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  • April 20, 2018, 07:53:50 PM

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Author Topic: If you were my mother, what would you want in this situation? (Update #17)  (Read 14740 times)

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miranova

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Nobody is saying that men are incapable of sending cards.  There isn't any sexism in simply acknowledging that historically, women have in many (not all) cases been the ones expected to take care of sending cards and gifts.  And since men weren't expected to do it, they didn't.
 That may be slowly changing, but many of us still deal with this.  Many people will still "blame" the woman of the family, and not the man, if cards/gifts are not sent.

This may not be the case in the OP's situation.  However I think it's relevant in this thread to bring up as a possibility at least.

What I am saying is that the "perceived expectations" appear to derive from the *women* here, not the men (or, more precisely, the *people* who care about sending the gift or card, whether they are men or women). In my experience, *people* who don't particularly care about cards or gifts actually do not particularly care about cards or gifts. If someone else wants to assume responsibility for "covering" for their "failure" to send a gift or card, so be it, but I don't see that it is the *men* who are making any expectations. If there is any gender stereotype, I would say it is that *some* women feel obligated to take on tasks to "cover" for people that they perceive to be "underperforming" in whatever way.

I completely understand that some people don't care about cards or gifts.  That's not what my post was referring to.

Some people absolutely care and expect the woman of the house to make sure it always happens.  And often, they don't have the same expectation of the man of the house.

If you've never experienced this, count yourself lucky.  I don't think I'm alone in this, it's a common complaint among women I know that they are always expected to do these things regardless of whose side of the family it is ultimately for.

NFPwife

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Nobody is saying that men are incapable of sending cards.  There isn't any sexism in simply acknowledging that historically, women have in many (not all) cases been the ones expected to take care of sending cards and gifts.  And since men weren't expected to do it, they didn't.
 That may be slowly changing, but many of us still deal with this.  Many people will still "blame" the woman of the family, and not the man, if cards/gifts are not sent.

This may not be the case in the OP's situation.  However I think it's relevant in this thread to bring up as a possibility at least.

What I am saying is that the "perceived expectations" appear to derive from the *women* here, not the men (or, more precisely, the *people* who care about sending the gift or card, whether they are men or women). In my experience, *people* who don't particularly care about cards or gifts actually do not particularly care about cards or gifts. If someone else wants to assume responsibility for "covering" for their "failure" to send a gift or card, so be it, but I don't see that it is the *men* who are making any expectations. If there is any gender stereotype, I would say it is that *some* women feel obligated to take on tasks to "cover" for people that they perceive to be "underperforming" in whatever way.

I completely understand that some people don't care about cards or gifts.  That's not what my post was referring to.

Some people absolutely care and expect the woman of the house to make sure it always happens.  And often, they don't have the same expectation of the man of the house.

If you've never experienced this, count yourself lucky.  I don't think I'm alone in this, it's a common complaint among women I know that they are always expected to do these things regardless of whose side of the family it is ultimately for.

It's really common in some cultures, too. In my husband's FOO, the woman is definitely expected to do all of this regardless of whose side of the family the item is for. One cousin married a woman who isn't similarly oriented (let's call her Kay to make this less convoluted). Kay knows what they expect (we've had hilarious conversations about it) and she just isn't going to play. Kay's MIL and the other ladies of the family didn't know what to do with her. If Kay's husband pressured her to conform, either subtly or directly, I never saw or heard about it. (I think she would have told me.) So, if he doesn't send the cards and carry social obligations for his family, it doesn't happen. I think the efforts are spotty at best.


gramma dishes

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I think the attitude goes way back to a time when no, or at least very few, women worked outside the home.  The husband's job was to earn money to support his family.  The wife's job was to take care of the home, children and social events.  Gift buying and card sending fell into the category of social events.

Things have changed a lot in the last fifty years or so, but many of the old expectations still linger.

TurtleDove

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I am not saying that such "gendered" pressure does not exist. I am saying that the perceived pressure does not appear to be coming from the *men* or the people who do not care about whether a card or gift is sent. Getting back to the OP, I don't see that *the brother* actually expects the OP (or his wife) to do anything.

NFPwife

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I am not saying that such "gendered" pressure does not exist. I am saying that the perceived pressure does not appear to be coming from the *men* or the people who do not care about whether a card or gift is sent. Getting back to the OP, I don't see that *the brother* actually expects the OP (or his wife) to do anything.

I'd agree with that. Both in what I think I read in the OP's situation and in the situation I described in my husband's FOO. It's the women who care and the women who get into a tizzy when it doesn't happen. In my marriage, I'd argue that my husband cares a bit more than I do about these things (not that I don't care, it's just that he cares more) and he is a very active participant in making sure they happen. Recently, we've been sending a ton of condolence/ sympathy cards and he'll buy the cards, look up the addresses, and address the envelopes while I write the inside of the card and sign them. He makes sure we always have stamps and he either puts them out or takes them to the mail box to post. One thing he really likes us to get for people requires an online process, I'll often do it and he'll say, explicitly, "We have to send a perpetual Mass folder for X, if you'll do that, I'll do (random chore)." It's a nice trade off and I don't feel annoyed/ over burdened with emotional labor tasks.

(This discussion has been really interesting, I think I might add something about Emotional Labor/ Social Obligations to a slide on a talk DH and I do.)

miranova

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I am not saying that such "gendered" pressure does not exist. I am saying that the perceived pressure does not appear to be coming from the *men* or the people who do not care about whether a card or gift is sent. Getting back to the OP, I don't see that *the brother* actually expects the OP (or his wife) to do anything.

Oh I certainly agree with you that a lot of this gendered pressure comes from other women. 

I think the thread drifted a little to a more general situation and not just the OP, but yes we have no evidence that this is the case for THIS OP.

Harriet Jones

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I wonder, does the brother get upset if he doesn't get any birthday gifts?  If he doesn't care, it seems like this might be a good time to discuss dropping the gift exchange entirely.   

My sister and I stopped exchanging gifts a few years ago, and it was nice to be able to take that off of our to-do lists. 

Chez Miriam

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I wonder, does the brother get upset if he doesn't get any birthday gifts?  If he doesn't care, it seems like this might be a good time to discuss dropping the gift exchange entirely.   

My sister and I stopped exchanging gifts a few years ago, and it was nice to be able to take that off of our to-do lists.

I think that's a brilliant idea.

I tried to do this with my brother, but he got really offended [obviously my mum was the one to tell me :-\].  I pointed out to Mum that of course he minded, he would be the one not receiving a card/present; I didn't receive a card/present/text from him for decades...

It was about that time I started receiving presents [never a card, but I did notice he got a card for my Mum's 81st birthday, so maybe he's changing?  He didn't get a card for her 80th (or any other birthday I've seen), so maybe another relative 'had a word'?].

Not the result I was hoping for [stop buying things], but it was a good result nonetheless.

In our home, I buy for my side of the family and my husband buys for his, and that system works well for me [if it doesn't work well for anyone else, I don't know about it].  My friends receive birthday cards, I don't think his do, but that's the nature of different relationships.  I do all condolence cards, but these tend to be focused on my family/friends.

I've been buying/making my own presents since I was a small child, and let my brother kind-of coast a bit, too.  Once I left home at 19, it was on him if he made the effort or not.
"All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."  - Julian of Norwich

WolfWay

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I am not saying that such "gendered" pressure does not exist. I am saying that the perceived pressure does not appear to be coming from the *men* or the people who do not care about whether a card or gift is sent. Getting back to the OP, I don't see that *the brother* actually expects the OP (or his wife) to do anything.

Oh I certainly agree with you that a lot of this gendered pressure comes from other women. 

I think the thread drifted a little to a more general situation and not just the OP, but yes we have no evidence that this is the case for THIS OP.
It's generally ingrained in women from day one of their lives that they are expected to be more responsible for certain family/social/domestic tasks. Women are socialised by their own family (male and female alike), by society, by the media, and other people around them to undertake these tasks automatically.

If you weren't raised to be the one in a marriage/relationship to be responsible for running a household (get the groceries, cook the meals, do the laundry, manage social events calendar, remember everyone's birthdays and get presents for them) on top of holding a fulltime job and raising children, then you're in the extreme minority and better off than the majority of women around the world from every culture.

There's a very good illustration of this expectation and the mental load of household management that women undertake (often without realising it): https://english.emmaclit.com/2017/05/20/you-shouldve-asked/

The pressure to undertake that household management/social duties can come from men in a multitude of subtle and indirect ways.

By malicious noncompliance ("I'll do the chore so badly it'll make more work for her and then she'll never ask me to do it again").
By postponement and blame ("Why do you keep nagging me to do it? I'll get around to it eventually. Stop being a shrew about it.").
By learned helplessness ("I don't know how to iron a shirt/cook that dish/ use the washing machine")
By refusing to take responsibility ("I'm sorry I forgot about the party, my wife didn't remind me.")
Or simply by outright refusal ("I'm too busy to do the dishes. I worked hard all day and I'm tired/I'm too busy playing video games to do the dishes.").

In the OPs case, it's by refusing to take responsibility ("I never remember that kind of thing"). He presumably(?) knows that it upsets their mother not to have something from him, but refuses to take responsibility for not hurting her, leaving his sister to take up the emotional slack of ensuring their mother isn't upset by making her do the labour of remembering and getting the gift.

If he's left to fend for himself in this regard, by having that emotional labour pushed back onto him, he'll either actually do it, or continue to refuse to do it. As long as the OP is clear that their mother's hurt feelings is a result of his failure to do his share of the labour, not a failure on her part to do his labour for him.
<3

Chez Miriam

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<snip>
There's a very good illustration of this expectation and the mental load of household management that women undertake (often without realising it): https://english.emmaclit.com/2017/05/20/you-shouldve-asked/

Thanks so much for posting that, WolfWay!  I've sent it to my lovely (and really kind and caring) husband, because he can slip and while I am feeling like his mother, I don't feel like doing all the things that (only) a wife would do... :(

[Let's just say it makes me feel a lot less 'affectionate'.]
"All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."  - Julian of Norwich

Psychopoesie

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<snip>
There's a very good illustration of this expectation and the mental load of household management that women undertake (often without realising it): https://english.emmaclit.com/2017/05/20/you-shouldve-asked/

Thanks so much for posting that, WolfWay!  I've sent it to my lovely (and really kind and caring) husband, because he can slip and while I am feeling like his mother, I don't feel like doing all the things that (only) a wife would do... :(

[Let's just say it makes me feel a lot less 'affectionate'.]

So glad you posted the link. Went looking for it as I read through this thread but my Google fu wasn't strong enough. Going to bookmark it now. Thanks.

oogyda

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_kXIGvB1uU

Just because it seems to fit some of the discussion.
It's not what we gather along the way that matters.  It's what we scatter.

TurtleDove

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It's generally ingrained in women from day one of their lives that they are expected to be more responsible for certain family/social/domestic tasks. Women are socialised by their own family (male and female alike), by society, by the media, and other people around them to undertake these tasks automatically.

If you weren't raised to be the one in a marriage/relationship to be responsible for running a household (get the groceries, cook the meals, do the laundry, manage social events calendar, remember everyone's birthdays and get presents for them) on top of holding a fulltime job and raising children, then you're in the extreme minority and better off than the majority of women around the world from every culture.

I found this interesting. I don't disagree that for some women certain expectations are ingrained, but I don't think this is "right" and I absolutely was not raised to be the one in the marriage to be responsible for [insert whatever task]. I won't raise my daughter that way either. I want her to be a fully functioning and self-supporting person, and I want her eventual partner to be as well. I very much believe in personal responsibility, and expect it of those I am close to.

I can fend for myself, and when I have been single at various times in my life I have handled 100% of life's tasks. My partner can also fend for himself and when he has been single he has handled 100% of the life's tasks. My parents shared responsibilities, and now that we are married I share responsibilities with my husband. Tasks are absolutely not split down gender lines. My husband does all of the grocery shopping and cooking. I do laundry. We share cleaning and other home maintenance. We each manage our own social calendars and care for our own children (we each came into the marriage with our kids), although we help each out as requested. My DH handles "stuff" involving his family, and I handle "stuff" involving mine.

I guess my point is that we can break the cycle of "ingrained expectations" if we want to. Getting back to the OP, it appears she is breaking the cycle. The expectations of the OP appear to be coming from the OP herself, and not from her brother. The brother may not be overly thoughtful in the ways the OP wants him to be, but for all of the brother's faults, "expecting" the OP to do things for him is not among them, as far as I can tell.

Elisabunny

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<snip>
There's a very good illustration of this expectation and the mental load of household management that women undertake (often without realising it): https://english.emmaclit.com/2017/05/20/you-shouldve-asked/

Thanks so much for posting that, WolfWay!  I've sent it to my lovely (and really kind and caring) husband, because he can slip and while I am feeling like his mother, I don't feel like doing all the things that (only) a wife would do... :(

[Let's just say it makes me feel a lot less 'affectionate'.]

So glad you posted the link. Went looking for it as I read through this thread but my Google fu wasn't strong enough. Going to bookmark it now. Thanks.

While the (eventual) point of the article is good, I kind of hate the set-up scenario.  I know a lot of women don't seem to like it when their husbands help.  If they're cooking, they have a system that another person feels like a hindrance, or the husband doesn't do baby-related things in the One True Way, or they feel like they should be able to handle things by themselves.  And then they get frustrated when the husband can't read their mind that this time they want him to take part of the load.
You must remember this: a ghoti is still a fish...

TootsNYC

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Quote
I now realize that I've been part of the problem. In the past it's typically been me asking him the day of, "Okay, Brother, what did you get Grandma for her birthday?" And I've gotten replies like "Uh, well, I didn't really think of anything." I realize now that I've trained him to expect that one of us will cover for him. On stuff for my aunts and grandma I just put his name down without asking sometimes. My dad's even worse-he'll actually just go up to me and say "I need something for your brother to give you for Christmas in a lowish price range" and it'll be two days before Christmas. He will then *go out and buy it and wrap the thing* for my brother.

You are so wise to realize that!

I'm a mom whose son doesn't remember. He doesn't remember odd stuff like that, and the rest of us trained him to be passive about it.
(Though, at least we'd make him come shopping and spoon-feed him ideas, but he actually made the choice).

We've been trying more lately to push him to list who he needs to buy presents for, and to think of ideas on his own.

Then, when he was 16 or 17, he forgot me completely at Christmas. His father took him out shopping (I'd taken him earlier to get presents for -everyone- but me), but apparently my husband completely forgot about why our son was even -with- him. (I'd like to say he was waiting for Son to say something, but he wasn't).

And come Christmas morning, there was no present from him for me. We realized it when I ran out of presents to open WAY before anyone else (we tend to go one at a time, around the circle). Son was really embarrassed, and Daughter was pretty shocked and scornful. Husband apologized for me, but I said, "It's not really your job."
   Later Son apologized again, and I said, "I know you really like receiving presents that other people have put serious thought into. I do too. So, if you want to receive those sorts of presents, you need to give them."

It was for the good, because he started to pay a lot more attention. And this year he was pretty much on his own, and he did OK.

You are so right that you aren't doing him any favors--but you (and Dad!!) aren't really helping your mom much either.

I would rather get nothing at all. Because then I can say, "My son loves me, but he just doesn't 'do' gifts." Which might be true.

But if you sign his name, or nudge him into (and especially if Dad does!), then you are really rubbing it in, that Son doesn't do this, but you obviously think he should.