General Etiquette > Family and Children

Family Gatherings, Relatives at polar opposites - how to handle?

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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?

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.

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.

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.

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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