[Adv] Deflecting parents and family members

Go down

[Adv] Deflecting parents and family members Empty [Adv] Deflecting parents and family members

Post by nearly_takuan on Sun Oct 05, 2014 12:07 am

Now that my mother is officially less than twice my age (happy birthday, mom), it is suddenly and urgently time for me to be bombarded with questions about grandchildren.

Yes, seriously, grandchildren.

She's aware that my dating life is nonexistent in an unqualified sense, but I'm not sure if that really means anything to her? Like, she had exactly one guy ask her out in high school, and they liked each other pretty well, but they grew apart, and then she went to college and met my dad and they were friends and they "dated" and then they married and have been for (almost) 27 years so far. To hear her tell it, things went uncommonly well for her in that department.

The other facet to this, though, and the one that I definitely have only myself to blame for, is that their image/expectation of me is by now fairly different from who I actually am. Through careful lies of omission and a certain degree of playing along (though I'll swear that to my knowledge I've never directly said anything false), I've avoided revealing or discussing the fact that I've been agnostic-atheist for at least the last eight years. And more recently, they're practically the only ones left who don't know that I identify as asexual. So it's perhaps understandable that they still seem to assume I'm a normal boy.

Well, she basically asked when I think I'll be having kids of my own. I definitely panicked because I don't remember what I said. I remember trying to be non-committal and being entirely unsuccessful at responding without anxiety.

I do know she'll be calling again some time soon, about something unrelated, and then mention that she had a thought on something or other that leads back to this.

I want to be polite, and not brush her off, and all the other things that are part of being nice to one's parents, but I'm also pretty sure I need her to leave me alone on this subject and things like it. So...I beseech the wisdom of the Internet: wat do?
nearly_takuan
nearly_takuan

Posts : 1069
Reputation : 456
Join date : 2014-10-01

View user profile

Back to top Go down

[Adv] Deflecting parents and family members Empty Re: [Adv] Deflecting parents and family members

Post by Guest on Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:41 am

Do you trust her to take you seriously? As in, can you have mature conversations with her and does she respect your autonomy?

If so, I say be kind yet firm and direct in trying to explain your displeasure with having conversations about future kids. Something like: "Mom, can you please listen to me very carefully? I'd really appreciate it if we didn't talk about my future children, because this is making me uncomfortable and I'm not at the point in my life where I can make those kinds of decisions."

And if she continues to push the issue, calmly state that you'll be having/not having kids on your own terms, not hers.

That's all I've got. Sorry if this isn't helpful.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

[Adv] Deflecting parents and family members Empty Re: [Adv] Deflecting parents and family members

Post by nearly_takuan on Sun Oct 05, 2014 3:35 am

HermitTheToad wrote:Do you trust her to take you seriously? As in, can you have mature conversations with her and does she respect your autonomy?

It's...complicated. If she had her way, I'd move back in with her and never leave. Razz But she's mostly understanding.

My parents and I get along really well and have similar views on most things (well, mostly politics and ethics) but their religion is also really important to them. I'm pretty sure they'd eventually be okay if I "came out" as atheist, but I'm also pretty sure they'd spend a significant amount of time taking it personally and wondering where they went wrong, y'know? (And meanwhile I'm just glad they didn't totally indoctrinate me and did a lot of things right. I gave Christianity a fair shake, I think, and it just didn't "click".)

HermitTheToad wrote:If so, I say be kind yet firm and direct in trying to explain your displeasure with having conversations about future kids. Something like: "Mom, can you please listen to me very carefully? I'd really appreciate it if we didn't talk about my future children, because this is making me uncomfortable and I'm not at the point in my life where I can make those kinds of decisions."

And if she continues to push the issue, calmly state that you'll be having/not having kids on your own terms, not hers.

That's all I've got. Sorry if this isn't helpful.

No, this is good, and kind of what I was thinking but didn't really want to confront. Having a script is useful, just for the sake of giving a straight answer—because, like I said, I panicked and defaulted to evasive maneuvers!! and that was obviously not helpful and resulted in me probably not giving a straight answer and definitely putting off the topic for it to come up at least one more time.

And, well, the thread title is because she is not the only family member who has interrogated me on things like this; it's kind of an additional ongoing pain in the butt. Still, same basic idea probably applies: I need to spend some time drafting premeditated responses to invasive inquiries. And then know them well enough to use them at the appropriate times.

Thanks.
nearly_takuan
nearly_takuan

Posts : 1069
Reputation : 456
Join date : 2014-10-01

View user profile

Back to top Go down

[Adv] Deflecting parents and family members Empty Re: [Adv] Deflecting parents and family members

Post by Guest on Sun Oct 05, 2014 4:12 am

As always, trying to stand up for yourself without investing a lot of your emotion into the conversation can be the hardest part. I think you're lucky though. My family, especially my Mum, doesn't know I'm agnostic either. She knows I'm more of a 'stray lamb' nowadays but she's never pushed the "Do you believe in God?" question. Willful ignorance is bliss.

Good Luck.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

[Adv] Deflecting parents and family members Empty Re: [Adv] Deflecting parents and family members

Post by Guest on Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:07 am

nearly, I don't know if it helps but I DO think you are a normal boy. Also, sexuality and the desire to have children are only very loosely intertwined, so these are two separate questions really.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

[Adv] Deflecting parents and family members Empty Re: [Adv] Deflecting parents and family members

Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:47 am

Oh, I completely agree—incidentally, I do have a desire to have (or at least care for) children, which is itself part of the problem.

But, eh, the exact thing I want to avoid talking about in any given instance is mostly irrelevant, except that the topic may lend itself better or worse to certain stratagems. I don't really have a special reason to avoid discussing sexuality with my mother, other than that it just feels kind of weird. Maybe I'm just accustomed/attached to having a lot of secrets? Heh. Still, I think I'm a bit more justified in wanting to keep other things to myself.

Using the term "trigger" in this context feels like appropriation, but it is approximately that and I don't have a weaker word for it, so... basically having a real-time verbal discussion on these subjects is a...trigger. If I can sit and collect my thoughts for fifteen minutes before drafting a response and editing it and so forth* then I might eventually feel comfortable letting someone read it. (I admit it also helps that I'm not, as far as I know, giving very much information to anyone who knows me personally when I write stuff for the Internet.) Getting quizzed over the phone, or worse, in her car, puts me on the spot and the sympathetic vibrations of multiple anxieties create a tremor of uncomfortable-ness.

So perhaps maybe possibly it might also be worth considering sending an email or delivering a carefully-worded note that will answer her question(s) in a way I can more or less handle. But meanwhile, I do appreciate Hermit pointing out that straightforward honesty (at least on the point of me feeling uncomfortable with several of these subjects) is probably the simplest short-term solution. And that having a script (calmness in a can) is definitely going to be helpful, especially in contrast with bogey in the subject matter ABORT ABORT.

(*Yeah, this mess is what my thoughts look like when I've planned what I'm going to say....)




Oh, right. My current script looks kind of like this:

[1] (something about kids or dating or whatever)
-> I'm not really ready to discuss that right now, and it's kind of an uncomfortable subject. [2, 3, 4, 5]
[2] (backs off)
-> Thanks for understanding. I'm sorry, I just think I'm going to need a lot more time to figure this out on my own before I talk to you about it. So, how was your day? (Or if we have already discussed this, return to something mentioned earlier in the conversation.) [end]
[3] (asks why, or otherwise tries to probe further)
-> It's just kind of a complicated subject, and really personal, and this isn't the right time for me to go into it. [2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
[4] (offers to "help", share wisdom, etc)
-> No. I really appreciate your thoughts and advice on a lot of things, but I don't feel comfortable talking about this yet. [2, 3, 5]
[5] (asks—again—about sexuality with assurances—again—that it's fine if x)
-> No, I know, but I'm not. [2, 4, 6]
[6] (continues to press the issue)
-> Look, I just need to make these kinds of decisions at my own pace. Can you let me do that, please? [2, 7]
[7] (continues to press the issue)
-> (Give in to childishness and hang up or, if in person, deploy Silence™.) [end]
[8] (guesses correctly about asexuality, or anything else for that matter)
-> Yes, actually. [improv after this, because this is too unlikely to prep contingencies for.]
nearly_takuan
nearly_takuan

Posts : 1069
Reputation : 456
Join date : 2014-10-01

View user profile

Back to top Go down

[Adv] Deflecting parents and family members Empty Re: [Adv] Deflecting parents and family members

Post by eselle28 on Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:57 pm

I think your script starts out really strongly. You're saying exactly what you want in clear, polite terms. I think it goes off course a little sooner than this, but the bit in [7] where you "give in to childishness" has an interesting assumption behind it that I don't really agree with. I don't think it's childish for you to end the conversation if it doesn't get to [2] after a couple of deflections. I think it's self-preserving, and I suspect it may be the best way to get your family members in the habit of not asking these questions. Personally, I'd suggest that you might want to end the conversation somewhere around [4]. At that point, you would have already said that you didn't want to talk about it twice, which is more than a clear warning. At that point, I think something like, "As I said, I'm not comfortable talking about this. I think it's time for me to say goodnight now. I'll talk to you again [whenever that will be]."

I've had better luck with conversations with my parents that have ended that way than with ones that fall into the interrogation/denial death spiral. Also, this bit smacks of a bit of manipulation, it's something that's worked so I'll mention it anyway. I've noticed that my parents drastically eased up on mentioning what a nice boy my father's awful friend's awful son is and how it's just shocking he's still single once I got into the habit of deflecting the first mention and going home fairly abruptly after the second time it came up. My point was that the price tag of hanging out with me for any meaningful amount of time was that they cut it out, and they seem to have gotten the message.

Also, for whatever it's worth, "trigger" seems perfectly reasonable to use for your reaction to these conversations.
eselle28
eselle28
General Oversight Moderator

Posts : 1994
Reputation : 999
Join date : 2014-09-24

View user profile

Back to top Go down

[Adv] Deflecting parents and family members Empty Re: [Adv] Deflecting parents and family members

Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:30 pm

Well, that was...kind of a resolution....

Yeah, I got the call I was dreading today. It went approximately as expected: after the obligatory exchange of pleasantries and what's-new-since-not-even-a-week-ago, she mentioned she'd been thinking about "last time" and how it was weird and dumb (her words) of her to bring up grandchildren.

I laughed and said well, not dumb, but maybe kind of yeah, not really a realistic thing to think about. Because at this point I was foolishly thinking that she was trying to apologize and drop the subject.

She said, that was what she figured, but, she knows this is kind of weird too, but would I be too embarrassed or weird-ed out by the idea of a blind date?

Terribly inconsiderate of her, by the way, taking branches through a conversation tree I had absolutely no plot for.

So I was glad I had that tree in front of me. Because this isn't remotely what I was thinking when I considered the possibility of [4] happening, but [4] fit and so I used that response, verbatim.

And that was its own kind of awkward, probably because reading a prepared line from my screen resulted in a drastic upward shift in articulate enunciation. (Maybe also because I wrote that a little too formally.)

Well, whatever. She got the message, she backpedaled to [2], I gave another prepared statement, and then we made small talk for a bit.

I am now a very big fan of scripts.

Also, thanks, eselle—"interrogation/denial death spiral" is an excellent way to put it and I might even end up describing it that way if I'm asked to explain "why" this or that again. Heh. Going home won't really be an option until I have my driving license and a vehicle, but with luck that'll happen next month!
nearly_takuan
nearly_takuan

Posts : 1069
Reputation : 456
Join date : 2014-10-01

View user profile

Back to top Go down

[Adv] Deflecting parents and family members Empty Re: [Adv] Deflecting parents and family members

Post by eselle28 on Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:48 pm

I'm sorry you had that awkward conversation, but also really glad to hear that your mother seems to respond to scripts and that yours worked so well at getting the conversation back on track!
eselle28
eselle28
General Oversight Moderator

Posts : 1994
Reputation : 999
Join date : 2014-09-24

View user profile

Back to top Go down

[Adv] Deflecting parents and family members Empty Re: [Adv] Deflecting parents and family members

Post by Enail on Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:48 pm

Well done, Nearly_Takuan! It sounds like you handled that like a boss!
Enail
Enail
Admin

Posts : 3997
Reputation : 2214
Join date : 2014-09-22

View user profile

Back to top Go down

[Adv] Deflecting parents and family members Empty Re: [Adv] Deflecting parents and family members

Post by UristMcBunny on Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:18 pm

Very well handled! Especially considering the complete surprise stealth blind date offer. Yikes!

_________________
Some of you will know me as Bunny from the old forums.
UristMcBunny
UristMcBunny
Moderator of "Romantic and Sexual Relationships"

Posts : 371
Reputation : 116
Join date : 2014-09-24

View user profile http://uristmcdorf.tumblr.com/

Back to top Go down

[Adv] Deflecting parents and family members Empty Re: [Adv] Deflecting parents and family members

Post by Guest on Tue Oct 07, 2014 6:34 am

Adult Relationship With Parents: Achievement Unlocked!

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

[Adv] Deflecting parents and family members Empty Re: [Adv] Deflecting parents and family members

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum