Hi! I miss getting letters from you asking for advice, and I need them in order to publish new columns every day, so if you need advice and are cool with your letter being published here, please email me at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com). Today, two letters from Reddit:
The next day I crafted a text that said that I will absolutely respect their parenting and not challenge them in front of my niece again. I also explained that I was hurt and upset by her comment because it made it seem like she thinks being gay is a bad thing and that it would be unfortunate if my niece were gay. My brother lost it. He texted like five consecutive texts claiming that everyone is too sensitive nowadays and that I’m trying to push something on my niece and insisting that SIL isn’t homophobic and that I should apologize for accusing her of that.
So what do I do now? Drop it? — Not a Homophobic Aunt
I guess by “respect our parenting,” your SIL means “don’t use inclusive language as that is not something we do in our family.” And when it is in direct relation to their children, I would go ahead and stick with the language your brother and SIL use. When it’s in relation to anyone else, I’d feel free to use child-appropriate inclusive language so that at least your niece is getting exposed to the idea of inclusivity. Doing this also signals what your attitude is and flags you as someone who could be open to ideas and relationships that your brother and SIL have signaled they are not as open to.
In the meantime, in an effort to maintain civil family ties, I’d avoid ever seeming to “correct” your brother and SIL in front of their daughter/kids, especially in relation to their parenting and the language and phrases they use in their parenting. For example, Indigenous People’s Day is coming up in a few weeks. If you were to hear your brother or SIL – or even your niece – refer to is as “Columbus Day,” resist the urge to say, “Actually, we call it ‘Indigenous People’s Day’ now,” not because you’re wrong or that that is offensive, but because you already know that this is likely something to trigger your brother and his wife and you threaten your relationship with your niece every time you push their buttons in this way. Best to maintain a relationship with her by playing by their rules. As someone in her life, you can continue modeling for her more inclusive behavior and and using such language yourself when it’s not used in a way to correct her parents.
In the meantime, since your brother and his wife are so wound-up, send a text apologizing for upsetting them, reminding them how much you love your niece, and saying that going forward you will be better about using language that better reflects the respect you have for them as parents.
I told him that I felt really weird knowing that hestill has the video. He said he didn’t understand why it would upset me and that while he would not get rid of it, if it bothered me, he would definitely never watch it. He said it’s part of his documentation of his life. I expressed that this was a huge turn-off, and we argued about it. Since them, he claims he deleted it, but that changes nothing for me, because his intent was to keep it.
The main thing that bothered me was that I was very open with him and we would exchange nudes often and I adapted to so many things, so the fact he wanted to hold on to some woman he had a fling with really messed up my head. As a result, it was for months that I did not find him attractive anymore. After a while, I slowly got back to normal, but occasionally I will remember this and it’s like reliving that moment again. I’m not sure if I’m over-reacting or insecure, so I would like to hear opinions from others. How would you react if this happened in your relationship? — Feeling Turned Off
There are several red flags here and they would all give me serious pause about continuing this relationship. The first is that he even told you he has video of another woman that he doesn’t want to get rid of. Like, why do you even need to know that? What was the purpose of telling you that, especially when, in the next breath he said that he wouldn’t show anyone but, oh wait, he already showed a friend of his to “brag.” Ew. That would have been a deal-breaker for me right off the bat. You have a private video a woman sent you and you showed your friend to brag, and then told me about it? Nope, next, moving on. Then, the idea that he’s holding on to this video as “documentation of life”? Wtf does that even mean? That’s akin to holding on to a bed with notches in it for each sexual conquest. Gross. Feeling unattracted to the guy, and occasionally reliving the moment you learned about this video even over a year later, is your gut trying to protect you from this sleazebag. Listen to your gut and move on.