Family Matters
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Demanding better treatment from family

Hi everyone,

Just hoping for some thoughts.  My family just visited this weekend, and things didn't go well, as usual.  Whenver brother is around, Mom gives him 100% attention, and he takes all of it.  This results in DH and I feeling as though we are simply providing a nice place for them to crash, and that's about it.  No genuine appreciation for our home, our lifestyle, or the effort we've made to make them comfortable and well-fed.  In general, they lack graciousness and consideration for others.  I want more respect.  I've expressed my feelings several times to both with great patience to no avail, as they simply don't see my point of view and therefore can't imagine it being valid.  Talking hasn't helped.  This happens at all gatherings where my brother is present---I truly dread having him around because of my Mom's treatment of him.  I'm not jealous, just disgusted by being ignored and disrespected. I don't enjoy him either because he doesn't really talk to me, nor does his wife, though they both claim to want a close, happy family. 

Anyone have any suggestions for making my point more clear that I am a member of the family, too?  Avoidance is an option, though not one of my favorites.  The only other plan is to develop the patience and limitless love of Christ Jesus, which seems really out of reach at this point!!  They really get to me!

Re: Demanding better treatment from family

  • Need more details.  What exactly is it that you want to "show" graciousness and consideration and respect?  What exactly do they do to "disrespect" you? 

    I'll tell you this  - some of this may be interpretation and while your demanding that they show you respect in a format YOU find acceptable, part of the reason talking to them doesn't work is because THEY might feel they DO respect you.  They just dont' show it how YOU want it.

    My mother is like this.  She has very set ideas on how she likes to receive accolades.  And if she doesn't get it how SHE thinks it's right, she gets upset and pissy. 

    Being the person on the other end of this, it pisses me off to NO END.  There is no respect or acceptance on HER part that how *I* show gratitude and respect is how *I* show it. It may not be how she wants it, but I DO show it.   And *I* start to get really insulted that my method is never good enough or "correct".  It makes me not want to be around her sometimes.

    I've referred to her as a martyr many times over because that's exactly what she is.  She wants us to all bow down to her and tell her how wonderful and thoughtful and great she is, and if we don't do it HER way - it's not good enough.

    That's why I say that you need to think about interpretation a bit here.  It may not be how YOU want it, but they may feel they DO show respect.

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

    Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
    DS dx with celiac disease 5/28/10

  • Next time, have your brother and mom come visit on separate weekends. ?Changing the dynamic up may help. ?Not that you can always avoid being together, but try issuing separate invites when it's for a weekend visit at your place. ?That is something that you can control. ?

    Also, I'm not sure what you wanted them to say other than, "Thanks for having us over." ?If they didn't compliment you on your cooking, decor, setting up a basket of toiletries in the guest room and on and on, that's OK. ?Next time, simplify. ?Clean the house to your normal everyday standard and plan to order pizza. ?They may not notice the extras, so they won't miss them either.?

    ?I'm actually more comfortable with a casual hostess who opens a bottle of wine and puts out some cheese and crackers and then sits down to visit with me than one who spends half the time running around the kitchen or trying to keep the house perpetually spotless. ?

  • What is it that you want from them?  How are they "disrespecting" you?
  • When I talk about consideration and respect, I'm talking about basic and mom spent the whole evening talking to each other, not including us, or even barely acknowleging our presence.  They never asked if anything was ok to do or use in the house, they just made themselves completely at home.  I want them to do that, but for that to work a level of good will and respect needs to go along with it.  Not to mention how loud and messy they were in our small apartment.  That I can live with, but it sure didn't help things. They're not horrible, just loud and unaware, like Elizabeth Bennet's mother in Pride and Prejudice Smile  

    I know for a fact that they don't see things how I do.  When I explained to Mom how I felt, she didn't even try to understand.  Instead she tried to tell me I was just tired and needed some rest.  Mom and brother both don't like dealing with issues, they prefer to pretend they aren't there.  I know this isn't the world's biggest problem, and I really can't see Mom ever changing, but I would like to see family gatherings be just a little more peaceful. 

  • They never asked if anything was ok to do or use in the house, they just made themselves completely at home.  I want them to do that, but for that to work a level of good will and respect needs to go along with it. 

    Two things:

    1- again, what does "good will" and "respect" mean in that specific situation?

    2- Your statement is actually contradictory.  You want them to be at home, but you want them to ask what they can use....???  That's the OPPOSITE of "make yourself at home"!  So.... which is it? 

    I know for a fact that they don't see things how I do. 

    My point w/ this is that there may need to be some understanding on YOUR part that they just have a different way of doing things. And just because it isn't YOUR way doesn't necessarily mean it's WRONG. 

    But again- you have contradictory expectations.  How can anyone live up to your expectations?  "Make yourself at home"....oh, but wait "you need to ask before you do ___". 

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

    Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
    DS dx with celiac disease 5/28/10

  • Just my perspective, but when we visit my folks, or DH's, or anyone in the immediate families visit our home, no one is considered a guest. Sure, we cook and clean in anticipation of visits, but I don't expect the accoloades or appreciation that a friend or distant relative might express and niether do they. Family does things for one another not out of obligation, but because you care for each other, and in the spirit of giving.  A thank you would probably be nice, but I don't think they are disrepecting you if one isn't offered.

    As for your mom giving all her attention to your brother when they are together. Could this possibly be because they see each other much less frequently then you and your mom see & talk to each other??  If not, here's another example of life's inequality and unfortunately some parents do play favorites. Since it's seems you've already mentioned this to them and they haven't changed their behavior, I wouldn't pin any hopes on them changing in the future. Don't invite them to your house at the same time, and minimize the time you spend together withboth of them if their self absorbtion bothers you so much.


  • To clarify, I'm not uptight, neat, super-organized, or anything like that...this isn't about my belongings or my ego (I don't think, anyway). 

    Describing the situation is very difficult because it's a constant flow of craziness and frustration.  This weekend made us feel somewhat used because I don't think we would have had company if we didn't also live in an area where you can hunt pheasants (also why we couldn't stagger the visits--a pretty effective method of dealing).  That's why they came.  Again, we are so happy to have them, no matter what the reason.  The issue really is about feeling put to the side when sibling #2 is around, no matter where we meet.  And I understand chances are slim that this will ever change. 

    I should also mention that dad and sister were along, too, but they sortof check out...Maybe I should take a lesson from them!

  • I should also mention that dad and sister were along, too, but they sortof check out...Maybe I should take a lesson from them!

    Why not focus on them, then?  You seem really focused on what your mom and brother are doing.  Why?  Focus on the other people there and don't worry about your mom and brother.  If this is how they are all the time- you're right, they aren't going to change no matter where they are.

    I go on vacation every year w/ a group of friends.  One person in particular tends to drive me up the wall somewhat.  I like her, she's fun to hang out with, but there are times wehre I've just had "enough".  So- I ignore her. not to her face, but I just focus on talking to other people, I go to another part of the house, or... whatever it is that I need to do to NOT be annoyed. 

    You can't control or change your mom or brother, but you CAN control yourself!

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

    Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
    DS dx with celiac disease 5/28/10

  • I would have them over on separate weekends.  Too bad if one of them misses pheasant hunting!  Tell them that the apt. is really too small for you to be comfortable (or, invite one other couple for the weekend, so you "can't" have it too crowded with mom, SIL and brother).  Invite one, and tell the other they can come the next weekend.  If they press ("but we'll miss the hunt...." "but we want to be one big happy family...." "but we don't mind how crowded it is....") just smile into the phone and tell them sorry, three people doesn't work this weekend.  You'll invite them next time (or next year)

    Yes, you CAN stagger weekends (you are CHOOSING not to).  If there is only one weekend of the year that is hunting season - only one person gets to visit.  But they can come ANOTHER weekend - especially your brother, who wants SO BADLY to be close to you. ;)

    Or, you can have a large party when they come.  An "after the hunt" gtg with friends. 

    You can also not invite either of them, and travel to see the one you want to see one at a time.  If you don't enjoy hosting them - don't!

    Remember, it's not your job to give everybody an opportunity to hunt pheasants, and it's not your job to give your brother "the big close happy family I always wanted." (a.k.a. the largest possible audience).


  • This is an interesting situation.  Several times people have asked for specifics, and you haven't really been able to put your finger on a specific incident or example.  I don't mean to say that your feelings about your family aren't valid -- just that it seems like you want something they can't provide.

    Instead of talking to them about how you want THEM to be, I'd try looking at the problem from a different direction.  Maybe think about what YOU can actually DO when you're all together to change things.   You want more attention from mom?  Sit her down and show her a photo album or some pictures of whatever you've been doing.  You want brother to interact with you?  Ask him to run down to the store with you to grab stuff for

    Picture your ideal family get-together with them.  What can YOU do to make that happen.  If your answer to that is "nothing.  the only thing that can change the situation is them acting differently" then you have to examine whether the problem lies within you.

  • Find something interesting to do with your Dad and your sister. Pretty soon the other two will want to know what your are doing. You can't make the point any clearer, and they can't make it clearer to you. They prefer each other and are self absorbed. If you like beating your head on a wall keep doing it. You have other guests and you chose to whine about unfair attention. How does this make the other people in the room feel?
  • I agree with FMIL&MOB. Take a deep breath, have a glass of wine, and enjoy the other family members in your company.
  • I think I know what you mean and it is very difficult to describe.  I went through this with my mother.  It was like I literally wasn't in the room.  If I was talking to someone (especially that brother) she would actually walk between us and start talking to him.  If I was talking to her and he came up she would just turn her back to me and start talking to him.  Strange things like that.  Attributing funny things I said or something I did to that brother.  Seeing them separately is the only solution.  That might not be possible all the time but just do it enough that it won't bother you the times it does happen.  It's such a crazy thing to do that you'll start to see the humor in it.  I think the other stuff your describing is just wanting a little acknowledgement or pat on the back.  Like "look you got my favorite soda", "I just love the bread you made", or "your apartment is lovely - is that a new lamp".  Something that shows they notice you instead of just using it as a meeting place to have their big love fest!
    TTC since September '08 After 2 m/c - lap for stage 3-4 endo Oct '09 Bravelle w/Ovidrel trigger - iui on 11/07 Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
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