Author Topic: How to tell a big brother I've grown up?  (Read 6067 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Kendo_Bunny

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2688
  • I'm inquisitive!
How to tell a big brother I've grown up?
« on: January 02, 2013, 12:14:07 PM »
Well, part 2 of Kendo's family adventures from the holiday season. I got to see my dear stepbrother Jack and his family, which doesn't happen often, and got to spend some one-on-one time with my brother. During the visit I was strongly reminded of why I don't call more often.

My brother is a sweet, kind, and generous man. He is a Grade A dear, and very likable in most respects. The problem is that he has some very fixed ideas about religion and other things, and enjoys lecturing. He has given up on converting our dad to his particular branch of our mutual religion, but he thinks he can still get me. When I try to explain my positions (which are generally similar to Dad's), my brother tends to assume that I am being a parrot, not that I am a 26-year-old woman who has been studying our holy book since I was 3, and that I have reached my own religious conclusions. I have studied his branch, and do not feel theologically comfortable with it, as I reached different conclusions from the same text, but I am not in my denomination simply because I was raised in it.

Besides this factor, there is also generally personality and political views that he feels I only have because of Dad. He still views me as a gentle and timid 8-year-old who was being beaten on a weekly basis by a mentally ill older sister, and the fact that I have grown up rather bold and brash is an alarming development, and one to be lectured on. He does not think me being a take-charge woman who loves to debate vigorously on a variety of topics is my true self, but that terrified rabbit I was when he met me was who I really am and who I'm meant to be.

I have grown up, and while I am similar to my Dad in a lot of ways (and my Dad is one cool guy, so there are a lot worse people I could emulate), I have my own opinions. In many cases, I just found what Dad said made the most sense when weighed against the other options. I admit I got a bit snappish with Jack when I was taking out the air mattress (he asked if I knew how to do it, despite the fact that I had told him the night before that I had slept on one for several months in college) and told him that I was not 8 anymore. I understand there will always be a Big Brother to Kid Sister protectiveness, but it's frankly insulting to be told that I am a parrot or that who I was when being abused was "more me" than the me who does not have to deal with abuse. I want to have a frank talk with my brother about this (and not snap at him again), but how do you politely tell someone they are being insulting, when they aren't being passive-aggressive and are obviously trying to come from a place of love?

NyaChan

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4107
Re: How to tell a big brother I've grown up?
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2013, 12:19:52 PM »
I think this is a conversation that would be best had after the upsetting events and should be as candid as possible.  As he is coming from a place of love, it seems he is blinded and deaf to your response in the moment and some space could be useful.  When talking, I think you should:  Make it clear that this is entirely about your relationship with him and has nothing to do with any other members of your family (maybe even let him know that they don't know how you feel and don't know this conversation is happening).  Tell him that you find his words - give specific examples - insulting.  Explain your positions, make it clear that you are not willing to justify them now or in the moment when you are socializing.  Tell him what you need him to do in order for you to stop feeling insulted.  Make it clear that this behavior of his is preventing you from enjoying his company, but also that you very much want a relationship with him.

artk2002

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12828
    • The Delian's Commonwealth
Re: How to tell a big brother I've grown up?
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2013, 12:36:59 PM »
Just say what you said in a non-snappish voice. This is one of the times when an "I message" may be best:

"Jack, I feel insulted/disrespected/hurt/twitchy when you say that all I'm doing is parroting Dad/incapable of managing an air mattress/being untrue to myself. I am an adult with my own opinions and skill and you must respect that." You can add "I understand that this is quite a change from the timid, beaten 8yo that I was, but people do grow up. Please respect me and my opinions as an adult."

The formula is really saying how you feel, what action of his is producing that feeling and what you want him to do.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

BeagleMommy

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3069
Re: How to tell a big brother I've grown up?
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2013, 02:43:25 PM »
I like Art's wording.  I'm guessing there is a wide age difference between you and your step brother.  He may always feel that you are that timid 8-year-old.  It's hard to realize that the children in your life grow into adults.  Says the 47-year-old woman who's father still calls her "Kiddo".

Mental Magpie

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5169
  • ...for the dark side looks back.
Re: How to tell a big brother I've grown up?
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2013, 02:45:17 PM »
Just say what you said in a non-snappish voice. This is one of the times when an "I message" may be best:

"Jack, I feel insulted/disrespected/hurt/twitchy when you say that all I'm doing is parroting Dad/incapable of managing an air mattress/being untrue to myself. I am an adult with my own opinions and skill and you must respect that." You can add "I understand that this is quite a change from the timid, beaten 8yo that I was, but people do grow up. Please respect me and my opinions as an adult."

The formula is really saying how you feel, what action of his is producing that feeling and what you want him to do.

Great advice.
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

VorFemme

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12787
  • Strolls with scissors! Too tired to run today!
Re: How to tell a big brother I've grown up?
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2013, 03:35:59 PM »
"I'm not an eight-year-old little girl any more" comes to mind.

Followed by "I'm a married woman with a family and a MIND of her own".

Then lots of bean dip.

But I'm the "big sister", so I rarely get this from my brothers.  Even if they are five to eight inches taller than I am.
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

audrey1962

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4322
Re: How to tell a big brother I've grown up?
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2013, 03:59:15 PM »
I go by the mantra, "don't tell them, show them." Show your brother you're an adult by being who you are: an adult.

I realize that's simplistic and I don't mean to be dismissive of your post. That's what's worked for me. I hope it works for you. Good luck!

gemma156

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 173
Re: How to tell a big brother I've grown up?
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2013, 04:27:06 PM »
I concur with the last poster.  To address your brother on this issue as an adult, don't argue with him on it, don't get into a useless debate with him on it, don't get emotionally worked up on this issue.  When he brings it up again state we've already discussed this issue and move on without acknowledging it again, and change the topic. 

Should he not move on in the conversation with you, inform him as he is having troubles focusing on communicating well today, you'll leave him to rest and go and catch up on some more important things and leave the area and go and do something else.

Kendo_Bunny

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2688
  • I'm inquisitive!
Re: How to tell a big brother I've grown up?
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2013, 04:35:28 PM »
I go by the mantra, "don't tell them, show them." Show your brother you're an adult by being who you are: an adult.

I realize that's simplistic and I don't mean to be dismissive of your post. That's what's worked for me. I hope it works for you. Good luck!

The problem is how I'm showing my adulthood seems to be bringing on the lectures that I've changed and making it clear that he disapproves of it. He's almost 9 years older than me, which may be where he's getting this nostalgia, but I don't understand why seeing me happier, more confident, and more secure is worse than seeing me as an abused child.

I like art's wording too, and I'll have to try it the next time I talk to my brother and he starts up on how I've changed or how I need to reconsider his religious branch because obviously I have only rejected it because Dad does.

audrey1962

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4322
Re: How to tell a big brother I've grown up?
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2013, 04:39:49 PM »
The problem is how I'm showing my adulthood seems to be bringing on the lectures that I've changed and making it clear that he disapproves of it. He's almost 9 years older than me, which may be where he's getting this nostalgia, but I don't understand why seeing me happier, more confident, and more secure is worse than seeing me as an abused child.

Can you give an example? I'm a bit confused by the bolded and an example could help me understand.

ETA: I also really like gemma156's advice.

poundcake

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1065
Re: How to tell a big brother I've grown up?
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2013, 04:49:23 PM »
I like art's wording too. The tough thing about this problem is that you cannot make anyone see you as something. You also have this combined with religious doctrine which is predisposed to try to make you see or do something else. Big Brother is seeing you as a potential convert and his religious doctrine has trained him to view you that way. You can't change that any more than he can make you accept his religious views.

Instead of trying to make him see you as a grown up or acknowledge that your views are independent, focus instead on what you can control. "Brother, I don't enjoy these conversations/I don't feel comfortable discussing my spiritual beliefs. Let's consider the subject closed" and bean dip.

Kendo_Bunny

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2688
  • I'm inquisitive!
Re: How to tell a big brother I've grown up?
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2013, 04:52:16 PM »
I've got some problems - the economy has kept me from finding a good job, and I'm single and childless so I can't pull the wife/mother card. But I am finally working in my field, and working hard in it. I'm not very focused on romance right now. My "adult" self has mostly been being confident, outgoing, and trying to make sure that I know what I'm talking about on every subject that I engage in discussions with. I'm on the "tough" side, which I wasn't when I was little, and I think that bothers him a lot, because he brings it up whenever I make a reference to lifting weights, shooting targets, or enjoying stereotypical "man" things.

breny

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 267
Re: How to tell a big brother I've grown up?
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2013, 05:01:26 PM »
I've got some problems - the economy has kept me from finding a good job, and I'm single and childless so I can't pull the wife/mother card. But I am finally working in my field, and working hard in it. I'm not very focused on romance right now. My "adult" self has mostly been being confident, outgoing, and trying to make sure that I know what I'm talking about on every subject that I engage in discussions with. I'm on the "tough" side, which I wasn't when I was little, and I think that bothers him a lot, because he brings it up whenever I make a reference to lifting weights, shooting targets, or enjoying stereotypical "man" things.

Don't engage when he criticizes you or talks down to you. "Hmmm," "interesting," "ok," or even (I love this one) "you might be right" (with the thought that he also might be wrong) are all acknowledgments that don't start a discussion. Silence works as well. If he brings up a subject you do not wish to discuss, simply ignore it. It takes practice and you'll make mistakes, but you can do it. You have to remind yourself that you can't control how he feels but you can control your reaction to it.

What does he bring up about "man" things? If you give us some specific examples of things he has said, we can help you plan your future responses.

mj

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 571
Re: How to tell a big brother I've grown up?
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2013, 05:02:17 PM »
As an older sister, I can tell you that watching your younger sibling go through tough times can be nerve wracking.  It's hard to break the habit of trying to be protective, even when they seemingly come out on the other end just fine.  I learned how to bite my tongue when one my younger brothers would jokingly say to me "I'm 25! Jeeeez, MJ"


wolfie

  • I don't know what this is so I am putting random words here
  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6871
Re: How to tell a big brother I've grown up?
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2013, 05:06:16 PM »
I go by the mantra, "don't tell them, show them." Show your brother you're an adult by being who you are: an adult.

I realize that's simplistic and I don't mean to be dismissive of your post. That's what's worked for me. I hope it works for you. Good luck!

The problem is how I'm showing my adulthood seems to be bringing on the lectures that I've changed and making it clear that he disapproves of it. He's almost 9 years older than me, which may be where he's getting this nostalgia, but I don't understand why seeing me happier, more confident, and more secure is worse than seeing me as an abused child.

I like art's wording too, and I'll have to try it the next time I talk to my brother and he starts up on how I've changed or how I need to reconsider his religious branch because obviously I have only rejected it because Dad does.

I would consider flat out stating that. Say "Jack, I was scared and unhappy when I was 8 years old. Why would you want me to go back to that when I am happy and content now?"

and then listen to what he says. maybe he doesn't realize exactly what he is implying.