Author Topic: Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?  (Read 4459 times)

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hopeful4

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Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?
« on: November 25, 2013, 10:48:08 AM »
Hoping for some insight to a reoccurring problem.  I love my sister dearly. However, she has very strong political leanings and it seems, no filter in her use of language.  My DH family leans the other way politically and do not care for the foul language my DS and her family use frequently.   All this makes for very uncomfortable family gatherings.  I have asked my sister to watch the language and have tried to keep politics out of any conversations but my DS doesn't often follow listen to my requests in this regard.   The family dynamic is such that I really cannot NOT invite my sister and her family but I don't want to make DH's family uncomfortable and feel that some don't come due to my sister's language.   I don't care for the strong language myself. 

I am not sure anyone can make any suggestions which will solve this whole mess but I am hoping that maybe someone has handled this successfully while keeping all parties reasonably happy.   Ideas?

EMuir

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Re: Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2013, 10:54:31 AM »
I think you could ask people in private to tone their language down for the sake of others, you can make it seem like a kindness they could do to really help you out since the others are so sensitive.  If they refuse though, not sure what else to do.

cwm

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Re: Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2013, 11:25:36 AM »
I think it all depends. Are you hosting the event at your house? Are other members of your family present? Are they just as bothered by your sister's language and discussion of politics? I think if you can't not invite your sister, issue her a warning.

"Sis, I'd love to have you over this holiday, but I have to let you know, I will not tolerate foul language or talk of politics in my home. It disturbs some of the other guests, and I want this holiday to be fun for everyone, so is there anything that you don't want discussed around you so I can mention to others not to discuss it?"

That way you're not telling her that she's the problem, you're letting her know that if she has anything that bothers her that might come up to mention it beforehand so she doesn't get upset. You're trying to keep the peace with everyone.

Have consequences. If she starts swearing, remind her firmly that you will not continue to tolerate language like that. If she starts spouting political vitriol, show her the door. Your home, your rules. You may have to invite her, but that doesn't mean you have to let her alienate your guests.

Luci

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Re: Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2013, 11:46:59 AM »
You have already talked to her and asked her to tone it down, as I read the opening post.

You absolutely can just not invite her, even though you said in your post that you cannot avoid it. She has betrayed you, repeatedly, you said. You want to see her for the holidays, so arrange a different time, and if asked, explain why you do not invite her.

The only thing I can see is if she lives in the same household, then I would see if someone else could host. Even if she lives next door to you, just don't invite her.

You seem to be making more people uncomfortable than you are accommodating. Which group is more important? I hate-hate-hate families split up, but sometimes it just must be if that is a fallout of this situation.

Her uncontrolled behavior would be my hill to die on.

Twik

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Re: Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2013, 11:55:02 AM »
The true answer? You can't do this, if "this" is forcing your sister to behave in a polite manner.

You have already asked your sister to behave in a responsible manner, and she refused. In fact, I suspect that having a room full of people she can shock is quite appealing to her. Perhaps if she's left out of the festivities for a year, she may find the cost is high enough to discourage her behaviour.
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Daydream

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Re: Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2013, 12:24:47 PM »
If you really feel that if you are hosting, you have to invite her, I agree with a previous suggestion of not hosting.   You can't be "blamed" for not inviting her over to someone else's house.   

Of course, I feel that you don't have to invite her and that, if you didn't, the blame would lie with her and her family.

I feel that would be the best option and when you let her know, it should be clear that it is a decision based on her and her family's behavior.  They made that choice, not you.  In fact, you are doing them a favor.  So:

"Sister, I understand that it makes you and your family uncomfortable to not discuss politics and not swear during holiday visits.  We've discussed this before and you've made it clear that refraining from these things is not an option for you during these times.  For everyone's comfort, it would be best if we celebrated holidays separately from now on.  Maybe we could get together for lunch, just you and I (whenever)?"

Pen^2

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Re: Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2013, 12:32:17 PM »
I agree with PPs. The fact that she's blatantly refused to behave politely means she won't listen to you unless it suits her. She can't even refrain from foul language? Really? Wow. I hope she is never around children at any point in her existence, then.  ::) I'm sure she can control herself, unless she has some sort of disorder or verbal tick. She just doesn't want to. She may enjoy offending others--who knows? But it's irrelevant. If the host asks that you behave politely and you can't/won't, then too bad. Time to go. That's all there is too it.

If you have to have her there because you live in the same place, have it at a restaurant or ask someone else to host. If you have to invite her because otherwise it would upset your mother, for example, then that's harder. If a relative says you must offend other people by having a known rude person who refuses to be respectful to the host (you) present, then I'd recommend growing a strong spine ASAP. Being polite to all your guests trumps following the rude wishes of one or two relatives. Not doing what people ask isn't rude if they're asking something unreasonable. Asking that you have a person present who is knowingly rude to others is not reasonable. "Keeping the peace" at the expense of others doesn't fly when one of the others is your spouse. Once you get married, your spouse comes first. Not inviting someone because they are rude and upset other guests is not rude. If people get offended at that, then that's their own problem.

If you think it might possibly work, then give her one last chance. But be ready to escort her out the moment she blows it.

kudeebee

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Re: Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2013, 12:59:59 PM »
She and her family are making the majority of your guests uncomfortable during family get together. You have talked to her about this before, many times, and she still does it.  And why shouldn't she, as there have not been any consequences for her actions.

Why can't you "not invite" her? Is your mom pressuring you? If so, talk with mom about it.

It sounds like maybe it is time to do separate family get togethers rather than combining both sides.

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2013, 01:16:09 PM »
Sis, I have to be honest with you.  I am dreading Thanksgiving because I know that your language will be blue and your politics will make everyone else uncomfortable.  Should I have separate celebrations?  Should I not invite you?  I cannot have you here when you act like that and although I have asked you before, it's always back to the same behavior.
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Amara

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Re: Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2013, 01:20:34 PM »
^ ^ ^ This. Absolutely.

SamiHami

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Re: Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2013, 01:38:56 PM »
I think people who insist on exhibiting bad behavior should suffer the consequences. It is entirely reasonable to ask her to not use foul language and to not discuss politics. It says a lot about her character that she can't be pleasant for her own sister's sake for a couple of hours on a holiday. I would not invite her and I wouldn't be shy about telling her why.

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Tea Drinker

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Re: Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2013, 04:06:40 PM »
If everyone else is willing to not discuss politics, and she won't accept that, I would agree with not inviting her. (I am assuming here that this isn't a case of her being baited by eight people who all disagree with her, but that she somehow feels that she needs to carry the torch as the One Righteous Purple in a sea of Yellows.)

Again, I do tend to use some words of the sort that the filters here won't allow, and if asked not to use bad language I would offer to do my best, recognizing that I might slip, just because I have those habits. I would hope not to be escorted out if I banged my elbow on something and swore out loud; I think that's different from calling people names or sprinkling every sentence with the words you aren't allowed to say on television.

Which is a slightly long way of saying that it sounds as though your sister isn't willing to meet people halfway here. Have you told her that it isn't just that some of the other guests don't like those words, but that you don't?
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darkprincess

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Re: Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2013, 06:18:19 PM »
I am not saying that this is the case with Hopeful but while reading this I decided to look at my own behavior to see if I might in some ways be DS...Most of my DHs family is political view yellow and I am political view blue. They are all also religion orange and I am the only religion purple. Going to any family gathering is awful for me.

While they don't talk directly about yellow and orange their entire worldview is related to yellow and orange. If we talk about the weather they will "Thank Ra for the sunshine," or blame global warming for the cold front. If they talk about current events it is all from a very distinct viewpoint, very casually as if everyone agrees but not explicitely mentioned. I either have to silently accept that Ra causes the sun to shine, global warming makes it cold, President Obama is a muslim from Kenya, and of course meat is murder and eating a hamburger will cause you burn in the fiery pits of heck. They say these types of things as a matter of fact and because everyone believes the same thing it is not thought of as politics or religious talk. However, if I object to any of their ideas I am arguing and bringing up religion and politics.

Most of the time I just sit quietly and try not to agree with anything. This makes me very bored and usually I just want to leave, but then I am called anti-social. I gave that up one holiday and decided that when Uncle Nick-Nack talked about the flying spaghhetti monster helping him find his car keys I would mention that I wish he had spent his time  instead helping feed the poor starving kids of Kenya that used to live next door to Obama. I do admit that I wasn't bored but I did hear about it later.

BC12

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Re: Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2013, 03:53:56 AM »
Sis, I have to be honest with you.  I am dreading Thanksgiving because I know that your language will be blue and your politics will make everyone else uncomfortable.  Should I have separate celebrations?  Should I not invite you?  I cannot have you here when you act like that and although I have asked you before, it's always back to the same behavior.

I like this a lot.


But I'm curious what your sister's position is, OP. Why do you think she didn't she stop when you asked her to? Is it because she thinks it's okay and it's just "how she is" or something like that? Or is it because she wants to shock people or ruffle their feathers? Or can she honestly not control herself? I think the answers are relevant to the advice you'll get.

Anyway, what I would do is have a talk with her about it beforehand like pierrotlunaire said. And then if her language or politics start making their way into Thanksgiving, I'd pull a "Sis, could you help me with something in the kitchen?" And remind her to please not go there. Do you think that would work?

YummyMummy66

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Re: Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2013, 06:58:27 AM »
YOu can do a few things.

You don't have to invite her.  Period. IF she asks, you tell it to her straight.  Everyone is tired of her language and polictics.  No one else brings it up. You have asked her repeatedly to not to do so and she still does.  You will not bow down in you own home any longer.

Or

If she starts up, you must speak up and tell her to stop.  Repeatedly if you must.  If you have to, show her the door.

or

When she starts in, everyone, and I mean, everyone, (so they would have to be in on it, except for those that you think would tattle to sis), stop what they are doing, whether eating or talking and just stare at her, silently, with the death stare.  If she wants to be the center of attention, give it to her.  If you have to, keep doing this every time she starts in.    And then when she stops, everyone start talking again, but not to her.  I would ignore her.

or last and not least,

tell her before hand to limit her language and there will be no talk of politics.  If she does, she will be asked to leave.     

or

you could discuss politics with her, stick to your guns, etc., especially those that differ and keep at it until she gets so mad she leaves on her own.