Fraternally correcting a parent?

Good evening.

Let me start off by stating I’m in my mid 20’s, and for the past few months I’ve been living back at home with my parents for financial reasons with all this coronavirus stuff going on.

With that lens in place, I ask this question: At what point is it appropriate to fraternally correct a parent vs when it disrupts the command to “honor your father and mother”?

The specific situation is my youngest brother is in his early teens. Per the usual for teens, he has spazzy energy and gets really excited about odd things–in his case retro games, old computer operating systems, you name it. Essentially he’s a nerd, but that’s pretty typical for my family lol. Anyways, it’s quite common for him to start babbling on about some random facts he’s learned for the day, and I’ll admit, sometimes my brain accidentally tunes him out. But I do try to engage in what interests him when he wants to talk to me about it. Likewise, he of course loves sharing these things he’s learned with our parents as well. But I’ve noticed my dad, every time my brother starts explaining these facts he’s learned, will just reply, “Yeah, sure, whatever, I don’t care.” My dad always “laughs it off” after the fact, but it sure doesn’t seem like it’s really a joke. And remembering back to when I was a teenager, I know it would’ve REALLY hurt if I was explaining something I learned that excited me and I was just blown off. Anyways, tl;dr, I don’t know if there’s a charitable way I could bring up to my dad that it’s really not a cool way to handle being disinterested in what my brother has to say. Like I said, I don’t want to overstep my boundaries, but this has really been wrenching at my heart. Any advice would be appreciated!

God bless.

Oh I would definitely talk to him!! I’d say hey dad I’m sure you don’t even think that it would hurt my brother’s feelings but I think it does. I just wanted to let you know because I know you wouldn’t intentionally want to make him feel bad.

Something along those lines. There’s nothing wrong with mentioning something in a kind way. Especially because what you say to your dad could help him to have a better relationship with your brother :slight_smile:

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I wouldn’t say anything. I’d let your parents parent their children . When you have kids, enjoy employing all of your standards to your own family. I’d say your parents are doing well. If they are caring and nice enough to offer a roof and shelter and love to thier kids no matter their age.

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You could kindly take your dad aside and gently tell him that it hurts your brother’s feelings to be dismissed that way. Your dad may or may not take your advice on this, but at least you have tried.

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I agree with this.

My husband and I have been married for 41 years today, and we have raised two daughters.

There are “understandings” between children and parents. A parent may behave a certain way, or say a certain response, around one child, that they never do or say around another child.

Both the parent and the child understand that the response or behavior is not a sign of a lack of love, but just the opposite. It’s like a secret code, or maybe a private joke, between the two of them.

Chances are good that back when your brother was growing up, something happened, and now your dad always says his comment (that you think is hurtful), and your brother always reacts the same way, and it’s understood between the two of them.

Don’t ask–there’s a good chance that neither the parent or the child remembers the exact time when they started playing the little game!

My husband and I have different ways of acting, different terms of endearment, different greeting rituals and other behavioral “rituals,” etc. that we do with each of our two daughters. There is no love lost between all of us, but we just express it differently with each other, and it goes way back to their infant years.

It’s possible that sometime in the future, your brother will suddenly speak up and tell his dad to STOP saying that comment and NEVER say it again! Or Dad may suddenly come to a realization that he should find a way to address his son that sounds more respectful to other people who are listening (like you).

But let them work that all out themselves.

It might be easier for you to understand what I’m saying if you consider how your mother and father interact. They probably have certain phrases (like “you old fool!”–remember Grandma on “The Waltons” addressing her beloved husband?) that sound hateful, but are definitely not hateful.

Or maybe there’s an exchange on a regular basis between the two parents that sounds like an argument to a listener; e.g., “Let’s go to Joes’ for breakfast.” “You ALWAYS want to go to Joe’s! Let’s go somewhere else.” “I like Joe’s.” “OK, we’ll go to Joe’s.”

It’s not an argument at all, it’s a ritual, and it tells each participant, “I love you.” Yes, it does.

Or in some families, siblings have certain greeting rituals, e.g., a grown up brother always greets his brother by giving him a “wet willy,” or fake-punching him in the stomach and say, “You’re gettin’ soft, buddy!”

Again, it’s their special ritual that assures them that they love each other.
I hope this is helpful. Take a look at your own life and relationships, and see if there aren’t some of these “rituals” between you and those you love.

What does your brother do and say after your dad responds like that?

Is your brother on the autism spectrum? That’s apparently an indicator: being unable to tell when you’re droning on about something the other person isn’t interested in.

But I’d also echo the other posters: maybe this is just a running joke between your dad and brother?

This.

OP, has your brother told you it hurts his feelings or are you just reading into it because that’s how you would feel?

So, you are saying this didn’t happen to you then. Perhaps it is as others have suggested. Your dad may be able to read his children and know how to respond. It isn’t the same for every child, even when they are grown.

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My brother seems kinda defeated whenever my dad makes this response. Like he’ll heavy sigh and just stop talking about whatever topic he was on about. I do think my dad INTENDS it to be a joke, but it doesn’t land that way.

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He’s not diagnosed on the spectrum, however, I personally think he may have ADHD or ADD :woman_shrugging: I’ve mentioned it to my mom in the past, but once again, not really my place cuz I’m not the parent

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If it upsets your brother, maybe you could encourage him to tell your dad about it?

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Thanks for everyone’s points. I don’t want to step on my parents’ toes for sure, which is why I haven’t jumped right in and talked to my dad about it. I do think my dad is intending the comment as a joke since it’s always the same, BUT my brother definitely doesn’t seem to be taking it as one. He’ll kinda heavy sigh and just stop talking about the topic, which to me isn’t a great sign. But maybe I could speak to my brother about it instead. I’ll definitely reflect on all this because people on both sides made really good points. Thanks for the responses.

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Good idea!! Then he could talk to your dad if it bothers him a lot :slight_smile: it is very nice how concerned you are for him and I think he will appreciate that!

If your brother doesn’t seem to be picking up that vintage video games aren’t of interest to your dad, maybe you could (gently) try to get that point across to him and point him towards places where people do like to discuss that stuff? There have to be web forums for that kind of thing.

I mean, I agree that your dad shouldn’t be a jerk about it, but it’s also important that your brother learns to read social cues a bit. You can’t launch into a 20 minute monologue about something that the other person doesn’t follow/isn’t interested in.

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I have seven kids. One of them is always talking about something that interests them. While I love them, I care for their interests maybe I just can’t be excited all the time. Maybe I just can’t get into which marvel character’s origin story is the most true to the comics, or which Star Wars director was best.
Part of a parental duty is to help a child be ready for the real world and I can imagine the lesson might need to be taught to pay attention to social cues when you are becoming annoying. It’s kinda your dad’s job, to safely and lovingly steer the child to a social norm. And it’s really out of place and not helpful to have aN older child move back in and criticize the situation.
Just some things to think about

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I sure agree with this.

And what’s funny is when the children grow up, they begin giving off “Mom! Don’t say that!” vibes when we (their parents) become annoying in our conversation or actions!

E.g., when their dad hears something on the news and then starts singing some song that was popular when we were teens in the 1970s (e.g. “One Tin Soldier”)-boy, does that get the ol’ stink eye from our daughters!

But yes, I agree, it’s appropriate for parents to try to train their children and teens on good social skills, although I think that Dad is probably not succeeding in this with the OP’s brother. Maybe it’s time for him to try another approach.

I’d definitely suggest doing this, before any conversation with your dad, for sure.

I know my older sister was always over-sensitive (from my perspective) about how our parents spoke to me. I’m not saying there was never friction, but I was able to cope with more than she thought I could (and my tolerance for ‘shut-downs’ was higher than hers apparently was, and I actually appreciated my parents’ helpfulness at identifying boundaries for me so that I wouldn’t accidentally cross them with others).

The fact that your brother simply stops talking when your father cues him to, could just be your brother realizing your dad is right and it’s time to shush. He may not feel as hurt by this as you feel you would in his shoes.

And as other commenters have mentioned, it could also be helpful for your brother to learn to seek a more suitable audience for his video game conversations. Not all parents/children/siblings/friends/coworkers are the right audience for every conversation. Part of growing up is learning to not put it onto other people to always respond the way we want them to respond to things.

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I say, OP, something to bear in mind for the future if you ever write on a mainly UK board - don’t go using that word ‘spazzy’ It’s very much frowned on in the UK as it’s seen to be derived from ‘spastic’ and is definitely not politically correct.

Tbh, I nearly gasped when I saw it in your post. It’s acceptable in the US I take it, doesn’t have the same history then?

More associated in the US with nerdiness/social awkwardness.

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Oh wow, it’s definitely not associated with that in the US, or at least not the area of the US I’m from anyways! Like another commenter mentioned, it’s more associated with nerdiness/social awkwardness and is used as a synonym to “hyper” in that context. But I will definitely bear that in mind when posting on international forums!! Had no clue.

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