...

It is one of those "elephant in the room" things, either he hides them, and she finds out too late, or he exposes her and she make the decision to deal or cut and run.


CakeBeret

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Re: "Most offensive Thanksgiving dinner ever" letter
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2012, 10:57:44 AM »
That letter could have been written about my family of origin. They are a hateful and bigoted bunch, but excuse it all under the umbrella of their religion. My grandmother calls people the N-word. My mother and sister are nasty and hateful about gays, other racial groups, single parents, people with mental disabilities, and much more. They are not as overt about it as the situation in the letter, but if you're around them long enough you'll get an earful.

I think the "apple doesn't fall far from the tree" argument is hurtful. I make every effort to be kind, compassionate, and respectful of every fellow man.

However, I think it's seriously problematic that the boyfriend was "nonapologetic". It shows that he is tolerant towards bigotry and that would be a serious problem for me. I know that many people are defensive about their families (my DH is one of them) but if he can't see the issue with outright hate speech, I would consider that a serious flaw. Were I the LW, I would have expected (a) a warning beforehand, and (b) an "I'm sorry you had to listen to that. I agree that they're incredibly rude, and I don't blame you for being upset."
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O'Dell

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Re: "Most offensive Thanksgiving dinner ever" letter
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2012, 10:58:18 AM »
I don't get where Prudie is coming from. The 2 of them are talking about moving to be near his family, so it is plenty late in the relationship to start worrying.

I can only see this situation working if the boyfriend is committed to limiting contact with his family. That he wants to move near his hometown is troubling. If he wants to move to be closer to be near his family and to see them more, then it's not going to work.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2012, 11:04:50 AM by O'Dell »
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Sharnita

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Re: "Most offensive Thanksgiving dinner ever" letter
« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2012, 11:03:10 AM »
And he hopes that if she loves him  she judges  him on his own merit and not on family they might or might not see all that often.  Right now they live 1,000 miles away, they might move closer but that does not mean it is a certainty and even if they do live closer that does not mean they will see the family all the time. 

I don't see that they are talking about moving to be near his family, just that they might move and be closer to his family as a result.  That might be because they like the area better in genereal, because jobs are available, because the weather is nicer, because the culture of the area appeals ...

HorseFreak

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Re: "Most offensive Thanksgiving dinner ever" letter
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2012, 11:03:46 AM »
I don't think anyone can make this decision for anyone else, but I would personally run away screaming. I could not imagine spending another second with these people and I wouldn't be able to build a relationship with a person knowing that I would have to. A wedding filled with these bigots would not be a happy day for me; it would be miserable wondering what kind of hate would spew from their mouths during the reception or meeting my friends.

I can't imagine how difficult this is for her BF if he is indeed unlike them, but that doesn't mean she has to suffer it, too!