Author Topic: Time to give the cut direct?  (Read 9831 times)

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missmarie

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Time to give the cut direct?
« on: September 23, 2013, 08:06:14 PM »
I've been lurking on e-hell for several years but I really don't know the answer to this one.  I posted a while back about my brother and his fiance having a baby shower for what is her third child and his first.  The shower sort of became a moot point when the Peanut was born six weeks early, several weeks before the shower.  He's fine, no lasting medical concerns, very handsome and chubby baby.  His parents, though, another story entirely!  My brother is a little...different...  Always has been but this takes the cake! 

First, Baby was six weeks early.  They had nothing prepared (not unusual)  but did expect my mom and I to foot the bill on some clothes, diapers, furniture, etc. Luckily we have an amazing second-hand baby store in our town so it wasn't too pricey.  Which was good because he and his fiance destroyed the things we bought, no stain treating, no washing even.  Not that I wanted it back or anything but he could have sold it back to above mentioned awesome baby store and used it to buy bigger things.  My mom spent the first two weeks of Baby's life at the hospital and running back and forth for them, letting them nap, changing diapers, doing the awesome mom stuff she's done all our lives.  No thanks, just slurs from fiance about how mom won't be allowed to babysit because she has outdated views on baby care.  Honestly, my kids aren't that old and I hadn't heard of the "no water in the ears" policy!

Second, Brother and fiance got married a few weeks ago.  Without telling anyone but my dad and step-mom. Excluding all family members. Then announced it on Facebook.  He still hasn't actually announced it to any of us.  I really don't like Facebook and absolutely can't stand when people use it to announce things they should be calling close family about first.

And third, Brother has legally changed his last name to something that has no business as a name and has nothing to do with family history.  It's a random adjective, not Gramma's maiden name or something.  My parents are very hurt.  My mother is downsizing her house to move into a retirement community and has said that he's not getting any of the stuff she's been holding on to because it's for Brother "Smith" and he's decided he doesn't want to be that person.  My brother is the only son, so he was the one to carry on the family name.  Not hugely important to most people but it matters a lot to my Dad. 

So my question is this:  I am inclined to cut off contact with him and his wife for a while.  I don't want to say things I can't take back and I think I need some time to cool off about how much he has affected my parents with his persistently selfish behavior.  This is pretty out of character for him, so I also thought that by taking this step he would understand that he has affected others with his decisions and maybe learn a lesson or something.  Am I justified in doing this?  I don't want to miss time with my amazing nephew but I also don't want to grow to hate his parents. Any suggestions?
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WillyNilly

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Re: Time to give the cut direct?
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2013, 08:17:57 PM »
I think a cooling off period is a wise idea, I don't know if a cut direct is though. A cut direct is pretty serious, its no longer recognizing the person's existence at all. So if you hope to someday reconcile with your brother I think just  big slow down is order. Don't call, and don't be too prompt in returning calls. Be unavailable for favors. Don't start conversations, and find a reason to excuse yourself after answering any questions from him so as to not get pulled into conversation. Etc. Basically just be coolly distant.

Iris

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Re: Time to give the cut direct?
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2013, 08:34:36 PM »
I agree with WilliNgly. It sounds like the cut direct would be a little extreme at this point, but you definitely need to take a step back to preserve your sanity and any future possible relationship with your brother. So decline any 'opportunity' to do them favours, be pleasant but not encouraging when you see them, and don't initiate contact yourself.

I'll just add that I think it's important to use this breathing space to sort out your own feelings and get to a place where your brother's actions don't bother you as much. I've found that when I can accept that I can't change someone and can give myself some emotional distance from their choices it makes it easier to deal with them long term, if that's your plan.
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VorFemme

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Re: Time to give the cut direct?
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2013, 08:34:55 PM »
No cut direct - you are just too busy (for as long as it takes) to get back to them more than every few weeks (months - however long you can stand not to see the Peanut).  Because it sounds like you could put off seeing Brother "Adjective" and his wife until the twelfth of Never.....
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Tea Drinker

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Re: Time to give the cut direct?
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2013, 08:42:29 PM »
I've been lurking on e-hell for several years but I really don't know the answer to this one.  I posted a while back about my brother and his fiance having a baby shower for what is her third child and his first.  The shower sort of became a moot point when the Peanut was born six weeks early, several weeks before the shower.  He's fine, no lasting medical concerns, very handsome and chubby baby.  His parents, though, another story entirely!  My brother is a little...different...  Always has been but this takes the cake! 

First, Baby was six weeks early.  They had nothing prepared (not unusual)  but did expect my mom and I to foot the bill on some clothes, diapers, furniture, etc. Luckily we have an amazing second-hand baby store in our town so it wasn't too pricey.  Which was good because he and his fiance destroyed the things we bought, no stain treating, no washing even.  Not that I wanted it back or anything but he could have sold it back to above mentioned awesome baby store and used it to buy bigger things.  My mom spent the first two weeks of Baby's life at the hospital and running back and forth for them, letting them nap, changing diapers, doing the awesome mom stuff she's done all our lives.  No thanks, just slurs from fiance about how mom won't be allowed to babysit because she has outdated views on baby care.  Honestly, my kids aren't that old and I hadn't heard of the "no water in the ears" policy!

Second, Brother and fiance got married a few weeks ago.  Without telling anyone but my dad and step-mom. Excluding all family members. Then announced it on Facebook.  He still hasn't actually announced it to any of us.  I really don't like Facebook and absolutely can't stand when people use it to announce things they should be calling close family about first.

And third, Brother has legally changed his last name to something that has no business as a name and has nothing to do with family history.  It's a random adjective, not Gramma's maiden name or something.  My parents are very hurt.  My mother is downsizing her house to move into a retirement community and has said that he's not getting any of the stuff she's been holding on to because it's for Brother "Smith" and he's decided he doesn't want to be that person.  My brother is the only son, so he was the one to carry on the family name.  Not hugely important to most people but it matters a lot to my Dad. 

So my question is this:  I am inclined to cut off contact with him and his wife for a while.  I don't want to say things I can't take back and I think I need some time to cool off about how much he has affected my parents with his persistently selfish behavior.  This is pretty out of character for him, so I also thought that by taking this step he would understand that he has affected others with his decisions and maybe learn a lesson or something.  Am I justified in doing this?  I don't want to miss time with my amazing nephew but I also don't want to grow to hate his parents. Any suggestions?

I would take the name-change out of the equation: after all, I assume you wouldn't expect his wife's family to cut her off if your brother had kept his birthname and she had changed hers to match. I'm not saying women shouldn't change their names: I'm saying that doing so is rarely intended as a hostile gesture toward their parents, so I wouldn't assume it is when a man changes his. (The few men I know who changed their names when they got married are on good terms with their families of origin.)

Backing off for a bit makes sense, with as little comment about doing so as necessary. Your goal is to be part of your new nephew's life, and not grow to hate his parents: the cut direct isn't compatible with those goals. You can't say "sir, I do not know you" to someone and expect to be invited to his son's birthday party. You can quietly not pick up the phone for a bit, and if asked "why don't I hear from you?" tell a partial truth like "I wasn't sure you wanted to" or "I guess I was upset about not getting a wedding announcement. I understand eloping, but not everyone is on Facebook, and a phone call or email would have been nice." Resist the urge to vent to mutual friends (especially relatives), because someone might pass on "Miss Marie told me the real reason she hasn't invited you over lately is..." or, less deliberately, "no, really, everyone thinks your new last name is weird, even your sister and father say so" from someone who either enjoys teasing or is hoping to convince him to change it back.
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Re: Time to give the cut direct?
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2013, 08:53:16 PM »
You are smart to recognize that if you don't walk away, you are going to blow up at him.  Some radio silence sounds like a real good idea.  It does sound like they only call when they want something anyways, so be completely unavailable.  People this disrespectful (both brother and SIL) do not deserve to get their wishes granted.  Set a definite time limit (30-60-90 days) and don't be available for any reason.   Also, don't discuss this with your parents..allow them to handle their relationship however they see best (altho sounds like mom is pretty well done).  Good luck..hopefully he will realize what a donkey's bum he is being

esposita

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Re: Time to give the cut direct?
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2013, 08:54:02 PM »
I agree with the other posters. If you ever want to be in their lives again, I think its best to cool off the relationship a bit, rather than acting as if he doesn't exist.

I am curious about the water in the baby's ear thing. I've always been careful not to let water get into my kid's ears when they were very little. If someone didn't know that, and didn't act as if they'd respect my wishes in regards to it, I'd second guess letting them babysit. I hope you don't think I'm nitpicking...I was just curious about that one little thing, not that it erases the rest of what they've done/how they've acted.

blarg314

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Re: Time to give the cut direct?
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2013, 08:54:18 PM »
Just to clarify-

The cut direct is the nuclear bomb level of etiquette. It means that someone has insulted you so grievously and so irreparably that you will not recognize them socially, to the point that if they come up to speak to you in public, you ignore them.

Think business associate who embezzled your life savings and shows no remorse, or Mr Wickham in Pride and Prejudice (tried to elope with Mr Darcy's 15 year old sister to get her fortune and extract revenge on Mr Darcy)

The cut direct is also a one way street. You don't cut direct someone for a while and then go back to normal. It is a permanent severing of all social contact or notice of someone. It also generally tends to include the cut person's close family and definitely will extend to their children, so the cut direct would mean that you would no longer have any right to a relationship with your nephew, at least until he's an adult.

What you really want, I think, is a cooling off period. *That* is perfectly fine, and if you don't make a big stink about doing it, can let you cool off until you feel like dealing with your brother.

I agree with PP's that the name change is really not your business. The fact that your Dad was depending on his son to carry on the family name is your Dad's issue -  your brother could have taken his wife's name. It's also perfectly possible that even while married his child will have his wife's last name, not his (which is perfectly reasonable). But ultimately, even if the name he's chosen is silly, it's his business, the same way it's totally a woman's own business if she keeps or changes her last name on marriage.


Amara

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Re: Time to give the cut direct?
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2013, 09:13:48 PM »
I am going to address only the name change aspect of your original post. I realize that your etiquette question doesn't revolve around this, but it is obviously an irritant to you and distressing for your mom.

I legally changed my full name--first, middle and last--in 1988 when I was in my late thirties. I had been seeing a therapist for a while and other than having mentioned it only once, and briefly, to her I hadn't talked about it to anyone. One day I just decided to do it. I chose the three names, went through the court system process, and then told everyone.

Almost everyone was supportive if very surprised. A couple of family members, however, were quite angry. "You just don't like the family! "You just want nothing to do with us!" And more of those types of accusations. None of which was true. I made the name change FOR me. It was a positive and wonderful step. It had nothing to do with anyone else. It took many, many years for those people to come around but they did. And the reason I tell you this is because your brother might have made the decision to change his name for positive reasons. I would encourage you to talk with your mom and urge her not to cut him off (unless there are other valid reasons). A name change can be out of spite, sure, but it doesn't have to be.

bopper

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Re: Time to give the cut direct?
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2013, 10:02:39 PM »
I would ask myself "How does this affect my relationship to this person."

For Brother with baby:  If they ask for anymore clothes then say "I thought you had that taken care of...if you needed more clothes, why didn't you take care of the ones we bought for you and traded them in for store credit?"

For Brother who got married: "I heard you got married! Tell me all about it."

For Brother who changed his name "I heard you changes your name!  How did you pick your new one?"
because really, that doesn't affect you.

But if you feel the need to back off, you can do that...don''t reach out to them, but respond if they reach out to you.

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Re: Time to give the cut direct?
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2013, 09:04:39 AM »
I agree with PPs re: cooling off period.  I also want you to temper your expectations a bit.  If a cut or  cool is intended to make brother think, just don't hold out much hope.  Do it for your own sanity and peace of mind.  I'm not sure he will get the picture, and I'd hate to see you wind up more frustrated because he didn't learn his lesson!

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Re: Time to give the cut direct?
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2013, 09:11:21 AM »
I think I'd take a step back- I wouldn't go for the cut at this point, but I would not be supplying them with baby things. That's their job.
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MrTango

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Re: Time to give the cut direct?
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2013, 09:50:18 AM »
I'd back off for a while.

The remarks about your mother were rude.
Eloping and announcing the marriage via Facebook was not rude, but that doesn't mean you are wrong to be hurt by it and it certainly doesn't mean that they should be immune from the relationship fallout.
Your brother changing his name was not rude either.  It's his name, and he has every right to change it if he wants, even if it means there is no one left to carry on the family name.  Just because it isn't rude doesn't mean that people aren't going to be offended/hurt by the decision, and it doesn't mean your brother should be immune to any relationship fallout.

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Re: Time to give the cut direct?
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2013, 10:50:28 AM »
I agree with others. Don't go with the "cut direct" - this is for something so horrible that you never in your life want to communicate with your brother again. However, I can understand that you're annoyed and upset with him.

Remember, though, that new parents can often act in ways that appear weird to outsiders, because they're in a completely new world. For example, your SIL's statement that your mother can't babysit may be forgotten in a few months, when she realizes that her newborn is not made of glass, and will not self-destruct if handled by someone without a recent Ph.D. in babies. They may catch their breath long enough to remember that they should be saying "thank you," for help with the baby, not complaining.

Your father's concern about the family name is his own problem, and I'm sure he will realize that his children's children are still his descendants, no matter their names.

You are right to remove yourself when people are treating you badly, but it sounds like you do want to keep a relationship with your brother's family, so you must do it tactfully so as not to cause *him* to decide to cut off the relationship completely.
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Re: Time to give the cut direct?
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2013, 10:58:15 AM »
OP, I think I remember your first post about this.  With both posts in mind, I'd say you should step way, way back from your brother and this situation.  If you haven't already, send a nice, small baby gift and a card and be done with it.  Otherwise, don't be available to babysit, drive, visit, or anything else they might think of for you to do for them.  Be polite, vague, and keep the feline fire extinguisher in a place out of reach from the phone.