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When your core values are so different to those of your family


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#1 Relish*

Posted 12 December 2012 - 01:23 AM

Long story short, I grew up part of a conservative, catholic, farming family and have grown into a non-religious vegetarian lefty. Over the years I've butted heads with members of my family over various things, usually political or environmental issues, and I don't mind this - I actually enjoy a good heated debate and am not incapable of reflection when it's needed.
But lately I feel like my limits are being stretched, and I'm doubly aware of the examples being set for my now quite impressionable daughter. I honestly don't care about people disagreeing with me; I'm talking racist jokes at the Christmas dinner table, violently anti-refugee statements, blatant p*sstaking of vegetarianism (dad once tricked my then vegan DP into eating watermelon with his old butcher's knife), etc etc. I've asked Mum recently why she continues to support the catholic, church when she so vehemently disagrees with its handling of sex assault claims and she pursed her lips and told me it was all a but icky so she chooses not to think about it. I have also tried on several occasions to disclose my own.sexual assault and it's been repeatedly swept under the carpet... My family doesn't talk about 'that stuff'.

At the same time my parents,are great grandparents and have helped me so much especially since having children. I never went without and they are proud of me even though I have chosen a different path than one they would've chosen for me, inalmost every sense. I'm sure they respect me as their daughter, just not as a person :-( or at least that's how it feels. Has anyone else been in a situation like this? Do you just grin and bear it? Or is it a constant battle like this forever? I don't mind standing up for what I believe in, but it's bloody exhausting it's always against your own family.

Sorry for typos am on my phone and it's late and im tired!

#2 BadCat

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:24 AM

Take out the veg and the religion and that's pretty close to my own familly dynamic.  Racist jokes, diatribes against the refugees, slagging off gay people, all acceptable dinner conversation in my family.

I used to worry about how it would affect my kids but in the end they're my kids and they get the bulk of their attitudes and understanding of the world from DH and I.  Nowadays we just roll our eyes and the kids know that we don't share whatever view is being espoused.

As far as butting heads with them, I just don't bother any more.  They think I'm a PC weirdo (which is laughable) and I think they're a bunch of intolerant bogans.  I just grin and bear it while I try to move the conversation to more palatable waters.

#3 Fr0g

Posted 12 December 2012 - 06:33 AM

My siblings and I actually each come from different planets, from within different universes.

I have one brother who likes to throw out the bait - but that's all it is, bait - I'm tired of robust conversation with family which inevitably ends up with pursed lips and rolling eyes.

My thinking is; we're adults, we have had different experiences which have shaped our world views but at the end of the day - we're family. I avoid specific topics (drugs and suicide with Dad, refugees and boat people with my ex-army brother, religion & politics with my lawyer brother, pretty much everything is off topic with my biological mother except the weather etc).

Life is simple, ignorance is bliss, a moderate world view is safe and would you PLEASE pass the salt... original.gif


#4 Fyn Angelot

Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:01 AM

Somewhat similar, yes.  (Different flavours with my family and DH's).

I try to think of it like this.  Over time, DD is going to be exposed to the sorts of thinking I disagree with.  If she gets it from extended family, it's more likely that I will know about it and be able to reflect with her about what she's heard and why mum and dad disagree.  If she doesn't get it from family, it's more likely to be the school yard or random reading, and I won't necessarily have the same opportunity to respond.  So in a way, I feel it's "safer" and more controlled, and I don't necessarily feel that's entirely a bad thing.

I've mostly given up fighting and talk about superficial stuff.  It's just not worth it.  At least part of the answer, for me, has been to realise that I'm much more educated than my parents; if they had had the same opportunities for learning that I've had, I expect they'd be very different people.

#5 ekbaby

Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:02 AM

Sounds like my IL's. I don't initiate conversation on those topics that I know we are going to disagree on, but it's frustrating when all the other family members try to "bait" my DP. They find it amusing, but I don't think it's funny.

Differences of political opinion are fine, and I'm happy for my children to see that there are a range of opinions, but there are some things that I draw the line at- direct racism & homophobia being one. My FIL was once reading my DS a book and made comments to him about all the black characters are bludgers. That's just not on, it's not fair to use a 3yo to try and stir your adult daughter, and I won't cop my kid being told such hateful stuff. If that kind of stuff happens again and he doesn't stop, I will ask him to leave, or leave myself.

#6 niggles

Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:20 AM

I can relate somewhat Relish except that there is more of a critical mass of diverse thinking amongst my siblings. There are just some topics we avoid I guess in order to keep the peace somewhat but the reality is that between some family members there will always be an unbridgable gap. It's the elephant in the room.

I think you have to consider how important maintaining these relationships is and how much energy you can put into them. And become adept at changing the subject respectfully (with respect for yourself as well as for them I mean) and then talking about that with your children later if necessary.

The fact they are unavailable to you with regards to support for the abuse you've received must be especially hurtful. I hope that's something you've been able to talk through with a counsellor.

#7 Relish*

Posted 12 December 2012 - 01:37 PM

Thanks for the replies. I think the education thing is a really good point Ange, I know going to uni had such an impact on my ability to see things from a broader perspective, and in recognising the elements of my worldview that might be influencing my opinions. I know it's condescending but it makes me sad that my parents especially, have never learned this.

I made an off the cuff remark this morning (I'm staying at their place with the kids for a few days) about the Hey Dad guy - can't remember his name atm - and how sad it is knowing what we know now when we grew up watching the show, and Dad made a spitting comment like 'Pfft, you've got to wonder why it's taken this long to come out though, poor bloke'. It's these kinds of things that I find vile, to the point where if it was a friend making these kinds of statements around me, I'd distance myself from them. But because they're family, I don't.

I absolutely adored and idolised my father as a child, I think that's why I find his values and opinions, that are so different to those I look up to in a person now, so hard to accept.

#8 Quack Quack

Posted 12 December 2012 - 01:45 PM

I am like this with My brother, we have never openly Argued as adults... But still rarely speak.

We have no common ground at all, He is about as far away from me and my values as you can get, and is arrogant enough that when I try to make an advance of being friends, just kind of brushes me off.
Most of the time it doesn't bother me too much, but last year he had a brain tumor (thankfully is ok now) and it made me cry so much for the Brother I wish I had.  I think I was kind of mourning the loss of the brother I had when we were children rather than the arrogant prat I have now wink.gif

#9 Relish*

Posted 12 December 2012 - 01:48 PM

Niggles - thanks, yes it is hurtful but not surprising when you look at the culture that exists in my family. Even at the time (and it was many - 12? - years ago now) I knew it would never be something I could discuss openly with members of my family. Incidentally the family I've chosen - DP and his family - and not at all like this and while they have their own little dysfunctional family quirks, are on the whole a very open, honest and supportive unit original.gif

#10 Relish*

Posted 12 December 2012 - 01:50 PM

QUOTE (5*little*ducks @ 12/12/2012, 11:45 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I am like this with My brother, we have never openly Argued as adults... But still rarely speak.

We have no common ground at all, He is about as far away from me and my values as you can get, and is arrogant enough that when I try to make an advance of being friends, just kind of brushes me off.
Most of the time it doesn't bother me too much, but last year he had a brain tumor (thankfully is ok now) and it made me cry so much for the Brother I wish I had.  I think I was kind of mourning the loss of the brother I had when we were children rather than the arrogant prat I have now wink.gif

Hah, yes, I think this sums up the feelings I'm trying to process now. It's an interesting take on it - perhaps I'd be more at peace if I let myself 'mourn' the Dad from my childhood and work on accepting and getting to know this one? Interesting.

#11 Ninja Lemur

Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:03 PM

QUOTE (Relish* @ 12/12/2012, 02:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I made an off the cuff remark this morning (I'm staying at their place with the kids for a few days) about the Hey Dad guy - can't remember his name atm - and how sad it is knowing what we know now when we grew up watching the show, and Dad made a spitting comment like 'Pfft, you've got to wonder why it's taken this long to come out though, poor bloke'. It's these kinds of things that I find vile, to the point where if it was a friend making these kinds of statements around me, I'd distance myself from them. But because they're family, I don't.


My family makes equivalent comments.  Especially my mother.  Given what happened to me as a child I find their lack of insight unbelievable.  Perhaps another case of being too uncomfortable with the truth.

#12 SeaPrincess

Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:03 PM

QUOTE (Relish* @ 11/12/2012, 11:23 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
dad once tricked my then vegan DP into eating watermelon with his old butcher's knife

Seriously, based on this, you'll probably never change the attitude of someone like that. I have a vegan cousin who prepares his own food at his mother's house because he is paranoid that someone will try to secretly feed him some animal product, yet nobody would ever dream of doing such a ridiculous thing!  The most mature thing you could do is try to explain to them that you feel disrespected by their ridiculing your decisions and values and by their attempts to ignore or deny your experiences, and that you don't want your daughter exposed to jokes that are in poor taste, racist or otherwise, but it doesn't sound as if they'll respond/react in the way that you want.



#13 Magnus

Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:16 PM

I remember reading this post on Offbeat Families once and I thought a lot of the advice posters gave was really good: http://offbeatfamilies.com/2012/07/family-visit-rules

#14 RealityBites

Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:26 PM

My family is the same although we also have deeper dysfunctional issues. Almost completely estranged, now.

#15 Froger

Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:31 PM

Your parents brought you up the best way they know how, trying to instill their values which they thought were best. Most likely it seems like a slap in the face to them, that you have rejected everything they hold dear, most especially their religion. In regards to their religion, meat eating and farming, I honestly think you need to be tolerant and loving. Catholicism of itself is not bad, and no doubt it is a great comfort to your family. A child changing or abandoning the religion of their parents can be something very personal and difficult for parents to get over.

To ask your parents to abandon their religion and meat eating is most likely very hurtful - especially given that you do seem to hold such strong feelings about the subject - which may come across as quite judgemental. No parent likes to be judged by their child - especially on something like religion which they had probably hoped that you would share.

As for using the butcher's knife to cut up the watermelon, I'm not sure that non-vegetarians would actually know this is something to not do when preparing a vegetarian meal. People often need to be told this sort of thing if a vegetarian is really strict about preparation surfaces and knives never having touched meat. I can see how a large knife that cuts up meat could easily also be the most suitable knife that a household has for cutting watermelon. It may be that you just have to bring your own food if they don't get it, or are unable to comply with your strict requirements.

As far as racism, it probably isn't any use arguing with older people. I don't see much point to it. And given that you disagree on so much else, it seems most likely they aren't going to be paying you much attention on this, apart from thinking you are just a joyless nag! Just stop arguing and trying to change relatives would be my advice. Go and see them, and just have a lovely visit hanging out with them, and avoid talking about subjects which will upset anyone. They aren't going to change. You aren't going to change. So just try to love them the way they are, and enjoy their company, as I'm sure they love you, and that's the main thing.

As I said, it's really really hard for parents to see their children abandoning their values. And its really really annoying for parents to have children nagging them to change their most valued ways of life and religion. So just try and be nice.  original.gif

#16 steppy

Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:37 PM

QUOTE (SarahM72 @ 12/12/2012, 03:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
As for using the butcher's knife to cut up the watermelon, I'm not sure that non-vegetarians would actually know this is something to not do when preparing a vegetarian meal. People often need to be told this sort of thing if a vegetarian is really strict about preparation surfaces and knives never having touched meat. I can see how a large knife that cuts up meat could easily also be the most suitable knife that a household has for cutting watermelon. It may be that you just have to bring your own food if they don't get it, or are unable to comply with your strict requirements.


I prepare meals for vegetarians all the time and this has never come up. If a vegan or vegetarian DID expect this I would ask them to bring their own cutlery, plates etc as there is fat chance anything in my house hasn't touched meat at some point. People really have to look after themselves for the requests that are out there.

#17 Relish*

Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:50 PM

That link is great Magnus, thanks.

I don't expect my family to convert to vegetarianism, or abandon their religion, I have no idea where that assumption came from. I only expect them to respect my decisions and choices, and I'm expected to respect theirs. I'm very disappointed SarahM72 that you seem to think I am not 'nice' to my family - perhaps this is an assumption you've incorrectly made based on my posts or an error I've made in communicating how I feel about this.

The butcher's knife thing - we don't expect a never-used-to-cut-meat-before knife every time we cut something (thought this might have been implied?), but to convince DP to use it and then laugh about how many animals were slaughtered using that knife, is just mean spirited, and I was mortified.

I understand I'm supposed to just put up and shut up, but in many ways I find this soul-destroyingly difficult; I was only wondering how people deal with similar situations.

#18 YodaTheWrinkledOne

Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:53 PM

QUOTE (SarahM72 @ 12/12/2012, 02:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
As for using the butcher's knife to cut up the watermelon, I'm not sure that non-vegetarians would actually know this is something to not do when preparing a vegetarian meal. People often need to be told this sort of thing if a vegetarian is really strict about preparation surfaces and knives never having touched meat. I can see how a large knife that cuts up meat could easily also be the most suitable knife that a household has for cutting watermelon. It may be that you just have to bring your own food if they don't get it, or are unable to comply with your strict requirements.

When I read the OP, I freaked a little that I may have inadvertently offended some of my vego/vegan friends by just using any old knife, fork, spoon.

QUOTE (SarahM72 @ 12/12/2012, 02:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Just stop arguing and trying to change relatives would be my advice. Go and see them, and just have a lovely visit hanging out with them, and avoid talking about subjects which will upset anyone. They aren't going to change. You aren't going to change. So just try to love them the way they are, and enjoy their company, as I'm sure they love you, and that's the main thing.

As I said, it's really really hard for parents to see their children abandoning their values. And its really really annoying for parents to have children nagging them to change their most valued ways of life and religion. So just try and be nice.  original.gif

agree with this.


#19 YodaTheWrinkledOne

Posted 12 December 2012 - 02:57 PM

QUOTE (Relish* @ 12/12/2012, 02:50 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The butcher's knife thing - we don't expect a never-used-to-cut-meat-before knife every time we cut something (thought this might have been implied?), but to convince DP to use it and then laugh about how many animals were slaughtered using that knife, is just mean spirited, and I was mortified.

I agree.  I'd be horrified at their deliberate sensitivity as well.  That isn't very friendly or polite.

QUOTE (Relish* @ 12/12/2012, 02:50 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I understand I'm supposed to just put up and shut up, but in many ways I find this soul-destroyingly difficult; I was only wondering how people deal with similar situations.

Your parents are more than the issues that you clash on.  Find the other stuff and focus on that.  If their heart is in the right place and they love and support you and your family, it's much easier to let go of the differences and conflicts.

#20 Froger

Posted 12 December 2012 - 03:03 PM

QUOTE (Relish* @ 12/12/2012, 02:50 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
That link is great Magnus, thanks.

I don't expect my family to convert to vegetarianism, or abandon their religion, I have no idea where that assumption came from. I only expect them to respect my decisions and choices, and I'm expected to respect theirs. I'm very disappointed SarahM72 that you seem to think I am not 'nice' to my family - perhaps this is an assumption you've incorrectly made based on my posts or an error I've made in communicating how I feel about this.

The butcher's knife thing - we don't expect a never-used-to-cut-meat-before knife every time we cut something (thought this might have been implied?), but to convince DP to use it and then laugh about how many animals were slaughtered using that knife, is just mean spirited, and I was mortified.

I understand I'm supposed to just put up and shut up, but in many ways I find this soul-destroyingly difficult; I was only wondering how people deal with similar situations.

Sorry if I misjudged, but you did say you asked your mum how she could still support the Catholic Church. Honestly, if I was a parent, I would feel very judged about a comment like this, and get very defensive. I don't like my children to instruct me about how to live my life, or ask me questions that I would take to be exceptionally judgmental about my religion or way of life in general.


#21 Relish*

Posted 12 December 2012 - 03:18 PM

Fair enough, maybe she did feel like that. I don't remember how the conversation went exactly, maybe I should let her know this wasn't what I was meaning.

Well isn't this dandy. Now I just feel sh*t that I had the audacity to get raped and not be tolerant when my family refused to acknowledge the fact. (I am mainly joking. Sort of.)

(I'll work on it.)

#22 NunSoFeral

Posted 12 December 2012 - 03:46 PM

QUOTE (Relish* @ 12/12/2012, 03:18 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Well isn't this dandy. Now I just feel sh*t that I had the audacity to get raped and not be tolerant when my family refused to acknowledge the fact. (I am mainly joking. Sort of.)

(I'll work on it.)


Relish - seems like more than a differences in life philosophy and core values.

If I were in this situation I would be feeling angry, ignored and betrayed.

Those feelings would also be the lens through which all family interactions would be filtered.

Such a load, Relish, and so unfair.

To paraphrase - such tremendous insult to a horrific injury.

"that stuff" - jeez.

sad.gif

in the context of this above, I think you are doing incredibly well to be speaking to them at all.



#23 FearsomeFeralFreak

Posted 12 December 2012 - 03:51 PM

This is my family too in a way but without the religion.
My family are hard-core right-wing people in every way and are generally lacking in any type of compassion.
They hate refugees, are anti any type of support for those less fortunate, honestly believe that rich people are better and more deserving.
If they were American they would be tea party through and through.

Its difficult. Thank god for the kids or we would have nothing to talk about!
That said we rarely see them. They are not interested and frankly neither are we.


#24 Relish*

Posted 12 December 2012 - 03:54 PM

Rightly or wrongly, I accepted (to an extent, doesnt mean it doesn't suck) long ago that my family wouldn't be comfortable discussing certain things. I was referring to the suggestion that I had obviously disappointed my family and am just not being nice.

You're probably right about my seeming acceptance of their elective ignorance being a filter for any clashes, though.

#25 steppy

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:00 PM

QUOTE (Relish* @ 12/12/2012, 03:50 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The butcher's knife thing - we don't expect a never-used-to-cut-meat-before knife every time we cut something (thought this might have been implied?), but to convince DP to use it and then laugh about how many animals were slaughtered using that knife, is just mean spirited, and I was mortified.

Ah I see. Yes it is something better left unsaid. It definitely sounds like he was needling your DP.




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