Bad Manners and Brimstone

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: SnappyLT on June 21, 2020, 03:40:35 pm

Title: Preemptive strike? (Trying to avoid lectures from relatives)
Post by: SnappyLT on June 21, 2020, 03:40:35 pm
I want to be really vague here both for privacy's sake and to avoid a discussion about exactly what my adult offspring did.

lengthy background:
My adult offspring (let's call him "Fred") did something a few weeks ago. It was not illegal.

Fred's action was not the best choice (in my own opinion) but Fred is an adult and makes all of his own decisions now. I have no control over Fred and I didn't even know about the situation until afterward.

Here's the thing: some of the relatives on both sides of the family already know about Fred's action. I have had two phone conversations already with well-meaning relatives who started in on me, telling me vividly why Fred's action wasn't the best choice and telling me exactly what Fred should have done differently.

I reacted poorly to being lectured about my grown-up offspring's action. I felt as if I was being attacked when the relatives expected me to sit there and listen to them. I agree with them that Fred did not make the best choice - but Fred is an adult and I cannot do anything about it.

During both phone calls I finally interrupted the lectures. I apologized for interrupting, and continued by saying while I agreed that I wouldn't have done what Fred did, I really didn't want to continue talking about a topic I had no control over. Bean dip, anyone?

question:
So - is there anything I can politely do to have nice phone calls with other relatives without having to listen to lectures about Fred's decision? I have zero tolerance for hearing any more about it. I already agree it wasn't the best choice, but I have zero control over it.

How do others on this board preemptively avoid a touchy subject?
Title: Re: Preemptive strike? (Trying to avoid lectures from relatives)
Post by: gramma dishes on June 21, 2020, 04:12:44 pm

Frankly I thought you handled it just fine!   
Title: Re: Preemptive strike? (Trying to avoid lectures from relatives)
Post by: baritone108 on June 21, 2020, 06:50:58 pm
 I agree you handled it well.  While this doesn't look like something you can completely preempt. as soon as a relative starts in you can cut them off saying, "You'll have to take up any concerns about this with Fred.  I'm not discussing it with anyone."  Then have your bean dip ready and offer it before the relative can respond to your statement.
Title: Re: Preemptive strike? (Trying to avoid lectures from relatives)
Post by: Rho on June 21, 2020, 09:50:19 pm
 I agree you handled it well.  While this doesn't look like something you can completely preempt. as soon as a relative starts in you can cut them off saying, "You'll have to take up any concerns about this with Fred.  I'm not discussing it with anyone."

Absolutely!
 Before I read this I was reminded of being in a similar situation.  I shut down both my sister and a distant in-law when they each wanted my opinion and more gossipy details.
 
Title: Re: Preemptive strike? (Trying to avoid lectures from relatives)
Post by: Aleko on June 22, 2020, 02:46:12 am
Agree with all the above. But if you felt that a particular relative needed a heavier shot across their bows to head them off, you could ramp it up a bit: 'I don't discuss Fred behind his back. He's a grown man, so if you want to talk about his actions, talk about them with him, not me.' You know your family best, but if you have any relatives that have the hide of an elephant, you need to use an elephant gun.
Title: Re: Preemptive strike? (Trying to avoid lectures from relatives)
Post by: Lkdrymom on June 22, 2020, 05:23:24 am
I think you handled it well too.  Cut them off after the first sentence.  Tell them it is in poor taste to talk about Fred behind his back and if they had any issues about what happened they need to brign them up to him not you.  After all, what were they expecting you to do about it?

I often received the same type of phone calls but about my elderly father.   Relatives seemed to think I had some sort of control over him.  I shut it down by telling them he was a grown man free to make his own decisions...even if they were bad ones. He was certainly not going to listen to me trying to run his life and I had no desire to.
Title: Re: Preemptive strike? (Trying to avoid lectures from relatives)
Post by: bopper on June 22, 2020, 10:55:43 am
1. What exactly do you want me to do now?
2. This was not my decision to make.
3. Why are you telling me this?
Title: Re: Preemptive strike? (Trying to avoid lectures from relatives)
Post by: TootsNYC on June 22, 2020, 11:12:01 am
Quote
During both phone calls I finally interrupted the lectures.

I think maybe the only thing I would suggest you change is to stop the lecture sooner.

"I understand you're upset, but I'm not interested in listening to you vent about this. I've got to go."
     Label it as venting, not as a lecture. Maybe they think of you as a sympathetic audience; maybe they are trying to shame you for "not raising him right." (insert eye roll here, btw)

I might personally add, "Fred is a grownup, and he is entitled to learn from his own mistakes."

The other thing I'd suggest is that you not even try to "have a nice conversation" with people who are doing this.  This isn't a conversation; it's either a venting session or a harangue; they called you specifically to unload on this topic.

Have a "nice conversation" with them at some other date.


Or I guess you could interrupt them and seize control of the monologue, and just muse (as if they are sympathetic audience, and surely must agree with you!) that "some relatives have called me up and harangued me about the choices my grown offspring has done, as if somehow I'm at fault, and Fred isn't an actual grownup with the power and the ability to make and learn from his own mistakes. As if they think I'm a failure as a parent, I guess, even though surely all of us have done stupid things from time to time that we would never THINK to blame our parents for, right? As if somehow I was supposed to head him off from making a foolish mistake simply by ESP, or by osmosis? Isn't that ridiculous? I just don't understand these people, do you?"


What are they going to do--tell you that they're "one of those people"?
Title: Re: Preemptive strike? (Trying to avoid lectures from relatives)
Post by: lakey on June 22, 2020, 04:01:26 pm
You have my sympathy.   Hugs. I know people who have adult children who have behaved stupidly or illegally. It's heartbreaking for a parent to see their kid do something stupid, and not be able to do anything about it.

I think you are too worried about being "polite". That doesn't mean that you should be angry in your response, but if someone calls you and has a conversation with you that adds to your pain or discomfort, you have a right to end the conversation. I would use as few words as possible. When you give reasons, you are inviting them to respond or even argue. I would say something simple and direct, such as, "I can't deal with this right now." If they have any concern for you at all, they will understand that the conversation only upsets you, and the next time, they will talk about other things. By the way, there are people who can't resist getting in on the drama and want to know all the gory details. Avoid those people until things settle down.
Title: Re: Preemptive strike? (Trying to avoid lectures from relatives)
Post by: Gellchom on June 22, 2020, 08:38:11 pm
Oh, gosh, that sounds awful.  And I'm sorry for what your family is going through.

I would neither smack them down nor say something like "I can't deal with this" (which would invite speculation and maybe gossip that you are falling apart).  I'd just interrupt fairly early and say something like, "You know, I just really am tired of talking about this.  I'm sure you understand.  But it's so nice to hear from you -- let's talk about something else.  Are people in your area wearing masks and social distancing/How is your dog/daughter/garden doing/can you believe what Outrageous Public Figure said yesterday/etc.?"

In other words, just politely ask for their help/understanding and change the subject.  I'm sure you'll know what topic they will be unable to resist.
Title: Re: Preemptive strike? (Trying to avoid lectures from relatives)
Post by: Lkdrymom on June 24, 2020, 01:21:03 pm
Or you could respond......"well what did Fred say when you brought this up to him?"  I bet you'd hear a lot of stammering.  "No, you haven't spoken to him, well why not? "
Title: Re: Preemptive strike? (Trying to avoid lectures from relatives)
Post by: SnappyLT on July 22, 2020, 11:57:48 pm
OP here. Thank you to the people who replied. The topic of family dicussion has moved on and the problem is no more.

I only ended up listening at length to the two relatives who had already started in on me before I wrote the original post.

The way I avoided being lectured by other relatives over the phone was by mentioning that two other relatives (whom I left unnamed) had fussed at me - before I mentioned Fred's experience. That set the tone for the remaining relatives to be sympathetic. After all, I was telling them I'd felt attacked, so it sort of set up an expectation that of course they'd be lecturing me.


Title: Re: Preemptive strike? (Trying to avoid lectures from relatives)
Post by: TootsNYC on August 17, 2020, 12:26:58 pm
That's a smart move, I think!
Title: Re: Preemptive strike? (Trying to avoid lectures from relatives)
Post by: Hanna on August 18, 2020, 06:10:04 am
Thatís a good update.

I really like the phrase ďIím going to stop you there.Ē For interrupting someone that needs interruption due to content.

So you can also say ďIím going to stop you there. Iím not going to discuss Fredís actions today. Itís a topic thatís been done to death for me.Ē Or whatever.