General Etiquette > Family and Children

How to respond to the ultimate guilt trip....

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I would like to preface this by saying I LOVE my Mom...she has so many wonderful qualities and she is my best friend- I would not trade her for the world.

That being said, she is a self-admitted "thoughtless" person at times. Even knowing this about her, I still find her lack of concern for others, including myself, sometimes to be frustrating and even hurtful. She can come across as very much self-centred and completely oblivious to anyone else's suffering but her own...and she suffers so much more than anyone else  ;)

There are times when my frustration comes out in conversations with friends, not in a ranting way, only in a give and take conversation (my closest friends know my Mom well enough to understand when I get frustrated...they have their own issues with their Moms too.) I have been in a situation recently at a social occasion where I was having a general discussion about the ups and downs of life with my Mom right now and someone, who was not part of the conversation, interjected with "Moms won't be around need to appreciate them while you can and not complain."  As lovely as this sentiment is, I don't think it serves any purpose but to try and make the speaker (me) feel bad about myself for ever daring to utter a word of complaint about someone *I* know intimately. Consequently I was a little  :o that this stranger was telling me how to think and behave. 

Does this fall into the category that because the conversation was in a public place anyone is free to throw their $.02 in or is it within the realm of etiquette to simply walk away and continue the conversation elsewhere?

When you say someone who wasn't part of the conversation, what do you mean?  A random stranger in line with you, or an acquaintance who was with you but you weren't specifically speaking to?

A person standing nearby but who was not part of the conversation "circle" is the way it happened in this case. It would be like having our own table at a restaurant and this person was at the table next to us...kwim?

I think it is a bit rude to butt in with platitudes, but the slightly evil side of me would be waiting for the next time it happens, and then say, "OH I KNOW! Mom passed in 1983... I know she's only hanging around because of love, though."

But again, evil.

So you're probable safe in giving Millicent Bystander a tight smile and turning back to your conversation in a slightly lower tone.

An eavesdropper then?  Honestly, sometimes people just need to vent and it doesn't mean that we don't love the person we are venting about, just that we are frustrated in the moment.  Strangers shouldn't comment on the content of conversations happening at a reasonable volume near them.  If it was someone you know and was likely to hear, is it possible that maybe you were complaining more than you realized?  But really, that's more of a social thing as far as oversharing on a topic than an etiquette issue.  As far as etiquette is concerned, it isn't appropriate to scold people in a situation like this. 

If I was at a party and a friend wouldn't stop complaining about something, I might say something to indicate that they were bringing the mood level down, but I wouldn't try to guilt trip them.  Inserting oneself into a conversation that didn't include me?  Wouldn't do it unless it was for a fun reason :) 


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