AIBU? And I could do with some support

(70 Posts)
kickassangel Sat 24-Aug-13 22:01:41

So, I grew up in a family where my father was not to be upset. What he wanted went. Apparently this was because he worked, so we all had to be sympathetic and he never had to do the dishes, or vacuum etc.

I hated it, he gets very upset very easily, is pretty OCD about routine and people not touching his things etc. I think of my childhood as unhappy and me being controlled a lot.

Now I have been staying with my sister and family. Today we were getting ready for a big party tomorrow for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. My sister, 2 nieces and dd and I have worked flat out all day. Her dh is in the garage doing work on a car. This is his hobby on one of his many classic cars, not an essential repair.

All day we have provided cups of tea and meals. Then my younger niece came in and said she's told her dad she was busy right now (she was) and if he wanted tea immediately he could make it himself. My sister sighed and said that she wished her daughter wouldn't upset him like that.

This is just my childhood all over again, isn't it? The father being the great I AM and no one else is allowed to upset him or contradict him. When not working he does what he wants, and everyone else does all the typical female servitude..

If I dared express such opinions I would be told that I am awkward. AIBU to think like this. In my head I'm not, but everyone around me would tell me otherwise.

kotinka Sat 24-Aug-13 22:08:21

yanbu.

but I find people get off with whatever other people let them get off with.

FreyaSnow Sat 24-Aug-13 22:11:38

YANBU. Situations like the ones you are describing make me feel nauseous. I find it stressful to even read it, so I'm not surprised that it invokes strong emotions in you having to actually deal with it.

Has your sister talked about it at all?

kickassangel Sat 24-Aug-13 22:30:21

My sister is completely of the idea that this is how family life is.
Me not getting on with my dad is because I am argumentative and awkward. Her dd not getting on with her dad is for the same reasons.

She kind of sees how much I am still treated like an irresponsible teen by my parents, but does the same thing herself. Staying with her is better than staying with my parents, but then I see the pattern repeating itself in her kids.

At new year I was staying with my parents. I went to bed at 10 and cried cos I was so miserable.

BitBewildered Sat 24-Aug-13 22:34:10

No. YADNBU.sad

kickassangel Sat 24-Aug-13 22:42:50

Thank you. I was actually wondering if I was BU! Honestly, I need to get out of here.

I love coming back to the UK for a bit of nostalgia, but wish I didn't need to stay with family.

2 more days then I can put some distance between us again.

FreyaSnow Sat 24-Aug-13 22:57:21

Do you think it is worse when you're with them because you are usually in the normal world and you are then sucked into their stressful reality?

Presumably your DN at least is seeing what is going on and will eventually escape.

kickassangel Sat 24-Aug-13 23:11:43

Dn is 14 and gets sulky and upset, just like I did. She is planning to do her degree in the US and stay with me, which says a lot. (I just found this out today)

Def notice it more clearly now the when I was younger. As a teen I was angry and confused and hated my parents.

It is worse when I visit without dh, there is a whole load more respect on offer when my owner man is there to make me a real person.

FreyaSnow Sat 24-Aug-13 23:19:31

It is great that your DN is talking about coming to stay with you. The only positive thing I can see about the whole thing is that having been through the whole thing yourself, you are ideally suited to supporting your DN. Plus, as your relationship with your DH presumably isn't like that, she'll get to experience a different kind of family life.

There is some kind of relief in being able to give to someone else the thing that you never got in your own childhood or teenage years.

Darkesteyes Sun 25-Aug-13 00:36:48

OP I feel yr pain. Males come first in my family too. Not allowed to discuss planning for funerals with 37 yr old DB because he finds it too upsetting.
So last year when parents were buying their plots (sorry for being morbid) he wasnt told anything about it.
DH says there will be hell to pay if he dares to blame me afterwards for doing or organising anything he doesnt like.

Darkesteyes Sun 25-Aug-13 00:40:50

kickass YES i was angry and confused about it as a teen It wasnt until i was much older that i understood it for what it was ....mysogyny.

kickassangel Sun 25-Aug-13 01:03:45

And tomorrow I am meant to be giving a toast and thanking them for being my parents!

Dsis keeps telling me how much dniece is like me. I intend to take her under my wing when she's a bit older.

Crumbledwalnuts Sun 25-Aug-13 01:15:07

You're so right. Stupid, neanderthal attitude.

BitBewildered Sun 25-Aug-13 01:15:19

Your DN will benefit hugely from having someone who acknowledges her (correct IMO) feelings about her parent's behaviour. It would have helped me when I was a teenager.

Crumbledwalnuts Sun 25-Aug-13 01:16:07

Btw I'm glad your niece will get to spend time with you.

Sparklysilversequins Sun 25-Aug-13 01:20:12

I despise this. My ex FIL is one of the stupidest, ignorant men who ever got up on two legs. His wife is far cleverer than him, she's an accountant, he does manual work, yet she waits on him hand and foot and what he says goes. She quotes him on every subject and hangs onto his every word. Someone said up thread this kind of thing makes her nauseous. I know that feeling, kind of a sick anger.

Worst of all they raised their son to be the same. MY ex H.

Darkesteyes Sun 25-Aug-13 01:37:54

kickass yr niece has a wonderful aunt
My niece is currently living with my parents so often has to listen to my mothers slut shaming and mysogyny.

garlicagain Sun 25-Aug-13 01:52:35

Yanbu, as I hope you now realise. It's very usual for relationships to repeat down the generations; you are the exception for having resisted the 'programming' and understanding there are other & better ways. Give yourself a frequent hi-five for that - and, if possible, boost your niece's sense of her own special value, too.

As far as dealing with them all goes, I recommend Zen-like calm! It's quite possible to be compassionate and see the bigger picture, without trying either to 'convert' others or indulge/enable them. The key is managing your own expectations, and in close relationships this can be painful at first. There is help on Stately Homes if you need or want to work at it smile

kickassangel Sun 25-Aug-13 08:30:12

Thanks people. I usually try to let it all wash over me, but a week of staying with family is getting to me. I really was starting to think that IABU and should accept their version of the relationships, and start feeling guilty about how ungrateful and stubborn I am.

I try very hard to ignore ignore ignore, but staying with them makes it hard to do.

Dsis just brought me in tea. She asked last night what time I would like to be woken up. I told her that I have an alarm set and will get myself up, but she can't help herself, has to make sure I am getting up. This is not , IMO, how respectful adults treat each other. I know it's only a small thing, but it just goes on like this. (Btw, it's over an hour and a half before I need to be ready to leave the house, I haven't been lying in bed until the very last hour).

ILoveSpaniels Sun 25-Aug-13 20:57:58

(Just to speak up for manual workers after Sparkly's post) My dad was a mechanic - retired now. He and mum raised five girls and one boy and never once has my brother been treated differently. If anything, Dad was maybe more loving towards me and my sisters, but really, no...there was no difference. He can barely read or write, left school at 14 and worked 14 hour days, seven days a week to provide for us, working in a freezing garage . Yet he still found time to sit and watch tv with us, play games and take us out.

My mum is MUCH more accomplished and just as great as dad!!

Anyway, I just wanted to say that men who aren't educated can be pretty amazing fathers.

Kick, I think all you can do is stay true to YOUR beliefs, and live them when in your family's company. Talk about them too. Maybe then at least you will give your nieces food for thought. You are probably a real role model to them!!!

Sparklysilversequins Sun 25-Aug-13 21:12:41

I was in NO way criticising manual workers in my post. My own father was in the army, an infantry man, which apparently is the bottom of the heap in the forces and was a great Dad when we were children.

I was describing the dynamic between them where this degree educated and super intelligent woman is ground down and ruled over by a man just because he is a man.

ILoveSpaniels Sun 25-Aug-13 21:36:29

Sorry Sparkley...I know you meant that and that did actually come across in your post! I didn't mean to imply you were insulting them...just that I wanted to throw into the ring some good (actually - WONDERFUL) things about so many manual-working-dads!!!

Your dad sounds brilliant!!!

kickassangel Sun 25-Aug-13 21:57:05

See, my problem is that I can't live by my beliefs. E.g. Man of the house wants a cup of tea, if I am nearby, I am expected to make it.

Either I can say, "no, I'm busy, could you at least stick the kettle on or wait half an hour?" In which case I would be deemed awkward and saying that just to prove a point(if he has time to come to the kitchen, he has time to at least stick the kettle on).

Or, I make the tea, but then I am pissed off about making all the tea and being interrupted from my work.

If I start talking about my beliefs, then there is talking and the kind of laughter people do when they want to show you how ridiculous you've just been.

E.g. Dsis and I were writing our toast. She can't stand if people do things differently from her, so kept wanting to re write my things. I don't mind collaboration, I am good at it, but she changed every sentence. At one point she wanted to change something where I put our parents' names, as I had put dad's name, then mum's. I was trying to alternate so we didn't always put one before the other. She insisted that it was ladies first. I pointed out that IF that had ever been the convention, it was at least 30 years out of date, and that in writing, formal speaking etc, usually it is Mr and Mrs. Ladies first was about going through doors or getting into cars so that men could hold the door as women often had clothing that encumbered them. She couldn't have treated me more like an amusing but exasperating five year old if she tried.

My dsis is the one of my immediate family who shows me the MOST respect and listens to me most.

No wonder I was a stroppy teen, this is how I lived!

kickassangel Sun 25-Aug-13 22:08:10

And Dad's speech was a lot about his work, his hobbies, and how mum had been his partner and support throughout. Mum was mainly a SAHM, but she did everything in the house, and raising us two. It got mentioned, but not a huge amount. The whole thing was "behind every man is a great woman" to a T. No mention of mum running the PTA or charity work or her literature studies etc etc.

Everyone just nodded along. I can't think of one of the people in the room who would chat later about how it was so biased. There were about 60 people there, and they all would comment on what a nice speech it was. It was MEANT to be a speech to thank my mum for 50 years together! shock

Now my Dad is definitely not NT in some way, so it doesn't surprise me that he lost his way a bit and focused on the wrong thing, but doesn't it just show the value system that he got side tracked into talking about his life, not about mum. This was a prepared speech, carefully rehearsed, not a spur of the moment panic thing.

The thing is, these people love me, and have supported me in many ways. It does feel ungrateful to then criticize them, but I wish that they could love me for who I am, without trying to force me to be like them. I'm not trying to convert them into radical feminism, I just want to be allowed to be myself without the tutting and frowning. They just can't let a different idea exist within the family, we all have to be the same.

garlicagain Sun 25-Aug-13 23:34:43

Yes, yes, it does show the value system in which your dad - and whole family - have lived. I repeat, you are a marvellous exception and I hope you will encourage your promisingly exceptional niece!

What I am going to suggest is what you've suggested endlessly to yourself. Perhaps it will help to have it said by others, in other ways. Adopt the principle of I'm OK, you're OK. (Here's the book, if you don't know it.) It is a fundamental assertive principle that you are the only qualified judge of your own behaviour, and everyone else is the judge of theirs. This doesn't stop you having opinions. But it does presuppose everyone's sovereign right to be treated with respect.

When your sister chuckles patronisingly at your modern ways, one assertive response would be with DESC scripting (http://h2g2.com/approved_entry/A2998551 three-quarters of the way down]].) In this case, your assertion would be something like: "When you belittle me like that, I feel you look down on me. I'd like you to acknowledge my point of view, then we'll get along better."

A related approach comes through Transactional Analysis. You sister has gone into Parent mode around you, and you've unconsciously reacted by feeling like a frustrated Child. The way forward with TA is to respond in the other person's mode - in this case, Parent - and then talk them down into reasonable Adult mode (or have a Parental argument, if the mood takes you!) A Parental response to her patronisation might be somewhat like "Sister, have you really not noticed it's the 21st century? You talk as though we were in Jane Austen novel! [indulgent chuckle]" If you can steer the resultant conversation to a DESC and agreement, you have done a marvellously Adult transaction smile

This is an essay, but I shall doggedly continue wink

When BIL asks for a cuppa, your assertive response is something like "Not now, I'm finishing some work." If he's a machisto grown-up, he'll ask you how long you'll be. It's then up to you to decide whether to allow tea in forty minutes, or to say you can't make his tea right now and suggest he puts the kettle on. IT DOESN'T MATTER what he thinks of you, or what you think of them. All that matters is you taking your responsibility for your own self, and allowing them to take theirs.

I'm really curious to know whether this is any help? Small changes in the ways we interact with others can wreak tremendous changes in those relationships; the core point, always, is that you're OK. So are they. It's merely a matter of finding ways to make this clear smile

FWIW, I was elected to speak for my siblings at my psychopath father's funeral. I didn't say he was lovely. I told the truth, in an OK/OK way. I'm still very proud of this, and my speech was very well regarded. You don't have to pussyfoot, neither do you have to rage.

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