Author Topic: What do you do with the family whiner?  (Read 4837 times)

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lellah

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What do you do with the family whiner?
« on: January 15, 2014, 01:57:26 PM »
I love my "Aunt Felicity." I do.  But she's an abominable guest.  She was in my city a couple of weeks ago.  She'd planned an afternoon in town as she was passing through, but weather canceled her flight out.  I took off work when I received her text, picked her up, and took her to my home.  I made her tea and warmed up some cookies from my freezer.  I set up her with a book and a cozy throw while I spruced up my guest room and tracked down extras of various hygiene items for the guest bath.

She ended up spending nearly a week with me.  I made meals, put together itineraries of things for her to do while I was at work, introduced her to people whose company I thought she'd enjoy, and generally tried to make things as comfortable as possible for her.  She's sweet, and we mostly had a lovely time together.

I live on the top floor of a Victorian.  It's chilly.  I sent her to bed with blankets, flannel jammies, and a hot water bottle and showed her to the linen closet if she needed more blankets.  I was quite plain that she could help herself.  She was cold the first night because, apparently, she couldn't bring herself to walk to the linen closet.  She complained all week that she'd been cold that first night!  The owners of a restaurant we'd visited before were on vacation, and she lamented that fact at least a dozen times.  I dashed out to pick up some assorted pastries for breakfast one day before work.  Aunt Felicity has an allergy to poppy seeds I'd never known of, and there was a poppy seed muffin in the bag.  I made pancakes instead.  Aunt Felicity mentioned that accursed muffin so many times I thought I'd scream.

And she's still talking about all of it! My mother called, concerned after hearing from Felicity my house is unbearably frosty.  Felicity's otherwise lovely thank you note--it came with flowers!--forgave me very sweetly for the poppy seed incident.  Forgive me?  We've spoken on the phone.  She was stillllll going on about the restaurant being closed.

I am fond of her. I wish to maintain a good relationship.  But I also want her to shut up about the minor problems.  I apologized at the time and corrected the situations that were correctable.  I'm not really inclined to keep apologizing for things that are neither really my fault or really that big of a deal.  Should I address this directly?  Or just let things fade with time?

YummyMummy66

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Re: What do you do with the family whiner?
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2014, 02:08:41 PM »
Next time she bemoans those simple facts, I might say sweetly, "I am so sorry Auntie.  I tried to be accomdating as possible.  I guess that next time you are in the area, a hotel might be better for you." 

Bet Auntie shuts up real quick.

Or, you could say to her poppy seed incident, "Auntie, if you never told me about your allergy, how was I supposed to know about it?  I did make you pancakes before I had to leave for work?  What else exactly should I have done?".  Put it back on her.

Cold room, "Auntie, I gave you warm jammies, an extra blanket, a hot water bottle and told you where I kept extra blankets if you needed them?   If you were so cold, why didn't you get up and get them?".   This puts it back on her. 

If you keep stating the facts, she will stop telling the stories.

Or again, "Auntie, I am so sorry you had such a bad experience at my place.  Maybe next time you would find hotel accomodations more suited to your needs".

amylouky

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Re: What do you do with the family whiner?
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2014, 02:47:03 PM »
This is why I try hard not to apologize for things that aren't actually my fault. I'm a chronic people-pleaser and tend to say "I'm sorry", even for things that were completely out of my control. However, I've learned that often, that gives the complainer the feeling that they are right to be upset with me. After all, if I apologized, it must be my fault, no?

I try to sympathize without apologizing. So, for the muffin incident, "It must be hard to deal with such an allergy. I do hope that you enjoyed the pancakes!". Or, "Yes, these old Victorians can be drafty. That's why I keep extra blankets on hand, in the closet that I showed you." Or, "It is a shame we couldn't visit the restaurant. But I guessthey're entitled to take vacation too!"

It's like being in an auto accident. Don't apologize, because that's admitting fault and the other person WILL look to you to recover "damages", so to speak.

siamesecat2965

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Re: What do you do with the family whiner?
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2014, 02:49:06 PM »
Argh. I have a relative who will do that too, AND bring up "perceived slights and issues" well after the fact. But with her, I CAN be direct, and am.

She sort of invited herself to my mom's last year, for the weekend, when I was there for the holidays. Fine, but mom has a 2 BR house, one for me (and guests) and one for her. Relative was told all that was available was an air mattress. Which she said was fine. And then proceeeded to complain it was a. low to the ground b. the sheets were not queen, as is the mattress, so they didn't quite fit rigth, and c. she was cold, and "could have used another blanket"

I told her, nicely, you were informed the air mattress was all that was available, the sheets are what it came with, and they are the right size, and if you were cold, or thought you might be, then ASK for another blanket, of which we have plenty.  I'd rather someone ask for, and me give them x nubmer of blankets, just in case, than have them be cold.

I am the opposite of someone who apologizes, I have to really temper my mouth so that I don't come out with something snarky.  I have no patience for people who complain, even after the "wrong" has been righted, and keep bringing it up. And am quite often tempted to simply snark back with something like "you know, I gave you blankets, fuzzy jammies, etc. what MORE did you want? me to conjure up an instant fireplace?" 
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 02:51:11 PM by siamesecat2965 »

SoCalVal

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Re: What do you do with the family whiner?
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2014, 03:22:43 PM »
Argh. I have a relative who will do that too, AND bring up "perceived slights and issues" well after the fact. But with her, I CAN be direct, and am.

She sort of invited herself to my mom's last year, for the weekend, when I was there for the holidays. Fine, but mom has a 2 BR house, one for me (and guests) and one for her. Relative was told all that was available was an air mattress. Which she said was fine. And then proceeeded to complain it was a. low to the ground b. the sheets were not queen, as is the mattress, so they didn't quite fit rigth, and c. she was cold, and "could have used another blanket"

I told her, nicely, you were informed the air mattress was all that was available, the sheets are what it came with, and they are the right size, and if you were cold, or thought you might be, then ASK for another blanket, of which we have plenty.  I'd rather someone ask for, and me give them x nubmer of blankets, just in case, than have them be cold.

I am the opposite of someone who apologizes, I have to really temper my mouth so that I don't come out with something snarky.  I have no patience for people who complain, even after the "wrong" has been righted, and keep bringing it up. And am quite often tempted to simply snark back with something like "you know, I gave you blankets, fuzzy jammies, etc. what MORE did you want? me to conjure up an instant fireplace?"

I'm more like you...when it comes to my biological family.  However, fortunately, I really only have one family member who is like this and since she and I have cut each other, she's a non-issue.

Many years ago, when I was 21 years old and family member, ToxicSis, was 24 years old, we still lived with our parents.  Mom also usually handled the cooking but not always.  Also, we weren't helpless, and ToxicSis had lived on her own for a few years starting when she was 18 years old AND had worked in a pizza restaurant so it's not like she was unfamiliar with cooking or with taking care of herself.

ToxicSis came home and immediately started griping about how there wasn't any food cooked and how dare Mom not have anything ready (oh yeah -- Mom also worked 40 hours a week).  I just looked at ToxicSis and asked, "Is something wrong with your arms?"  ToxicSis looked at me as if I were crazy and snarkily retorted, "No; is something wrong with yours?"  I replied, "Then is there a reason why you can't make something for yourself instead of expecting Mom to do it?"  I didn't get a response from ToxicSis after that but, at least, she didn't complain about such matters to me ever again.



LadyL

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Re: What do you do with the family whiner?
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2014, 03:26:59 PM »
I am fond of her. I wish to maintain a good relationship.  But I also want her to shut up about the minor problems.  I apologized at the time and corrected the situations that were correctable.  I'm not really inclined to keep apologizing for things that are neither really my fault or really that big of a deal.  Should I address this directly?  Or just let things fade with time?

Do you think your aunt is coming from a place of cluelessness (i.e. unaware of how much of a negative nancy she is) or a place of selfishness (everything has to be about ME ME ME and my PAIN)? If she is clueless you might be able to say "Auntie, you've mentioned many times that you were too cold at my house, that I brought you the wrong breakfast one day, and that the restaurant we tried to go to was closed. I am starting to feel like you didn't enjoy your trip although I tried very hard to make it fun for you. It's making me sad to think that one chilly night is the thing you remember most, when the rest of the week included x,y, and z (examples of good things/things she enjoyed)."


lellah

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Re: What do you do with the family whiner?
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2014, 03:31:32 PM »
I am fond of her. I wish to maintain a good relationship.  But I also want her to shut up about the minor problems.  I apologized at the time and corrected the situations that were correctable.  I'm not really inclined to keep apologizing for things that are neither really my fault or really that big of a deal.  Should I address this directly?  Or just let things fade with time?

Do you think your aunt is coming from a place of cluelessness (i.e. unaware of how much of a negative nancy she is) or a place of selfishness (everything has to be about ME ME ME and my PAIN)? If she is clueless you might be able to say "Auntie, you've mentioned many times that you were too cold at my house, that I brought you the wrong breakfast one day, and that the restaurant we tried to go to was closed. I am starting to feel like you didn't enjoy your trip although I tried very hard to make it fun for you. It's making me sad to think that one chilly night is the thing you remember most, when the rest of the week included x,y, and z (examples of good things/things she enjoyed)."

She's clueless, I think.  She really is lovely, charming, kind, and whatnot rather than a whinging drama queen.  I like this approach.  Thank you.

Twik

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Re: What do you do with the family whiner?
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2014, 03:44:41 PM »
"What do you do with the family whiner?
What do you do with the family whiner?
What do you do with the family whiner,
Earliiiiiie in the morning?"

Sorry, the meter was right.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

AfleetAlex

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Re: What do you do with the family whiner?
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2014, 03:50:44 PM »
Well, 'shave his belly with a rusty razor' would still produce the right results, I think...

 ;)
I have a chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease.

RandomAngel

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Re: What do you do with the family whiner?
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2014, 03:56:45 PM »
Do you think your aunt is coming from a place of cluelessness (i.e. unaware of how much of a negative nancy she is) or a place of selfishness (everything has to be about ME ME ME and my PAIN)? If she is clueless you might be able to say "Auntie, you've mentioned many times that you were too cold at my house, that I brought you the wrong breakfast one day, and that the restaurant we tried to go to was closed. I am starting to feel like you didn't enjoy your trip although I tried very hard to make it fun for you. It's making me sad to think that one chilly night is the thing you remember most, when the rest of the week included x,y, and z (examples of good things/things she enjoyed)."

I like this approach. I'd been thinking along the lines of, "Goodness, Aunt Felicity; I thought you had a pretty pleasant visit with me. But hearing you focus so intently on the minor glitches, it sounds like you spend the week in a Siberian prison. I hope you didn't really have such an awful time as it sounds like, because I did everything I could think of to make your stay a comfortable one."

magicdomino

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Re: What do you do with the family whiner?
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2014, 04:09:30 PM »
"What do you do with the family whiner?
What do you do with the family whiner?
What do you do with the family whiner,
Earliiiiiie in the morning?"

Sorry, the meter was right.

LOL!  I was thinking of the same song.   ;D

scansons

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Re: What do you do with the family whiner?
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2014, 04:19:18 PM »
I gotta say.  You spent the week catering to an unexpected guest who then went home and complained about your hospitality.  You are way more upbeat about this than I would be.   Even if I really liked the person.

Is it possible Auntie is trying to be funny, and it's just not landing well? 

I would try the gentler way first, but if she keeps going, I'd sure be tempted to make a remark about her being happier in a hotel next time. 

How Rude!   (Sorry it had to be said)

Venus193

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Re: What do you do with the family whiner?
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2014, 04:51:55 PM »
I gotta say.  You spent the week catering to an unexpected guest who then went home and complained about your hospitality.  You are way more upbeat about this than I would be.   Even if I really liked the person.

Is it possible Auntie is trying to be funny, and it's just not landing well? 

I would try the gentler way first, but if she keeps going, I'd sure be tempted to make a remark about her being happier in a hotel next time. 

How Rude!   (Sorry it had to be said)

This and more.

Someone who complains repeatedly after the fact is trying to send you on a guilt trip.  Unless you call her out on that she will keep doing this.

Tell her to book herself a hotel so she will be more comfortable.  Is anyone else in her life putting up with this?

Softly Spoken

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Re: What do you do with the family whiner?
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2014, 05:22:16 PM »
This is why I try hard not to apologize for things that aren't actually my fault. I'm a chronic people-pleaser and tend to say "I'm sorry", even for things that were completely out of my control. However, I've learned that often, that gives the complainer the feeling that they are right to be upset with me. After all, if I apologized, it must be my fault, no?

I try to sympathize without apologizing. So, for the muffin incident, "It must be hard to deal with such an allergy. I do hope that you enjoyed the pancakes!". Or, "Yes, these old Victorians can be drafty. That's why I keep extra blankets on hand, in the closet that I showed you." Or, "It is a shame we couldn't visit the restaurant. But I guessthey're entitled to take vacation too!"

It's like being in an auto accident. Don't apologize, because that's admitting fault and the other person WILL look to you to recover "damages", so to speak.

This jumped out at me.
I had a conversation with the leader of my therapy group about this, on the day the group studied the power of word choice (i.e. "I should" vs. "I will"). For many people, saying sorry is the chronic response, to the point of it practically being a meaningless verbal tick, like "um." So I asked him what you can say instead of "sorry" and he came up with a pretty good alternative: "disappointed." It feels more empowering. "Oh I'm disappointed things didn't go as planned." The important thing is to make sure you don't take responsibility/blame where you don't have to, but you can express regret.

So the if someone is unhappy, you up the empathy and optimism but nix the guilt:
"Yes Aunty it's too bad you were cold. If [all the effort OP made to help her be warm] didn't help then it's only right that you stay at a hotel next time where you will be warmer. I'm disappointed that you didn't tell me about your poppy allergy - good thing I could make pancakes instead wasn't it? Yes too bad the restaurant was closed - oh well, next time right? You can be sure to tell the owners how much we missed them and ask them how their vacation was. :)"

Just let the troubles and/or the whiners complaints about the the troubles roll off you.

P.S: Interestingly, I found myself on this thread right after reading the one about giving PA people what they "want" - an interesting bit of overlap in themes (and coping strategies) I think. ;)
"... for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
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Softly Spoken

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Re: What do you do with the family whiner?
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2014, 05:26:13 PM »
"What do you do with the family whiner?
What do you do with the family whiner?
What do you do with the family whiner,
Earliiiiiie in the morning?"

Sorry, the meter was right.

LOL!  I was thinking of the same song.   ;D

...aaaaaaaand now that's stuck in my head.
Thanks guys. :P
"... for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
-William Shakespeare

"We find comfort among those who agree with us - growth among those who don't."  ~Frank A. Clark