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#1 stellavision

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 09:02 PM

My sister-in-law is quite the busybody. In the past she has bugged me about visiting my parents more often, having children (I am not only not married, I'm not even engaged, and even if I were married I wouldn't want to have them just yet, if ever), and trying to get my boyfriend to look for another job. (If he is happy where he's at, and I happen to admire him for putting in long hours for a job he believes in, who is she to object?!) Her favorite subject lately is my engagement, or lack thereof. Since asking me directly about it has never produced anything more satisfactory than "It's none of your business, and I'll tell you when and if it happens" (and I have warned my boyfriend about her meddlesome ways, so he avoids being alone with her whenever possible), she has resorted to guerrilla tactics. This weekend she goaded a family friend into asking me and my boyfriend point blank in public about it. We were embarrassed.

In the past, telling my sister-in-law to MYOB has resulted in reactions from (at best) her cheerfully ignoring me to (at worst) her angrily declaring that she just wants the best for me and that I should listen to her, then sulking for weeks and bringing my mother into the argument. (She has also argued that in Chinese culture -- I am part Chinese but was raised in the US, and she is all Chinese and was raised in Malaysia -- one listens to one's elders, and that she therefore has a right to meddle in my life.) She has no concept of the idea that I might actually be the best person to decide about my own life (and my boyfriend to decide about his).

Is there ANY way to get such a person to shut up? If it weren't for the fact that I care so much for my brother (who is so easygoing that he doesn't seem to mind having a nagging wife) and my niece (a wonderfully bright young lady whose company my boyfriend and I thoroughly enjoy), I'd probably cut off all contact with her, but I'm pretty sure I can't cut her out without cutting them out also. I know I can't change her mind, but if anyone has advice about getting her not to speak her mind, I'd much appreciate it!

#2 Burgess Laughlin

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 10:00 PM

Is there ANY way to get such a person to shut up?

Yes, but one way, murder, is both unethical and illegal. Fortunately, there are other alternatives. One is to move away and then block off electronic communication too. (I moved from Houston to San Francisco forty years ago for that reason, although I gained other benefits in the process.)

A somewhat easier solution is to do what you yourself suggested: Cut off contact. Life is extremely short. Why spend any part of it with a pest unless doing so is a necessity? I don't see anything in what you have described that makes suffering her rudeness (or worse) necessary.

[...] I'd probably cut off all contact with her, but I'm pretty sure I can't cut her out without cutting them out also.

If your highly valued, mutual friends have the moral standards you think they have, why wouldn't they continue being in contact with you on your terms, that is, without the altruist present? Aren't they as disgusted with her as you are? Wouldn't they welcome an opportunity to be with you when you are at your best?
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#3 Liriodendron Tulipifera

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 10:37 PM

"Is there ANY way to get such a person to shut up?"

Unfortunately, no. Boy, can I identify with you. My boyfriend of four years was Chinese and we got the same garbage from his whole family. Constantly.

Her constantly being in your business and pushing you for this or that is pervasive in Chinese culture, as you well know. There is absolutely no understanding of what it is to be an individual, nor is there any understanding of alternative definitions of success besides making the most money possible in the shortest period of time by whatever means are necessary. I recommend telling her that you are going to ignore her, telling her why you are doing so, and then going on to actually do that. This is the only way she might try to change the way she interacts with you. Trying to embarrass this type of person just doesn't work because they have no sense of tact in the first place. The only thing you can do is to treat her as rudely as she is treating you - by acting as if she doesn't exist.

After all, she's acting like you don't exist!

#4 stellavision

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 12:03 AM

If your highly valued, mutual friends have the moral standards you think they have, why wouldn't they continue being in contact with you on your terms, that is, without the altruist present? Aren't they as disgusted with her as you are? Wouldn't they welcome an opportunity to be with you when you are at your best?


Because these are not "highly valued mutual friends" -- these are my brother and their eleven-year-old daughter. While I care very much for my brother, he's not the type to stand up to his wife -- and of course my niece is not of age to declare that she will see me whether her mother likes it or not. I love my niece too much to risk losing contact with her (particularly now, when I have a chance to teach her better ideas than she's being taught at home :angry2: ) for the sake of cutting off contact with someone I can deal with, even if it is extremely annoying to do so.

If it were just my brother to consider, I might cut sister-in-law off -- he's a grownup and he can decide whether or not he values me and appreciates that his wife is in the wrong. But my niece can't tell her mom off (yet!).

At present, I usually solve this problem by spending as little time with my sister-in-law as possible, even when I am visiting their family (my boyfriend and I enjoy taking my niece out to the park, to museums, whatever). This hasn't been a bad strategy thus far -- it works until the inevitable ambush!

#5 Paul's Here

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 12:06 AM

----------
Is there ANY way to get such a person to shut up? ------------

Bose makes headphones that cancel out airplane noise. I'm not sure how they work for human sound, but perhaps if you walked around wearing them, she might get a message.

Perhaps you can start asking her about personal things and see how she reacts to being questioned.
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#6 Liriodendron Tulipifera

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 12:56 AM

Bose makes headphones that cancel out airplane noise. I'm not sure how they work for human sound, but perhaps if you walked around wearing them, she might get a message.

hahahaha! That's a good one :angry2: stellavision's sister-in-law doesn't seem too sharp, though.

Thinking a bit more about this, it seems this awful woman has you right where she wants you.... annoyed and frustrated with her. She knows she's gotten under your skin, and she's loving every minute of it. There are only two things that will work here. First, you can accept her behavior and ignore all of it until it stops (only you know her well enough to know whether this will happen or how long it might take), which I previously suggested. However, I wonder now if that's the most effective solution, since confronting her and then proceeding to ignore her only gives her the satisfaction of her knowing that she's still driving you nuts with the games she plays. If your reaction is all she's after, she might stop eventually but it might take awhile.

What about totally changing your attitude toward her and laughing off every one of her ridiculous statements and questions, making her realize you don't take her the least bit seriously? One method I find effective for marginalizing totally meddlesome people asking completely inappropriate questions is to simply smile sweetly and say, "Why do you want to know?" Or, make jokes out of her statements to show her how ridiculous she is. I once babysat a whiny little girl who had all kinds of wierd neuroses that her parents catered to. One day I was driving her to the airport and it was raining. She whined the whole way about not wanting to fly in the rain, being scared of crashing, etc. I had had it with her and her parents babying her. So I said, "You know what? I think you are totally right, honey. We better turn this car around and take you straight home. I mean, I bet that pilot is sitting in the cockpit of the plane right now crapping his pants and thinking to himself, "What am I doing here? I'm not going to be able to see a darn thing up there. Surely I can't fly in the rain!" She ended up laughing and realizing just how ridiculous she really was.

Obviously, having to do this all the time with each one of her statements would take an incredible amount of mental energy. Unfortunately, it does take a lot of energy to deal with a spoiled, whiny, manipulative child.

#7 stellavision

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 01:52 AM

hahahaha! That's a good one :angry2: stellavision's sister-in-law doesn't seem too sharp, though.

Thinking a bit more about this, it seems this awful woman has you right where she wants you.... annoyed and frustrated with her. She knows she's gotten under your skin, and she's loving every minute of it. There are only two things that will work here. First, you can accept her behavior and ignore all of it until it stops (only you know her well enough to know whether this will happen or how long it might take), which I previously suggested. However, I wonder now if that's the most effective solution, since confronting her and then proceeding to ignore her only gives her the satisfaction of her knowing that she's still driving you nuts with the games she plays. If your reaction is all she's after, she might stop eventually but it might take awhile.

What about totally changing your attitude toward her and laughing off every one of her ridiculous statements and questions, making her realize you don't take her the least bit seriously?


Ooh, I think you're on to something. I have in the past both called her on it (which, as previously mentioned, at best causes her to pretend not to have heard me and at worst results in a tirade and trying to get my mother to join her side) and ignored her (she hasn't stopped), but I suspect laughing at her might just irritate her enough to make her stop. Excellent!

#8 Liriodendron Tulipifera

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 08:26 PM

Well, do post back and let us know all the gossip and how it went. :angry2: I hope you have your entire family laughing about her soon. Hopefully she has enough sense of humor to laugh at herself, too.




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