- This topic has 7 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 10 months, 3 weeks ago by aj.
November 22, 2019 at 9:24 pm #860988
My dilemma is regarding spending the holidays with my family who I find challenging to get along with.
My father and my grandmother live in a different country from me and I haven’t seen them in a few years. The reason I am reluctant to visit them is because they have completely different mentality and it is difficult to have a normal, civil discussion with them. Whenever we spent time together in the past, they always nag me about my weight, my career choice, my taste in clothing and nearly every aspect of my life. I feel like they don’t truly ask any question about me. And they guilt trip me for not visiting them and not caring about them. My grandmother in particular wishes me to come back and live with them so I could take care of them. She believes that my job (registered nurse) is not important and I can find other work as long as I could care for them.
We also share very different political views. I have to bite my tongue each time I am with them because if I do reason or share my opinion with them, there would be arguments, making my time there more unpleasant than it already is.
This year, however, I’ve decided to fly to visit them for a week because my grandmother is in her late 80s and her health has been deteriorating. I would like to visit her when I still can. My question is how I can spend time with my father and my grandmother without causing arguments. Should I just lie and agree with what they tell me? Should I be quiet when they nag me about my everything? I would like my visit to be as peaceful as possible. Any tips or advice? Thank you!November 23, 2019 at 7:20 am #861035KateKeymaster
I’m not sure if this will work, but have you tried saying, “you know, it makes me feel really bad when you say things like this to me.”
And if politics comes up, “oh hey, can we not?”
And change the subject to stuff you want to talk about?
Leave the room if things get too hot?November 23, 2019 at 7:24 am #861036HelenGuest
First of all, don’t engage in any political debates. Let whatever they say roll off your back without comment. Try to get them to talk about the past. Where they grew up, family members who’ve passed, how much a house used to cost, childhood memories, old traditions, make a family tree while they’re alive to fill in the blanks, get an ancestry.com membership and spend the visit focusing on genealogy. Keep them talking about themselves! I’ve found that to be helpful keeping my own difficult family members off my back.November 23, 2019 at 8:42 am #861044
Thank you! This is very helpful! I am going to use that for sure. I can’t believe I never thought of it. My grandma for one loves talking about her childhood. I appreciate the suggestions!November 23, 2019 at 8:46 am #861045
Kate, I actually have never tried that. I was always afraid of being direct and honest with my family. They would say things like they nag me for my benefit and my own good. But I am my own person now maybe it’s time to stand up for myself and tell them how I actually feel. Thank you 🙂November 23, 2019 at 9:06 am #861050Dear WendyKeymaster
It’s just a week – you can get through it. Tell them you’re uncomfortable with the discussion if they broach topics you don’t want to discuss. Be assertive – say, “I don’t want to discuss this, let’s change the subject.” Go to a different room, go out for a walk, offer to run errands. Something that helps me when I visit family is to find a project around the house that I can do that will keep me busy for a few hours and that my family will appreciate. For example, when I visit my parents, I do yard work and gardening, which is hard for them with their physical limitations and which they really appreciate when I can do it. You say your grandmother wants you close by to take care of them. You don’t want to do that, understandably, so ask what you can do to help take care of them in the week you visit. Even little things – driving your grandmother to a hair or dr appointment – would show you care. You could cook a couple meals for them – or, even better, ask if your grandmother or father can teach you to teach a traditional recipe or two. Are there photo albums or collections of photos you can look at? Look through them with your family and ask about the people in the photos – get them talking about your family history, etc.
It’s just a week. You can do it!November 23, 2019 at 9:17 am #861054KateKeymaster
If they say it’s for your own good, you can say, yeah, well, it feels like the opposite of that. And change the subject. I definitely don’t suggest doing anything this aggressive with your grandma, but when I was 19 and visiting family for Christmas, I got in my uncle’s face and screamed at him that it’s people like him that make the world a crappy place (he was making a case against gay people from a religious angle). It felt good to do that. He still takes minor little shots at me, but I feel like the winner.
ETA, my parents raised me to basically do and say whatever the fuck I wanted, because they, as middle children growing up in the 50s and 60s, really couldn’t. I am definitely not non-confrontational and will get in a bitch’s face.
Anyway, yeah, with your grandma, just tell her this stuff actually hurts your feelings and doesn’t motivate you, then ask questions about old-timey stuff.November 27, 2019 at 2:05 pm #861686ajGuest
I’d recommend writing down a bunch of questions and asking your Grandma if you can video record an interview of her answering them. My uncle did this with my grandparents and it inspired me to do the same thing with my last remaining grandparent. It’s a great way to create a special keepsake, as you can share the files via DVD with your extended family. Some things I asked about were how they met their spouse, memories of their childhoods, things like that. I really recommend it, you’ll probably learn a lot about your grandma and have some great laughs.