Author Topic: Their house, their rules, but...  (Read 10517 times)

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ettiquit

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Their house, their rules, but...
« on: January 29, 2014, 09:29:54 AM »
My family has been invited to spend next Thanksgiving with my sister-in-law's family, in another state, all expenses paid. They are doing this to thank us for a rather large favor we did for them last year, and I'm excited to go.

The problem is that my SIL's family tends to use a lot of racist and homophobic language (this is according to my nephew who has spent many holidays with them). This is something that I simply wouldn't be able to tolerate, nor do I want my son around that kind of language. They put us up in a hotel, so we are at least not "stuck" staying with them, but I'm trying to think of polite ways to separate myself from a situation where the conversation turns towards that sort of talk.

Part of me thinks we should just decline the invitation (though we've already accepted and the hotel has been reserved). They live in a touristy city that we've never been to, so I'm hoping we can spend some time exploring without seeming rude (I really don't think they'd mind).

I'm also not entirely sure that the language is as rampant as my nephew suggested (he tends to exaggerate).

Any suggestions? Should I mention it to my brother (it wouldn't offend him) and see what he thinks?

Zizi-K

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Re: Their house, their rules, but...
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2014, 09:48:53 AM »
Since you've already accepted and the hotel has already been booked, why not turn this into a learning experience for your kids? This is a great opportunity to show how you can politely disagree with someone without it turning into WW3. I'm not sure how old your kids are, but kids cannot be protected from the ugly realities of the real world forever, and this could actually give the kids some ammunition for when they encounter it on the playground, which they inevitably will. So, the question might be, how do you politely respond when someone uses language you don't agree with? In that situation, I might say, "I have to say that I really don't care for the language you're using, nor the sentiment behind it. Can we shift the conversation away from bashing certain groups?" If they're polite, they'll say yes of course. If not, they'll insist on more ugly talk, and you can say, "Well, then junior and I are going to take a walk and hope that we can turn to other subjects when we return."

jaxsue

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Re: Their house, their rules, but...
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2014, 10:00:17 AM »
OP, I commend you for not wanting your kids to pick up the traits you find objectionable.

I had a similar situation with my kids. While my X-DH was not racist, he had several relatives who were. I won't put the words they used here, but suffice to say that they were  :o-worthy. Because there is no changing someone who truly believes those things, I had talks with my kids. We talked about how prejudice works, why it's wrong, etc. It was challenging because DS #1 is autistic, and he often repeated what people said.

I am happy to say that I have 2 DS's who, AFAIK, are pretty open-minded. It's not easy to rise above what surrounds you, but it is possible.  :)

Luci

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Re: Their house, their rules, but...
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2014, 10:27:21 AM »
You said you don't want your son around that kind of language, which I truly understand. He will, however, very soon encounter everything including foul language, racist talk, and sexist comments and actions if he hasn't already. Just standing in the playground with 5-year-olds made my hair stand on end. And they knew it was wrong on some level because they wouldn't say things when they knew an adult could hear.

I would use this as a learning experience, giving him tools and confidence in himself to not to use their level of words and prejudices.

Edit: I just remembered the hard part is not making him look at people like that as bad or evil, but rise above it without being superior. I just told my kids some people use certain language and have different outlooks so pretty much ignore that aspect and don't copy them.

« Last Edit: January 29, 2014, 10:33:38 AM by Luci45 »

Cherry91

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Re: Their house, their rules, but...
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2014, 12:12:55 PM »
I have family like this. We visited them just before Xmas, and I bit my tongue so hard and for so long I tasted blood.

I finally snapped (and got told off by my mother!), when one of my cousins came downstairs to show us his new pair of jeans and his mother (his MOTHER!) declared that said jeans were "homosexual", using a shorter word for it (this was by no means the worst thing she'd said, it was just the straw that broke the camel's back).

I responded rather sharply: "I didn't realise trousers could have sexual orientation." and she stopped.

The most frustrating thing is, I love my family, it just irritates me how IGNORANT they can be of what's appropriate. The parents can blame a little on generational differences, but they've passed it onto their kids, who have no excuse.

My parents and I live in London, which is much more multicultural than where the rest of the family live, and we get seen as "Hoity toity" a lot for not thinking this is okay...

Hmmmmm

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Re: Their house, their rules, but...
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2014, 12:44:52 PM »
Since you've accepted, I would plan to attend.

And since you don't know how true the statements are, I would be prepared for it being as bad as he says, but try to go with somewhat of an open mind.

Start practicing your shocked face now.
A shocked face, silence, and leaving the room can work wonders.

And get a couple of auto-responses ready if you are comfortable with addressing them.
"Wow, that's not a word I hear very often. Do you normally call people that?"
"Hey, son, let's go outside. I'm not sure this is a conversation we'll be comfortable with."

And if it get's bad, be honest with your SIL. "SIL, we appreciate your gesture, but I'm really uncomfortable with the language being used. We'll need to make ourselves scarce around your family. I know you want to spend time with them. How about we meet for a late night snack at the hotel tomorrow night. And tomorrow the 3 of us will do some touristy stuff."

TootsNYC

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Re: Their house, their rules, but...
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2014, 01:16:39 PM »
Or just mildly say, each time, "Oh, can we not use that word? I find it offensive, to be honest."

LadyL

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Re: Their house, their rules, but...
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2014, 01:31:18 PM »
Another great approach is to feign ignorance when someone makes a joke about a certain group or espouses a stereotype. Example:

A: Don't eat too many prickly pears or you'll turn into a member of Group X!
B: What do you mean, A?
A: Well...you know, people in group X, they are known for liking prickly pears.
B: Really? I've met a lot of people from that group and never noticed that. How did you find that out, did you have a friend or work with someone from group A who ate them a lot?

Trust me they will backpedal pretty quickly.

ettiquit

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Re: Their house, their rules, but...
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2014, 02:35:49 PM »
Ok - you guys actually answered the question that I neglected to ask. I wasn't sure if I was "allowed" to call them on it in their own home. Not that I'd go off of course, but if you all think it's ok to let them know that we're uncomfortable with it, than I have no problem saying something.

Luci45 - I like your advice on explaining to DS (he's 10, btw) that some people speak this way and to ignore it. He definitely understands racism and isn't actually that shy about about speaking up about it.

I suppose it would be rude if my DS said to my SIL's dad "that's racist" when he uses the "n" word, huh?

I really do want to go, so I'm happy you guys aren't advising me to cancel!  ;D

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Their house, their rules, but...
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2014, 02:50:09 PM »
My grandfather was racist, and my parents always used it as a learning moment.  "We show respect and courtesy to Grandpa, because he is older.  But we do not condone his words."  My mother explained that this was his upbringing, but that I was being raised better.  I was also allowed to say, "I don't agree."  My grandfather respected that, because he didn't mind someone arguing with him as long as they were polite.
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DavidH

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Re: Their house, their rules, but...
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2014, 02:55:50 PM »
I think it would be helpful if you can get some more information between now and then.  I'm assuming this is your DH's family, so you could start by asking him how prevalent it is.  Trying to redirect, along the lines of, "It might be better to avoid the subject since I don't think we're ever going to agree" is probably better than trying to educate someone in their own home. Calling someone out in their own home is rude, whether they deserve it or not. I can sympathize with the issue since my family includes different ends of the political spectrum and Thanksgiving is like having Obama and Boehner at the same table discussing political theory; neither one is going to come to the sudden revelation that the other is right and they've been wrong all along. 

If you feel compelled to call them out, it will probably go over better coming from you than from your son, but  I can't imagine calling someone out is going to make for a pleasant holiday. 

lollylegs

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Re: Their house, their rules, but...
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2014, 03:27:19 PM »
Another great approach is to feign ignorance when someone makes a joke about a certain group or espouses a stereotype. Example:

A: Don't eat too many prickly pears or you'll turn into a member of Group X!
B: What do you mean, A?
A: Well...you know, people in group X, they are known for liking prickly pears.
B: Really? I've met a lot of people from that group and never noticed that. How did you find that out, did you have a friend or work with someone from group A who ate them a lot?

Trust me they will backpedal pretty quickly.

In my experience, no they won't. They're more likely to say something like, "This one Group X person I met once ate prickly pears," or " I saw it on Facebook/Today Tonight so I know it's true." I think this tactic can lead to lengthy and frustrating debates as well, when all you want to do is just shut it down.

Mikayla

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Re: Their house, their rules, but...
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2014, 03:47:46 PM »
Ok - you guys actually answered the question that I neglected to ask. I wasn't sure if I was "allowed" to call them on it in their own home. Not that I'd go off of course, but if you all think it's ok to let them know that we're uncomfortable with it, than I have no problem saying something.

Luci45 - I like your advice on explaining to DS (he's 10, btw) that some people speak this way and to ignore it. He definitely understands racism and isn't actually that shy about about speaking up about it.

I suppose it would be rude if my DS said to my SIL's dad "that's racist" when he uses the "n" word, huh?

I really do want to go, so I'm happy you guys aren't advising me to cancel!  ;D

I'm another one who had some "ists" in my extended family, and I learned a lot from watching my parents handle it.  So, on the bolded, I think it would would be best for him to watch you and learn from that. 

Also, on saying something to your bro and your comment that he wouldn't be offended, I don't see anything wrong with that.  You don't have to dictate a list of forbidden words, but maybe a gentle reminder that anything he can do to minimize offcolor chat would be very appreciated.

TootsNYC

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Re: Their house, their rules, but...
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2014, 04:14:25 PM »


I suppose it would be rude if my DS said to my SIL's dad "that's racist" when he uses the "n" word, huh?


Yes, it would--but he can say, "I really don't like that word; it makes me very uncomfortable."



I also like the idea of asking your Bro to help with this. He can mention it ahead of time, maybe, or also stick up for you if it comes up.

fidelejavert

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Re: Their house, their rules, but...
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2014, 07:24:36 PM »

I suppose it would be rude if my DS said to my SIL's dad "that's racist" when he uses the "n" word, huh?



I guess I am going against the consensus, but I absolutely do not think it's rude for your DS to point out that using the n-word is incredibly racist. I can understand that it might make people uncomfortable to be confronted with their behavior, but I feel that not saying anything is endorsing the idea that it is an acceptable thing to say. While we should, of course, be tolerant to other viewpoints, we have no obligation to tolerate racism.

I guess there is such a huge range of behavior that we could consider racist and it's true that I often don't say anything to my grandparents, for example, when they say something that seems uncomfortably old-fashioned because I know that they aren't using the language in a hateful way. On the other hand, I can't imagine someone in 2014 using the n-word without knowing that it is incredibly hateful.

So, yes, I do think that you can and should say something. And, if necessary, be prepared to leave once the conversation passes your tolerance level.