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Should I say something about MIL's racial/homophobic slurs before we have kids?

So every time I see MIL I'm pretty sure she manages to use the n word at least once. It makes me very uncomfortable so I try to change the topic as quickly as possible. She also has been known to use derogatory terms for gay/lesbian, although she is quite aware I am a big supporter of GLBT rights.  

For example today we were discussing the recent break-in we had at our (soon to be ex) apartment. DH's theory is that is was some 18 or 19 year old who couldn't get someone to buy them alcohol since a few bottles of liquor were the only thing that was taken. MIL's instant response "It was probably some no good black n*****." 

DH has said something about it a few times in the past and her response is always "It's not like I'm racist/homophobic or anything. It's just a word!"

We are hoping to start a family, and we have already had a discussion (that DH started) that it WILL NOT be ok for her to use those words around our children. And DH has even said that if she does, she will not be seeing them.

However I feel like it will be somewhat of a surprise attack if sometime down the road we end up having to limit her contact with her grandchild(ren) over an issue that we haven't put our foot down about before. Although DH has talked to her about it, it's never really been taken any further and obviously she doesn't think she is saying anything wrong.

 DH's whole family lives in a small town when most people are very narrow minded when it comes to race, sexual orientation, and even gender (heaven forbid I have a career of my own out side of being barefoot and pg in the kitchen!). I know I cannot completely shield my future child(ren) from these points of view if they are to have any sort of relationship with his family, or survive in the real world overall. However, I feel it will be my right to keep them from regularly hearing such vulgar terms for other human beings. 


Re: Should I say something about MIL's racial/homophobic slurs before we have kids?

  • What you don't do is start a fight with her over what you plan on doing in the future, issuing ultimatums etc. And, accusing her of being racist is pointless as well; she counters with the "I'm not racist, I just call black people ni--ers" nonsens and you're no longer on the subject at hand, you're arguing over whether calling black people ni--ers is a racist slur.

    What you say is, "Please don't say things like that around me. I don't like it and I don't want to hear it'.  Nothing to argue about there; you don't like to hear it and you're asking her to stop around you. That's all; that's it. If she won't stop, then leave. Every. Freaking. Time. That's how you teach her that she won't see your baby if she talks like this; because she won't see YOU if she talks like this.

  • To expand on what Sue_Sue said, without starting a fight, make your boundaries known now, that way when you do have kids, they know that you mean business. That way, there shouldn't be any surprises. But don't be surprised if you have to repeat them before they MIL takes them seriously.
  • Thanks ladies, obviously it's not something I want to start a huge fight over or try to play the "when we have kids" card (because honestly, I don't want her to even know we are thinking about trying). With her I try to pick my battles anyhow, which I'm starting to get better at, but this is something I feel very strongly about.

    It's always been DH handling the issue, and usually waiting until it is just her and him to say anything. Although I think it is usually important to address an issue when it occurs, I see why he usually waits, because if we are around other members of the family they will defend her since they all think the same way.

    Also I've tried to let DH do the talking in the past because most of his family cannot get it through their heads,especially MIL, that he as an individual made the decision not to think like them long before I was in the picture. Instead they think I somehow "brainwashed" him into being some crazy liberal (because you know, treating all people equally and with respect is way too far out in left field for most people to understand).


  • I had a MIL who was similar to that and in-laws who still are, and they come from a very different background, well travelled, wealthy,  but not particularly book educated. So background is no excuse.

    Thye use to spew stuff like ni**er, f*g etc but if anyone called them on it they always had an excuse.

    I have really strong boundaries around my inlaws on many fronts and when they start talking in a derogatory manner, using racial epithets or sexuality based slurs, I just tell them that I find those words offensive and ignorant and chose not to remain to listen to them and I leave the area of the person using them. This has required me leaving events in the past. My DH was used to the way they are but understands this is unacceptable to me and supports me fully in my actions.

  • Too bad you can't tape her and then play her rants back. Maybe she';ll see the light.

    No racists would be permitted in my company, nor would they be permitted to be around my family. And NO, it is NOT just "a word."

  • Ditto sue_sue.  Don't make threats about your child.  Tell her you won't listen to that talk, and walk away.  Or leave.  She will get the picture that her language is not acceptable to you.  If she tells you things like "that is just a word," you can always reply "those are not my values." 

    image "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
  • I think you need to start taking a stand when people use language like that in front of you.  You don't have to get all pearl-clutchy and "OMG, that's so offensive!  How dare you!" to your MIL; you can just simply stand up and say, "I'm just not okay with that language, and I'm going to leave now.  See you next time!"

    Pick up your bag, pick up your keys, and walk out the door.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

    "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Lilypie Fourth Birthday tickers Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
  • I would definitely start speaking up when she says that's stuff--say it's offensive and you don't want to hear it. It you have a kid you might not avoid the kid seeing grandma but instead embarrass her. When she says something inappropriate, just everytime say that it's hateful and words you never, never should use and grandma should be ashamed of herself.
  • People don't use racial slurs around me anymore, and the last person who did is no longer a part of my life.  That kind of hate speech is disgusting and intolerable and you shouldn't have to be subjected to it.  Even before we adopted our daughter, I would have cut myself off from that garbage after giving them exactly one chance to change.

    This has always been a hot button issue for me because my cousins are biracial.  I find that some white people will say ugly things to other white people because they think we all think the same.  It is the duty of those of us who aren't ignorant scum to show the ignorant scum of the world that we won't tolerate that sh!t anymore.

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