Educating Family

I love my family. I love how they raised me, and I love how open minded they are. That doesn’t mean they never say cringe worthy things. And I can’t keep silent.

During dinner one day, my father was talking about how he got a delivery. And how the deliverer was a young woman in short skirt and high boots. You might know where this is going.

Why is someone who’s driving around the country for delivery dressed like that? What will people think?

Before I could think about how to explain it to him without shouting, my mother was there with, “Why wouldn’t she dress like that? Why do you care?” We had quite a long discussion about victim blaming. It was weird to tell a parent that he’s thinking the wrong way.

And it’s still easier than telling a grandparent that. One (luckily, just one of them) thinks that the newspapers are the One True Source of information. With my father, I can have a discussion without making him feel like I’m ripping up the family tree. My grandparent is of the Me Paterfamilias, You Listen persuasion. If you disagree with him, he’ll start talking louder and louder until you give up. And I still opened my mouth when he made another remark about “Those Foreigners.” It was pretty scary. And as it was during a family gathering, I had quite the audience. I knew that my grandfather was too old to have his mind changed, respect your elders, yada yada. I still did it. I asked him if he honestly believed that an entire people, for the sole reason of coming from another country, could be criminals, lazy, untrustworthy and so on. Some of my family members understood what I was doing. My grandfather didn’t. I’m his oldest granddaughter, I’m the journalist, he only picks up on things that he can claim as being part of his blood line and ignores everything else. It was frustrating. My grandmother made it a little bit less frustrating, putting her hand on mine and saying, “I know we live in a different world now. I understand.”

It’s not easy admitting to flaws in the thinking of your family members. It’s your nest, how does it reflect on you and do you need to actively change it, or do they get the “It’s family” jail-free card? No matter what, I’ll be the daughter/granddaughter/niece at the family meetings that will pipe up with a “Did you really just say that?” It’s just another part of me, and maybe some of the things I say will even stick.

Published by

freckle [M]

Freckle can't decide between writing fact or fiction, so she does both, on a very regular basis, and sometimes even for money.

10 thoughts on “Educating Family”

  1. My grandmother falls into this category. At 99 1/2, she says what she wants, and we let her. Mostly, my brother and i just make sure that our kids aren’t within ear shot when she gets on a roll. What’s weird is that my dad seems to think the older he gets, the more ridiculous he can get. He says stuff at 60-something he would have never had said at 30-something or while we were kids growing up. Like I said, it’s weird.

  2. My nuclear family is mostly on the same page, beliefs-wise, and the older generation is mostly gone or cut off, so I guess I’m in reasonable shape. I do get blindsided by some pretty gross relatives-of-friends, friends-of-relatives, etc. on the Facebook, though. It’s hard not to get into internet fights, but I try and respect other peoples’ Facebook walls and not take their dear old aunties to task. And some of my old high school friends I recently got back in touch with have surprised me with what seems to be newfound nastiness.

  3. My uncle is a nice enough guy, but very conservative AND very outspoken. I know my parents think he’s tedious, but I still feel bad for letting some of his comments go uncommented. Sometimes I’m just too stunned to think of a response in time.

  4. I think I’m of the opposite persuasion. I purposefully let most of the racism/classism/etc. go in my family. They’re older, set in their ways. I might calmly and quietly try and nudge them in the right direction because direct confrontation goes nowhere, but for the most part I have to let things go. I feel like at some point, some people really are just not capable of being empathetic or understanding of others until it directly affects them, and sometimes not even then.

    Of course, that related to the OLDER portion of my family. If one of my sisters did the same thing, all hell would break loose.

    And I do have my limits, as I think everyone should. I have completely cut people in my family off for being toxic to me. My brother who made very clear his disapproval of my relationship with my partner is not welcome at our home, and neither is his wife, who refuses to even look at my partner in the eye.

    I guess it all depends on the person/situation =)

Leave a Reply