Author Topic: Family=/= Carte Blanche to be rude  (Read 8430 times)

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TootsNYC

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Re: Family=/= Carte Blanche to be rude
« Reply #45 on: December 26, 2012, 09:47:09 PM »
I know this sounds trite, but sometimes the best thing you can do is blatantly ignore these types of people.  She thrives on the reaction she gets from you and the negative attention it draws.  If you can, pretend you didn't hear it. 

I disagree--people say this to picked-on adolescents, and as one of those (a picked-on adolescent), I can tell you that it just completely isn't true.

What *IS* true is that the bully is thriving on SOME reaction, but it's not necessarily YOURS. She's getting off on the idea that she can say something rude and get away with it (which actually has nothing to do with you specifically; you're just the available target).

Or she's getting off on the idea that other people around are reacting--they're squirming or uncomfortable, but they don't stop her or object to her--which makes her feel powerful.

Other than attacking back every time she starts, no matter WHO her target is (which is the verbal equivalent of punching the bully back), nothing is going to work.

And by attack back, I do mean a direct, frontal assault: "Aunt Bitterhag, that's enough. We're tired of listening to you complain about the coffee maker--it was a nice present, and if you don't like it, the least you can do is to keep quiet about it instead of subjecting us all to hearing your repeated complaints. You're ruining the Christmas mood. No, I mean it, that's enough."
   And "Aunt Bitterhag, that was a mean and nasty comment about my weight. You need to apologize this instant--I can't believe you said that, and it is not appropriate. I'm waiting for an apology."

All the more points if you step in when she's being unpleasant to someone ELSE. Imagine that she is a 4yo, and then channel your Inner Day-Care Worker.


...At the same time, I wonder if calling her Aunt Bitterhag is helpful.  Isn't that somewhat the same as her calling you fat?  Why do you get to decide she's bitter, and a hag, rather than a person with some flaws?  Even if you're not calling her face-to-face, this seems like the opposite of proper etiquette to me.  I know it's probably easiest to vilify her, but I don't think it's the best choice.

I think it absolutely is different because the name-calling is not being done face-to-face. That *IS* what Etiquette is. Etiquette doesn't care what you think, and it doesn't care what you say in private.

(Character might care, as might Kindness and Moral Development. Even Tactics might agree with you that while it's easy to vilify her, it's not necessary the best choice. But Etiquette doesn't.)

(and while this woman is horrible, I have to tell you--I'm really sort of shaking my head over this "she is not related to you or your family" / "stranger that your Uncle at some time dragged in" idea. I married my husband, and therefore I am now a member of his family too--that's what marriage *is*. I would hate to think that I would be immediately labeled "not related" to any of his relatives if he passed away!!)

GreenEyedHawk

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Re: Family=/= Carte Blanche to be rude
« Reply #46 on: December 26, 2012, 09:53:27 PM »
FTR I don't c all her Aunt Bitterhag to (or anything other than Aunt *hername* to her face or within hearing of anyone else.  I'm just using it as a name and descriptor here.
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Shoo

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Re: Family=/= Carte Blanche to be rude
« Reply #47 on: December 26, 2012, 09:57:41 PM »
Surianne, the reason I call her that is because that's how she acts.  Her son and daughter, my cousins, went together for her Christmas gift and got her a really nice, very pricey high-end coffee maker...she IS a coffee drinker, quite an enthusiastic one, so they thought she would like it.

Right from the word go it was a stream of non-stop complaints about how she would never use it, how the whole thing was stupid, how it was lousy, how she can't believe her own CHILDREN would think she would like such a thing, on and on and on and nothing anyone said would convince her that the coffee machine was anything but a horrible, terrible, thoughtless gift.

Dinner, which was delicious and had a huge variety of things to choose from, was a complete wash to her because there was ham.  How dare we serve ham when we all know she can't eat pork, how could we all sit there enjoying ham (when she could have had turkey, beef or chicken pie, all of which were available as non-pork options for a main) when we all KNOW she can't eat ham?  What a horrible dinner! 

If she isn't actually a bitter hag, she does a pretty darn good job of playing the part.  She's just one of those people who is determined to be miserable and isn't happy until at least one or two other people are miserable with her.

I guess I'm still not getting it.  If you're uncomfortable with her emphasizing your faults, why is it okay for you to call her mean names?

There are ways to be forceful and stand up for yourself without stooping to her level.

Is she calling  this vile woman names to her face?

No, she is not.  She's using that name only here on Ehell, I believe.  We do it here all the time.  It's certainly not stooping to any lower level to do so.  Let's not make the OP feel any worse than she already does. 

Ceallach

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Re: Family=/= Carte Blanche to be rude
« Reply #48 on: December 26, 2012, 10:03:30 PM »
Surianne, the reason I call her that is because that's how she acts.  Her son and daughter, my cousins, went together for her Christmas gift and got her a really nice, very pricey high-end coffee maker...she IS a coffee drinker, quite an enthusiastic one, so they thought she would like it.

Right from the word go it was a stream of non-stop complaints about how she would never use it, how the whole thing was stupid, how it was lousy, how she can't believe her own CHILDREN would think she would like such a thing, on and on and on and nothing anyone said would convince her that the coffee machine was anything but a horrible, terrible, thoughtless gift.

Dinner, which was delicious and had a huge variety of things to choose from, was a complete wash to her because there was ham.  How dare we serve ham when we all know she can't eat pork, how could we all sit there enjoying ham (when she could have had turkey, beef or chicken pie, all of which were available as non-pork options for a main) when we all KNOW she can't eat ham?  What a horrible dinner! 

If she isn't actually a bitter hag, she does a pretty darn good job of playing the part.  She's just one of those people who is determined to be miserable and isn't happy until at least one or two other people are miserable with her.

I guess I'm still not getting it.  If you're uncomfortable with her emphasizing your faults, why is it okay for you to call her mean names?

There are ways to be forceful and stand up for yourself without stooping to her level.

I have to agree with Surianne. While all of what you say about your aunt may be true, why is calling her mean names OK? Isn't that what she is in affect doing to you?

You can put a stop to it without stooping to her level.

I don't think giving her an amusing (and apparently accurate!) nickname on eHell is remotely the same as abusing somebody to their face.    There's nothing retaliatory or stooping to her level about it.     And really, it's not very constructive to be chastising a poster for such a minor aspect of their situation.  I don't think the OP's attitude towards her Aunt has contributed to the problem here e.g. it's not that she has a low opinion of her and therefore is over-reacting to Aunt's comments.   It sounds as though her opinion of Aunt is warranted based on the facts we've been presented with.  Referring to her by her real name or another nickname is unlikely to change the situation. 

Telling her off for this is just distracting from fixing the real problem. 

OP, I agree with PPs that sometimes it's ok to make a scene.  When my mother said some horrid things to me she was shocked when my response was a cold and very angry:    "You can't say something like that.  I *will* stop talking to you if you say anything like that me again, it's just nasty".          My family always brush things off as "but that's just mom!",  and I do know my mother suffers from "foot in mouth syndrome", but that doesn't mean I'm going to accept outrageously hurtful comments from her.    And guess what?  She backtracked and apologised, and she has been lovely since then.   (There was lots of "I didn't mean it!!" to which I responded "Yes you did. And it's not ok".   Until she acknowledged that and apologised). 
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gramma dishes

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Re: Family=/= Carte Blanche to be rude
« Reply #49 on: December 26, 2012, 10:08:27 PM »
...  (and while this woman is horrible, I have to tell you--I'm really sort of shaking my head over this "she is not related to you or your family" / "stranger that your Uncle at some time dragged in" idea. I married my husband, and therefore I am now a member of his family too--that's what marriage *is*. I would hate to think that I would be immediately labeled "not related" to any of his relatives if he passed away!!)

No, I'm sure you wouldn't be labeled "not related".  But you're not mean and nasty and hurtful to all of your husband's relatives either.  So you really ARE family because you have become family through your behavior and the way you treat others, not solely because of your marriage.

Sorry Toots, but I make no apologies for the statement.  I've got an Aunt (through marriage) who also almost single handedly destroyed a whole family because no one wanted to 'hurt her feelings' or alienate our Uncle while she went around emotionally destroying everyone in her path.  She did it all.  Lie, cheat, steal, evil (and untrue) gossip.  But in our family, once my Uncle died, she became a pariah.  No one would have anything to do with her, not even her own children. 

Shoo

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Re: Family=/= Carte Blanche to be rude
« Reply #50 on: December 26, 2012, 10:17:10 PM »
...  (and while this woman is horrible, I have to tell you--I'm really sort of shaking my head over this "she is not related to you or your family" / "stranger that your Uncle at some time dragged in" idea. I married my husband, and therefore I am now a member of his family too--that's what marriage *is*. I would hate to think that I would be immediately labeled "not related" to any of his relatives if he passed away!!)

No, I'm sure you wouldn't be labeled "not related".  But you're not mean and nasty and hurtful to all of your husband's relatives either.  So you really ARE family because you have become family through your behavior and the way you treat others, not solely because of your marriage.

Sorry Toots, but I make no apologies for the statement.  I've got an Aunt (through marriage) who also almost single handedly destroyed a whole family because no one wanted to 'hurt her feelings' or alienate our Uncle while she went around emotionally destroying everyone in her path.  She did it all.  Lie, cheat, steal, evil (and untrue) gossip.  But in our family, once my Uncle died, she became a pariah.  No one would have anything to do with her, not even her own children. 

I think it makes a difference that the uncle she was married to has been dead for 20 years.  She's family by a (long ago) marriage only.  The family puts up with her out of respect for her dead husband, not because she's fun to have around.

Phoebe

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Re: Family=/= Carte Blanche to be rude
« Reply #51 on: December 26, 2012, 10:46:26 PM »
I can't wrap my head around the fact that "the family" has more respect for the memory of a long-dead brother than they apparently do for a living daughter/niece.

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Re: Family=/= Carte Blanche to be rude
« Reply #52 on: December 26, 2012, 11:30:43 PM »
She also doesn't have much family of her own left who will tolerate her.  When her eldest daughter was married (recently divorced) she stopped coming to any family functions where her mother would be...she had an 'out' by way of her husband.  Her son would rather stay at Aunt Awesome's or my parents' place when he comes to town...he won't stay with her.  Her own siblings have either passed away or cut her off because her terrible attitude has alienated them all and I think my own family feels bad for her and so keeps her 'in the family' so to speak.  It's kind of them, I can't argue that, but I can't help but wonder if maybe she doesn't need to spend a few holidays home alone to be reminded of how valuable caring family really is, and how maybe she ought to show a little more grace and gratitude.
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onikenbai

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Re: Family=/= Carte Blanche to be rude
« Reply #53 on: December 26, 2012, 11:34:34 PM »
I'm all for not holding in how upset you are, even if you do hate crying in front of others.  It's one thing for your family to not rock the boat by confronting Aunt when she's nasty if you remain silent, but it's a completely different matter if you're walking out of the room in tears.  It sort of forces them to make a choice and be on one side or the other instead of remaining indifferent.  I would also then leave and not remain for the fallout.

I would most definitely not get in a witty reply match with Aunt as she may begin to see it as a game that gives her attention.  It just feeds the drama lama.

kherbert05

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Re: Family=/= Carte Blanche to be rude
« Reply #54 on: December 26, 2012, 11:52:43 PM »
What is wrong with asking the hosts and other family members - Why is it ok for Aunt to insult me? When they say it isn't alright (and they will) Ask "Then why doesn't anyone tell her to stop/Why doesn't anyone defend me?"

If that doesn't work, keep your stuff near by. When she starts up go to your hosts, tell them you refuse to stay and be insulted - the walk out.


That might wake them up. I'm going to be blunt - the needs of drunks and addicts  should NEVER be put before others in the family. Your family should be pouring her sorry self into a cab at the first sign of misbehavior.

My parents made a point of protecting Sis and I from experiencing the bad behavior of several relatives "with problems". I remember leaving some events in a hurry - looking back it was usually because someone was behaving badly. Those same people either weren't invited to our house.

The only bad side effect was I didn't have enough background to realize my Uncle was drunk and I got into his jeep. Dad nearly took his head off. The next day (after Dad cooled down) my parents had an age appropriate conversation with Sis and me about why we were never to get in uncle's vehicles under any conditions.
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NyaChan

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Re: Family=/= Carte Blanche to be rude
« Reply #55 on: December 27, 2012, 12:02:55 AM »
kherbert05, that happened to my mom and uncle when they were little.  They came from a family that pretended these problems didn't exist and had no idea that their relative even drank alcohol (not common in that religion or culture) let alone had a drinking problem.  They ran into him on their way home from school and he told them he'd drive them home.  Mom says she still remembers how terrified and confused she was - My Grandfather, the eldest brother alive, was livid, the relative was given a major ultimatum re: family money, and he was forced to sober up. 

doodlemor

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Re: Family=/= Carte Blanche to be rude
« Reply #56 on: December 27, 2012, 12:06:49 AM »

I have a relative who does something similar.  He is really insecure about how his under-achieving kids have turned out, so to remind everybody that my siblings and I aren't perfect, he likes to pick us apart, from pointing out errors in craft projects to complaining about our cooking to telling stories about what rotten kids we were.  All I want to do is scream, "Yes, Relative X, I'm sure everybody will forget your child's drug problem now that you've loudly announced that my pound cake is dry."

I just ignore him and remember he's doing this because my life turned out to be pretty great.

Slight threadjack here..............

This man certainly is a bully too, WW, and you shouldn't have to put up with this at family gatherings.  Perhaps you and your siblings could come up with a strategy to shut him down.

My suggestion is that every time he criticizes one of you...... every single time...... you wait for a few beats and then beandip him an innocuous question about one of his errant children that he probably doesn't want to talk about.  Something that you might normally ask, like .......So, how does XXX like living in nearby city?   or So, did you have a nice time with YYY on his recent birthday?  If/when he makes the connection perhaps he will let up on you and your siblings.

It may not be possible to do this if his children have become The Subject Never to Be Discussed in the family, or if the person in question is in jail.

This may be too PA for ehell - I'm not sure.   There are many posters on here who can come up with more and better suggestions for this problem, I'm sure.


doodlemor

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Re: Family=/= Carte Blanche to be rude
« Reply #57 on: December 27, 2012, 12:31:51 AM »
One of the toughest parts is that my Aunt Awesome.......... lives literally right across the street from Aunt Bitterhag.

At least your family doesn't have to worry about her driving home drunk.

I suspect that most of the family is also annoyed by Aunt Bitterhag.  I think that you should use some of the wonderful suggestions that people have offered and stand up to her.  Even if no one else says anything right at that time, it will start things moving. 

Your family has been very kind to her.  There is no reason why they should have to be hostage to her miserable attitudes and nastiness at family parties, though.  It sounds like Aunt Awesome has already been on your side.  Perhaps she would be a good place to start.


kherbert05

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Re: Family=/= Carte Blanche to be rude
« Reply #58 on: December 27, 2012, 12:40:42 AM »
kherbert05, that happened to my mom and uncle when they were little.  They came from a family that pretended these problems didn't exist and had no idea that their relative even drank alcohol (not common in that religion or culture) let alone had a drinking problem.  They ran into him on their way home from school and he told them he'd drive them home.  Mom says she still remembers how terrified and confused she was - My Grandfather, the eldest brother alive, was livid, the relative was given a major ultimatum re: family money, and he was forced to sober up. 



It took a few more years - but our family did a few interventions with different people (different branches). Most of them are sober now.

With my parents it wasn't so much ignoring the behavior as refusing to put up with it. They didn't want to suffer through the bad behavior, so would leave. Years later my parents told me that they were surprised I didn't know about uncle's behavior - because I as normally so observant. In Houston there would never have been a reason for me to get into a car driven by the cousins with addiction problems. It never occurred to them that it would be an issue in Mom's small hometown. I had been walking to Nanna's house and my uncle offered me a rid. Since I lived in Houston - I knew there was something off about the cousins, even if I didn't know exactly what was. I saw the Uncle 2 weeks every 2 - 4 years, so didn't see that something was off.
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SheryllJane

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Re: Family=/= Carte Blanche to be rude
« Reply #59 on: December 27, 2012, 12:50:06 AM »
How about reflecting back her "concern" for you with a sweet, calm, "So kind of you to take an interest in my health, Auntie."