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.