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This is a toughie - can anyone help with this one?

 
 
Mame
 
Reply Sun 25 Feb, 2007 05:25 pm
This is from my daughter about her father-in-law. His wife died 4 days before Oliver was born, so he went through some pain of his own (aside from Ollie). They were married 35 years and she was a doll. He is, too, in that he means well, but he's the eldest of 10 and has 5 kids so he is a managing type of person. He has access to all the kids' bank accounts (except for my son-in-law's now) and the daughter (aged 24) doesn't even know how to open a bank account. He has given them advice on everything from a to z. He really does mean well, but he is always right. He knows the only realtor you should go to, the right insurance to buy, etc etc etc...

This is Denise's email outlining her frustration (I give you her words so you know exactly what bothers her about him and to give you an idea of who she is):

I know this is old news...but I just need to say how much of a "know it all" my father in law is! Most of the time, I dread his visits. I know he likely does this out of insecurity and a need to feel special but he can be so pushy with his ideas and ways. He needs to be right and have the last word. I must say that he is polite with me and does not do this behaviour with any amount of aggression but...I just can't seem to be able to tell him how much it bothers me when he talks non stop about himself and whatever he knows.

I have tried avoiding conversations with him, doing busy work around the house, not saying anything and nodding my head, contradicting him by giving him another point of view, giving Greg looks that say "I think I've had enough now", and whatever else I can come up with. I have a feeling that I come across as lukewarm towards him (which I don't want to be) and he may even wonder if he's done something to offend me. I know that a couple of times, he has asked Greg if I was OK and if he did anything to piss me off. (this was after playing a card game of some sort where he spent half the time telling everyone what cards they should have played and why).

I can't just let him do his thing and pretend that it doesn't bother me (because that is passive) and I can't go on ignoring him until he dies.

I have so many examples of how irritating he can be - and I know I don't need to convince you. But I have to see him more often than you do and I don't know how to cope with him. I want to try and find a way to resolve this...but without having to tell him that he annoys me when he does X, Y and Z. You have to understand that if I did, he wouldn't change anyway and it would just be awkward between us from now on. He is old school - and change does not come easily to people like him. Especially since he has been through so much change lately.

You should have seen the way he was strutting around our house - pointing out this flaw and that flaw. Or generally, just pointing out how much he knows about our home. And it's not just that he has an answer for everything...he interrupts all the time. I am rarely able to finish a sentence (and he is WAY worse than me, you, or any of my aunties!). So I don't say much around him at all. Is this the best way to handle this? Occasionally, I have said "hang on, I'm not done yet" and he acknowledges this but I can't do this every single time.

Anyways, thanks for listening. I guess I could end this email by pointing out his positives...he is organized, he is loyal, and he can be very generous. He would do anything for his family/children (but that's the same as loyal isn't it?). Damn, what else...?

Your whiny daughter"

Can you suggest something proactive, positive that she can do or say to have an effect on him?

Sorry to be a board hog on here today!
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squinney
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Feb, 2007 05:34 pm
Is this the same daughter that is due in a couple of weeks?
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martybarker
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Feb, 2007 05:36 pm
Gosh, I don't know what to say. I understand her frustration and she's right, saying something will not change him. It just seems like somehow there could be compromise. I'll have to think about this more.
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JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Feb, 2007 05:37 pm
Re: This is a toughie - can anyone help with this one?
Mame wrote:
... You have to understand that if I did, he wouldn't change anyway and it would just be awkward between us from now on. He is old school - and change does not come easily to people like him. Especially since he has been through so much change lately.


Unfortunately, I think she has already determined that no matter what she says, he will be who he is. She probably pegged it correctly. Would the outcome be any different if her husband spoke to him? She doesn't need him to fight her battles for her, but it's his father and whatever is said might be better received coming from the son than the daughter-in-law.

How often do they see him? Are they in the same town, or is it an occasional holiday get together? Is her husband otherwise close to his father?
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Mame
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Feb, 2007 09:13 pm
squinney wrote:
Is this the same daughter that is due in a couple of weeks?


Hi squinney, yes this is (I have one daughter and one son). She loves him, regardless of how it sounds, but I've come to the conclusion that if she can't or won't speak to him directly about it, she should suck it up.
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Mame
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Feb, 2007 09:28 pm
That sounded harsh, but she and I talk like that. He is irritating her to the extreme and it's on her to tell him or deal. I thought maybe the Advice Mavens here might have some suggestions for either possibility that might make it more palatable.
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Feb, 2007 10:51 am
You can chase a leopard with an arsenal of cans of spray paint, but you can't change the leopard's spots.

Quote:
I can't just let him do his thing and pretend that it doesn't bother me (because that is passive) and I can't go on ignoring him until he dies.



Why can't she? Papa-in-law, covered with spray paint, is still going to be the same old Rantin', Ravin' B-O-O-R/B-O-R-E.

She can change her behavior and try to modify her reactions. For example, Papa ambles into the kitchen and points out that the light is flickering and the bulb should be changed.

Maddening behavior. Not his kitchen, not his light, not his business.

Old reaction: Grimace. Wince. Avoid frosty tone in voice.

New reaction: Make a mental note that the Old Goat is out-of-bounds again and that this is the first, second, fifth, tenth bit of boorish behavior this visit. She should keep a diary so that she'll have an objective record of his impossible behavior and be able to marvel when he exceeds past limits.

The alternatives are ulcers, divorce or murder. None of these would be acceptable to me.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Feb, 2007 11:34 am
I dunno. It is unlikely he'll change, leopard's spots being what they are. (How old is he, anyway?) On the other hand, it's hard to spend a stretched out future holding one's tongue. She may break and freak out at him one day. Learning how to express oneself calmly instance by instance takes practice - without hurting the listerner and yet speaking up for yourself - is a long time pursuit. Some people can do it with humor, but that is fraught with the possibility that humor might be worse than screaming at him.

It seems like a lot of people have been cushioning him from repercussions to his manners for a long time, but of course I don't know that.
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Mame
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Feb, 2007 01:21 pm
Yep, he's a 63 yr old leopard and not likely to change. I like the diary idea! lol - good one - I'm going to mention it to her Smile

Thanks, all. You confirmed what I thought - and even if she did say something, she'd be doing it all day long, every time they saw each other!
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Feb, 2007 01:24 pm
Mame--

If she can take pride in having a Blue Ribbon Revolting In-Law, she's ahead emotionally and in any let-your-hair-down, one-up competition.
0 Replies
 
squinney
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Feb, 2007 02:03 pm
We have one of those leopards in our family and no, he's not gonna change. He'll always know more, have a better way to do something and make sure the conversation is focused on and or dominated by him.

Is this one of those "every family has one?" I dunno.

Quote:

Occasionally, I have said "hang on, I'm not done yet" and he acknowledges this but I can't do this every single time.


Why not? It worked.
0 Replies
 
Heeven
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Feb, 2007 02:11 pm
I'm not one for hiding how I feel.

Why doesn't she have a cup of coffee at the kitchen table with him and ask him to name two things he likes about her and two things he doesn't like so much. When he is done, she says two things she likes and two she doesn't like about him.

She should tell him that she loves him very much and embellish the positive, but it certainly will let him know the thing that irks her and no matter what all of you think about a leopard not changing its spots, sometimes people just are not aware of the things they do that irritate others and will never know unless someone is brave enough to tell them (in a nice way).

It took a very good friend to tell me to stop whining all the time about things I was never going to change to realize that I am a pain in the arse about moaning and complaining all the time recently and that I had started to enjoy wallowing in my own self-imposed suffering. It was the kick up the juggernaut I needed to realize this is why I am so tired and sick lately.

Even if he continues as is, at least she knows she was completely honest with him and if he next wonders if he 'did something to upset her' then he won't be totally oblivious to what it is.
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