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How have you dealt with disrespectful family members?


Unicorn
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Well, I can thank the Lord that I was brought up in an atheist family 😄 , but my partner was brought up in a highly religious family, with his mother's side being especially intolerant and self-righteous. When he came out to his family shortly after his 18th birthday (he knew he'd be sent to a forced "re-education" camp if he did so before the age of majority), he was kicked out of the house, and was couch surfing for a while before his father's parents took him in. With their help, he graduated from a university. He has maintained a cordial, albeit stiff relationship with his parents in the last several years. He doesn't criticize their religious views, and they keep quiet about his personal life.

When we came back from our Memorial Day trip, he received a 4-page letter from his maternal grandmother, who's in her mid 80s. He was very upset by the letter and tore it up. She told him he was a sinner who needed to repent, and she told him he was a "prodigal son." Not having gone to Bible school myself, the only time I'd heard the word "prodigal" was in the contexts such as "Boy, that sure was a prodigal spread at the wedding/party," so I assumed the word meant generous. I guess it can mean that, but I read the parable online, and found out that in the Biblical sense it means dissolute. 

I suggested his grandma might just be batty, and he should ignore her communications, but he continued to be very upset about it and 2 weeks later called his mother, asking her to call her mother and tell her not to communicate with him like that again, or he wouldn't go to her funeral. His mother was OK with that, and he hasn't received any communication from the old crone again. Have any of you had to deal with disrespectful family members? How have you dealt with them?

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1 hour ago, Unicorn said:

Well, I can thank the Lord that I was brought up in an atheist family 😄 , but my partner was brought up in a highly religious family, with his mother's side being especially intolerant and self-righteous. When he came out to his family shortly after his 18th birthday (he knew he'd be sent to a forced "re-education" camp if he did so before the age of majority), he was kicked out of the house, and was couch surfing for a while before his father's parents took him in. With their help, he graduated from a university. He has maintained a cordial, albeit stiff relationship with his parents in the last several years. He doesn't criticize their religious views, and they keep quiet about his personal life.

When we came back from our Memorial Day trip, he received a 4-page letter from his maternal grandmother, who's in her mid 80s. He was very upset by the letter and tore it up. She told him he was a sinner who needed to repent, and she told him he was a "prodigal son." Not having gone to Bible school myself, the only time I'd heard the word "prodigal" was in the contexts such as "Boy, that sure was a prodigal spread at the wedding/party," so I assumed the word meant generous. I guess it can mean that, but I read the parable online, and found out that in the Biblical sense it means dissolute. 

I suggested his grandma might just be batty, and he should ignore her communications, but he continued to be very upset about it and 2 weeks later called his mother, asking her to call her mother and tell her not to communicate with him like that again, or he wouldn't go to her funeral. His mother was OK with that, and he hasn't received any communication from the old crone again. Have any of you had to deal with disrespectful family members? How have you dealt with them?

I think 'prodigious' might be the word meaning generous or extensive, whereas a prodigal son or daughter is one who goes their own way, loses badly, and returns to their family empty, but is showered with grace upon their return to the 'fold'.  I imagine his grandma, as misinformed as she may be, is hoping he will one day change his ways and return to the 'fold'.  In the Bible story it is the other brother, who always did everything right, who is criticised and rebuked.  He resents that his father welcomes the wayward brother back with such generous and open arms.  It is a story about grace and receiving something good when we might not deserve it.

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I'm not sure if I'm somewhat blessed or if I'm just a bad person, but whenever I have had a falling-out with family members or those outside, they are just gone from my concern.  

I don't dwell on it or have any feelings of regret or loss, nor do I have any lingering anger or wont for retaliation.  My wife used to tell me that she just could not understand how I was able to randomly mentally and emotionally delete people from my life.  I, conversely, could never understand how people can maintain pseudo-cordiality with people they can't stand.

Had I received a letter from my maternal grandmother akin to the letter your partner received from his maternal grandmother, I would have probably used it to ignite the barbecue. 

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I continued to send mother's day, birthday, and Christmas cards to my disrespectful mother and brother from the time they found out I was gay in 2013. I always kept my distance and didn't say anything back that was disrespectful or hurtful, but also nothing that was of substance.  Just "enjoy your day".  I never received any cards or gift in return, just the occasional phone call of them ranting about me being a sinner.  Then in 2018 I couldn't stand the way they were treating my father, so I stopped sending the birthday, mother's day, and Christmas cards.  I haven't heard from them since, and the silence has been heavenly. Father is now with his new wife and we just had a pleasant Father's Day together.

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14 hours ago, Unicorn said:

Have any of you had to deal with disrespectful family members? How have you dealt with them?

Yes, my brother and his wife. They have never recognised my sexuality nor my young male partner. (Also my brother pressured my mother (then aged 95) to give him power of attorney and to alter her will and make him the sole beneficiary. She told me she didn’t know what papers she was signing as it was late afternoon and he'd taken her to a new law-firm.) So I decided not to bother with them anymore and I no longer interact with them. 
 

Oddly enough, my partner’s family is very religious and they are influential and highly regarded as evangelical Christians. They are aware of me and I am invited to family events. Even more oddly perhaps, his elderly grandmother thinks I’m wonderful and has told my partner how lucky he is to have found love with me!

 

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I haven't taken that kind of sh** from anyone since I was 18. 

When my stepmother was bad mouthing me at the Thanksgiving table, I told her to mind her own business since she raised a daughter and son to be thieves.  When she raised her hand to slap me, I stood up and told her I would beat the sh** out of her if she laid a hand on me.  (Anyone who knows me knows how uncharacteristic that is of me.  This was a truly horrible woman.)

Many years later, shortly before her death, when my father discussed them visiting me in California I told him point blank that at the first negative comment I would leave them on their own, wherever we were, and I wouldn't see them again the rest of the trip.  I told him to only make the travel plans if he knew he could convince her to not be her usually nasty self.

I came out while still in high school in the 1970s in a very small town in the midwest.  I'm not interested in allowing someone else's bigotry into my personal space.  I'd rather become estranged from family members if their thinking is so twisted that they think it's loving to insult and harass me. 

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12 minutes ago, maninsoma said:

I haven't taken that kind of sh** from anyone since I was 18. 

When my stepmother was bad mouthing me at the Thanksgiving table, I told her to mind her own business since she raised a daughter and son to be thieves.  When she raised her hand to slap me, I stood up and told her I would beat the sh** out of her if she laid a hand on me.  (Anyone who knows me knows how uncharacteristic that is of me.  This was a truly horrible woman.)

Many years later, shortly before her death, when my father discussed them visiting me in California I told him point blank that at the first negative comment I would leave them on their own, wherever we were, and I wouldn't see them again the rest of the trip.  I told him to only make the travel plans if he knew he could convince her to not be her usually nasty self.

I came out while still in high school in the 1970s in a very small town in the midwest.  I'm not interested in allowing someone else's bigotry into my personal space.  I'd rather become estranged from family members if their thinking is so twisted that they think it's loving to insult and harass me. 

I DO hope your father and yr stepmother respected you during that trip!

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35 minutes ago, Italiano said:

I DO hope your father and yr stepmother respected you during that trip!

Actually, she was uncharacteristically quiet which was fine with me.  She probably couldn't bring herself to be nice, so she said very little of note beyond acknowledging the natural beauty in the Bay Area and wine country in the north bay in particular. 

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20 hours ago, Unicorn said:

Well, I can thank the Lord that I was brought up in an atheist family 😄 , but my partner was brought up in a highly religious family, with his mother's side being especially intolerant and self-righteous. When he came out to his family shortly after his 18th birthday (he knew he'd be sent to a forced "re-education" camp if he did so before the age of majority), he was kicked out of the house, and was couch surfing for a while before his father's parents took him in. With their help, he graduated from a university. He has maintained a cordial, albeit stiff relationship with his parents in the last several years. He doesn't criticize their religious views, and they keep quiet about his personal life.

When we came back from our Memorial Day trip, he received a 4-page letter from his maternal grandmother, who's in her mid 80s. He was very upset by the letter and tore it up. She told him he was a sinner who needed to repent, and she told him he was a "prodigal son." Not having gone to Bible school myself, the only time I'd heard the word "prodigal" was in the contexts such as "Boy, that sure was a prodigal spread at the wedding/party," so I assumed the word meant generous. I guess it can mean that, but I read the parable online, and found out that in the Biblical sense it means dissolute. 

I suggested his grandma might just be batty, and he should ignore her communications, but he continued to be very upset about it and 2 weeks later called his mother, asking her to call her mother and tell her not to communicate with him like that again, or he wouldn't go to her funeral. His mother was OK with that, and he hasn't received any communication from the old crone again. Have any of you had to deal with disrespectful family members? How have you dealt with them?

I was raised as a Catholic, so I didn't understand that the reference to Bible School. Is it some place where people read the Bible together?

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I have never had any open criticism from family members, even though I have been openly gay since my early 20s. Although many family members, including my parents, were active church members, they belonged to relatively liberal mainline Protestant churches, and homosexuality wasn't a religious concern for them. I was probably also helped by family history: one of my father's most respected cousins had a male partner whom everyone in his family liked and accepted as part of the family. I don't know what I would have done if I had received open disrespect because of my sexuality from a family member--I probably would have simply cut off all contact with them.

My spouse came from a very religious Catholic family (his aunt was Mother Superior of an order of nuns), and he and his gay brother both waited until their father was dead and they were in their 30s to come out--even to one another. Their mother was always friendly with their partners, but never acknowledged the nature of the relationships. One of their straight brothers married an evangelical Protestant, who has always been clearly uncomfortable with her gay brothers-in-law and their partners, but she simply withdraws as much as possible from contact with us. We are very friendly with his other straight brother's children, and his niece told us that when they were teenagers, their parents sat them down and said, "We think you should understand that Uncle Joe and Charlie are not just roommates..." She said that she and her brother just rolled their eyes, and replied, "Oh, come on, Dad, we know they're gay. So what?!"

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1 hour ago, Charlie said:

"We think you should understand that Uncle Joe and Charlie are not just roommates..." She said that she and her brother just rolled their eyes, and replied, "Oh, come on, Dad, we know they're gay. So what?!"

:-) similar reaction from some of my nephews and nieces ...  when we married one of our nieces (who we've spent a lot of time parenting) pulled us aside and said "...  I'm so happy, it doesn't feel like my uncles are getting married, but my two Dad's are finally getting married..."    Her father and mother, on the other hand, didn't acknowledge our relationship and haven't spoken to us in decades...

 

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@Unicorn, I think that another parable perfectly aligns with this situation - the Good Samaritan.   It’s a story of religiosity vs true compassion.  At the end, knowing that the Samaritan was among the disdained in society by the righteous Jews, Jesus asks “now who was this man’s neighbor?”

I would also add that @MscleLovr’s experience is more representative of true Christian response.   For a Christian who believes that homosexual activity is wrong, a true Christian knows to separate the “sin” from the “person” and to love the person unconditionally.   Self righteous people who use scripture to divide are not the example that Jesus sought to affirm…otherwise he wouldn’t have hung out with fishers, tax collectors, and prostitutes.

Personally, I like @Vegas_nw1982’s response of continuing to send cards. It reflects a love response to hate…and if they don’t accept that example, then Romans 12:20 describes what happens.  

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I recently had a blow up with my sister over her stirring up s**t in the family & feeling disrespected by her. She also is very opinionated & purposely disagreeable with me on any number of things. I said some horrible things to her & I apologized to her for saying those things even though she triggers me so much. I promised myself that I won't allow her or anyone else to trigger me to say or behave in a way that is unacceptable to me. I still love her, but I recognize she has issues & stuck in her ways. I found it healthy to create some distance between us by not speaking as much & not expecting much more from her.

It always been difficult for me to handle family members who are disrespectful. My family is overall well meaning & loving, but I feel they regularly stress me out if I allow them to.  Aging parents has made the situation a bit worse 

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5 hours ago, BnaC said:

@Unicorn, I think that another parable perfectly aligns with this situation - the Good Samaritan.   It’s a story of religiosity vs true compassion.  At the end, knowing that the Samaritan was among the disdained in society by the righteous Jews, Jesus asks “now who was this man’s neighbor?”

I would also add that @MscleLovr’s experience is more representative of true Christian response.   For a Christian who believes that homosexual activity is wrong, a true Christian knows to separate the “sin” from the “person” and to love the person unconditionally.   Self righteous people who use scripture to divide are not the example that Jesus sought to affirm…otherwise he wouldn’t have hung out with fishers, tax collectors, and prostitutes.

Personally, I like @Vegas_nw1982’s response of continuing to send cards. It reflects a love response to hate…and if they don’t accept that example, then Romans 12:20 describes what happens.  

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3 hours ago, guy7777 said:

I recently had a blow up with my sister over her stirring up s**t in the family & feeling disrespected by her. She also is very opinionated & purposely disagreeable with me on any number of things. I said some horrible things to her & I apologized to her for saying those things even though she triggers me so much. I promised myself that I won't allow her or anyone else to trigger me to say or behave in a way that is unacceptable to me. I still love her, but I recognize she has issues & stuck in her ways. I found it healthy to create some distance between us by not speaking as much & not expecting much more from her.

It always been difficult for me to handle family members who are disrespectful. My family is overall well meaning & loving, but I feel they regularly stress me out if I allow them to.  Aging parents has made the situation a bit worse 

I am sorry to hear that you had to experience this behavior. People will say hurtful things to their closest family, things they won’t say to absolute strangers. That has always surprised me. 
 

My family hasn’t been this bad. I could claim that it is because I am so fabulous (of course I am!), but it is mainly because they believe I am rich and they hope to inherit when my wicked ways finally do me in.   If only they knew I plan to spend it all before I go, on boys and booze!! 😆

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Moderator's Note

Gentlemen, please consider any discussion of the role of religion in how people treat LGBTI family members as now being closed and confine your comments to what your experiences have been. You can say there was a religious basis but not analyse it. Posts not doing so will be removed.

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I have two nephews. One is a sixty-year-old who is a devout card-carrying evangelical Christian while I on the other hand am a devout card-carrying atheist. We are actually quite fond of each other. Over the years we have learned to avoid discussing social issues about which we are in total disagreement. There are a multitude of other things which we can discuss openly and freely. We have great fun discussing his grandchildren, our various vacations, our gardening and what we are currently reading to name just a few topics. I also have a niece-in-law who is a political progressive while I am a political conservative. At family gathers we fight like cats and dogs, loving every minute of it while driving the rest of the family crazy. We absolutely adore each other and do NOT allow our political differences to get in the way of our love of each other. As a family we all get along well because we have, over the years, learned to be tolerant and accept each other as we are. My only sibling, an adored sister, who passed away two years ago was an absolute matriarch/monarch who would NOT tolerate family discord thus all fifty plus of us enjoy getting together as a family.

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5 hours ago, FrankR said:

I am sorry to hear that you had to experience this behavior. People will say hurtful things to their closest family, things they won’t say to absolute strangers. That has always surprised me. 
 

My family hasn’t been this bad. I could claim that it is because I am so fabulous (of course I am!), but it is mainly because they believe I am rich and they hope to inherit when my wicked ways finally do me in.   If only they knew I plan to spend it all before I go, on boys and booze!! 😆

Me too.  My kin are getting nuthin'.

 

That said, kudos to the above that have set clear limits.  Families don't change, yet it makes sense to set clear limits on their offending behavior so they'll at least get it.

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