Difficult relatives

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  • My mother in law buys my sister in law and I a top every year. She buys the same size, she is very small and I am , how shall we say it, a lot larger. MIL picks a size in the middle that fits neither of us. After 20 years I laugh it off, but it was not easy in the beginning.
  • My mother in law buys my sister in law and I a top every year. She buys the same size, she is very small and I am , how shall we say it, a lot larger. MIL picks a size in the middle that fits neither of us. After 20 years I laugh it off, but it was not easy in the beginning.

    Sorry EB, I had to laugh at that one.

    My late MiL used to buy her daughters (3), step-daughters (3) and DiL (1) the same present every year. Usually clothing and rarely in the correct size for the recipient it was, said the other half, completely democratic in that it was guaranteed to be in a style that suited none of them and invariably each got the colour which did the least for them :grimace:
  • HuiaHuia Shipmate
    The Organist - that takes a particular skill - or bloody mindedness.
  • la vie en rougela vie en rouge Circus Host, 8th Day Host
    Difficult Relatives have come to stay (mercifully, these days we make them stay at the hotel and not in our house because having them around 24/7 is likely to result in homicide).

    So far in less than two days: they have complained about the hotel we booked for them. I mean, of course they complained about the hotel, because the room is too small (yes, that’s what hotel rooms in Paris are like if you don’t want to pay €250 a night) and there’s nowhere to unpack your undies so they have to stay in the suitcase. Never mind that they would have to had to live out of the suitcase if they’d been staying in the apartment as well.

    For New Year’s celebratory catering, husband en rouge spends hours preparing a very delicious venison casserole. They eat two spoonfuls of it and declare that their digestion can’t handle a lot of rich food. This is not true. I have seen the meals they eat at home and they are both solid trencherpeople (this is the house where a bottomless-stomached teenager was once heard to ask “when do we stop eating?”).

    Last night husband en rouge makes soup (because of the earlier whingeing about rich food) and accidentally puts in too much pepper. Knowing that Difficult Relative dislikes peppery food, he asks her to taste it and tell him if it’s ok for her. She tastes it and says she doesn’t mind. We sit down at the table and then she makes a massive scene about how it’s too peppery and it stings her throat and she needs a glass of water and she can’t eat it. And husband en rouge goes off to the kitchen to get her something else which she makes a great fuss about accepting. Personally I would have left her to go hungry but he’s a more patient person than me.

    I think what really winds me up about this is the family dynamics that have never confronted the bad behaviour in fifty years because appeasement is supposedly easier. Unfortunately I think the horse has rather bolted on that front and it’s not going to get any better with old age.

    I have never been more pleased to go back to work.
  • Appeasement is always easier. Kick the can down the road long enough, and either they die, or you do.
  • TheOrganistTheOrganist Shipmate
    edited January 2019
    Lord, LVeR, you have my sympathy.

    I'd say the only approach with people like this is to carry on with food, activities, etc, that you would if they weren't around: since they're going to moan anyway, you might as well do something you enjoy and just concentrate on filtering out the sniping.

    (Love the bit about the underwear-in-suitcase problem and the size of hotel room: one of my DRs once picked a row because the room in which they were sleeping was the wrong shape... :grey_question: )
  • You guys make me all so effing grateful....
  • The Organist - invariably each got the colour which did the least for them. My mother used to buy me clothes in colours I disliked on the basis that my wardrobe was full of clothes in colours I liked and which I thought suited me. By buying clothes in colours which I disliked and thought unflattering, she said that was giving me a chance to ring the changes.
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    Lord, LVeR, you have my sympathy.

    I'd say the only approach with people like this is to carry on with food, activities, etc, that you would if they weren't around: since they're going to moan anyway, you might as well do something you enjoy and just concentrate on filtering out the sniping.

    (Love the bit about the underwear-in-suitcase problem and the size of hotel room: one of my DRs once picked a row because the room in which they were sleeping was the wrong shape... :grey_question: )

    Feng shui? :smirk:
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    My late MiL used to buy her daughters (3), step-daughters (3) and DiL (1) the same present every year. Usually clothing and rarely in the correct size for the recipient it was, said the other half, completely democratic in that it was guaranteed to be in a style that suited none of them and invariably each got the colour which did the least for them :grimace:

    But she did treat them equally, no preference for her natural daughters.
  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    edited January 2019
    Re Paris hotel room and feng shui ;) :

    These may be of help.

    "Travel and Hotel Room Feng Shui" (Red Lotus Letter).
    Lots of tips--even instructions for making a kit. LVeR: if you have to deal with these folks and a similar situation again, might be worth it to make a small kit for them and include a copy of the page. Might shut them up--for a bit, at least.

    FWIW, YMMV.

  • Lyda wrote: »
    Lord, LVeR, you have my sympathy.

    I'd say the only approach with people like this is to carry on with food, activities, etc, that you would if they weren't around: since they're going to moan anyway, you might as well do something you enjoy and just concentrate on filtering out the sniping.

    (Love the bit about the underwear-in-suitcase problem and the size of hotel room: one of my DRs once picked a row because the room in which they were sleeping was the wrong shape... :grey_question: )

    Feng shui? :smirk:

    No. Sheer Bloodymindedness and a desire to be as unpleasant as possible.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    My late MiL used to buy her daughters (3), step-daughters (3) and DiL (1) the same present every year. Usually clothing and rarely in the correct size for the recipient it was, said the other half, completely democratic in that it was guaranteed to be in a style that suited none of them and invariably each got the colour which did the least for them :grimace:

    But she did treat them equally, no preference for her natural daughters.

    Yeeees - but then she loathed one of them, cordially disliked a second and just about tolerated the third... She actually rather liked her DiL...
  • Wow! This thread was on page 3!

    Not so much a "difficult relative" but a "what would your church have done?"

    Many years ago, one set of relatives left the Church of Scotland over a single incident. The North East Man and I had nothing to do with the incident (we were part of a different congregation in a different part of Scotland) but because we are not only members, but elders of the CofS, we get sniped at annually as though we in some way bear some responsibility.

    By way of background, the family concerned were regular attenders and active members of their congregation when their children were small. This dropped off when the children were in their teens and had other commitments and interests. Parents continued to attend after the children were adults, although they were less involved.

    One adult child had arranged to meet the parents at the Watchnight Service, after a night out with friends, and turned up drunk, loud and sweary. They were "thrown out" during the service. (I assume the adult child was thrown out, and the parents opted to leave at the same time, rather than that the whole family were ejected.)

    The parents were mortified and never went back to that church - they did eventually start going to a different, non-C of S church.

    What would your church do if someone - not a random by any means, but the non-attending adult child of attenders - turned up drunk and swearing at the Watchnight service? Would your church be able to avoid the parents' feeling that they had been publicly humiliated?

    I'm fed up with my difficult relative sneering at our involvement with the Cof S each Christmas, but I wonder if their church did let the family down?
  • Were they swearing at people, or just sweary ?
  • No idea. We weren't there. We've only heard their side of it. All we were told was "had been drinking" but experience of the person when drunk leads us to assume "swearing" and "loud." They're quite sweary when sober, and more so with a drink in.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited December 2019
    I’d be surprised if a church chucked out a congregant, whether or not they were drunk, unless their conduct was disrupting the service.

    There’s a big difference between someone crying out a jolly but inebriated “Merry Fucking Christmas” to their folks before the service begins, and someone telling the world and his wife to fuck off whilst trying to neck all the wine in the chalice.

    If you really want to know, I’d be inclined to ask them which side of the line the situation fell.
  • I've no doubt their behaviour was bad. I've seen them drunk and it wasn't a pretty sight. I'm just wondering how other churches would have dealt with this, to avoid the whole family leaving the church.

    This year the sneery remarks about us being elders were also made to our son, and I'm fed up. The comments are along the lines that the North East Man and I would have been amongst the Pharisees who accused Jesus of being a wine bibber, that we (along with the rest of the Church of Scotland) don't understand Jesus message of inclusion etc etc. Totally unfair as we were a hundred miles away at the time of the incident and not involved in any way whatsoever, but apparently guilty by association because we're still members of the CofS.

    I do wonder if their church could have done anything differently? How do other churches deal with Watchnight drunks?
  • Haven’t had to deal with it here. But many years ago I was on the staff of a large downtown Presbyterian church in Chicago. I was on the homeless programme staff, and at watchnight one of us would be scheduled to be in the narthex to cope with such emergencies: usually by quietly removing them from the service and if they were some of our clients, taking them downstairs to help them. But if they were not homeless or in obvious need, and often they were not, but straight from the bars etc. around, then we had to have a Quiet Word, and decide if it were wise to let them go back in. Not an easy call.
  • Well the vicar's comment was this year that he almost missed the drunk who did not turn up. We are in the middle of an area rich in night life but the big day is now the Friday before Christmas when my walk home had been through crowds of young people going from bar to bar and the streets were empty on Christmas eve with a few older revelers (think thirties and forties) dining out in the better class restaurants. Some of the younger orientated businesses had not even bothered opening. Closest we got was I think a homeless guy turning up to pray at about 1:15am when I went to shut the doors as the mass had finished at 12:30 a.m.. We automatically stayed open for another fifteen minutes as we try not to turn away someone who comes to pray.
  • We have Fire Extinguishers, which sounds nicer than bouncers. We don't see many drunks, but drug addicts are an increasing problem. We try to find somewhere quiet for them to sit, or if they find this unappealing, help them to the door if they still have the use of their feet. It's good to have a thriving downtown church, but we're approaching the point where we need proper training for this.
  • I can’t really think of a way of handling a loud and obnoxious drunk in public worship that would NOT have resulted in the drunk’s family feeling embarrassed—because the drunk is the one making the obvious public commotion, and it’s not easy to get such people to stop making a spectacle of themselves. Attempts to ease them into another room, out the door, etc are likely to be met with belligerence. I’m not sure Jesus himself could have done better without invoking miracle power. Of course the parents were embarrassed, but given that the family connection was so well known, I don’t see how to avoid them taking it personally either. But it is so unfair they blame you!

    The next time they start up, maybe you could pull out a notepad and a pencil and in all seriousness, ask them what the church should have done. “Calmed him down”—-well yes, but how? Drill for details and take notes but in a completely non-defensive manner, and if asked explain you need the information for future policy making in your roles. Drill until they either become helpful (finally being heard) or beg to change the subject out of embarrassment as they realize they are being unreasonable.This only works if you can stay entirely nondefensive and nonjudgmental, earnest and helpful.
    At the very least, it will get you off being harassed next year, for fear of a repeat.
  • Once we had to call police on large very drunk man with a knife who was threatening bodily harm to pastor and others who tried to came near him. Everyone gathered around his mother and offered her love and care and she remained in the church. I believe family also received follow up phone calls. Never hope to go through that again. Learning from that I would say care for the family at the time was important.
  • I used to be a bouncer (aka one of the blokes who hands out the hymn books) at my village parish church's Midnight Mass.

    Orders were strict. Nothing was to disrupt the service once it started. People were free to come in or leave during, but they had to be quiet and respectful. Otherwise they would be initially encouraged, and then persuaded, to leave. Being the Established Church, it is (still) a common-law offence to disrupt divine service.
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