Re: Family planning

1

That is so fucking sad. I can understand your Mom's being thrilled for you.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 12:41 PM
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In my family, both of my older brothers married women and promptly joined thier spouses' family, and neglects ours. Extremely neglects our family.

If you make W-lfs-n cry he won't come visit, either.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 12:44 PM
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So how do we avoid this with our own kids? Is this a gender trend in the US, or just how our family falls out?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 12:44 PM
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But I'd have the joy of seeing W-lfs-n cry. Can't I have both?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 12:46 PM
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i recalled a proverb which i don't like much
'hazgar khuukhen khadamsag'
which means 'a limping woman's eager to please her inlaws'
i think men are usually not that close to their original families maybe and tend to follow their spouses, but i don't know, never had a brother


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 12:57 PM
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Do your sisters-in-law have more fun families than you?

Do your brothers hate your parents?

Do they live near their in-laws?

A few more specifics, please.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 12:59 PM
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They both live near their in-laws, yes. I don't think their families are more fun than ours, although I'm sure each sister-in-law feels much more at home in their families. But there's an unwillingness to tolerate that out-of-placeness on behalf of their spouses, and the brothers are not demanding that they do it anyway. (So there hasn't been much acclimation over the past 8-12 yrs, depending on the wife.)

My brothers both like our parents, although they consider our parents a lot more eccentric than they did before their wives entered the scene. It's almost more that they just take our parents for granted.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:03 PM
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Apparently your parents neglected to lay the proper groundwork for guilt trips.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:06 PM
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They really did. (Although the guilt trips work on me just fine.) How do you instill that?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:07 PM
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I'm already crying, heebie.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:07 PM
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Is the reason because you miss me?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:08 PM
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It may just be that your parents are too accommodating. In my boyfriend's family, his parents get lots and lots time with their kids and grandkids. But M's parents are maybe unusually good at managing their children's significant others -- they're both extremely sweet, and just pushy enough. Like, they call me on the phone to nag me about my health, send me random crappy gifts of the type you could only send to relatives (wooden beaded car seat covers, gilt-painted porcelain cat figurines, etc.), and demand that I drive sixty miles out of my way to meet them for dinner. My parents, on the other hand, treat their kids' significant others as fragile strangers -- they're very, very nice, but keep their distance. So it just ends up that I spend time with my parents by myself, and M and I go together to visit his parents. I think my parents prefer it that way, though.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:12 PM
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My gambling non-drinking nephew tends to avoid our non-gambling, drinking family. He's nice and sweet, but seldom seen.

My ultra-left Canadian brother tends to avoid his American imperialist families.

I could barely stand my Mormon inlaws, and the feeling was mutual.

Heebie should encourage her parents to be thrifty while weaseling her brothers and their bitch wives out of the inheritance.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:14 PM
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I miss you, heebie, but I haven't met you yet.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:14 PM
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14: In what sense of "met"?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:15 PM
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For a decade or two I wished that my ultra-left Canadian brother would just visit without his ultra-left Nazi wife. But that almost never happened.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:16 PM
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The best sense.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:17 PM
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Since Bitch PhD isn't here to say it, I will: if your parents want your brothers to visit more often, then they should ask for that. But your brothers are also adults, so they have the right to say no.

Problem solved!


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:17 PM
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ultra-left Canadian... ultra-left Nazi

I'm trying to decide which us more extremely unusual... and how to make sense of the latter.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:19 PM
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18: No, that's established, and it has generated the status quo, which, fine. The question is - how do I avoid this scenario down the line, in raising my own kids? How do you instill a sense of family that they'll stand up for?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:20 PM
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I think it's a gender thing. (Why? No clue.) At least in the the Midwest/South, there is a strong tendency for women to want to be close to their moms and to demand that the men go along with this. Up to and including excluding the family of the men. Squeaky wheel gets the grease. (Again, damned if I know why.) So that sucks.

In your case, I really think it boils down to your folks being the undemanding (eccentric!) type, so the sons are tending to fall for demanding, self-centered types. (Or maybe demanding, self-centered types see them and think FRESH MEAT!) I'm not sure what there is to do about it; your brothers will have to get over this on their own, although I suppose you could engage in some gentle persuasion of the boot to the fundament type.

On the other hand, of course your mom is thrilled: her baby is having a baby, presumably one she'll get to see.

max
['So that's good!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:21 PM
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At least in the the Midwest/South, there is a strong tendency for women to want to be close to their moms and to demand that the men go along with this.

This is what I wondered, too, but didn't want to over-generalize. On the other hand, the sister-in-laws are New Jersey and California.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:22 PM
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Canadians are mostly ultra-left, for example Ari and Mary Catherine. My ultra-left Nazi Canadian sil is unique.

The Canadians who can read, I mean.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:26 PM
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The question is - how do I avoid this scenario down the line, in raising my own kids? How do you instill a sense of family that they'll stand up for?

The family that blogs together, stays together. Which is to say: introduce them to Unfogged at the earliest possible age.

Also, guilt trips. Guilt and fiat are really the only effective interpersonal forces that can be exerted between family members of different generations.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:29 PM
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Aw, Heebie. My family's in the same position. My brother got married, changed his name, and didn't tell us where they moved to for several years. After having a kid, he's at least introduced the child to my parents a few times, but my folks are in anguish about not seeing him more often. There's a history there, in that his wife actively tried to separate him from our parents, which he was in the process of doing himself anyway, but the results are really awful. And the prospect that I might not have a baby for my mom to be a true grandparent to is killing her. The pressure on me is unfair, but I blame my brother. I simply can't imagine how your siblings couldn't introduce their kids to your parents.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:33 PM
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7

They both live near their in-laws, yes. ...

More to the point how far do they live from your parents? Traveling long distances particularly with children can be a hassle. How often do your parents visit them?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:34 PM
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Well, to be fair, my parents see the grandkids about 2-3 times a year. It's just that they're willing to always be the ones that travel. (Which they really don't enjoy doing. They'd much rather be visited.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:35 PM
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It seems to be somewhat true in our case (he immigrated here, not the other way around, although we're not living particularly near anyone) and true in the case of many of my friends. What the wife wants in terms of family tends to win out.

Isn't there an old rhyme about this?

As to how to instill it, I have no idea, but I had a perverse idea of how to achieve gender equity at least, by making sure the daughters want to marry away into someone else's family, too. Or, make sure your kids marry their high school sweethearts. Or, be prepared to travel to them.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:35 PM
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More to the point how far do they live from your parents?

My parents are in Florida, and they're in the North east and West coast. So this would be a totally valid point, except that this pattern pre-dates having kids, and that they haul the kids on other plane trips just fine.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:37 PM
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John's sister-in-law is the inspiration for Jonah Goldberg's book.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:38 PM
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Also, guilt trips. Guilt and fiat are really the only effective interpersonal forces that can be exerted between family members of different generations.

I must master this skill you speak of.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:39 PM
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I see my dad's side of the extended family all the time, but much more rarely visit family on my mom's side. The main reason is just that the huge paternal crew lives almost entirely on the east coast, pretty evenly scattered from DC to Newport. My mom's (much smaller) family is all on the west coast. Don't underestimate the power of being within convenient driving distance (particularly helpful in this regard is the family beach house, located about halfway between the farthest separated family groups).

Also, some families are easier for outsiders to integrate into than others.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:40 PM
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27: Yeah, my folks don't get visits, either, and the visits to my brother's are so horrible that they end up getting a few hours with the kid before they're kicked out and back to their hotel for however many days they reserved it for. Very depressing.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:40 PM
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I must master this skill you speak of.

I could put you in touch with my mother.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:41 PM
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33: To be fair, your brother's behavior sounds like it's put you and your parents in worse straits than mine - that whole situation with him and his wife disconnecting sounds really sad.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:44 PM
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_there is a strong tendency for women to want to be close to their moms_

I suspect it has to do with wanting help and advice with kids, no? That's certainly why my sisters wanted to be close to my mom.
Maybe your family is just boring or jerks. Or visiting just doesn't do that much for them. I don't visit my parents much and a large part of that is- they live on the other side of the country in a place that's not terribly easy to get to and is boring. And they, while nice, are boring. Being there most consists of sitting around, eating not very good food, or watching boring TV shows. So, I don't go very often. I don't get much time off of work and would rather spend it in a way that's enjoyable. And, it's not like my folks are making a lot of visits to me, either, even though I invited them. May by your parents should go visit your brothers. But mostly, I guess it's just boring and they'd rather do something they find more enjoyable.


Posted by: Matt (not the famous one) | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:53 PM
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Also, some families are easier for outsiders to integrate into than others.

This is very true; your hypothetical son's wife has to feel like she fits in. (My in-laws are great at this.) Going home to visit mom, in ideal circumstances, is nice and relaxing and pleasant; if one feels like one has to stand on ceremony with the in-laws, that sucks.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:54 PM
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My parents make a point of regular visits on my brother and sister, and mostly ignore me. My brother's removal to mainland Europe last year was a major. fraught, anguished, angsty tragedy: I suspect that had I done the same, it would have been nothing much in family drama terms. My sister and brother consider it most unfair that the homophobia of my parents means I do not have to deal with parents calling and announcing a visit: I prefer my parents' hands-off approach to my life and my home, and so would my brother and sister, but it is somewhat weird to know that the only reason I don't have a regular infestation of parental house guests is that neither of my parents can bear to think too much about my personal life for fear of, I dunno, what does happen to homophobes when someone they love is gay?

Anyway. Not that this helps. I don't know how parents stay close to adult children in a welcome kind of way after the children leave home, except maybe by being the kind of visitors that you long to see arrive and always leave too soon. My parents are not those kind of guests.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:57 PM
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39

That is sad, J. I'm sorry you have to deal with that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 1:59 PM
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Someone I went to high school with got married and almost never saw or contacted his parents again; his wife didn't like them, according to his mother. This seemed like a sad and horrible story, but recently some other people who knew the family explained that it's not surprising -- the parents are very judgemental, hard-ass and demanding, however nice they may seem when you meet them the first time.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 2:01 PM
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Another thing that seems to work if you want your kids to visit you is to have a lot of kids and have them all get along. Then you get to be the natural choice of host for gatherings.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 2:05 PM
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You haven't even had the kid yet and you're already worrying about how often he/she is going to visit after he/she moves out?

More seriously, I don't think there's a way to ensure that your family ends up being close-knit, other than to make talking about your feelings a defining part of your family dynamic. Seems like a lot of these problems stem from people not knowing how to talk about them with each other.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 2:08 PM
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There are things you can do so that your kids stay with you and never leave. I remember various plays and stories by Tennessee Williams, Carson McCullers, et. al., and a movie with Tony Perkins and Janet Leigh -- I forget the name of it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 2:18 PM
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Rachel Getting Married was excellent and on topic.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 2:30 PM
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By the time my brother got married, he and his wife had created such a mythology of hateful lies about my parents for everyone who knew them that they refused to acknowledge my parents on the invitation (they were just invited guests like anyone else) and asked the preacher to say, instead of the usual "If anyone here knows of any reason why these two should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace," "If anyone here can imagine any reason why these two should not be joined in holy matrimony, please get up and leave this church. These two young people do not need your negativity and hatred for them."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 2:36 PM
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45: whoah. "We stand here together in passive aggresive acrimony to celebrate -- got that, jerks? -- this union."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 2:52 PM
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"If anyone here can imagine any reason why these two should not be joined in holy matrimony, please get up and leave this church. These two young people do not need your negativity and hatred for them."

Zwa?! Jesus. I have a friend whose brother has done this. Said brother has a very fancy job that rewards him not just in zillions of dollars, but also a shit-ton of cultural capital. Underlings paying one an unhealthy amount of deference is also standard in his field. At any rate, he has now decided his mother is the devil and will be permitted one, heavily controlled, visit with his children per year. She must come to him. He has also told his friends all sorts of terrible lies about the mother -- and he spent all his youth and most of his 20s as the golden mama's boy of the family. The kicker here is that one of his children died recently (it was very horrible) and the mother was excluded from the funeral. When, at the public service, they asked for the family members to come forward to be taken to the private burial, the mother was excluded, but several of his (famous) business associates were not.

Who does shit like this?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 2:54 PM
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I hope this doesn't come off as too flippant, Heebie, but it probably helps to make sure your kids don't marry crazy people. (I'm remembering that one of your sisters in law is a little unhinged, right?)

Of course, I risk something blaming the crazy spouse, as we had almost nothing to do with UNG's family when we were married, and he'll soon be making his second trip back this year (to introduce the new girl). A large part of the issue was that his mothers didn't like me and I definitely didn't like the biological one, so nobody was really going out of their way to seek out chances to immerse ourselves in thinly veiled spite. Of course, my basis for believing the stepmom hated me was because that's what UNG always told me. In the course of marital counseling, it was revealed that this might not, in fact, have been true but was just part of a weird us against them, don't you see how much I stick up for you thing he apparently needed to do. In any event, parse it out however you want, alot of it boils down to complex and stupid power struggles on everyone's part.

My little brother and his fiance, on the other hand, spend lots of time with both families. It helps that neither my brother nor his fiance is particularly crazy. There's plenty of crazy at the parental level, but my brother and his girlfriend both seem to have a rare gift for tolerating the crazy.

I'm rambling, though, and not sure what my point was going to be. Maybe just that there are all sorts of reasons that kind of thing happens, and some of it you may be able to anticipate and head off and lots will just plain be out of your control.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 2:54 PM
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You know, heebie, maybe your parents should buy something super, super awesome that the kids'll beg their parents to let them come play with, like a waterslide, or a flamethrower.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 2:56 PM
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but it probably helps to make sure your kids don't marry crazy people. (I'm remembering that one of your sisters in law is a little unhinged, right?)

This is quite right. One big problem with the other one is that she will not attend anything that the unhinged sister-in-law attends. This is basically why Mom's Summer Gathering will never happen.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 3:03 PM
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maybe your parents should buy something super, super awesome that the kids'll beg their parents to let them come play with, like a waterslide, or a flamethrower.

Mmmmmmaybe. I'm bored with the ball pit and bouncy castle, that's for sure.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 3:04 PM
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47: Yeah, that's what always bothered me about it, too. Brother Bear was the much-beloved golden boy. He was more popular, better-looking, and cheered on by my parents for his most mediocre successes, and is now fairly wealthy and comfortably set-up. I got punished for everything he did wrong, pre-emptively, because, as they kept saying, he was who he was, but they could still make sure I didn't have the freedom to mess up. He didn't have it perfect either, but Jesus Christ. His wife is totally insane, though, and seems to have felt my parents' interest in a relationship with her as a terrible threat to her own mom and dad, and lied accordingly.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 3:04 PM
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Nobody was really going out of their way to seek out chances to immerse ourselves in thinly veiled spite.

This baffles me.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 3:08 PM
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This sounds like a great idea for a book. I'd set it at Christmas...


Posted by: Jonathan Franzen | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 3:17 PM
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Hm, so this pre-dates the kids? Still, if the young couple with young children are busy, and the parents are retired and have time and are willing to visit, I can see how this would happen. Especially if visits to the grandparents' house aren't going to involve larger family events.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 3:36 PM
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28: Isn't there an old rhyme about this?

A son is a son 'til he takes a wife.
But a daughter is a daughter all of her life.


Posted by: Michelle | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 3:44 PM
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It's probably some combination of the wives' families being closer and limited vacation time. There's a big difference between popping over for dinner and spending the only week or two you have off all year, with the accordant pressure to Have Family Quality Time Together Or Else, Dammit (with everything you love and hate about each other magnified).


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 3:58 PM
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28: Isn't there an old rhyme about this?

A Wife - at Daybreak I shall be -
Sunrise - Hast thou a Flag for me?

Darn tootin.'


Posted by: Sarah Barra | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 4:21 PM
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It's quite common for men to be quite retarded when it comes to social and familial stuff. The benign explanation is simply that your brothers don't really think that much about family stuff that isn't right in front of their faces, so their wives get to set the priorities, which they naturally do in terms of their own families. It's not the same as being pussy-whipped, it's more a matter of not being very aware of the larger social context of your own life. I've been guilty of this in the past and probably am guilty of it right now, come to think of it.

The appropriate course of treatment is a simple phone call and a blunt statement of the facts. "You are neglecting your own parents in favor of your wife's parents, and that's not right either for your parents or for your kids." Delivered, of course, with due regard for the details of the nature of your relationship with your brothers and their respective characters.

I don't want to get into gender essentialism but the fact is that men of my generation and culture, which I think probably overlaps sufficiently with your brothers for the generalization to hold, tend to over-weigh the emotional and social situation that's right in front of them and under-weigh the emotional and social situation that is distant in time and space. This is not so for women. Within a heterosexual relationship that means her family will get more attention from them as a couple than his family will.

Speak up. The worst that could happen is pissing off your brothers, which can only really last for so long, because you better believe that when it's *your* sis that's having a baby, the past is water under the bridge. That kid is flesh and blood family, and will be loved even if sis is a bit of a pushy bitch sometimes.

As always, I anal, etc.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 4:32 PM
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We live near my parents and my (divorced) inlaws. We spend more time with my parents because they're nicer, have a sense of humour, and aren't alcoholics. And they decided as soon as we were married that C was absolutely 100% part of their family (in fact my dad told a friend of his that he kept forgetting that C *wasn't* actually his. In retrospect, this is probably a bad thing). Whereas when I was very upset because one of my friends had died, my MIL and SIL only phoned C at work and stopped phoning him at home in case I answered the phone and they had to - shock horror - talk to me, which is not the act of someone who considers you family.

On an unrelated topic, I was just driving home and listening to The Moral Maze on Radio 4, and decided Will Self must read Unfogged. Not only did he say "on the veldt" but he was also slagging off the pseudoscience of economics and its magical ways. I think he'd make a great mascot.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 4:33 PM
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Speculations about which of us is Will Self?

The sad thing about the dudes letting their wives take the familial-organization reins is that, eventually, they may take the opportunity, for the first time in their lives, to sit around thinking about how they wish their relationship with their parents worked, and it may not match up with her vision of things. It's not her fault that he just never bothered to figure out where his spine was, but, suddenly becoming vertebrate, he'll think she's such a bitch for having everything her way. I can see it happening to my own brother now, 10 years after getting married.

And it also happened to my ex-boyfriend at around 10 years after getting married. Suddenly it occurred to him that he didn't want to spend every single weekend with her parents in Massachusetts, and when he expressed his newfound thoughts on the matter, she left him for someone just as spineless as he had been when they got married. And he hated her to death for it. His anger about the abandonment is understandable, but it would be helpful for the ladies involved if they knew the dudes they were marrying were alluvasuddenlike going to have opinions about things.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 4:40 PM
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The mountain-moving day is coming, laydeez.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 4:46 PM
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The sad thing about the dudes letting their wives take the familial-organization reins is that, eventually, they realize that they're completely emotionally retarded.

I'm sorry I don't have any suggestions for you Heebie, since (as has been driven home for me recently) there's no way to force family members to behave the way you want them to. It makes me sad for your parents, though.

(Also: arthegall!)


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 5:13 PM
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"I'm remembering that one of your sisters in law is a little unhinged, right?"

Maybe the wives have picked up on being thought "unhinged" and they, and their husbands, don't like it? I can imagine how that might happen and might put a cramp in things.


Posted by: Matt (not the famous one) | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 5:14 PM
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59: tend to over-weigh the emotional and social situation that's right in front of them and under-weigh the emotional and social situation that is distant in time and space. This is not so for women.

I wouldn't say that. Women can just as easily undervalue more distant relationships. But perhaps it's more common with men.

Josh's 42 gets at what family distance in my own experience has been:

I don't think there's a way to ensure that your family ends up being close-knit, other than to make talking about your feelings a defining part of your family dynamic. Seems like a lot of these problems stem from people not knowing how to talk about them with each other.

There's nothing like knowing that your parents disapprove of you, or having grown up with a dynamic in which we Just Don't Talk about things, to kill off any genuine (as opposed to duty-driven) wish to see your family often. The closest families I've known have discussed everything under the sun; mom and dad were engaged with the kids' lives, good or bad. It seems clear that that's the way to do the best you can to ensure that the kids, once grown, will keep wanting to talk to you and see you. I some how doubt Heebie will have a problem with this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 5:27 PM
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I think that talking about your feelings is less important than just talking about things generally and doing things together.

I guess when people talk about "talking about your feelings" it refers t families where the least little bit of emotion of confession is frozen out and ridiculed. Not good. But "talking about your feelings" to me evokes melodramatic psychodramas staged in accordance with little paperback therapy books. I'm old, I guess.

I'll just repeat how important I think that affection and liking having people are around are. I don't remember seeing these thematized anywhere in the liberation / self-help literature. And acceptance, which in some repsects overlaps with low standards.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 5:37 PM
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If children don't want to bring their friends home from school, that's a warning sign. Unfortunately it is a sign of many possible things. One possibility: home is not a welcoming place for anyone.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 5:45 PM
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65: This is well said, especially the part about disapproval -- which, coupled with Matt's 64, probably goes a long way toward explaining couples who stray from the extended families. Be accepting and supportive of your kids and then be accepting and supportive of their spouses and you improve your odds tremendously.

The caveat to Matt's -- some people are, in fact, unhinged. You can sometimes overlook that for the sake of family unity. But when you've got someone who is unhinged in a way that is harmful to others, there may be no way to overlook/ignore it without enabling the harm. It does put everyone in a very difficult spot, though, and maybe makes that close family thing impossible.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 5:47 PM
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It's true that women are more commonly attuned to social context, but it's also easy to blame a spouse for this sort of situation. Spouses (and LTR partners or very close friends, depending on how high a family's barrier of entry is) get both the insider's and outsider's perspective, and may point out dynamics you hadn't noticed before. It may be that your brothers would have withdrawn on their own eventually or are using their wives as an excuse.

As for the question of how to avoid this with your own kids: Josh's and my family relationships can *all* be explained by how much respect there is for each other as individuals and as autonomous adults. With kids, cultivating this would mean things like talking about feelings and listening when they talk about their interests. As they get older, giving them support for independent decision-making and recognizing them as growing and changing people, rather than having an idee fixe about who they are that carries into adulthood. When they're grown, understanding that they WILL disagree with you on some of their life choices and that this doesn't make you a failure as a parent, and insisting on a level of respect for you as a person rather than as a role. (No blanket "children visit parents" rule, for example.)

Kids are people who will have different temperaments and expectations, and they'll do what they will anyway, but IMO that's not a bad place to start.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 5:57 PM
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66: I guess when people talk about "talking about your feelings" it refers t families where the least little bit of emotion of confession is frozen out and ridiculed. Not good.

That's what it refers to in my usage; not so much ridiculed as frozen out. My parents believed that if you don't talk about it, it will go away -- this was a fairly popular view for people of their generation, I think. It's absurd, of course (it doesn't go away! and just makes one question one's sanity when everyone else is in steadfast denial) and it sets up precisely a scenario in which there's not much to talk about eventually.

For what it's worth, I don't want this to sound overly confessional; in my own case, I got over it and stopped avoiding my parents after a several year period of avoiding them.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 5:59 PM
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60: Will Self must read Unfogged
We'll know for sure when he writes an obituary.


Posted by: Nakku | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 6:01 PM
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||

And acceptance, which in some respects overlaps with low standards.

This is an interesting remark because it's something I've been thinking alot about lately. It's been suggested that I expect too much of people (generally from people of whom I've expected too much) and I fully recognize that I'd be disappointed less often if I lowered my expectations. But then when my expectations are low, friends tell me either that I put up with too much crap or that I'm too negative, always expecting the worst. As an optimist, the world fails me; as a pessimist, I fail the world. (Or something... ) I know there's a sensible middle ground somewhere, but damned if I can figure it out.

|>


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 6:03 PM
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I'd be disappointed less often if I lowered my expectations

IF YOU DON'T EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM ME / YOU MIGHT NOT BE LET DOWN


Posted by: OPINIONATED GIN BLOSSOMS | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 6:09 PM
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I know there's a sensible middle ground somewhere, but damned if I can figure it out.

I have a solution, but it's regarded as counterintuitive.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 6:25 PM
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56: Thanks! I remember my grandmother saying it. Obviously too gender-essentialist, but I think whatever norms made that saying sound like truth still apply.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 6:27 PM
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72: Communication, communication, Di! I'd need an example or two to understand the kinds of too-high expectations you mean, but when I've landed on that explanation in my own relationships, I've tended to decide not really that I was blind to someone's true nature, or whatever, but that I wasn't talking to him/her plainly enough about what my expectations were. That doesn't mean sitting down for some big "here's what I expect" conversation, but just ...

Here's an example: I have a friend who for some reason feels the need, whenever I do something for him (say, look after his cat while he's in the hospital), to assure me that he 'owes me one,' that that was a really big favor I just did. I come out and say: 'Okay, sure, I'd love it if you'd look after my cat if I go away for the weekend, but honestly, this is what friends are for: you were in the hospital. Of course I'd stop by your house and fetch the mail and feed the cat'. I think I'm explaining to him my idea of friendship.

This seems to the only things that kinda sorta works so that at the very least, if things go wrong, I don't feel as though we were utterly and completely on a different page.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 6:27 PM
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Interesting discussion. My own family's experience with these issues is, perhaps, a bit ambiguous in terms of solutions, but I figure I might as well present it as a data point.

In my nuclear family, geography has been a major (though not totally overwhelming) influence on how things play out. We would fly back east almost every summer to see my mom's family, especially when her mom was still alive, and we would see other relatives on that side of the family with some frequency as well. My dad's family was always a lot closer, within more reasonable driving distance, so we would see them more frequently. We did always visit both sides of the family; my mom made a point of staying in close touch with her family even though she had moved out here and was quite far from any of her close relatives. In terms of inclusion, my mom was always closely integrated into my dad's family, and in fact still is, and my dad was pretty well integrated into hers, although he didn't always come with us when we went back east. Not a whole lot of conclusions about gender to draw from this example.

Going back a generation, my maternal grandmother was almost entirely cut off from her family when she converted to Judaism and married my grandfather, so she ended up becoming part of her husband's family more or less by default, but they did welcome her and include her. My paternal grandmother was one of four sisters, and the whole family revolved around them to a great degree, with the husbands becoming a part of the wives' family and generally spending less time with their own, for various reasons that all tended to have the same result: strong ties among the maternally linked families and weaker ties to the paternal lines. Again, in gender terms these two stories seem to point in opposite directions, so I don't see a lot of general conclusions to draw.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 6:44 PM
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||

Lolita would be 73 if she were still alive. (She died on page 307).

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Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 6:52 PM
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How old would Humbert be?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 7:03 PM
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76: Actually, the most immediate example I had in mind is one of my two alcoholic (ex-)friends. I didn't manage that first situation all that well, basically just dropping her without explanation. Eventually, I told her (long story) that I hadn't wanted to deal with her drinking and had been embarrassed when I'd invited her to join my mom and me for a festival and she showed up trashed and behaving bizarrely. She responded that nobody would ever be able to live up to my ridiculous standards, etc. and so on. Realistically, "Don't show up drunk and incoherent when you meet my mom" is not, I don't think, and especially stringent standard, not one that I would have thought required advanced communication.

The other example I am thinking of is disappointment in a friend who wasn't there for me during the divorce. We were very close before, the friendship is beginning to flourish again now, but at the time, he dropped me like a hot coal. In crying on the shoulder of my best friend in the world about my disappointment, she said something to the effect that I take my friendships very seriously and most people are just alot less deeply invested than I am.

But pause/play. I'm admittedly a little on the overly earnest side lately -- a few disappointments strung together leaving me thinking I'm setting my sights too high.

77: Teo, you are truly a fortunate guy. The family you describe is one to envy. You are lucky to have them and they are lucky to have someone who sees them with the eyes that you do.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 7:08 PM
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80.1: Well, no, obviously you weren't setting up an overly stringent standard.

As for friends who drop you, it does happen. (A friend is doing something like that now -- the same "I owe you one" friend, with whom this has happened several times over the 16 years we've known each other -- but it's because of a falling out with a mutual friend of ours. I'm giving him time and space to decide.)

Yeah, pause/play. Understood.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 7:14 PM
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I've been thinking about this because, in a way, it reflects our relationship with my in-laws.

Here's the deal: At the age of 31 my husband's relationship with his parents is still very much parent-child and hasn't evolved to where they can be (more or less) peers or friends. They talk at him not to him. They do the same thing to me which is disconcerting and not a hell of a lot of fun to be around. A few weeks ago my MIL demanded to know who we were voting for outside the presidential race and, when Mr. Tonks and I try to avoid answering, she proceeded to tell us exactly how we should vote.

They're also not good with the Tonklings and expect them to pretty much go off and play by themselves for hours at a time while the adults *talk*. Um, they're 5 and 3 and (IMHO) shouldn't be asked to sit quietly and still through a 3-hour dinner nor should they be required to take an interest in college football or extensive discussions about their grandparents careers. Needless to say, the unrealistic expectations and authoritative relationship stress us both out.


Posted by: tonkelu | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 7:17 PM
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98. He died too, so no masturbating to either of them, or to Nabokov either.

The age difference was 25 years. Lolita 1935, Humbert 1910. The relationship would have become Unfogged-OK in 1972.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 7:19 PM
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The relationship would have become Unfogged-OK in 1972.

Not Humbert-OK, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 7:21 PM
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81.2: You have a good attitude -- I'm impressed by the ability to recognize his mental process rather than get hung up on your own hurt/feeling of rejection. I had a great conversation with the friend in 80.2 last night and it finally hit me that the way he had dropped me was pretty consistent with his pattern of running from crises. I've seen him do it countless times over the years I've known him, it had just never occurred to me that he would wind up running from my crisis. If I could have had that understanding two years ago, it wouldn't have hit so hard -- in that sense, perhaps we could have avoided a lengthy gap in a valued friendship had I not expected him to live up to a particular standard of strength/support that was beyond his limits.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 7:35 PM
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On an unrelated topic, I was just driving home and listening to The Moral Maze on Radio 4, and decided Will Self must read Unfogged.

I was listening to Radio 4 over the internet (I think it was the Today Programme) and heard (it may have been an intro for this Monday's Start the Week) that someone has read the whole Oxford English Dictionary from cover to cover and written about it. This seems tailor-made for unfogged, or at least W-lfs-n.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 7:35 PM
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85: the ability to recognize his mental process

Thanks. There might be such a thing as bending over backward to understand someone else's mental process, of course, but it works okay as long as you have certain lines you won't cross. E.g. Okay, friend who's disappeared in an unexplained snit, you do this from time to time, and it's really annoying though I imagine I get it from your perspective, though damn you do have a temper, and I hope you're okay; but I'm not going to coddle you.

This doesn't feel particularly better than being ground down by too-high or too-low expectations, but it's a way.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 7:54 PM
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Jesus, some of the conservative dude wet dreams about Palin are unbelievable. I'm thinking of Lowry, but there are several.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 8:02 PM
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At the age of 31 my husband's relationship with his parents is still very much parent-child and hasn't evolved to where they can be (more or less) peers or friends.

Though your in-laws seem to carry it rather far (who are you voting for? jesus), I do think this dynamic is pretty much normal. Adults who have been living on their own for years, perhaps married, perhaps with children of their own...they go home (to the parental home, I mean) for Christmas, and as soon as they walk through the door everyone reverts to the roles that only made sense when the now-adult child was once actually a child back in the day.

The parent-child relationship is probably the last vestige of an earlier social order of motley feudal ties and so on and so forth. While all other forms of hierarchy and authority are now understood to be not natural but artificial and conventional, the parent-child bond has yet to be fully and pitilessly torn asunder. This problem will no doubt be resolved by the time we've all been transformed into cyborgs, but probably not before then.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 8:08 PM
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Yes, but MC, there are surely parent-child bonds that managed to achieve more of a peer status over time (talking to each other rather than at each other, as tonkelu puts it). One wouldn't need the early parent-child bond, which is more authoritarian, to be torn fully and pitilessly asunder in order to shift to this more adult mode.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 8:15 PM
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Adults who have been living on their own for years, perhaps married, perhaps with children of their own...they go home (to the parental home, I mean) for Christmas, and as soon as they walk through the door everyone reverts to the roles that only made sense when the now-adult child was once actually a child back in the day.

I've noticed in my own case that my mother more than my father treats me as a peer (we're old married women now), but that is generally true only when we communicate via cell phone; if I'm back in the house, I once again return to being seventeen.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 8:30 PM
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I'm also not sure the returning to being seventeen (or eleven) thing can be entirely put on the parents; my mother is more than happy for me to revert, and I sometimes find myself more than happy to comply. It's comforting.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 8:37 PM
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Yes, but MC, there are surely parent-child bonds that managed to achieve more of a peer status over time

Oh, definitely. But I doubt this is all that common, and I suspect it's more the exception than the rule. Not that I have any hard data to back this up or anything, I'm just speaking from impressions formed from my (admittedly narrow) own observations and experience.

I have a couple of friends whose friendship/peership with their parents still sort of surprises me sometimes. But they come from a class, if that is the right term, or from the niche of a class, maybe, where self-actualization and self-determination are the order of the day, and are pretty much a given. The parents don't need their children to still be their children, I mean, because they have all sorts of other interesting and fulfilling things going on in their own lives, and then the children, and their own self-actualizing, self-determinative achievements, are a nice extra to that other life.

I don't mean there isn't real and genuine affection between the parents and children, and I'm pretty sure I'm not explaining this half-decently at all. But while I find the friendship/peership admirable, not to mention interesting, I hesitate to fully endorse the achievement of this particular version of parent-child relation as a universal goal. No doubt it's my own conservative streak on matters familial that holds me back, but I'm also pretty sure it's not a realistic goal for most people, anyway.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 8:41 PM
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It's different that peer-to-peer for me and my mother; there's ways in which her kids are still the center of her life. But I guess the best way to put it is that she trusts that there's a way where I don't need her, and it's only understandable when contrasted with how she thinks my sisters do need her.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 8:45 PM
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MC, are you seeing the friend/peer relationship and the parent/child relationship as being mutually exclusive? Because that's not my experience at all. Depending the circumstance, my dad and I often interact on the level of, if not quite peers, at least equally adult people, but of course sometimes I look to him for advice and guidance and support in a way I wouldn't with a peer. He's my dad, after all.

In other words, coming to be able to interact with my dad as a friend didn't mean abandoning the parent/child relationship.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 8:48 PM
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93: But they come from a class, if that is the right term, or from the niche of a class, maybe, where self-actualization and self-determination are the order of the day, and are pretty much a given. The parents don't need their children to still be their children, I mean, because they have all sorts of other interesting and fulfilling things going on in their own lives, and then the children, and their own self-actualizing, self-determinative achievements, are a nice extra to that other life.

I've seen that sort of thing, where the original parent/child relationship is virtually extinguished, and it probably is rare. As mrh says, there's a large middle ground between that and the still fully parent/child relationship (which can be downright authoritarian, but is more likely just caretaking or infantilizing).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 9:00 PM
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MC, are you seeing the friend/peer relationship and the parent/child relationship as being mutually exclusive?

No, not at all. I'm not one for binary oppositions. I guess I'd say that there is often (if not always) going to be a tension between these two different modes, so that sometimes you can interact sort of as though you were peers, but then again, he's still your father, after all, so sometimes not so much at all. And I think this is "normal" and also okay or whatever, even though, of course, it's not always easy or stress-free or etc.

What I object to is the notion that moving beyond that parent-child dynamic is just obviously the goal, and that this goal should be held up as the new normative and actively fostered and encouraged.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 9:02 PM
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What I object to is the notion that moving beyond that parent-child dynamic is just obviously the goal

I guess we need to define what the "parent-child dynamic" is, then. Maybe it's just a question of it being age-appropriate? In fact, I'd go so far as to say that for a child in his/her 30s, a relationship that's occasionally friend/peer-ish is an appropriate parent-child relationship.

Where it gets not so good is when, say, your 27-year-old brother still has the same relationship with his father that he did when he was 15.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 9:05 PM
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100% endorsement of mrh's 95.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 9:10 PM
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OK, sorry this is coming in so late - I've spent all evening with my family.

Which is, of course, what I'm going to say is the key to having children who grow up to value spending time with you.

From what I've seen, there are two parts to it: 1. if your family is close-knit, it will tend to stay that way, even if it's a kind of dysfunctional closeness; 2. if your family is reasonably functional, then it will tend to want to stay close out of preference.

The flaw with the dysfunctional option for 1 is that, if the spouse recognizes the dysfunction, then s/he will work to keep away. So you really need 2 for longevity. It's stupid for me to tell you of what a functional family consists, and to an extent I think that you can only be approximately as functional as your childhood family was. So you're on your own for that. But you can certainly augment whatever functionality you achieve with close-knitting, such that your children presume that they will spend time with their family.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 9:18 PM
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I guess we need to define what the "parent-child dynamic" is, then.

In the context of my own parental relationships, I'd have to say that most of it is about who gets to be the acknowledged authority figure. It seems strange to my dad that it's possible that I could know more, for example, about what the philosophy job market is like than he does, for don't fathers always know more than their daughters? What's a dad for, except to be able to give advice about important things?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 9:19 PM
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who gets to be the acknowledged authority figure

I guess I've just been lucky. For all his flaws, my dad is always willing to admit when he doesn't know something, and to accept my advice when it's in an area I know something about.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 9:22 PM
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Whenever my parents give me advice about how my PhD life is supposed to go, we end up having a gigantic fight in which I say they don't know shit about shit and need to shut the fuck up. This does not go over well at the time, but they have tried to button up their advice on these issues about which they don't know shit. (Another one is the way I handle my relationships, which are not virginal or quasi-virginal college flirtations but full-on adult non-married relationships.) When things go badly, I inevitably get an "I told you so," but I then remind them that they still do not know shit about shit and need to shut the fuck up. A great deal of my life I'm having to make up on the fly, since the patterns my parents set are not really helpful, and I don't appreciate it when they attempt to step in and say how their own folksy wisdom is so very helpful in my circumstances. It's not. I don't know what I'm doing either, but at least I don't know nothing.

[/rant]

I love my folks, and if I ever get married and become a churchy lady or a businessman in the Plains countryside, you can bet I'll ask them for plenty of advice. That day, however, has not yet come.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 9:31 PM
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102: Yeah. My dad's pretty good about it, most of the time, but it does sometimes require that I gently (natch) point out that it's possible that maybe I know a little bit more about topic X?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 9:31 PM
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103 sounded hostile, and it was, only because my dad started emailing the whole family with my orals exam date three years before I set it, and then harassed me about how I was embarrassing the whole family for three continuous years. Other examples of their not knowing shit about things are multiple.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 9:34 PM
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Further: there are 2 basic models of the close-knit family, cross-generational and nuclear. With the cross-generational, where kids grow up seeing their grandparents daily or at least, say, monthly, and cousins are part of one's life, I think that you're setting up a sort of expectation that one's "family" means "extended family," and I would expect that that sort of thing would stick. OTOH, it could also be replaced with the spouse's family, although I don't know if that's true (since it's not at all how I was raised).

The close-knit nuclear family, which is how I was raised, is, if functional, an extremely tight and loyal grouping that will be impervious to meddling spouses - I think that both my sister and I wouldn't even notice if a spouse or SO tried to come between us and our family, because it wouldn't register. "We need to go to NJ for Xmas." "Oh, it's so important for me to got to TN to see my Gran." "Oh, OK. See you after Xmas then." Obvs., that's the model that you can best create and control, but as I said above, I don't know how much any of us can "create" a family model that isn't how we were raised. Some people grow up in shitty circumstances, and so are wholly committed to changing the model, and others are with spouses who can change the dynamic, but I think that it's far more common to replicate our upbringings, even if we don't see it happening until too late.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 9:46 PM
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Though your in-laws seem to carry it rather far...

Oh yeah. They carry it way too far. For example, my FIL thinks we need to put down grass seed. Instead of saying, "You guys might want to throw down some grass seed this fall," he goes out, buys the seed and wants to come over tomorrow to put it down himself. I find this ridiculous to the point of being obscene and now he's feeling all riled and huffy because I told him he didn't need to come over tomorrow, we'd take care of it.

In other words, the parent-child relationship between my in-laws and husband has barely progressed beyond them wiping his ass.
This, I don't think, is normal.


Posted by: tonkelu | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 9:50 PM
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Tonkelu, it's either controlling or needy (or both, which might not be unusual) on the FIL's part. Depends to an extent on whether your husband encourages it in some way.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 10:04 PM
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I like the distinction in 107 a lot, and I think it nicely captures the difference between the way my parents grew up (cross-generational) and the way my sister and I grew up (nuclear). Both very close-knit, but different.

As for the parent-child relationship question, I'd say I'm at the extreme "peer-like relationship" end of the spectrum; I get along great with my mom, but there's not a whole lot of deference. It works great for me, and I can't even imagine doing things any other way, but it's certainly not the norm. My sister, for instance, has a very different sort of relationship with our mom.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 10:07 PM
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93: I'm thinking less of a peer/friend relationship than a respected elder relationship -- the parent is older, has more life experience, and has advice to share, but also listens, and recognizes the child as an adult capable of independent thought and decision-making. The parent would get a certain amount of deference (out of filial loyalty and respect for age/wisdom) but not license to patronize.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 10:10 PM
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Tonkelu, I think it's probably hard for your PIL to get that there needs to be a different sort of relationship there, because y'all aren't that far physically from where he grew up, and you can't pull the geography card. If there's something even harder for parents to understand than the need to respect the different views of a child who's far away and not in a familiar family situation, it's got to be, how did this kid of mine who has done everything I raised him to do (work hard, start a family, live nearby) turn out to have such weird values? My parents can comfort themselves and say I've turned into some kind of oddball east-coast librul, but your family has come to a lot of the same kind of conclusions right near where they are. It must be very frightening to them to realize that their ideology doesn't hold just because of geography and family. That is, their very definition of who "we are" as a community is upset by how your family votes and thinks about the world. That's a lot more radical, in my book, and a very brave position to hold.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 10:15 PM
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I grew up in one of those cross-generational, "extended," chock full o' cousins families that JRoth above describes.

It was my father's father (so: my grandfather, obviously, after whose wife, my grandmother, I was named) who first put ideas into my head. Born under the reign of Victoria, and very old-fashioned, and a devout Catholic, but nevertheless. "Gal's got a good head on her shoulders," he told my father when I was about eight years old, "and you should try and send her to the university."

I have but one physically-surviving memento: a Christening card, "To Mary Catherine [blah blah Hallmark blah blah blah], From Da." Just "from" and not even "love"!? But I know he loved me, though he was always a bit canny and cagey about his loyalties and affections, because he always took my part, and he told me not to ever take any crap from any man, because I should know my own value and speak and act accordingly. He was an old-fashioned man, though, so probably his advice is now hopelessly outdated.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 10:52 PM
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recognizing them as growing and changing people, rather than having an idee fixe about who they are

If this obtained in my relationship with my mom, we not only would have a better relationship, I suspect I also would get more appropriate Christmas presents.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10- 4-08 10:53 PM
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With the cross-generational, where kids grow up seeing their grandparents daily or at least, say, monthly, and cousins are part of one's life, I think that you're setting up a sort of expectation that one's "family" means "extended family," and I would expect that that sort of thing would stick.

It is amazing to me how many different cousins, uncles/aunts/nieces/nephews, and the rest my grandmother could keep track of. Whereas I am aware of hardly any (especially on her side of the family).


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 12:01 AM
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At some point the parent-child dynamic changes, and I'm not sure how this works. Are there any older people here who've gone through the stage where you and your children talk about getting your parents into an assisted living facility (or whatever the culturally appropriate transition is)?

Does this happen all at once, like one day, Mom falls and breaks her hip, and you realize that she needs a lot of care, and things will have to change or is it more gradual?

My own families are varying degrees of dysfunctional, so I can't advise. My aunts on my mother's side has pretty much let herself be adopted by her husband's family and siblings. She tries to keep track of everyone else now, but at one point she had our distant cousins as a mother replacement of a sort.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 2:47 AM
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It's my experience that children tend to avoid their parents when their parents have a solid idea of what their child ought to be like, and blame their child for not fitting to their expectations.

It's also my experience that when a married child avoids their parents, the child-in-law always gets the blame. (This applies to all forms of marriage, same-sex, mixed-sex, poly, or just living together...)

It's further my experience that parents never accept that it's their own behavior that causes their children to avoid them.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 6:19 AM
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I'll catch up with the thread later, but on the subject of the OP, I have the following observation. We've been spending the weekend at the beach house of a cousin of mine. They have 5 adult children, each coupled, and 9 grandchildren (2 out of college, one in, 6 under 11 years old). The parents don't expect children or grandchildren on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Instead, there are two mandatory events. There's the "S Weekend" in March, which is the parents and 5 kids, no spouses, others, or children. Then there's Everyone Week in mid-August. They only have beds/bedrooms for 17, some some folks stay in a motel -- I bet this is rotated among parents of younger children, happy to pawn them off on the group.

The geographic spread (children are in Roanoke, DC, Philly, Brooklyn, Hartford) makes this both doable, and necessary.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 7:00 AM
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I'll observe that one of the key factors in Charley's story is probably the beach house. My wife is unusually (to me) close with her second cousins and great aunts and great-uncles and all that because her family owns a group of houses on Lake Winnipesauke and, in addition to the occasional all-family events, there's *always* someone up there in the summer.

My extended families never had a central "gathering point" and so just aren't all that close. We'd see my cousins every summer when my mom was still alive, but it's much more rare now. (In fact, come to think of it, we'd always see them for our big family week on the Jersey Shore, which is another data point for my "vacation property == family togetherness" theory). On my dad's side of the family, there's just no tradition or expectation of family gatherings, both because they're all a little weird, and because there's no obvious place for it to happen.

My dad, after being invited up to the lake for our wedding, remarked that he wanted to look into buying a property somewhere to keep us kids together. (So far all he's come up with is a timeshare on St. Maarten, which is a little out of the way to serve the purpose.)


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 7:27 AM
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to an extent I think that you can only be approximately as functional as your childhood family was.

um, hopefully that's not true or a lot of people are in a world of trouble.

I don't know, my family is all totally crazy but very tightly knit, and when I went for a long time not seeing my dad because we were fighting it was horrible and painful. I am dismayed by what I regard as the insufficient family-feeling in my sister-in-law; my husband and the girls and I were in orgeon with my in-laws, and my s-i-l doesn't even drive up from fucking california...for chiristmas? that was so lame. I think I do tend to rate my family and seeing them higher than my husband's family, but that's partly because they seem insufficiently devoted. also because I care more about my family, obviously.

it's certainly true that if I didn't make an effort to be fair with holidays and stuff I probably wouldn't get so much pushback from husband x and it could easily devolve into a situation like what heebie complains of. the exact same thing is true for my brother, though, that we take priority over his (now former) in-laws. basically my family is just larger than life and their craziness is eeeeeereeeesistable. but also we just have a lot of fun together and are always laughing.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 7:30 AM
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woops, that was me.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 7:31 AM
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As for the question of how to avoid this with your own kids: Josh's and my family relationships can *all* be explained by how much respect there is for each other as individuals and as autonomous adults. With kids, cultivating this would mean things like talking about feelings and listening when they talk about their interests. As they get older, giving them support for independent decision-making and recognizing them as growing and changing people, rather than having an idee fixe about who they are that carries into adulthood. When they're grown, understanding that they WILL disagree with you on some of their life choices and that this doesn't make you a failure as a parent, and insisting on a level of respect for you as a person rather than as a role. (No blanket "children visit parents" rule, for example.)

Kids are people who will have different temperaments and expectations, and they'll do what they will anyway, but IMO that's not a bad place to start.

Magpie is brilliant and absolutely correct.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 7:32 AM
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1. if your family is close-knit, it will tend to stay that way, even if it's a kind of dysfunctional closeness; 2. if your family is reasonably functional, then it will tend to want to stay close out of preference.

This may be exactly what's going on. We were very functional, but very independent, and it's hard for me to pin down which parent generated this value on independence or if my oldest brother set the tone and we followed. None of us ever spent summers at home after leaving for college. Growing up, we'd report good news and enjoy each other, but by and large only present a polished, solved version of bad news.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 7:33 AM
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They tuck you up, your Mum and Dad
They read you Peter Rabbit, too.
They give you all the treats they had
And add some extra, just for you.

They were tucked up when they were small,
(Pink perfume, blue tobacco-smoke),
By those whose kiss healed any fall,
Whose laughter doubled any joke.

Man hands on happiness to man.
It sparkles like a sweetshop shelf.
So love your parents all you can
And have some cheerful kids yourself.

-Adrian Mitchell.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 7:56 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 8:04 AM
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actually, all the Mersey poets seemed to have a go at Larkin - Roger McGough's is one of my favourites

They don't fuck you up, your mum and dad
(Despite what Larkin says)
It's other grown-ups, other kids
Who, in their various ways

Die. And they dying casts a shadow
Numbering all our days
And we try to keep from going mad
In multifarious ways

And most of us succeed, thank God
So if, to coin a phrase
You're fucked up, don't blame your mum and dad
(Despite what Larkin says).


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 8:04 AM
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Family interaction is such a difficult area.

Often, our parents or children are simply not what we expect them to be or what we want them to be.

We can let that disappointment or hurt prevent us from having any relationship with that person or part of the family. Or you adjust your expectations or attempt to miminize the hurt however you can.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 8:06 AM
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My mother was happy with as many kids as came around but was also happy to have some private time. When I came home to care for her in the end I found that she had put together an entire new life, mostly with people her kids didn't know.

Since she died there's been a silent contest between the syisters as to where the family meeting should be. One sister has a lake cabin and one has the old family home. Only the sister with the lake cabin, and possibly one brother, wants it to be the meeting place, but the other sister isn't very stubborn. It turns out that while mom was alive they were already uncomfortable with having to drive to her place all the time, and made their move after she was gone.

Oddly, everyone in the family knows that something like this is happening, but I'm the only one who sees it as a power struggle. It's tied into a bunch of other things and is actually pretty novelistic. For example, when the estate settlement was made, the specific terms on which we sold the house to one sister were determined partly by the other sister's need for cash to put into the lake cabin, and the sister in the old family home is financially stressed.

You can see why novelists are hated by their families.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 8:07 AM
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Davies' constant Pollyanna attitude become a bit wearing after awhile.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 8:08 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 8:14 AM
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We can let that disappointment or hurt prevent us from having any relationship with that person or part of the family. Or you adjust your expectations or attempt to minimize the hurt however you can.

Yes. And this ties in nicely with what I liked about Parsimon's 81 above. You can be disappointed and hurt by people, or you can step back and try to see them for who they are, not who you happen to want or need them to be. Sometimes when you see them for who they are, you realize that you are just going to have to walk away. Sometimes you can put the things that hurt into better perspective.

Not half so easy to do as it sounds.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 8:47 AM
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I am in the process of trying to help my son understand this concept. He has some tough weeks ahead of him, unfortunately.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 9:02 AM
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It's tough. You get flooded by the emotion of disappointment or hurt, and the last thing you want or can do is step back and find perspective. If you can teach him to do that at his age, you are giving him a really great tool for the life ahead.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 9:08 AM
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(The other lesson being, sometimes things are just going to hurt. You'll heal, you'll move on, but sometimes you're just stuck with the hurt for awhile.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 9:09 AM
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He mostly has a great perspective. He is an amazing, adaptive, compassionate, wonderful young man. I am truly blessed to have such a son.

I often think of parenting like watching your child drive on ice or snow. You can give them advise on how to do it. You can attempt to model how they should do it (to the extent that you know how to youself).

But, in the end, they have to do it themselves.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 9:17 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 9:17 AM
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I second 133. When something hurts part of getting over the hurt is to just feel the hurt. Wallow in it a little, then look for perspective.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 9:32 AM
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I have stomach acid like nobody's business. Anybody got a suggestion for relief?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 10:21 AM
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Pepsid AC. I forget the chemical name, that's a brand name. Much better than Tums.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 10:31 AM
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135 is the best thing Will's ever posted. Oh, wait.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 10:31 AM
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138: Will do. I have never had stomach acid as intense as this before!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 10:35 AM
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136 to 137.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 10:51 AM
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130: You can be disappointed and hurt by people, or you can step back and try to see them for who they are, not who you happen to want or need them to be. Sometimes when you see them for who they are, you realize that you are just going to have to walk away. Sometimes you can put the things that hurt into better perspective.

If you're disappointed or hurt by someone you love, you don't withdraw the love, that's the thing; you don't stop loving them. You develop a broader sense of the kinds of love, and the kinds of people, there are.

This has been your hippie message of the day! (We'll get you yet, Di!)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 10:53 AM
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If you're disappointed or hurt by someone you love, you don't withdraw the love, that's the thing; you don't stop loving them.

I think sometimes you do withdraw yourself. You are entitled to take care of yourself in a situation. Relating to other people means accepting them for who they are, and who they are not, and it is healthy to have a realistic, open idea about your loved ones. But if that person is continually violating your principles about what you'll tolerate, you're entitled to remove yourself.

I'm picturing ending romantic relationships, in particular. It's stickier when it's your mom, but I stand by my stance anyway.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 11:00 AM
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I'm picturing ending romantic relationships, in particular. It's stickier when it's your mom, but I stand by my stance anyway.

Paul McCartney was able to handle it:

-Do you often see your father?
-No, actually we're just good friends.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 11:06 AM
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143: Oh, sure, you must sometimes withdraw yourself. I'm thinking more of the psychological damage you can do to yourself if you can't find internal space to distinguish between someone doing assholish things, and that person actually being an asshole. Sometimes you decide that they are simply an asshole, of course; the confusion accompanying the hurt, though, is often because you don't understand how they could have done this thing, and you are bewildered. I'm advocating trying on for size that you might not yet be understanding them enough to see how they might have done it. If you're not actually bending over backwards (slighting yourself) to see how this could be, I think you've done a service to yourself in expanding the realm of types of love you can have for people ... even if you had to withdraw in the particular case.

That rambled a bit. Sorry.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 11:19 AM
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By way of slightly further explanation, I'm remembering an interview I heard a while ago with a woman whose father had committed suicide.

She said she found herself swinging wildly back and forth between being so angry with him, for having hurt them all so much, having hurt himself, having hidden himself for so long, apparently and obviously, and therefore hating him ... and saying, No, no, I love him, he loved me; I know this, and I am doing him and myself a disservice by renouncing that love now.

I don't know if that helps to clarify.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 11:24 AM
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There is a practical approach that I have seen work well in my extended family (both sides) and with my own parents and in-laws. Soon after the engagement (or announcement of living together seriously) one set of parents (usually the guy's) invites the other set for an event (engagement party or dinner party) and begins the process of establishing independent relationships with the parents-in-law. Birthday cards. Getting to know aunts, uncles, grandparents. Making sure to call when you're in a city/town where some of the extended in-law clan lives. After you visit the kids, write or email the kid-in-law's parents, with pictures, saying nice things about the kid-in-law. Once grandkids are old enough to visit grandparents alone, sometimes arrange for both sets to do something with the grandkids together. With a congenial family this can lead to a real extended family or set of friendships. If the other family is weird or plain nuts, it at least gives you some insight into how child-in-law grew up and helps you be a better parent-in-law, and indeed, a better parent to your married/partnered child.


Posted by: jackie | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 11:26 AM
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I live 3000 miles away from my parents, and my honey's parents both live in the middle east, yet we see his folks more often by virtue of the fact that they come thisaway for business all the time. Unfortunately, his family is fucking nuts, while my family is just sort of lovingly barmy. If my honey and I ever get married and have kids, I may suggest that we orient ourselves a little more towards my family. His mother, in particular, has the potential to be a really toxic influence on a grandchild's development.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 11:55 AM
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Soon after the engagement (or announcement of living together seriously) one set of parents (usually the guy's) invites the other set for an event (engagement party or dinner party) and begins the process of establishing independent relationships with the parents-in-law.

Yes, excellent. I did this with my ex-before-last, although the parental meet-up was arranged by me and my bf. It had a bit of a ceremonial air -- arranged assignment for all! meet the others! -- though it was just a lovely late afternoon couple of hours in front of their fire, with nice snacks and beverages, and hand-shakes and smiles all 'round upon parting.

It was a very good idea. It makes it clear that the grown kids who are coupling up here want the families to know each other, nobody's being excluded here; it relieves any anxieties they may have about their baby girl or boy hanging out family-like with some other family.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 12:10 PM
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I cannot emphasize the gender implications of this enough. My husband loves, loves, loves his grandmother, yet cannot be bothered to buy her a gift for her birthday or Hanukkah (he does call her). Any gifts or cards she gets, any pictures of her adored great-grandchild, are all sent by me. I could ensure that she got gifts and cards and for a while in my marriage, I took care of all of this, but you know what, I have a job and a child and my husband is a goddamned adult who needs to take care of this stuff on his own. So I quit managing the stuff he does for his side of the family and gramma doesn't get gifts anymore. My husband doesn't think about these things, he doesn't care about these things, and forgetting to get his gramma a gift doesn't bother him (I feel differently--I would be sure that I was going straight to hell for not getting my gramma a gift on her birthday). So now things are fine--I give my gramma gifts and attention and he doesn't feel guilty about neglecting his own gramma. His gramma, however, probably does not feel fine. Although she has never said anything--if she is really unhappy, she should speak up, just like Heebie's parents should.

I don't know how you educate children to feel this difference--maybe just emphasize the importance of family ties and make sure that your children see both parents doing these kinds of familial things--thank you notes, phone calls, etc . If they get the message that only women manage emotional family relationships, only the women will.


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 1:04 PM
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60: Will Self must read Unfogged
We'll know for sure when he writes an obituary.

I laughed a lot at this one, and the 7 year old asked why. Told him it was a joke that was far too convoluted to explain. Oh, and not suitable for children.

I think that talking about your feelings is less important than just talking about things generally and doing things together.

I'll just repeat how important I think that affection and liking having people are around are.

I think Emerson gets it completely right.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 1:13 PM
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If this obtained in my relationship with my mom, we not only would have a better relationship, I suspect I also would get more appropriate Christmas presents.

Yes. Every year I expend a lot of mental energy figuring out something to give each family member that fits with his or her interests and stage in life, and I'm usually pretty successful, and then they get me stuff that I am not interested in in the least.

You know, a few of us (Unfoggeteers and not) were talking about similar themes at a bar last night (prompted partly by AWB's recent post), and now I'm getting around to reading this thread, and it's extremely reassuring to hear that most people have issues with their parents along these lines. I tend to assume that my own family is uniquely crappy and my own story of alienation from them is uniquely awful, so it's always good to be reminded that other people have similar problems and mine aren't that bad compared to some others.

After years of treating me like a seventeen-year-old who's acting out (I was an angel when I was 17, though), my parents are finally starting to talk to me like an adult. I think it's the distance (most of the way across the country) and the lack of contact (pretty sporadic phone conversations and visits home). Plus my younger sister is now married with three kids, so she counts as a full adult in my parents' scheme of things and they've eventually gotten around to counting me as an adult just because I'm older than her.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 1:38 PM
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parsimon; No, no, I love him, he loved me; I know this, and I am doing him and myself a disservice by renouncing that love now.

I came to the conclusion a long time ago (and it helped a lot) that to love someone and to like them are two distinct states. I love my mother, my mother loves me: if I needed proof of this, which at times in my 20s I did, it would be that after I came out to her (unlike every single other lesbian who ever came out to her) she did not cut off all contact with me and try to make sure she neither heard from me nor heard about me ever again. But she doesn't like me, and in fact it also helped to realise that she doesn't like me, and I neither have to work to try to get her to like me nor do I have to work to try to like her.

I deal with my mother much better since I came to this conclusion: I'm polite, considerate within bounds, set my own acceptable boundaries, and basically, we deal. (And yes, I do see her and my father two or three times a month.) But trying to like someone who doesn't like you, no matter how much you love each other, is a painful waste of time.

Ultimately, no one really knows what goes on inside other people's relationships - not even that of siblings with parents.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 1:58 PM
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142 - 146: There are so many possibilities in these situations. My most recently lost friendship, the alcoholic single mom, I had to withdraw myself (for both our sakes), but I haven't withdrawn the love and continue to hope someone or something else will eventually reach her. I know that chances are very good that I've lost her friendship for good, though.

With a certain family member, I was able to cut off contact for a time without ever cutting off the love (deep down), and it made it possible to re-establish relationships later down the road on a healthier footing. ("I know how you are, dear relative, I understand the factors that contributed to make you how you are, but I can't allow the way you are to continue damaging me and people I care for.")

UNG... For years and years and years, I struggled to understand how he could do certain things -- and my own need to understand it made it impossible for me to withdraw myself. Lots of time with a very good therapist finally helped me to get why he is the way he is and why there was little option but for me to withdraw myself if I didn't want to continue getting the crap beat out of me emotionally. I hoped, initially, that I could do the "withdraw myself but not the love" thing -- but, nope. Any semblance of remaining affection was nothing but an opening to be exploited to my detriment.

In all of these case, though, being able to make the right choice depended on being able to get enough emotional distance to assess things clearly. Which I wish was a little easier to do.

147, 149: I think this is why things look so promising for my brother and his fiance. The moms have taken to including each other in one another's life, which makes it so clear that it's not an us vs. them set up.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 1:59 PM
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Bave, your parents are lacking in the essential rent skillz.

Even your baby sister can manage to [do whatever you're not doing]!!!!!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 2:01 PM
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118 -- Yeah, but that's not sufficient. It's my cousin's family, not my own: My parents have a summer home as well, and while it's a bit more remote, they're really not the kind to dragoon us all over for supervised play.

On my cousin's fridge, there's a program leftover from the all-hands week in August. He, the cousin, had assigned everyone to 6 teams of three. Each team had a child under 11, and two unrelated adults, not the child's parents. Teams were directed to engage in adventures, and report after dinner.

By all accounts a wonderful time was had. Parents were relieved of children, each person on a team got to know the others in ways they never had before.

My daughter and I talked about this, though, and agreed that it would simply be impossible in our family. My dad just doesn't have the authoritarian impulse, and my siblings and I aren't compliant that way.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 4:10 PM
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My sister-in-law summoned all of us to Kansas City in June 2007 -- she'll never be able to pull that off again.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 4:12 PM
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153: Jesurgislac, I get this. It's how I was with my father.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 4:23 PM
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Threads like these leave me unable to say much. I grew up in such odd circumstances (group homes and foster care, but all the while in some contact with my biological family) that my experience probably speaks to no one but my sister. And even she says it doesn't.

My surviving biological parent doesn't drink anymore, but he is a very broken person. My attempts to develop an emotional connection with him have almost always been blocked. It is sad knowing that saying "I love you" will just make your father freeze.

The anti-Larkin poen that d^2 posted was great. Once on a date I gave a high-level family history (replying to any brothers or sisters) and the poor woman sadly asked, "but who tucked you in at night?" For some reason that question cut through all my defenses. So does that saccharine poem.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 4:37 PM
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Huh. I just came back from watching my great-niece (Buck's niece's daughter) get baptized (Presbyterians. The first church service I've ever been at (a) that opened with an apology from the pastor because he was breaking in a new amp, and wasn't sure of all the settings yet and (b) with Powerpoint slides.)

We certainly spend more time with my parents than with Bucks, but mine are local and his aren't.

At least with baby-aged kids, though, I wouldn't be surprised at all if there's a gender split as described. I'm fond of Buck's parents, but I'm still, not sure how to put it, polite? around them, and certainly was when the kids were infants. And that meant that being at their house was an event where I had to hold everything together and not be a burden, which is really really tiring with a squalling baby, or with a squalling baby and a toddler. (This is my issue, not theirs -- I'm not comfortable collapsing on them, but it's not like they're tense about it.) My parents, on the other hand, while we have serious issues (that are at the moment kind of too acute to talk about), I can hand a screaming baby to or say "I can't cope, make me a sandwich", and I won't feel bad about it at all.

As long as women are pulling most of the weight on infant care (which, to give Buck the credit that is his due, I was doing pretty much solely because of breastfeeding, rather than because he could possibly have done more than he did), it's going to be a lot easier to spend time with the parents the mother is more relaxed about leaning on.

Developing adult relationships with parents, I don't know about. I still have pretty much the same relationship with my dad I had when I was a teenager; given that it consisted then and now of enjoying each other's company and an almost totally hands-off attitude about anything I might do, it makes more sense now than it did then. I also still have pretty much the same relationship with my mother now as I did when I was a teenager, which has worn less well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 7:08 PM
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Your parents have to stop killing the buffaloes, that's all.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 5-08 7:20 PM
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A son is your son until he takes a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for the rest of your life.

I didn't make that up. Perhaps it is a clan thing. The goddess lives.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 6-08 10:42 AM
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Heaven knows I'm gonna be kicked seven ways to heaven for stating folk wisdom, but so what, the week is young.

What TLL said. In my life, in general, the daughters have tended to stay closer to the family, physically and emotionally.

If this is generally true then I can relate it to the veldt, but I'm not going that far this early in the week.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10- 6-08 12:44 PM
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In my class and time (lower-middle, Southern California, 1980s, divorced parents, often Latino), the sons were the ones to get the best from the parents. They got something; if it wasn't college, it was much more than the daughters got. Girls were kicked out while boys were coddled.

Daughters who rebelled where left to find their own way.


Posted by: goofyfoot | Link to this comment | 10- 6-08 11:25 PM
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