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Don't let the relatives wreck your holiday


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  #1  
November 30th, 2005, 04:21 PM
in_mommy's Avatar I am just me
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 14,872
I heard part of this on the Today Show and thought it might be helpful to someone, as many of us cant stand our in-laws!
Anyway here it is:

Comments and criticism can often be at their peak during holiday get-togethers. Dr. Gail Saltz offers advice on how to stay neutral and have fun.
Thanksgiving and other holidays are hot-button times for relatives who see little of each other during the year. On the rare occasions they get together, they feel the need to squeeze in everything they want to say, both positive and negative.

These gatherings bring out tremendous feelings of competition and rivalry. People are catching up and comparing, and are all trying to present themselves in a good light. Envy causes some people to make subtle digs at others.

“You are too thin” is just one of many criticisms relatives might level at you: Your makeup is too heavy, your heels are too high, your kids need a haircut, your job is a dead-end, your car is dirty, ad nauseum.

But weight is especially easy to focus on, because it is so visible and, for many, so problematic. In this case, your heavy relatives probably feel envious. It’s no surprise they are the ones criticizing your weight.

Rather than saying, “I wish I weighed what you weigh,” or “I wish I were as slim as you,” they get defensive and put you down by claiming you weigh too little. It might not even be conscious, but this is their mind’s way of protecting them from personal frustration and disappointment.

It may not be worth turning this into a big dispute that casts a pall on the holidays and, possibly, on days to come. Your goal is to set limits — not to stir the pot further or promote a more heated exchange. (This applies even if the criticism is valid — you ARE too thin, your kids DO need a haircut, your car IS dirty, etc.)

Nonetheless, you need not be a doormat. If your relatives don’t back off after a neutral response, you can say, “Thanks for your concern, but we can talk about this another time.”

If one particular relative keeps bringing this up, you can politely take that person aside and say, “I would appreciate it if you kept your thoughts about my weight to yourself today, and we can revisit this issue later.” The way to deflect unwanted criticism is by being clear, direct and don't be antagonistic.

I suggest you not go into attack mode by countering with, “If I am too thin, then you are too fat,” or, “You might be struggling with your weight, but I am not struggling with mine.” Doing so virtually guarantees a big argument, an unpleasant holiday and lingering regret.

Dr. Gail’s Bottom Line: If outspoken relatives threaten to wreck the holidays with criticism — whether of your weight or anything else — stay neutral rather than rising to the bait.
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  #2  
December 13th, 2005, 11:36 AM
mrobinson
Guest
Posts: n/a
I can't quit thinking about what has been said and what will likely be said... I don't like coming into a situation with my guard up either but I know the times I haven't, it seems like a deeper wound. I'll really try to keep this in mind...

Quote:
If outspoken relatives threaten to wreck the holidays with criticism — whether of your weight or anything else — stay neutral rather than rising to the bait.[/b]

BTW: Who are those other people who have good get togethers?

I hope the best for this Christmas but expect the worst... I have to not take the bait... I have to not take the bait.... repeat.... repeat....
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  #3  
December 15th, 2005, 07:20 PM
blythe's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 1,622
Hi...new to JM...and these posts read my mind, except they apply to my own family...my inlaws are fine.

My family is having its first Christmas get-together this Sunday since say, five years ago. We all live in the same town/area, and we do get together sporadically (@ 2 times/year maybe). We have a rather big family. My problem is that my dh and kids and I are all pretty overweight while the rest of my family are all built like models. My dh and I are college educated and have professional jobs (well, I'm a sahm right now) but we choose to live below our means and dress and live simply. The rest of my family wear expensive, flashy clothes, drive big expensive SUVs, and live in houses they probably can barely afford with furniture to match. The problem is that I feel good about myself and my dh and kids when I am around anybody else except for my own family. I am going to go out and buy us all a bunch of Ralph LAuren and Liz Claiborne clothes this weekend just so my brothers and sisters won't put us down, although our weight and our modest living/house is always good fodder for them. I never want to be around these people, esp. my dad who is ruthless about our weight (he is 74yrs.old, 6 foot tall and @130 lb and always has been). My mom, however, puts sooo much pressure on us to attend for the sake of "harmony". (WHat harmony??? SHe knoes how I feel about the whole thing..)

Does anyone have a similar situation w/their OWN family? WHat does a person do? I wish we could move really far away so I would never have to see most of them. Isn't that awful? I figure there is enough people in the world to make me feel bad about myself, I don't need family to do it.
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  #4  
December 16th, 2005, 11:07 PM
mrobinson
Guest
Posts: n/a
Girl, I could go on and on about my own family! The good news is you're normal. The bad news is this has become normal to us... and that is awful like you said. DH and I have purposely shut out some family members and, you know what? We do feel less bad... that does show the power of influence our families can have. Sometimes I wonder about my family, if you treat your loved ones this way, why do treat complete strangers better? Harmony, eh? My family is full of those contradictions too...

I am sorry you're going through this as well - I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. The idea of buying clothes to keep family off your back... I feel for you - I wish you didn't have that as your best option. But I know I'll hear something about my weight as well.... it's to the point where even hearing, "looks like you've lost weight" hurts... like why are you montoring my weight so closely... and the worst part is I haven't lost any weight but I think people say that because they think it's something I would want to hear - when it f#&$*g isn't, YKWIM? urgh!

My family resents my happiness.. I really believe that throughout my soul - and I hate that I feel that way. It's little things said and implied. I hate this game.
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  #5  
January 3rd, 2006, 10:54 AM
lapoema's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 7,081
Quote:
Hi...new to JM...and these posts read my mind, except they apply to my own family...my inlaws are fine.

My family is having its first Christmas get-together this Sunday since say, five years ago. We all live in the same town/area, and we do get together sporadically (@ 2 times/year maybe). We have a rather big family. My problem is that my dh and kids and I are all pretty overweight while the rest of my family are all built like models. My dh and I are college educated and have professional jobs (well, I'm a sahm right now) but we choose to live below our means and dress and live simply. The rest of my family wear expensive, flashy clothes, drive big expensive SUVs, and live in houses they probably can barely afford with furniture to match. The problem is that I feel good about myself and my dh and kids when I am around anybody else except for my own family. I am going to go out and buy us all a bunch of Ralph LAuren and Liz Claiborne clothes this weekend just so my brothers and sisters won't put us down, although our weight and our modest living/house is always good fodder for them. I never want to be around these people, esp. my dad who is ruthless about our weight (he is 74yrs.old, 6 foot tall and @130 lb and always has been). My mom, however, puts sooo much pressure on us to attend for the sake of "harmony". (WHat harmony??? SHe knoes how I feel about the whole thing..)

Does anyone have a similar situation w/their OWN family? WHat does a person do? I wish we could move really far away so I would never have to see most of them. Isn't that awful? I figure there is enough people in the world to make me feel bad about myself, I don't need family to do it.[/b]
OMG!!! Hello. I feel you all the way. I just feel like I have 'remained neutral' for too long and when I do try to stand up for myself, I become the bad guy. I used to love being with my family, but it's becoming unbearable. I hate to think that we'll end up being one of those families that can't get along....the sad thing is, it isn't my fault.
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