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  #1  
Old Oct 25, '07, 10:13 am
ReConvert ReConvert is offline
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Default Setting Boundaries with Family

Hi all. A few days back I posted on some difficulties that I was having with some family.

Anyway, one poster pointed out that I had been allowing myself to be a victim. I realized that she was correct and that I have indeed been behaving like a doormat for most of my life.

So, I have decided to set some boundaries. Nothing crazy, just the following.

1) I'm not going to completely rearrange my life when mother or sister call and want me to do something. I usually cancel appointments/classes or other plans and then they'll change the plans again anyway. (Ex. sis was supposed to come up last Saturday to go to a family fun farm...so...I cancelled DD's dance class so we could join them. They changed the date to Sunday and messed me up) If we can get together with them without turning our lives around we'll do it, otherwise we will kindly decline.

2) I am going to be kind and loving. But I am not going to accept behaviour that is against my family's morals or that will hurt my children. Ie. my gay sister being affectionate with her 'spouse' in front of my children. My mother saying "she can't stand my children" in front of my children.

3) I'm not going to rely on my parents to help with things like babysitting my children or dogsitting when we go on holiday. They have proven to be unreliable because they will dump me if sis calls.

So, anyway...my mother calls this morning and wants to know if she is babysitting my children on Saturday. So I said, "Well, no, I've made arrangements for them because you didn't give me an answer as to whether or not you were going to babysit them." (She had been asked prior to me deciding to set some boundaries). She got mad, said "Fine. Bye." and hung up on me.

I guess I'm looking for anyone who has been in a situation similar to mine. I am wondering how long it takes to get through the initial difficult period of standing up for your family and the extended family having to get used to you not being a doormat anymore.

As for sis I am going to write her a loving letter explaining that I'd like them in our lives but that I do not feel comfortable with public displays of affection from them in front of my children. I hope that she can deal with that but I'm not overly optimistic. Any advice on this would be welcome too.

Thanks,
CC
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  #2  
Old Oct 25, '07, 10:43 am
kage_ar kage_ar is offline
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Default Re: Setting Boundaries with Family

My advice, the less ado the better.

When mom called about the sitting, my advice would have been to answer with a smile "Thank you for your offer, however, we have made other plans". No need to explain WHY you made other plans (could be seen by mom as a bit of turning the knife).

And I'd think twice about writing a letter to them stating that they are/are not allowed PDAs around you. Are we talking about a hug and kiss or holding hands in public? ETA - sorry, just re-read, you are speaking about a SSA sister and her partner. For that, deal directly with the sister, leave mom out of it.
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  #3  
Old Oct 25, '07, 10:55 am
1ke 1ke is offline
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Default Re: Setting Boundaries with Family

Just like with children, your mom and sis will test the boundaries. And, you just have to be a broken record. Don't give in, don't argue or "explain" yourself. You did it beautifully with the babysitting thing... you asked, she didn't reply, you made other arrangements. That's perfect-- that's the adult thing to do.

Your mom's passive-agressive behavior is classic. You stand up for yourself, she hangs up. The expectation on her part is that you will call her back groveling for forgiveness and beg her to babysit. Well, you just ignore her.

Eventually she'll quit her BS or she won't-- but meanwhile you are enjoying your life.

So, just be CONSISTENT and don't backtrack any ground you gain.

And, frankly, they may never "get over" it-- because they take JOY in their manipulating ways.
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ke's universal disclaimer: In my posts, when I post about marriage, canon law, or sacraments I am talking about Latin Rite only, not the Orthodox and Eastern Rites. These are exceptions that confuse the issue and I am not talking about those.
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  #4  
Old Oct 25, '07, 12:23 pm
ReConvert ReConvert is offline
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Default Re: Setting Boundaries with Family

Thank you both for your posts.

As for sister, I will definitely leave my parents out of that. And yes, I am only asking for no affection because of the Same Sex issue. Lately there has been kissing right in front of my kids.

Any suggestions as to the content of the letter for sister? I do not want to do this in person or over the phone as I think it would get blown up into one of those 'everything you ever did' fights. Also, I'd be able to say my bit as lovingly as possible without stumbling over my own tongue. And it would give sis time to digest and think about it.

I do hope that as time goes on they can accept what we have decided as a family and not continue the passive-aggressive behaviour. Anyone out there who's btdt? I know I have to stick to this, if only to protect our children.

Thanks,
CC
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  #5  
Old Oct 25, '07, 2:03 pm
1ke 1ke is offline
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Default Re: Setting Boundaries with Family

For the letter, I would just stick to the facts.

Reiterate you love her and want to welcome her into your home, but that she knows what the Church teaches about same sex relationships and you concur with the Church. To that extent, in your home and in front of your children you must insist on the following ground rules or boundaries or whatever you want to call them... then list the boundaries.

I like what you said that you hope they "can accept what we have decided as a family". Don't leave it open to negotiation, this is how you've decided to raise your family. If she does not agree to abide by these guidelines then you will have to limit contact to adult-only.
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ke's universal disclaimer: In my posts, when I post about marriage, canon law, or sacraments I am talking about Latin Rite only, not the Orthodox and Eastern Rites. These are exceptions that confuse the issue and I am not talking about those.
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  #6  
Old Oct 25, '07, 2:09 pm
OutinChgoburbs OutinChgoburbs is offline
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Default Re: Setting Boundaries with Family

What they said. You have a really good first start!
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  #7  
Old Oct 25, '07, 4:05 pm
ReConvert ReConvert is offline
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Default Re: Setting Boundaries with Family

Thanks everyone for your replies. I really appreciate the feedback and help with this.

CC
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  #8  
Old Oct 25, '07, 6:32 pm
ThyKingdomCome ThyKingdomCome is offline
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Default Re: Setting Boundaries with Family

One other suggestion for the letter:
I respect your right to make your own decisions. I hope you can understand my need to stand by my beliefs as well.

BTW, good job so far with the boundaries!
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  #9  
Old Oct 25, '07, 7:18 pm
Jay2 Jay2 is offline
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Default Re: Setting Boundaries with Family

Quote:
So, anyway...my mother calls this morning and wants to know if she is babysitting my children on Saturday. So I said, "Well, no, I've made arrangements for them because you didn't give me an answer as to whether or not you were going to babysit them."
You have NO reason for regret, or feeling "bad" about the hangup your mom gave. You gave a very polite, and definitive reason for your decision.... accountability!
You did not receive a call-back/confirmation. In response (or lack of) you made other plans.

Congratulations on discovering the most powerful word in the language.... NO When justified, there should be no regret in saying "no".

This is a good 1st step. You're not only changing yourself (the easiest part), but you're also doing "behavior modification" to your family as well.... just go gently with this.
I'll assume that up until now, the family could call at the drop of a hat and you'd re-arrange your life to accomodate their request....? "Oh, just call Suzie... she'll do it"... "Oh, she won't mind...".
Being nice, accomodating, or courteous is one thing.... being a doormat is another!

doormat
Main Entry: door·mat
Pronunciation: \-ˌmat\
Function: noun
Date: 1665
1 : a mat placed before or inside a door for wiping dirt from the shoes
2 : one that submits without protest to abuse or indignities
3 : a team that regularly finishes last
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  #10  
Old Oct 25, '07, 9:04 pm
BlestOne BlestOne is offline
 
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Default Re: Setting Boundaries with Family

Just a suggestion... don't make it about SSA... make it about unmarried public displays of affection... would you allow a hetro sibling to be making out with opposite sex partner in front of your kids? I don't think you would be comfortable with that either. BTW... excellent the way you handled the babysitting thing.
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  #11  
Old Oct 25, '07, 9:53 pm
KCtheMommy KCtheMommy is offline
 
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Default Re: Setting Boundaries with Family

Wellllll MY side of the family is SO sick that I had to pretty much cut them out completely.


However, I think you are doing a fine job. We stepped down "in steps" to start too (it sure helps when you move out of state!) and while they are going to fight you with a whole BUNCH of drama and ignoring ... stay your course momma! You CAN do it.

If they say hurtful things to you simply reposnd with a "gee, that really hurts me when you say things like that." AND STOP. Don't say anything else! Just say that, even if they come back with the nastiest or most guilt-inducing things. Just keep saying that. Meanwhile, keep your foot down. So if you say "I am sorry that doesn't work for me" and they say "well your a selfish jerk and we can't BELIEVE you would try and make us conform to YOUR plans, like, who do YOU think YOU are?" Answer with "Wow, that really hurts my feelings when you say things like that." And leave it. Don't apologize, just say "I have to go now" if you are on the phone. Chances are very good they will apologize to you. If they don't apologize -- don't be upset, they are not used to the newer, stronger, you.

They will eventually. Apologize, AND respect you.

It's the same thing that happens to anyone who get's used to walking ALL OVER someone else. First they'll fight, then they'll realize that you DO have a backbone -- and feelings. HOPEFULLY respect will come. If not -- write them off -- you don't want your kids thinking you are a big ole' jellyfish do ya? Meaning do your obligatory holidays and what not, be polite but keep it short, simple and sweet, but just don't count on them.

Big Hugs Mama! Look at this like a "social experiment" and then report back what eventually happens ok? I pray it's some respect coming your way!
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  #12  
Old Oct 26, '07, 3:48 am
LSK LSK is offline
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Default Re: Setting Boundaries with Family

Quote:
Originally Posted by ReConvert View Post
Thank you both for your posts.

As for sister, I will definitely leave my parents out of that. And yes, I am only asking for no affection because of the Same Sex issue. Lately there has been kissing right in front of my kids.

Any suggestions as to the content of the letter for sister? I do not want to do this in person or over the phone as I think it would get blown up into one of those 'everything you ever did' fights. Also, I'd be able to say my bit as lovingly as possible without stumbling over my own tongue. And it would give sis time to digest and think about it.

I do hope that as time goes on they can accept what we have decided as a family and not continue the passive-aggressive behaviour. Anyone out there who's btdt? I know I have to stick to this, if only to protect our children.

Thanks,
CC
Oh golly - may I make a suggestion?

Write out what you want to say to her and then try and do it either in person or over the telephone. If she tries to take you off track, just repeat what you wrote.

Example:
"Susie, I want you to know that I love you and I will always love you. However, we have decided that we are not comfortable with your showing your partner physical affection while you are in our home. Please do not behave that way anymore. If you choose not to come here, or participate in activities here, I absolutely understand."

Susie: "How dare you! You are a bigot! You never liked me! You probably wish I was dead!"

You: "Susie, I want you to know that I love you and I will always love you. However, we have decided that we are not comfortable with your showing your partner physical affection while you are in our home. Please do not behave that way anymore. If you choose not to come here, or participate in activities here, I absolutely understand".

Susie: "BUT WHY???? I LOVE HER. She is my WIFE, my LIFE PARTNER....if you do not accept HER I will never speak to you AGAIN".

You: "Susie, I want you to know that I love you and I will always love you....." etc etc

I tell you - the problem with letter writing or email writing, especially in a dysfunctional family setting or with 'friends' who are into emotional blackmail is that they have 'proof' that they can wave around, pull out whenever they want to, rehash over and over again....while a face-to-face conversation, where you refuse to be pulled into weird directions and stick to the script, can only be gossiped about - and this is based on my personal experience.

I think you are very brave.....good for you.
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  #13  
Old Oct 26, '07, 5:51 am
lifeisbeautiful's Avatar
lifeisbeautiful lifeisbeautiful is offline
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Default Re: Setting Boundaries with Family

Quote:
Originally Posted by LSK View Post
I tell you - the problem with letter writing or email writing, especially in a dysfunctional family setting or with 'friends' who are into emotional blackmail is that they have 'proof' that they can wave around, pull out whenever they want to, rehash over and over again....while a face-to-face conversation, where you refuse to be pulled into weird directions and stick to the script, can only be gossiped about - and this is based on my personal experience.

I think you are very brave.....good for you.
I totally agree! I really think you should tell her verbally and not in written manner. I'm not sure if over the phone or in person, but I agree with not writing it out. If you say it she will get the message you are trying to give her, if you write it she'll get the message, but you can face the problems LSK mentioned above. Also, if you choose the wrong words she can manipulate what you wrote to have a different meaning, you know if you didn't mention a certain scenario etc, and then show you your letter to prove its what you said (or that you didn't say something else). KWIM?
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  #14  
Old Oct 26, '07, 9:09 am
texaspanda texaspanda is offline
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Default Re: Setting Boundaries with Family

It takes a long time to get over the guilt of defying family. I have had to be set to my rules for over 10 years now. My mother still makes small comments about my oldest being the favored one, which in the past I would have ignored but now I let her know she has offended me. It's hard. I just posted about this the other day. You need the warrior's prayer too!.

link to post that has the prayer in it
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  #15  
Old Oct 26, '07, 9:14 am
ReConvert ReConvert is offline
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Default Re: Setting Boundaries with Family

I can't believe the support and advice on these forums! Wonderful people here.

I agree that a face-to-face might be better but I gotta say that it scares me half to death! I'm obviously not good at confrontation given my 'doormat' label.

I really like the script that you have given me to work with. I think I'll tweak it and use that.

I'm not sure when to approach this with my sister because the next time I see her will likely be her birthday which is next weekend. I don't think it would be very kind to bring this up then. I know it'll hurt her no matter what I say.

If we go out for dinner we might be ok with no PDA's but if we're at my parents or here then that might not be the case. Should I leave the kids home with DH? He avoids sis like the plague anyway. They've always been on opposite ends of the spectrum and have never liked each other.

If I take the kids with me (if DH has to work) and there is a PDA situation do I deal with it right there regardless of the birthday?

Thanks,
CC
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