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Author Topic: How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3, POST CHRISTMAS UPDATE PG 4  (Read 25021 times)

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tash112194

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How do I handle this? UPDATE PG 3, POST CHRISTMAS UPDATE PG 4
« on: December 09, 2014, 08:41:43 AM »
So as a little bit of background, I moved out of my parents house when I was 18, because I couldn't take it anymore. (I'm now 20). I graduated at 17, I worked through high school, and started a full time job right after I graduated, and I had to pay rent to my parents, clean up after their dogs, feed them, let them out, pick up anything they destroyed (which was a lot and frequently) and do the dishes (at this point I was hanging out with my boyfriend (now fiance) all the time and we never ate at home, we would go out to eat or get take out, and I would do the dishes when I got home, my dad and "stepmonster" would cook and eat dinner without offering us any and then call me out of my room to do the dishes afterwards). My stepmother would often lie and tell my dad that I started fights with her, so he would come home screaming at me all the time. Then they decided they were going to buy my grandparents house and move there, and if I was moving with them, I would be in a glorified closet with a twin bed that touched three of the four walls. When I told my father there wasn't even room for a dresser there, he said "Well what do you really need?" So I moved into an apartment with my boyfriend instead. - I hope this has been enough to show that my relationships with them are not the best.

My now fiance and I are getting married this spring, and since my father does not approve of the marriage, he has been trying his best to make it especially hard on us. He has removed me from his health insurance, and is taking me off his car insurance, and my car also happens to have recently broken down, and my paycheck at work is going to drop by over $150 a month even without paying for my own health insurance, so since all my bills are increasing and my paychecks are decreasing, and our wedding quickly approaching, we need to save as much money as we can right now.

My fiance and I have just made the difficult decision to "skip" Christmas this year. We both come from large families and are only going to buy small presents for each other and our younger siblings (all 15 and under). Since we've decided this, every time someone asks either of us what we want for Christmas, we tell them not to worry about getting us anything, we can't afford to do Christmas this year, we have to save for the wedding etc. Most of the people in our families have been very understanding, even telling us they are giving us presents anyways and that they don't care if we get them anything, they're excited about the wedding, happy for us etc. Now neither of us feels good about not doing Christmas, we already feel bad enough, so it's been great that people have been understanding.

Here we get to my "Stepmonster". She texted me the other day asking me to chip in on a gift she already bought for my father, listing who else is chipping in and giving me a price (she does this all the time and typically I don't give her any money because I prefer to pick out my own gifts for people, and who knows if she actually gives anyone else credit because I've never been thanked for things I chip in on) so this year I texted back "We can't really afford Christmas this year because we have to save for the wedding. I know you're only asking for a small amount of money but since we aren't doing anything for other people I don't feel like it's fair to contribute towards a present for my father. I hope you understand." and she texted me back "So you're not doing anything for anyone?" I texted her back, again explaining "No we need to save everything we can for the wedding, especially since my paycheck is dropping as soon as the new year starts." and I got this for a response "You can bake something for everyone. Since you're both getting gifts from everyone that's the right thing to do. It doesn't have to be a lot something is better than nothing. Cookies brownies etc you can make small trays for everyone"

Now am I right for being slightly infuriated by this? First, buying baking supplies still costs money, second, if people are buying me gifts only because they expect something in return then they should just keep them, third, she just presumed to tell me what fits into my budget and schedule even after I tried to be diplomatic about the situation and fully explain my reasoning, fourth, in my experience when family tells you they can't afford something you don't try to guilt or pressure them into it anyways, you are understanding and sympathetic.

And I do realize it's only baking and yes it would be nice to do that, but I resent being "told" to, like this woman has any say in what I do or don't do. And I also work in a business that is exponentially busier at the end of the month, which means I work lots of overtime, and baking for everyone does not fit into my schedule.

So I never responded to her because I didn't want to fight about it, but I don't know how else I should have handled it, or how I should handle it if anything else comes from this situation.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2014, 07:25:49 AM by tash112194 »

Zizi-K

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Re: How do I handle this?
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2014, 08:47:56 AM »
You handled it exactly right by ignoring her. You are an adult (something she may not yet have adjusted to), and you weren't asking for her advise. The only thing you could have done would be to text back something like, "Thanks for your suggestion, I'll take it under advisement." or something similarly noncommittal. You and your fiance have been perfectly clear and upfront with your families, so you are definitely not required to bake brownies or do something other "token" gift, which you are right absolutely costs money. Ignore her.

SamiHami

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Re: How do I handle this?
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2014, 09:13:19 AM »
Ignore. You told her what your plan was and that was the end of it. If she wants to be judgy and hateful then that's just too bad for her. You have your priorities and need to stick with them. If she makes some kind of comment later on you can simply say,"I already told you that we wouldn't be able to buy gifts this year, don't you remember?" Don't make apologies or excuses.

I entirely believe you that your dad is trying to make life difficult for you, but I did notice that the examples you gave-taking you off his health and auto insurance-don't sound inappropriate to me. You are an adult living on your own, so you should be covering those expenses yourself.

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

poundcake

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Re: How do I handle this?
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2014, 09:26:29 AM »
I've been in your situation before, and I'm going to encourage you to not only ignore this, but also, to ignore them as much as possible in the future. "Complete Silence" is the only solution to family like this. You get nothing positive from them, and they clearly don't make you happy. Write them off, and look forward.

catwhiskers

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Re: How do I handle this?
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2014, 09:44:25 AM »
I'm going to agree with Poundcake.

kherbert05

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Re: How do I handle this?
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2014, 09:50:52 AM »
Ignore her. Find the absolute minimum amount of contact with these 2 that still allows you access to your siblings. 
Don't Teach Them For Your Past. Teach Them For Their Future

tash112194

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Re: How do I handle this?
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2014, 10:19:45 AM »
I entirely believe you that your dad is trying to make life difficult for you, but I did notice that the examples you gave-taking you off his health and auto insurance-don't sound inappropriate to me. You are an adult living on your own, so you should be covering those expenses yourself.

OP here, I just wanted to say that while I do agree with you, and that these are things that I would have to do on my own as soon as we are married anyways, it's also the way he goes about them, as in suddenly while it has not been an issue ever he goes "oh and by the way you can get off my insurance" "dad, that will cause me to lose the opt out pay my work gives me for not being on their insurance" "oh haha sucks doesn't it, anyways, that's your fault, you just had to move out and live with your "boyfriend" you just had to get away from me, so he's trying to "punish" me for leaving, and at this point while I'm crying and trying to think how badly this is going to screw up my wedding plans and telling him that I had to leave because I was miserable and I needed to be happy for once, he goes "yeah you sound real happy now."
So while I do understand where it's coming from, when I think of how he goes about it, and how in comparison to my fiance's family that conversation would go "hey I'll try to keep you on as long as I can but since I can't afford it can you help me, will this screw up your budget? are you sure you can help out", it feels like he just wants to make things difficult for us.

tash112194

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Re: How do I handle this?
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2014, 10:26:11 AM »
OP here again,
I just wanted to say thank you to all of you, for agreeing with me lol, I was questioning whether or not I was right to feel frustrated by all of this. I'm also glad that it looks like I opted for the right route of dealing with this. Yay first successful post <#

doodlemor

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Re: How do I handle this?
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2014, 12:16:14 PM »
I entirely believe you that your dad is trying to make life difficult for you, but I did notice that the examples you gave-taking you off his health and auto insurance-don't sound inappropriate to me. You are an adult living on your own, so you should be covering those expenses yourself.

OP here, I just wanted to say that while I do agree with you, and that these are things that I would have to do on my own as soon as we are married anyways, it's also the way he goes about them, as in suddenly while it has not been an issue ever he goes "oh and by the way you can get off my insurance" "dad, that will cause me to lose the opt out pay my work gives me for not being on their insurance" "oh haha sucks doesn't it, anyways, that's your fault, you just had to move out and live with your "boyfriend" you just had to get away from me, so he's trying to "punish" me for leaving, and at this point while I'm crying and trying to think how badly this is going to screw up my wedding plans and telling him that I had to leave because I was miserable and I needed to be happy for once, he goes "yeah you sound real happy now."
So while I do understand where it's coming from, when I think of how he goes about it, and how in comparison to my fiance's family that conversation would go "hey I'll try to keep you on as long as I can but since I can't afford it can you help me, will this screw up your budget? are you sure you can help out", it feels like he just wants to make things difficult for us.

Yes, he does want to be as difficult as possible. Your father This man is in a snit because he lost his live - in servant, and I'm sure that SM is manipulating his mind, also.  She is probably leaning on him or some of your siblings to take up the slack, now that you are gone.  It's hard to believe that this entitled person would suddenly become Martha Stewart.

I'm sorry to say something so cynical to you, tash, but I think that you need to distance yourself as much as possible from these two miserable people.  They don't have the same concepts of love and family as you do, and will likely continue to undermine you. 

I'm concerned about your wedding.  It wouldn't be surprising if your stepmother does what she can to disrupt things.  Be prepared, and be strong.

And yes, back to the original question - don't pay any attention to stepmother - she is way out of line.

Deetee

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Re: How do I handle this?
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2014, 12:41:38 PM »
I think your only mistake is trying to treat an unreasonable person as someone who can be reasoned with. May I suggest the technique I plan to market as "Pleasant Teflon". Super nice, very friendly, utterly immovable.

This here:

Quote
"We can't really afford Christmas this year because we have to save for the wedding. I know you're only asking for a small amount of money but since we aren't doing anything for other people I don't feel like it's fair to contribute towards a present for my father. I hope you understand." and she texted me back "So you're not doing anything for anyone?" I texted her back, again explaining "No we need to save everything we can for the wedding, especially since my paycheck is dropping as soon as the new year starts."

is something you send to someone who cares about you and will accept the explanation.

To your SM, instead of

Quote
"We can't really afford Christmas this year because we have to save for the wedding. I know you're only asking for a small amount of money but since we aren't doing anything for other people I don't feel like it's fair to contribute towards a present for my father. I hope you understand."

try something like :

Quote
" Looks like a lovely gift you picked for dad.  Fiance and I are not doing any presents for anyone but the kids this year so I can't contribute but I'm sure he'll love it!"

And instead of :

Quote
"No we need to save everything we can for the wedding, especially since my paycheck is dropping as soon as the new year starts."

try something like:

Quote
"Nope. It's all about the food and music this year!"


edit because I forgot to give a suggestion for what to do now. A couple options:

1) Ignore like you are-perfectly good
2) "Thanks for the suggestion, but this year we are only giving trinkets to the kids. Maybe next year!"

The reason I think pleasant teflon works is it gives them nothing to argue against. You are agreeing that baked good are great and that gifts for the dad are great. You say all sorts of nice things about the idea, but you never agree to anything. But then you say what you will do and give nothing to argue with or complain about. You make all your details agreeable and meaningless.

Also, it's really hard to argue with someone who is pleasant, says nice stuff and is completely immovable and never explains why.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2014, 01:14:41 PM by Deetee »

Kiwipinball

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Re: How do I handle this?
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2014, 01:00:38 PM »
I agree with PPs. Ignoring is often best. If it weren't for all the past history, SM's response might not have been so bad. It's not a bad suggestion (assuming it's actually a suggestion and not a command), even if it doesn't work for you. However, given all the back history I'll assume OP is correctly interpreting SM's tone, in which case ignoring is the best way to go.

If she confronts OP about no gifts for the adults, I would recommend cheerful repetition.

"Oh, remember I told you we couldn't afford it and weren't buying gifts this year?"
"Remember,  I told you about this."

[Why didn't you bake things?]
"Oh, I appreciated the suggestion, but unfortunately it wasn't possible."
"Such a good idea, but unfortunately we couldn't."

Lather, rinse, repeat. If you are able to not be upset by her (and that can be easier said than done, especially with toxic relationships) you may have the added bonus of infuriating her while being perfectly polite.

GreenBird

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Re: How do I handle this?
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2014, 01:30:06 PM »
Deetee is absolutely right - "Pleasant Teflon" is an excellent approach.  I would also suggest thoroughly embracing the idea that you do not need to JADE (Justify/Argue/Defend/Explain) your decisions.  Instead, simply inform them of your decisions, without elaborate justifications.  You're doing what is right for you, and no justification is necessary, so don't let yourself get drawn into giving one. 

As obnoxious and vindictive as your father is being about abruptly withdrawing any support, I think you'll actually be happier once you aren't tied to your parents economically at all any more.  I know it makes it harder financially in the short term, but it also removes any leverage they have over your life, which is a good thing.   

I know this wasn't part of your question, but for the wedding, I'd consider leaving your parents out of any of the planning - simply inform them of what you've decided if/when they need the information.  It sounds like any attempt to discuss it with them, even if it starts out casually, is likely to lead to a bunch of criticism and pointless recriminations.  Right now it sounds like information = ammunition for them, and I wouldn't be giving them any. 

I also wouldn't let them put a single penny toward your wedding, even if they offer.  Letting them pay for things is giving them some control and leverage over you, which is going to add a ton of stress.  Have whatever wedding you can afford and don't worry about them at all.  The wedding is the start of your married life with your fiance - start as you mean to go on.   

And hang in there!  You've got a lot of upheaval right now, but it actually sounds like you're doing good!

EllenS

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Re: How do I handle this?
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2014, 02:06:57 PM »
It sounds like SM is accustomed to issuing orders and having you follow them. Of course it is exasperating. Spoiled toddlers are always exasperating, no matter their chronological age.

She is allowed to live in her little fantasy world if she likes, but there is no reason why you need to take any notice of her.

peaches

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Re: How do I handle this?
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2014, 02:18:35 PM »
So I never responded to her because I didn't want to fight about it, but I don't know how else I should have handled it, or how I should handle it if anything else comes from this situation.

You handled it fine. You came up with a sensible plan, you notified your loved ones, you're carrying out your plan.

When it comes to unhelpful comments, carping, unwanted advice, etc., I'd just cheerfully ignore it. 


Celany

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Re: How do I handle this?
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2014, 04:27:22 PM »
Another vote for complete silence. For all the reasons that PPs said.

Also, it does sound like the less you have to do with them, the better, but I did want to mention one other thing.

When you're at the transition place between being a dependent and being an adult, it can be hard for people to make that transition with you, even kind-hearted people (which you're clearly not dealing with). Sometimes, the best thing you can do is be absent (or nearly absent) for a few years, and then try to establish new relationships with people once some time has passed. This happened to me inadvertently - a few years after college, I moved far away from my family, and hardly saw them for 3-4 years. Although I didn't change much in level of maturity between those years (I was already doing things like saving for retirement, and living within my means before I stopped seeing them for awhile), in their eyes I did, because they hadn't seen me for long enough that they looked at my behavior (and me) with new eyes.

It is possible that your relationship with your dad may change over time into something better. It's also entirely possible that he'll be the same mean-hearted, spiteful person that you deal with now. Either way, making yourself scarce from their lives while you focus on yours seems like it would bring you good things. It can also be useful to you, because giving yourself that break will help you to deal with his behavior in a clearer, easier way, once the baggage of his past behavior fades a bit.
I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior. ~ Hippolyte Taine