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Managing different attitudes between generations?

(8 Posts)
ChristmasPuddin Tue 23-Dec-14 18:31:08

I had a row with my dad the other day.

He told DD(4) 'that's a nice dress'; DS(2.10 and a stickler for accuracy!) said 'that's not a dress, that's a skirt'. My dad said 'Oh, well, I wouldn't know that Do you know why I wouldn't know? Because I'm a man and men don't know about clothes'.

I said I'd prefer it if he didn't teach the kids sweeping gender generalisations like that and he got hugely offended, telling me that it's not a generalisation, it's true (which it isn't for all men!); that men and women are different no matter what I say (I never claimed that they weren't!); that he wasn't trying to 'teach' them anything (but they learn every time we open our mouths, whether we want them to or not!); and that he can say what he likes to them as he's entitled to his own opinion. His body language, expression and tone were really very unpleasant and nasty; DD actually snuggled into me for reassurance - he wasn't aggressive or anything, just used a horrible high pitched tone and held his hands up and rolled his eyes and generally seemed to be implying that I was some sort of mad rabid feminist and should get over myself. Oddly enough I've seen him like that maybe two or three times before with me or my sister but never in front of my mother.

I've seen him 3 times since and he hasn't acknowledged me at all, which is awkward as hell in front of the kids, and I'm worried because my parents are coming here on christmas day and I don't want to have to tiptoe around him all day.

Am I being silly about what he said? I know it's probably very trivial but I feel very strongly that I don't want my dad's idea of gender roles becoming part of my kids' world view. He has made other comments before about what men supposedly do and don't do, and has objected to DS's hair being too long (it's never even come close to being 'girly' length, just a bit shaggy), or to him coming home from creche with nail varnish on. He's always trying to not let me lift things as well - I'm 5'8'', enormous and well capable of carrying heavy shopping or whatever, but he honestly thinks that women can't lift things so tries to stop me. It always makes me feel like a failure, that I should be little and dainty and helpless and instead I'm a big hulking independent lump.

I just want my kids to feel free to be who they actually are, without feeling that they're failing to live up to 50s stereotypes. And I want them to understand that everybody is different and that that's okay.

CogitOIOIO Tue 23-Dec-14 18:35:35

You're being silly

woowoo22 Tue 23-Dec-14 18:35:44

I think you are both in the wrong over this one incident.

CogitOIOIO Tue 23-Dec-14 18:40:20

Just a thought..... You grew up with this guy and yet you don't seem to have been irreparably damaged by his attitude. Why do you think your DCs are more suggestible?

Joysmum Tue 23-Dec-14 19:09:19

Do what I did, teach your kids that some people struggle to see any other point of view other than how they see the world.

My DD quickly learnt to identify and cope with differences. Bloody good job too as that's what life needs us to do.

Tobyjugg Tue 23-Dec-14 19:30:05

YABU and not a little precious. This is one of the parents who made you what you are and yet a casual remark of his will somehow teach your children something you'd rather they didn't learn.

You totally over-reacted.

Spaghettio Tue 23-Dec-14 20:03:18

I had a similar situation with my DF last Xmas. He would not listen to anything I said (on a particular subject) but took everything the DP said as gospel (it was exactly what I was saying). I had an epiphany and realised that it was because I was a woman. He doesn't think that my opinion counts for anything simply because I have a vagina.

I am not irreparably scarred by my upbringing, but I hold much more feminist views than my mother. I don't believe this is because of my upbringing, but in spite of it. I saw the way my mother was a second class citizen in his eyes and I am determined that my kids will not see the same of me.

He is still my DF and it took a while before our conversations weren't awkward. I don't think he even knows why I was pissed off - but he knows I won't be scared about telling him off when he is out of line (especially in my house, around my kids).

He might not like it, but they are your kids - and you hold the cards about their upbringing get and what can be said around them. Hold firm, YANBU.

heyday Tue 23-Dec-14 20:21:44

Your children are going to be bombarded by sweeping generalisations their whole lives. It might be worth keeping some of these statements in your head and discussing them with your children in a calmer moment. Let them hear your viewpoint but then let them come to their own opinion on what they feel is more suitable for the modern day world. Their ideas may well be different to yours.
Your dad is of a different generation when men and women had very clearly defined roles according to their gender. That's he grew up and was the 'correct' way in its day. His comments, although slightly annoying, are not worth starting a family war or ruining Christmas over. Try and have a quiet word with him and tell him why you feel so strongly as you do. He may well listen but I doubt he will really change his ways. As long as he is not directly and nastily insulting then I think you should put a lot of this down to a generation difference. Pick your battles and let your children come to their own conclusions; no doubt they already see grandpa as a bit of an old fogey and probably don't really take too much notice of his statements. You only have to pick up any newspaper to be subjected to far worse than any of his remarks.
Like previous poster said, his comments don't seem to have done you any harm. In fact, he may well have made you more aware of injustice and that's no bad thing. Sometimes we need to come across different viewpoints to find out where we stand on a whole range of subjects.

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