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To wonder how on earth you cope with parents who have such diametrically opposed views to your own?

(47 Posts)
NC2009 Fri 19-Dec-14 20:48:00

I am really struggling at the moment and my DM just hung up on me. I am very tired and can't think straight and don't know how it's even possible to resolve this in the long term, other than paper over it. And my parents are coming on Tuesday to stay for six days for Christmas.

My parents were both older and brought up (even for their time) in a very old-fashioned way. So in many respects they have very outdated opinions. For example, my DF genuinely believes that if someone is aristocracy they are actually a better person than him by virtue of birth. He would never state that outright, but he does weird deferential things and talks about how "down to earth" fairly posh people are if they treat him like a normal human being hmm Not that he meets many, anyway it's an example.

DM holds many similar viewpoints but is more relaxed, e.g. she's not actually a raging homophobe and he is. He is a working class right-wing dyed in the wool Tory who thinks the sun shines out of Cameron's arse. I am the complete opposite, even though DF was the one who encouraged me to be interested in politics.

It's become more and more difficult in recent years as he's grown older and more set in his ways and also since the Conservatives have been in power, because he can't wait to praise everything they do and it really, really grates - I live in the NE and we are lucky in our situation but I see many people every day who aren't and read so many, many stories on here of people really struggling. And then he picks up the phone and tells me how "those chaps have the right ideas" and it upsets me so much that he doesn't seem to have feelings for people who are really struggling. He believes, because he worked hard and succeeded, that everyone can succeed if only they apply themselves a bit more. And refuses to see that it can sometimes be down to more than just working hard.

The latest is that I am quite ill. And it's been going on for a while and I'm on various medications that have taken my quality of life and are taking their toll on me and I am still without a diagnosis. I am making progress on getting one but the NHS in my area is awful, aside from being underfunded it is also amongst the worst rated on the NHS website - honestly the staff I have encountered (apart from the hospital porters - they are bloody lovely) are either downtrodden and sad or just rude or lovely but incompetent (there have been several mistakes made in my care).

I called to speak to him about something else and we got talking about my situation and I said I was thinking about going private because my local care isn't good. He starting fuming that I couldn't afford it and that "you should listen to what the Health Secretary said today, we have the fastest A&E waiting times in the world!!!" And he was shouting. I pointed out that fast waiting times doesn't equal quality care, and anyway I am not in A&E so it's not relevant. It just degenerated into him saying I am wrong, that I don't trust my doctors and I should, because the doctor always knows best etc etc patriarchal bullshit. It was adopting my parents' attitude of 'don't make a fuss, doctor is always right' that has prolonged my pain for months - it's only since I started kicking up a stink, after all my friends were horrified at my care, that anything has happened.

He handed the phone back to my DM and i was rude about my Dad, which I shouldn't have been, but I was shaken and close to tears. And so she hung up on me. They won't call back. I am not sure if they will actually come for Christmas, or they will but they will be cold and horrid.

This is the worst bit about them and I don't know how to deal with it. It's impossible not to talk politics with my Dad, he is retired so watches the news all day and always brings it around to the next best things the govt has done. How do other people deal with this? Sorry it's so long. I am so upset.

DoubleValiumLattePlease Fri 19-Dec-14 20:53:26

Trying to argue the toss with him hasn't done you any favours. He's clearly not open to discussion or to considering a different point of view. In order to preserve my sanity - if I were you - I'd adopt a position of smile and nod. You cannot win, you cannot change his position so unless you want a lifetime of this agony it would be far far better if you just smile and nod.

Namechangeyetagaintohide Fri 19-Dec-14 21:00:06

They sound like hard work. I take it you usually don't disagree to keep the peace ?

I would t bother is just say well that's my opinion and I'm quite entitled not to agree or something like that. Then don't engage again with the subject.

NC2009 Fri 19-Dec-14 21:02:13

Yes, I keep trying to reason with him because he's actually - politics aside - a brilliant Dad. He always tells me how much I mean to him, has always been free with cuddles and time, would always play games with me, would buy me silly little presents 'just because' like a new hairband or something when I was growing up.

And I can't reconcile that picture of him with the man who thinks that I should just put up and shut up with my lack of care. So I keep trying to persuade him otherwise and it doesn't work.

Mousefinkle Fri 19-Dec-14 21:02:37

Try and refrain from entering into debates with him in future. It's difficult but if you can avoid any conversation topic that will ultimately lead to him kissing Cameron's backside then do so. Or yes, learn the sarcastic smile and nod approach.

You can't change a bigot. I've tried educating my extremely ignorant narrow minded mother countless times, she's just not having it. Gays are "wrong" and make her feel sick, Africans should just stop reproducing and she hates Pakistani's because they have an attitude problem apparently (Indian's, on the other hand, are lovely...) hmm. She's everything I loathe in a person tbh so I just don't discuss anything remotely interesting with her anymore. If the subjects ever do come up I just change topic or get a bit sarcastic with her, make it clear I think she's full of shit grin.

It's shit, being so polar opposite from your parent/s, just thank yourself lucky you aren't like them I guess.

Hatespiders Fri 19-Dec-14 21:05:12

Bearing in mind your health isn't good (and I'm so sorry) do you actually want them staying with you over Christmas? If the thought makes you quail, you could always call them and say that you're feeling so poorly and low that you'll have to cancel their visit. They sound very hard work and a bit grim tbh.

BigPawsBrown Fri 19-Dec-14 21:09:46

I generally view Tories with utter contempt and feel they cannot see things from another perspective ie without their luffly Middle class upbringing or with a bout of illness or redundancy they may need the things they postulate that the state shouldn't give out, but in the instances of family members I (now) have a policy that I just do not discuss politics. In your situation id say nothing further about your care and then they cannot judge you. I'm a solicitor too and I do receive some strong opinions on that, but to me criticising an entire profession that I'm a member of is just rudeness and the person doing it is either insecure or a maniac, and so I ignore the weird accusations about bad laws made

vichill Fri 19-Dec-14 21:16:46

I have this with my dad but he is only 54. I find it hard reconciling the shit views to an otherwise lovely man. My dad is also a fierce atheist and hates the fact I feel there's something more. We have heated conversations and I am accused of naivety and idealism, with me accusing him of being a class traitor. I have recently started to think his persistence in going over and over the same shit is an attempt to change me. I think he thinks I'm too much like my very liberal dm (his ex wife) and wants me to see the world as he does. I suppose we all want this with our children to some extent. I have decided to take a vow of silence on politics and religion this xmas and if goaded to jokingly laugh it off and say something cute and fey to keep the peace.

nearlyreadyforstatelyhomes Fri 19-Dec-14 21:23:09

Gah. I know what you mean op.

My dad used to be so calm and relaxed and now gets het up about all sorts of totally pointless things (traffic and parking spaces!). I'm cross with him for turning into a grumpy old git, cross that he hasn't got anything else to worry about, cross that he gets that wound up about things, cross that he thinks I'm interested, and.... I'm cross that my dear old dad is getting old.

I remember in my a-level psychology course we did something about how basically throughout our lives children and parents push against each other naturally so that both sides become less and less dependent on the other. I think they get old and frustrating so that we can break away further from them as they head towards the end. I know that sounds really morbid and I'm not sure I've articulated it particularly eloquently but I guess there is logic in it.

As for his views. Well. As others have said i think you need to keep the politic talk to a minimum. If they won't take kindly to "let's not talk about that as we've got different opinions and we just get cross" then you need to just smile and nod and then change the subject. It's so hard and sad to do that with people you just want to chat with.

You don't have to see eye to eye. It's ok not to. Hard as it is.

And I agree that perhaps they shouldn't come if you're not in great health. If that puts their noses out of joint well I think later you can just blame it on being ill and, to coin a phrase from one if my grandparents, they'll have to scratch their arses and get tame again wink

southeastastra Fri 19-Dec-14 21:24:18

bloody hell no wonder this country voted in the tories if people like this exist.

really though i would try to just humour them and agree with them to shut them up. you won't change them. just better to use selective hearing and don't talk politics to them.

debbietheduck Fri 19-Dec-14 21:24:58

Just wanted to say that I empathise. I have similar issues with my parents, who spent many years as members of the Tory party before they left because the Tories supported gay marriage sad

As a general rule I try to find common ground and don't rock the boat. I did have a massive row over Sunday lunch about the gay marriage thing though. It would have been wrong not to.

I don't honestly know what the right answer is. I doubt you can change their opinions much at their age. On the other hand I feel I ought to challenge them sometimes. My only advice would be to try not to have them to stay or not for as long as six days if it's going to be really stressful, especially as you're not very well. Could you manage to shorten the visit a bit?


NC2009 Fri 19-Dec-14 21:42:40

Thanks. My DM banned all politics talk at the last election and it held for a while but we seem to have sunk back into it. When I am well I just find it annoying (I am quite feisty grin) but now it's too much.

We have already grievously insulted my parents this year by backing out of a holiday with them because I was too ill to go. I don't think they quite believed me sad I can't uninvite them - they are meeting MIL for the first time and my DSis is coming as well. I have no idea how I'm going to get through the week, I suspect DP - who is amazing - will end up doing most of everything. It's an invisible illness - I notice that I'm paler and have huge bags under my eyes but I'm not missing limbs or unable to walk or anything.

I have tried ignoring, I think I just need to do that. Can't nod and smile - 1) he's too sharp and will notice if I'm being sarcastic and 2) I can't condone some of his opinions. I just can't let them go unchallenged. Usually I say "That's just not true" shake my head and change the topic of conversation.

But my DF has changed recently, gets more agitated and shouts.

Thank you for your responses. They have given me something to think over. southeast I know. I can't believe it either. Particularly from people who call themselves Christian, to lack so much fellow feeling.

amicissimma Fri 19-Dec-14 21:44:28

You know how you've reached your views by reflecting on what you experience and what you see and hear and feel that you've got it more or less right?

Your parents have probably reached their views in the same way and feel the same way about theirs.

If you really can't cope with people not thinking and feeling just as you do, you'd be wise to have a mental list of topics that are really neutral and prepare to fiercely switch to one everytime someone starts with a view that's different to yours.

It'll be funny if in 20 or 30 years your DC are posting just as you have about you and your views.

NC2009 Fri 19-Dec-14 21:51:15

amicissimma Mostly I live and let live - I know what you have said is true and worked it out for myself, not least because the second I showed any inkling of left wing leanings my DF told me "just wait until you are in your 30s with a mortgage and children, then you'll vote Tory".

However, it's not the case that we skirt around the topic - he was actively shouting at me and telling me I was wrong. That's why I got so upset tonight.

BigPawsBrown Fri 19-Dec-14 21:52:49

NC2009 - do you have ME? I did and found some people's attitudes to it, and ignoring it, very hard indeed.

NC2009 Fri 19-Dec-14 21:55:40

BigPaws No, I was in an accident and am in a lot of pain but the doctors are very reluctant to actually perform tests to work out what is wrong. I have NC for this thread as I wanted a bit of a whinge without it being attached to my normal name.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 19-Dec-14 22:01:41

Oh, this is really difficult and you have my sympathy.

I think what I'd do in your situation is have a couple of really hardline points you won't concede on, and let other stuff slide with a hmm

'Blah blah A&E'
(A&E has had its worst week in ?10 years this week -check ref)
'Well, I didn't use A&E, but Dr X refused to request [test] that would have diagnosed [Y] much earlier'

'Blah blah benefits fakers'
'Well, I have Y condition which is invisible but means i can't do...'

Oh, also, Trivial Pursuit. Or Articulate. Give them something to think about/battle over other than politics. grin

AnnieLobeseder Fri 19-Dec-14 22:07:17

I feel your pain. I can't talk about anything more substantial than the weather with my DM for exactly the same reasons. It hurts when you can't have an actual real conversation about anything own parents, and they have no clue who you really are. sadflowers

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 19-Dec-14 22:12:00

Or ask questions to help them reveal themselves, Freudian style (this can come across as patronising, though)

eg my parents are Mail readers, I have run through:

How hard do you think it is to get a visa to visit the UK?
What do you need to do to get a UK passport?
How does your local council prioritise its housing list?
How do you think they should prioritise?

Can you see what their major rant issue is? grin

Ask him some things he will need Google to answer,and which may be eye-opening (apparently the Mail maintains disabled people are exempt from the bedrooom tax hmm)
Feigning an air of wide-eyed innocence will help with this ploy.

Maki79 Fri 19-Dec-14 22:13:53

Errr I would just like to say, in order to balance the Tory hatred a little that voting for them does not make you a homophobe or a racist!! There's v little between the Tories and labour these days.

I do empathise though, my Dad is a communist. We never argue, I agree with a lot of his ideals, but my God I swear he believes in every conspiracy theory going!!! I do the nod, smile thing!

QTPie Fri 19-Dec-14 22:20:06

Ah, hugs x

To be honest, on this occasion (Christmas), I would phone up and apologise for upsetting your Dad (even though he upset you first) and explain that you are feeling really unwell and emotional. Yes, I know he started it, but maybe you what to "bury the hatchet" before Xmas?

Agree with others: nod and agree, despite disagreeing. Avoid conflict and just don't talk about things that you disagree on. I know it is painful, but sounds as though you won't change this intelligent man now. Although he is intelligent and loves you, people get set in their ways and this only gets worse as they get older...

In future, maybe keep visits shorter? I don't really get on with my mum (she treats me though I am 4 when I am almost 41...): I find shorter visits make it easier for me not to get overwhelmed and say something that will upset her.

Take care and really hope that you find a solution to your medical problems soon.

PhaedraIsMyName Fri 19-Dec-14 22:20:59

with me accusing him of being a class traitor.

I'd find it difficult to take seriously the argument of anyone who said that.

MillionairesShortbread Fri 19-Dec-14 22:23:18

I was wondering that. My parents just change the conversation if i ever bring it up. The fact I'm struggling throught he week isnt at all recognised sad

Mehitabel6 Fri 19-Dec-14 22:23:55

I would just smile and nod and say 'really' in a non committal way- every time.

Meow75 Fri 19-Dec-14 22:26:34

I can really relate to this but I'm sorry to say that I wish my dad was "still" a Tory. He told me in September that he intends to vote UKIP based SOLELY on the issue of Inheritance Tax.

I understand that he is pissed at the thought of lots of his money going to the state when he and my StepMum die (Mum died 16 years ago), but still ... UKIP?!?!?!hmmconfused

Never ever suspected that might happen!!!

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