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To pull my elderly Nan up on her racism?

(126 Posts)
BlueBananas Wed 18-Nov-15 15:40:34

My Nan is 86, shes quite naive and has led a fairly sheltered life
I've just spent a few painful hours with her over lunch where she made a few very uninformed racist comments

I pulled her up and corrected her each time but was told by others at the table to leave it alone
She isn't nasty about it and I don't think she even realises some of the things she says are offensive, but they are and most things are just totally not true
But everybody seems to just nod and smile and roll their eyes at her while I just can't

Obviously she's old and set in her ways and doesn't even listen to me most of the time so there isn't much point which is why people tell me not to bother, but AIBU to carry on banging my head against a brick wall regardless?

KeepOnMoving1 Wed 18-Nov-15 15:42:45

I would just leave her to it too.

stuffthenonsense Wed 18-Nov-15 15:44:23

So long as you are not being rude to her then maybe something you say will strike a chord and she will rethink. I dislike when people allow others to get away with stuff based solely on age.

Wolfiefan Wed 18-Nov-15 15:45:13

I'm sorry but I couldn't leave her to it. I also wouldn't have my kids around racism.
Age is no excuse.

PiperIsTerrysChoclateOrange Wed 18-Nov-15 15:49:44

People in their 80's don't generally live in a trapped era, for example I don't hear of elderly people having a bath in front of a coal fire or using a twin tub and many other examples.

My children will not be around people with racist views, regardless if they are family or not.

Halfapintofgenius Wed 18-Nov-15 15:54:34

You could possibly gently say, "people don't say these things anymore gran", and ask her gently to not make comments like that in front of the children as it upsets them. On the other side, your gran has a right to think, feel and say whatever she likes and should be treated with the same tolerance as you would treat other people who are different to you. So much has changed in your gran's lifetime, much of it must be bewildering or alienating to her, it would be to me. There are lots of isms, including agism. If we want to be respectful to people of different colure, faiths and ethnicities, we must also be tolerant and respectful of people of our won culture who happen to hold different beliefs.

ilovehotsauce Wed 18-Nov-15 15:58:22

I'm very hard line on racist comments/jokes normally. I'm mixed race in a multi racial relationship so my kids are very very mixed. We have had a few comments from member of both sized of our family plus the odd HCP/random person in the street.

But I think at her age it's not offensive or upsetting, she's just old. Someone in there 60s and I'm not feeling as charitable!

Paintedhandprints Wed 18-Nov-15 16:06:34

Difficult. My recently deceased gran didn't like coloured people. She hated the hospital and would make quite open comments about the doctors and nurses who were a different race to her. But she was ill, etc. I just tried to look apologetic. Most of that side of the family are racist, homophobes, etc including my mum. I do challenge my mum and so do my sibs but she just says stuff like 'but I'm just stating a fact, he is a (insert racist term)'. What can you do? I don't think my kids will grow up racist cos me and dh are more liberal. We don't condone it and would challenge anything major but a lot of it we roll our eyes at and try to change the subject. She has lived in the same small town her whole life with hardly any different nationals until the last few years. Of course she reads the daily express and they have taken all the jobs. Grr.

laundryeverywhere Wed 18-Nov-15 16:11:13

I think it depends what she says. Using a slightly incorrect word that may have once been fine (coloured for example) or worrying about the amount of immigration/ changes to the country she grew up in, is different than using a deliberately offensive word or saying something unkind about people of other races.

WheresMyBurrito Wed 18-Nov-15 16:11:25

I once pulled my grandad up on some shitty comments he made about refugees (this was years ago). I wouldn't normally have done it but I'd had a couple of drinks and I just snapped.

Everyone did look very surprised, including my grandad, but he never said anything like that in front of me again.

I think unless there is some kind of illness involved (dementia, for instance, which made my grandma say odd things), age isn't an excuse.

GruntledOne Wed 18-Nov-15 16:22:52

You were right to pull her up. Even at 86 it does no harm to hear the truth, and I'm sure you were perfectly polite about it. It's not fair to leave her feeling it's OK to talk that way as she risks hurting other people, and certainly you don't want her letting children think that's an OK way to talk.

Iliveinalighthousewiththeghost Wed 18-Nov-15 16:37:45

I think you could have worded your title better than Pull her up. That's quite threatening really, especially to say about your 86 year old nan. Have a word would be more appropriate.. Or perhaps I'm over sensitive.
You could try talking to her but I very much doubt at 86 years old her views are going to change.

RiverTam Wed 18-Nov-15 16:41:32

My mum's only 6 years younger and she's not racist. Bollocks to it having anything to go with age. And no, Half she doesn't have the right to say what she likes and expect people to tolerate it. She can think what she likes, sure.

OP, as long as she wasn't rude, was not being U.

BlueBananas Wed 18-Nov-15 16:43:35

confused 'pull her up' isn't threatening? It just means correcting someone
ie. I would pull my DC up on their manners, or their spelling etc

WhetherOrNot Wed 18-Nov-15 16:45:01

You'll be 86 one day OP - and I expect a lot of what YOU say then will be 'wrong' by future standards, but not by your own. Be warned.

Seriouslyffs Wed 18-Nov-15 16:46:19

Pull her up isn't threatening, no. Was it old fashioned words or prejudice? Were your dcs with you? How far I'd challenge would depend on that.

Seriouslyffs Wed 18-Nov-15 16:48:14

Whether do you think so? My elderly relatives might make the odd 'word mistake', but if generally if people were thoughtful and open minded when younger, they stay the same.

SilverBirchWithout Wed 18-Nov-15 16:58:29

I never ever tolerate racism in anyone. I actually went NC for 2 years with my DB because he used the word P**I in my house in front of my DS.

For many years DH used to just ignore his DM's comments and she continued making them. Now every time he says "people don't talk like that these days Mum, please stop or we will leave". Guess what? She has stopped doing it most of the time, although she is 92 she has learned it is not acceptable. She now even self-corrects if she accidentally use the cringe-making term "coloured".

catfordbetty Wed 18-Nov-15 17:00:09

Life's too short. Especially hers.

AcrossthePond55 Wed 18-Nov-15 17:01:36

My mum just turned 93. She doesn't make racist comments. And if she did, I'd pull her up on them, politely and firmly.

Jw35 Wed 18-Nov-15 17:05:07

What did she actually say?

timelytess Wed 18-Nov-15 17:09:37

Absolutely unreasonable. The things you think are racist now will perhaps turn out to be true when you're older. My granddad seemed like the most appalling racist to me, yet just now every prediction he made is coming true.
Also, you are rude. Your grandmother is senior to you, it is extremely rude of you to 'pull her up' on anything. Just smile, nod and move on. You are suffering from 'the arrogance of youth'. I had it. It passes eventually.
You'll be 86 one day OP - and I expect a lot of what YOU say then will be 'wrong' by future standards, but not by your own. Be warned
And this ^ is true.

drspouse Wed 18-Nov-15 17:09:37

My late FIL was from a different era, but DH pulled him up when necessary, into his 80s:
FIL: he's a good football player, for a darkie
DH: Dad, you can't say things like that nowadays.

And MIL, who outlived him by some years, didn't say that kind of thing towards the end of her life (even though she had dementia). Like Silver's MIL, she had learned.

victoryinthekitchen Wed 18-Nov-15 17:15:16

you have to say something, kindly and respectfully, otherwise imo it makes it seem as though you are condoning it. I think drsprouse puts it well above.

OfaFrenchmind2 Wed 18-Nov-15 17:17:02

YABU. If she was younger, you could do your thing, but I would leave a really elderly woman alone on this. She was not purposely hurting anyone, no? Maybe you could use that to tell your children that people have different views on the world, especially when they are older, but that does not excuse them (your children) if they show racism and/or sexism, because they have been educated to know better.

There is being educated and enlightened, and there is being a pita lecturer.

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