Author Topic: PA MIL Strikes Again...this time I'm going to be ready  (Read 8037 times)

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WestAussieGirl

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PA MIL Strikes Again...this time I'm going to be ready
« on: September 06, 2008, 02:31:44 AM »
I've posted before about my MIL and her PA comments.  In the last week or so I've had "why are your children so happy to be away from you?" (said with a laugh so I'd know it was a joke) while discussing the fact that my children enjoy going to kindy/daycare a couple of days a week; and "I understand why you don't have time to get anything done around here" while visiting my home (which was actually very clean and tidy).

Usually I just let it go because I know she doesn't understand me or our choices.  Also it's usually hard to call her on it because it is said "as a joke" or in an effort to "be understanding".

Now I'm starting to get annoyed.  Yesterday she called my DH to complain about the school we have chosen for DD.  She knows absolutely nothing about the school beyond the fact that the kids call the teachers by their first names, and don't wear a uniform.  From that she assumes that the kids can do whatever they want and it is all unstrucutred learning.  In actual fact the school has one of the best academic records in the state (as well as a very good language and music program) but it's a very small school (child/teacher ratio of 15-1) so it isn't well known (I did massive amounts of research and visited lots of schools before choosing it).

DH tells me that MIL has been discussing far and wide that we are wasting our daughter's natural gifts (it seems like DD is a smart cookie and will probably lean towards being strong academically).  MIL had a niece and nephew that went to a non-traditional school (she doesn't know what type of school or anything more about it) and she's telling everyone that our DD will turn out just like them (niece is or was a stripper, and nephew is into drugs). 

Now, when she raises this with me (which she definitely will as DH did his usual job of stonewalling her) should I try to defend our decision or is this the right time for "the line"?

Thoughts?

P.S. I'm cross with her right now but she really isn't a bad person and does have good intentions.

Elle

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Re: PA MIL Strikes Again...this time I'm going to be ready
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2008, 03:47:59 AM »
My Grandma J does the "haha I'm just joking" style of critisizing. My sister and I have started calling her on it.

"What do you mean by that?"
"Are you saying that I'm a bad housekeeper?"
"I don't see the humor in that"
"If it were a joke I'd be laughing."
"Now why would you say a thing like that?"

But those might be a bit aggressive. (Our relationship with Grandma J isn't that great. We . . . . don't really have much to lose, sad to say).

Normally I'd say stick with the "what an interesting assumption" line, but given what your MIL is implying and that your DD is no doubt going to be going to this school a while, I might take the blunt and upfront approach. "MIL, that's a horrible thing to even joke about my DD becoming a drug addict or stripper. We're sending her to a very good school." (And list the reasons).

LadyofMaine

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Re: PA MIL Strikes Again...this time I'm going to be ready
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2008, 12:17:45 PM »
"MIL, you're quite the kidder!" ;)

AprilRenee

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Re: PA MIL Strikes Again...this time I'm going to be ready
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2008, 12:22:45 PM »
If she brings up the school, in a serious manner, I would respond in a serious manner. I would invite her to do a bit of research on it, maybe even sit in the classroom once. Maybe she IS concerned but doesn;t know how to go about discussing her concerns in a productive manner.

If she does it in a sarcastic or PA way I wouldn't try to take it seriously. I'd tell her what I tell my DD. It's only funny if everyone is laughing, otherwise it's mean.

Black Delphinium

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Re: PA MIL Strikes Again...this time I'm going to be ready
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2008, 01:27:03 PM »
POD to AprilRenee. Does this school have a website or brochure you could sit down with and show her?
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WestAussieGirl

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Re: PA MIL Strikes Again...this time I'm going to be ready
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2008, 06:44:20 AM »
MIL lives in a small country town so she is used to state schools and church schools.  The idea of a secular private school is a bit "out there" for her, hence the reason she equates it with the "hippie" school her niece and nephew attended.

I will take your advice and be more understanding and give her all of the information about the school.  I think (hope) that once she reads up on it, she'll understand why we chose it.

I'm still going to use the line though, I'm just going to have to wait for the next PA barb.


Traveler

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Re: PA MIL Strikes Again...this time I'm going to be ready
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2008, 09:29:02 AM »
Usually I just let it go because I know she doesn't understand me or our choices.  Also it's usually hard to call her on it because it is said "as a joke" or in an effort to "be understanding".

I have some people in my life who "joke" like this too, including a former (luckily!) boss. It's very difficult to respond when you feel the person means to put you down, but does it to leave themselves some wiggle room in case they do get confronted on it.

I read an article lately that broke down different types of humor. I wish I could make a concrete suggestion based on that, but my brain is a bit overwhelmed today. However, here is the link:
   http://www.canadaone.com/ezine/oct06/humour_at_work.html
Even just reading that breakdown was very helpful for me.  Here's a summary of the "types" from mid-article:
The Four Senses of Humour
Humour can have many positive or negative effects. Most people have witnessed or have used any one of the following general types of humour.
  • Self-Deprecating Humour
  • Put-Down Humour
  • Bonding Humour
  • Observational Humour


I wish they hadn't called it "put-down" humor - although it's so descriptive! - because that makes it hard to pull it into a conversation with a MIL that you otherwise like. I've also seen it called "aggressive" humor.

Maybe you could prepare some witty "responses" based on school stats? "yeah, I'd sure hate to have DD end up like the 90% of grads who go to a top rate college! I'm not planning on paying for that...." or "You're right, that first rate language program is definitely going to be a problem.  We'll just talk dumb to her at home to make up for it."  or "We set our own uniform for DD - she can't dress like a hooker. So far it's worked for us!"

I'm not very good at this.... but, you know the stats, and the school, and the type of "jokes" she is likely to make -

(edited because I can NOT get the formatting right...)
« Last Edit: September 08, 2008, 09:32:32 AM by Traveler »

artk2002

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Re: PA MIL Strikes Again...this time I'm going to be ready
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2008, 04:28:35 PM »
My sons go to a school that sounds very much like the one your DD is attending.  A secular private school, where everybody is addressed by their first name (students, teachers, staff, administration.)  No uniforms.  Pretty progressive in their teaching methods -- they aren't mired in the 1960s.  Funny thing.  Almost everyone goes on to post-secondary education of some form.  Many end up at US Ivy League schools, or places like Northwestern, Stanford, Cal, USC, UCLA.

Suggested respons: "MIL, we've made the best decision for our DD.  We know the difference between OurSchool and the one that niece and nephew attended.  Here's the literature on OurSchool; please read it."  After that "The subject is closed.  Have you tried the Vegemite dip?"  Then don't respond at all, but leave the conversation.

As for the other stuff, she's being a "Concern Troll," acting as if she had your best interest at heart, but really undermining everything you do or say.  There are a couple of techniques for dealing with a PA person like this.  One is the "what did you mean?" method, of making them explain their PA remark in excruciating detail.  The other is to take what they say absolutely literally and respond to that.  I think the former is better based on the type of comments you mention in the OP, but keep the latter in your arsenal as well.

"Interesting assumption" can also be used, but I don't think that it's as effective with PA people.  She sounds like she knows what she's doing, while I think "IA" should be reserved for people who have made a bad assumption.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

WestAussieGirl

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Re: PA MIL Strikes Again...this time I'm going to be ready
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2008, 08:36:52 PM »

Olivia

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Re: PA MIL Strikes Again...this time I'm going to be ready
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2008, 12:14:45 PM »


Suggested respons: "MIL, we've made the best decision for our DD.  We know the difference between OurSchool and the one that niece and nephew attended.  Here's the literature on OurSchool; please read it."  After that "The subject is closed.  Have you tried the Vegemite dip?"  Then don't respond at all, but leave the conversation.




I agree with this.  And other than giving her the literature so she can have the facts, I would not do any explaining about your choice.  It gives the impression that you need to justify your decisions to her, and you certainly do not. 

immadz

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Re: PA MIL Strikes Again...this time I'm going to be ready
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2008, 07:13:31 PM »
MIL lives in a small country town so she is used to state schools and church schools.  The idea of a secular private school is a bit "out there" for her, hence the reason she equates it with the "hippie" school her niece and nephew attended.


Honestly I doubt that every child who went to the "hippie" school ended up a stripper or user either. Sometimes, it does come down to personal choices.


FunkyMunky

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Re: PA MIL Strikes Again...this time I'm going to be ready
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2008, 09:14:18 PM »

Have you tried the Vegemite dip?



 ;D

Hmm, Vegemite dip. Interesting idea. Fatal to foreigners though, I suspect.

It sounds like you've made a carefully-considered decision for your daughter's best outcome. Just ignore PA MIL.

Alternately, if she makes a comments about strippers/users, if you can, EvilMunky suggests making your eyes well with tears and say, "How could you even joke about that?".

TychaBrahe

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Re: PA MIL Strikes Again...this time I'm going to be ready
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2008, 03:24:10 PM »
For the first part, I would purposely misunderstand her.

"Why yes, I don't have a lot of time to get anything done.  Between taking care of DD and DH and our home, I've let a lot of personal interests slide.  But I think it's important to our family to have DD come home to an organized, calm, home, so DH and I both put our own needs aside.  We'll have plenty of time to [crochet/play jazz piano/collect samurai swords] when she's grown and off to college."  Pretend she is suggesting that you've spent so much time on homemaking that you don't have time for personal things.
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Twik

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Re: PA MIL Strikes Again...this time I'm going to be ready
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2008, 03:30:35 PM »
Off topic, but what exactly is the philosophy behind having first graders call adults by their first names? That WOULD put me off the idea of the school, I'm afraid.
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WestAussieGirl

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Re: PA MIL Strikes Again...this time I'm going to be ready
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2008, 07:05:29 PM »

Honestly I doubt that every child who went to the "hippie" school ended up a stripper or user either. Sometimes, it does come down to personal choices.


I am certain you are right.  Also, from what I understand they didn't have a very stable or loving home life which I think would be a much bigger factor in influencing their life choices.