Author Topic: Help managing a family situation politely  (Read 6605 times)

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JoyinVirginia

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Re: Help managing a family situation politely
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2013, 01:54:27 PM »
When I was a kid, I decided quite definitely that I was not going to eat foods I did not like. being called a picky eater made no difference to me, I AM a picky eater. I could show love and affection to grandma Los ofother ways than cleaning my plate our taking a serving of something I had no intention of touching. Tell grandpa the family does not like the shrimp, but you want lots! And can you bring pizza for them? Better he pout before messing up the kitchen.

POF

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Re: Help managing a family situation politely
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2013, 04:01:23 PM »
I agree with the other posters asking why you'd say it "sounds good".  It doesn't sound good. It sounds like they would be spending time and money on something that your family wouldn't enjoy but believe it would be well received.

I think you need to respond to this suggestion as if you would if you were dealing with a reasonable person.

"Mom & Dad, thanks for the offer of the shrimp feast, but my family is not much of shrimp eaters and I don't want you to go the trouble and end up dissapointed. If you're looking for food ideas we all love X,Y, and Z."

Honestly, if I had informed family members I was planning to do a large shrimp feast when they visited to only find out when food hit the table that they were not interested in shrimp, I might pout a little too.

But if we told you - gee its not our favorite - so don't count on us eating thirds... would you get mad and pout and be nasty ? or would you say  thanks for the heads up.

If we were invited guests and 3 of the 4 of us ate a regular portion and never complained but thanked you and enjoyed it .. would you .... act offended if we didn't eat 3 servings, keep pushing food on us, harass the one person who doesn't like seafood... of course not... it would be a fine pleasant meal.

The issue is that if we do not play into the fantasy - we hear about it ...... I am trying to figure out which does less harm. 

I could tell you about the rubberized steak that the dog wouldn't eat.

LeveeWoman

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Re: Help managing a family situation politely
« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2013, 04:25:01 PM »
I agree with the other posters asking why you'd say it "sounds good".  It doesn't sound good. It sounds like they would be spending time and money on something that your family wouldn't enjoy but believe it would be well received.

I think you need to respond to this suggestion as if you would if you were dealing with a reasonable person.

"Mom & Dad, thanks for the offer of the shrimp feast, but my family is not much of shrimp eaters and I don't want you to go the trouble and end up dissapointed. If you're looking for food ideas we all love X,Y, and Z."

Honestly, if I had informed family members I was planning to do a large shrimp feast when they visited to only find out when food hit the table that they were not interested in shrimp, I might pout a little too.

But if we told you - gee its not our favorite - so don't count on us eating thirds... would you get mad and pout and be nasty ? or would you say  thanks for the heads up.

If we were invited guests and 3 of the 4 of us ate a regular portion and never complained but thanked you and enjoyed it .. would you .... act offended if we didn't eat 3 servings, keep pushing food on us, harass the one person who doesn't like seafood... of course not... it would be a fine pleasant meal.

The issue is that if we do not play into the fantasy - we hear about it ...... I am trying to figure out which does less harm. 

I could tell you about the rubberized steak that the dog wouldn't eat.

Oh, please do! Did he complain about the dog?

Hmmmmm

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Re: Help managing a family situation politely
« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2013, 04:45:24 PM »
I agree with the other posters asking why you'd say it "sounds good".  It doesn't sound good. It sounds like they would be spending time and money on something that your family wouldn't enjoy but believe it would be well received.

I think you need to respond to this suggestion as if you would if you were dealing with a reasonable person.

"Mom & Dad, thanks for the offer of the shrimp feast, but my family is not much of shrimp eaters and I don't want you to go the trouble and end up dissapointed. If you're looking for food ideas we all love X,Y, and Z."

Honestly, if I had informed family members I was planning to do a large shrimp feast when they visited to only find out when food hit the table that they were not interested in shrimp, I might pout a little too.

But if we told you - gee its not our favorite - so don't count on us eating thirds... would you get mad and pout and be nasty ? or would you say  thanks for the heads up.

If we were invited guests and 3 of the 4 of us ate a regular portion and never complained but thanked you and enjoyed it .. would you .... act offended if we didn't eat 3 servings, keep pushing food on us, harass the one person who doesn't like seafood... of course not... it would be a fine pleasant meal.

The issue is that if we do not play into the fantasy - we hear about it ...... I am trying to figure out which does less harm. 

I could tell you about the rubberized steak that the dog wouldn't eat.

But that was my point. I would say "thanks for the heads up, I'll plan something else."  But if you didn't give me the heads up and 1 person ate a "feast size" portion, one ate a regular portion, one ate a reduced sized portion, and one didn't eat at all, I would wonder what was wrong. No, I wonder pout to the point my guests would be aware but I would be a little ticked if it later came out that your sons and DH don't like steamed shrimp. I'd wonder why your family didn't say anything.

Even if for some reason you didn't want to tell me the boys and DH aren't really into boiled shrimp, I'd still appreciate knowing the one son didn't eat shrimp at all. In my experience, teen boys eat a lot. So while I might plan a 1/2 pound of shrimp for most, I'd probably planning for a pound or more for your sons.

Maybe I just haven't dealt with many narcissist. But in my experience hosts would much rather have a heads up about dislikes during the planning stage and not learn about dislikes/allergies during the execution stage.

So why do you feel the right response to your mom is "Sounds good"?

POF

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Re: Help managing a family situation politely
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2013, 05:27:15 PM »
Because - while you would appreciate a heads up becuase your goal is your guests comfort and enjoyment - his is not. Hid goal is to be the big deal.

If I push back and say it isn't the best idea.... he'll get upset and be very difficult to deal with because we did not go his way.

For example - the restaurant / buffet he wanted to take us to is really really gross. When he brought it up - I said to him very nicely and nonjudgementally that we really didn't like it  - but could we go to XX local diner instead ? I would have been happy to pay ( local diner is cheaper ).  He threw a tantrum.... he can't do anything nice for us... I am a food snob ... the boys are picky ..... and he wouldn't go out to eat with us that visit and neither would my Mom.  they felt we threw a nice gesture back into their face. 

So - I could deal with it again or we can just smile and be gracious guests.  Plus it isn't like they asked us if that was OK - they just said - hey this is what we are doing.

If someone said .. hey do the boys eat shrimp ... then i think I would have a window to puch back.  But that was never brought up.

Danika

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Re: Help managing a family situation politely
« Reply #20 on: May 21, 2013, 02:11:34 AM »
Unfortunately, both of my parents sound like the OP's father. Google "Narcissistic Personality Disorder." Or, if you like, I can provide you with a ton of links.

In my experience, dealing with someone who I believe has NPD is like going to play poker with someone who is not only an experienced poker player, but also a cheater. You will lose. The only way to not lose and not be miserable is to not play the game at all.

In your situation, you cannot make your father hear what you're saying. For your own peace of mind, you can tell him (not your mother, the enabler who will sugar coat your words, but tell him directly) "I am the only one who likes shrimp. Please, don't trouble yourself, or else be prepared that the others won't eat much, even if you make the best shrimp ever."

Those words will fall on deaf ears, but if you say them, then at least you can't blame yourself that you didn't try.

And then I'd give my husband and boys a heads up to fill their suitcases with power bars because they're going to go hungry if they don't want shrimp.

And then I'd be prepared for the tantrum and for my father to sulk.

You can try to head it off at the pass and say "no meals. We just want to see you for outings, but not food" but if he truly is a Narcissist, he will ignore your suggestion anyway.

BTW, I've CO both of my parents, for many many many examples of this kind of (and more egregious) behavior.

Pen^2

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Re: Help managing a family situation politely
« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2013, 02:28:24 AM »
Your father does not care about how much you enjoy something--he cares about how much attention he gets, in the specific ways he wants the attention. He wants everyone to jump through hoops for him.

In this situation, there is nothing that can make him see that people can express love (or attention, as he may equate the two) in ways other that what he wants. A three year old thinks mummy doesn't love him because she won't buy him that shiny toy. No amount of hugs or kisses will convince him otherwise.

Do you want your family to have a miserable time, go hungry, and you to enable your father? Or have father pout and act childish while the rest of you aren't walking on eggshells performing as he wants you to? I'd say your obligations are to your children, not your childish parent.

Be polite. Just because someone responds inappropriately doesn't mean you've been rude. "Dad, I love your shrimp, but the boys here don't enjoy seafood. Thanks for the gesture, though. So, cook extra for me, please! I'll bring a pizza/whatever for the boys, so you don't have to worry about it."

If he pouts, that's his problem. You've done your duty and were polite about it.

POF

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Re: Help managing a family situation politely
« Reply #22 on: May 21, 2013, 07:26:28 AM »
We've done the .... eat what you want and we will take you for pizza in a bit.  The boys are teens - so they "get" it.  but there is no winning here and it is why we only visit 2 times a year.

Pen^2

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Re: Help managing a family situation politely
« Reply #23 on: May 21, 2013, 07:31:19 AM »
We've done the .... eat what you want and we will take you for pizza in a bit.  The boys are teens - so they "get" it.  but there is no winning here and it is why we only visit 2 times a year.

Yech... with narcissistic personality types, there really is no winning unless you jump through the hoops they want you to. It sucks, I know. I'm glad your boys are old enough to understand, though. Just remember that being polite and making everyone happy are not always the same thing, especially when one person involved is not being reasonable.

YummyMummy66

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Re: Help managing a family situation politely
« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2013, 09:59:02 AM »
I'm sorry.  I know it is supposed to be polite and the right thing to do, but I grew up having to eat everything from my plate, whether I liked it or not.   I will never, ever make anyone eat anything they do not like just to be polite.   I also have Chronic Acid Reflux and not the world's best gag reflex.  So, in order to be polite, I should eat something I am offered whether I like it or not, but, which is better.  To be polite or vomit everywhere?

I think you, the daughter, not your dh, need to tell dad that he should not buy a boat load of shrimp.  Let him know one child and your dh do not like shrmip, so they will not be having any.  Dad, we want to save you spending money you don't need to, so just buy enough shrimp for son and me.   I would also bring or buy plenty of extras, like corn on the cob, baked potatoes, etc., so you can fill up on that and I would be hiding my uneaten shrimp in a napkin as discreetly as possible so dad does not notice.

If dad sulks, so be it.  You state there is no winning, so why bother trying?  Time as a family to stop enabling him.  Instead, if he does not eat with you, make sure that you have a really enjoyable eating experience. Laugh, tell jokes, stories, etc.   Make it such a good time that dad eventually joins you on his own.

Like others have stated, go out to eat.  Come back laughing, all happy each and every time.  Talk about the great food you had.  Gee, dad, we are sorry that you missed it.  We would have so loved to have you with us.  Maybe next time.  (Not to rub it in your dad's face, but in a way that shows that you would really have loved him to be there, or in his house, for him to be included in the festivities, whatever they may be). 

Or like it is always stated, You cannot change others, but you can change how you react to others and how you deal with certain situations.

NyaChan

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Re: Help managing a family situation politely
« Reply #25 on: May 23, 2013, 11:53:26 AM »
I would tell them both that your family doesn't like the shrimp and then request one of the big deal meals your father has already made that was edible/bearable to ease the sting.  To have you request something would, IMO, really smooth things over.