General Question

prolificus's avatar

Any ideas on how to minimize conflict while visiting with family (details inside)?

Asked by prolificus (6525 points ) November 18th, 2010

My conservative [read: Pentecostal, Evangelical Christian] parents will be staying with my partner and I for two weeks. Mom is known to poke at me by making instructive or critical comments. There are so many things she doesn’t like about me (my piercings, tattoos, the fact that I’m gay and have a partner, my weight, my hairstyle, the clothes I wear, the fact that I don’t dress or act feminine, etc. etc.)

No matter how many times I’ve asked or told her to stop, she’ll find a way to sneak in a poke. It can be quite tiring, frustrating, and hurtful. Sometimes Dad will step in and try to redirect her, but she always makes sure her opinions are heard. Sometimes she has a very sneaky way of emotionally jabbing me, sometimes she’s very direct. I’ve told her point blank how I feel when she says XY or Z, and it doesn’t seem to faze her.

I want my parents to see the real me, and I don’t want to regress to teenage me (the me that bends to their will in order to appease them). At this point, it will do no good to try to rehabilitate mom or try to persuade her to accept me as I am. She is extremely set in her ways (almost in a pathological way).

Even though she does this, I still love her and we have a good relationship otherwise. I do enjoy my parents in spite of all of this, and want to have a pleasant visit with them. It is a very big deal they are coming to stay with us! Travel is difficult for them, as they are of retirement age and in poor health – all the more reason why I want to minimize conflict.

Any suggestions on how to do this without shutting myself off or being inauthentic?

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64 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Treat it the same way you would treat a three year old. She can’t help it, and probably actually thinks she is somehow helping you. Just accept her faults and ignore it. It doesn’t mean anything to you.

keobooks's avatar

Wanting to have your parents “see the real you”, is totally different from minimizing conflict with a family shindig. Unfortunately you can’t force your parents to see the real you. But you can ease conflict by making your reactions neutral to them. Say non-committal and generic phrases to whatever jabs she makes. She may be trying to get a rise out of you. Lots of families have this dynamic. I get along with my stepdad really well, but he sometimes seems to have “right wing tourettes” and just HAS to mention things that tick my husband and I off to no end.

Don’t make them sound sarcastic, though.

“That’s sure something to think about.” “Interesting” “Hmmmm..” “I’ll get back to you on that one”. Stuff like that. Once they realize that you aren’t going to take the bait, you’ll get less.

I

Cruiser's avatar

Enjoy your time with them as I think you know and realize there will be a day when you will miss your mom and even her well aimed “opinions”!

Just plan ahead as much as you can to keep them and yourselves busy. Make sure your partner is fully on board for this visit and prepared for what is coming her way too!

CyanoticWasp's avatar

The Taming of the Shrew

Make sure that her jabs and pokes reinforce and make you repeat louder what she’s bitching about. In an entirely loving way, of course.

prolificus's avatar

@YARNLADY – Exactly how does one treat adult parents like a three year old?

@keobooks – I think being myself, allowing myself to be known, and minimizing conflict is possible. I don’t feel the need to push myself on them, but I don’t want to hide real me either. I like the idea of making reactions neutral. You’re right about making statements to get a rise out of me. (Easterners, especially Jerseyites are notorious for this!!)

So, when my mom asks, “Why do you want to look like a man?” I should respond with, “Hmmmm, interesting”? Or, when she says that I need to lose weight or remove my piercings, I should respond with, “That’s sure something to think about”? (I’m sure sarcasm will seethe through my teeth on that one!)

@Cruiser – Yes, enjoy. Yes, time will come. Meanwhile, plan ahead. I know :-) There’s only so much activity I can do with elderly parents with disabilities, though. Netflix here we come!! They arrive on Monday, so there will be Thanksgiving planning and prepping. The in-laws will be here on Thanksgiving. First time meeting! So this surely will be interesting!!

@CyanoticWasp – Forgive me, I regrettably have no knowledge of The Taming of the Shrew (whole other topic of discussion, why I should read more books!!). So, are you suggesting “fight fire with fire”?

YARNLADY's avatar

@prolificus When a three year old says something that does not make sense, everyone simply ignores him.

prolificus's avatar

@YARNLADY – Okay. However, I don’t want to shut down. Part of shutting down, for me, is getting into ignore my parents while I’m around them mode. I don’t want to shut off my mind. So, any suggestions on how to ignore comments without shutting down inside?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@prolificus it’s not a book, it’s one of Shakespeare’s plays, and it pretty well addresses what you have to deal with. Definitely worth the read.

prolificus's avatar

@CyanoticWasp – Ooops, I knew that! <embarrassed>. Okay, I’ll add it to the list. Although I have to admit, any Shakespeare play I’ve had to read came in the form of a video!

Andreas's avatar

@prolificus The same-sex coupling we see very much these days can be difficult for non-same-sex couples to come to terms with, which is probably something you already realise.

Having said that, no matter how hard it is for you to do, try and see matters from her point of view and try and find some area of common ground. No doubt a lot of what your mother is getting at with her comments is genuine concern for you, although not expressed in the most tactful way.

On a different tack: As she has a Christian faith, you might want to consider asking her this question. “Would Jesus talk to me as you talk to me?” Then ask her to show you the appropriate passage(s) in the Bible where that might be considered the case.

The answer to this question is a resounding, NO. There are no Bible verses to show he was ever unkind to the common person.

I wish you well in your coming situation.

Blueroses's avatar

@prolificus Taming of the Shrew is very digestible Shakespeare, but if you want the Cliff Notes version you could watch 10 Things I Hate About You :)

Your mother sounds critical but not unloving. Does she think she’ll somehow change you to fit the image she wants to have of you? My grandmother is the same way, especially when fortified with wine and it’s annoying as hell but I have to think that I don’t see her often and it costs me little to just nod and change the subject when the poking fork comes out.

funkdaddy's avatar

I don’t know if it will work for everyone, but my family basically adopted a pretty simple technique…

When someone starts taking all the poking, prodding, jokes, or whatever seriously and getting their feelings hurt they raise their hand and say enough. Yes, actually raise your hand above your head and say “enough” out loud… it usually draws some laughs when it first goes up, but we move on and it keeps things civil.

It’s also worth noting that most of the time I don’t think the people who do the poking realize just how often they do it. Maybe start counting them off on your fingers for her?

“Why do you wear all those piercings in your face” and then show her one finger…
“Those pants make you look like a walrus” ... put up two fingers…

It lets her see just how often she’s doing it, lets you acknowledge it isn’t appreciated without jabbing back, and if you get to six or seven hopefully at least it will slow her down a bit from there.

I hope the visit goes great, it sounds like a big step for them and like they’re really trying to be a part of your adult life.

prolificus's avatar

@Andreas – I might just use your idea!

@funkdaddy – LOVE IT!! GA!! I can see it working well! (I’m sincerely serious!)

EDIT:

@Blueroses – I think she does think I will come to see the error of my ways and follow her commands.

downtide's avatar

Right at the beginning of the visit, sit her down and give her a lecture. Tell her that for the sake of your own sanity, if she says things that you find offensive or demeaning to yourself, then she will no longer be welcome in your home. Tell her you’d love for her to be able to stay but that is dependent on her. Then, every time she starts to say something you don’t like, interrupt her by saying “Mum, you’re saying one of those things I told you about”.

prolificus's avatar

@downtide – I agree there should be some ground rules, but I don’t want to make the consequence so severe as to banish her from my home. Besides, I cannot afford a hotel room, and I know my friends in town wouldn’t want to take her in either! <smile>

Seriously, though, I like positive reinforcement as opposed to punishment. So, with this in mind, I will consider a possible sit down discussion about ground rules.

Ah, this gives me an idea! Maybe my folks and I can talk about mutual ground rules so we BOTH feel heard!

YARNLADY's avatar

When my Father-In-Law used to visit us in a small apartment, I excused myself from the room many times, sometimes right in the middle of his sentence, and went to the bathroom. I spent a lot of time in there.

With a child/obnoxious adult, I’ve seen people turn it into a joke “Oh, that so cute, Dad, you are funny”

A couple of times, I did have to take a long walk, though.

Jeruba's avatar

I heard a wise woman say that every day someone asks her for her serenity, but she doesn’t have to give it up to them. One way she keeps it is to recognize things that threaten to take it—for instance, her father’s irrational little outbursts and temper tantrums—and not take the bait. She can’t control him or what he says and does, but she does have a choice of how to respond.

This is something like what I used to say to my boys when they were small and tangling in the usual sibling ways: “But he did this—” “But he did that—!” I would just say, “If he’s going to act like that, you just let him act like that all by himself. You don’t have to do it too.”

That’s pretty hard for little kids, but I think you and I can do it, can’t we?

rooeytoo's avatar

Behave towards her in such a way that you won’t regret it when she’s gone.

You will have to figure out what that means to you. And remember you are the only one you can control. It is futile and frustrating to try to control someone else, but I often try because it seems like less work than controlling myself!

iamthemob's avatar

The problem I find with advice that suggests that you, essentially, let it go because you’ll miss her one day will result, at best, in a relationship with your mother where you are tolerant of her while she’s here. It’s a fine line between constructive work and drag-out conflict, but I think it should always be tested.

The one place where it should be tested, I think, is in your home. Regardless of your relationship with your parents, most of us find that, when we’re adults, they always have a tough time of seeing us as something other than children. But when they’re in our home, that’s when they have to learn to respect you.

There are a few ways that you can turn this back on her:

(1) Slightly childish, but I like to answer the question with a question. “Why do you want to act like a man?” “Why do you want to act like a woman?” ... “Why don’t you lose weight?” “Why don’t you lose weight/gain weight?” ... things like that. It does achieve a couple of things – first, it shows you that you’ve heard her; second, it gives her a taste of what she’s giving you.

As a subset of this, you can also adopt her behavior if she starts it first, and then take it to the extreme. Ask her about everything that she does that you don’t like.

(2) Use the “my house, my rules” argument. Set the rules, and if they violate them, they get punished. They get to do your dishes, or the laundry – or they get grounded while you go out to the dinner you had planned, etc.

Of course, these are kind of silly alternatives, but they could make the situation lighter – only you can be the judge, knowing your relationship to your mother. I did want to say, though, that I feel like “letting it go” can often lead to “building it up.” Yes, you want to have the best relationship with your family as possible. Yes, some people are set in their ways. But I don’t believe that anyone is too old to actually change.

Kayak8's avatar

I am most likely to wait until the first dig from mom, roll it around and give it a number 1–10 based on how much it hurt/annoyed etc. This would be private (I am not telling her the number), but I would make a note about the slight and the score and keep a list. I would give myself a threshold number which, after passing, I would talk to her about it. When you sit down to talk, you have real examples of her behavior to share, you are not in the heat of the moment, and you can tell her the score you gave the comment so that she gets that she is actually HURTING you, and you don’t overreact to “Mom just being Mom.” I think the ability to document and score will distract you enough in the heat of the moment, to buy you some time so your response to her can be the very model of kind of gentle discourse you wish she would exhibit (parents do this kind of modelling shit for their kids all the time, it’t time to turn the tables).

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

You can ignore it until you explode or give her a verbal smackdown,or jump through hoops trying to distract her and anticpate what she’ll do,but why bother?
Life is too short.
I think you should sound an airhorn everytime she says or does something you don’t like.
I am not kidding.Just do it.I dare ya.I am thinking of getting one to use on my sister ;)
It would be worth the laughs;)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Your hosed. Read your first sentence again. Your best bet is to follow lucille’s advice.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

“Mom, I love you, and (partner) and I are looking forward to having you at our home for the holiday. We want to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Is there anything you can think of that we should have on hand for you two?

Also, I’d like to ask for your help with something. I know that you don’t always agree with my decisions on how I live my life, and I respect your opinion, although I don’t always agree with it. I’d like to ask that you attempt from verbally judging me while you are here. I know that you have my best interests at heart, but I don’t think you realize how much it hurts my feelings when you critize my choices. Would it be possible to ask you to refrain from voicing your opinion unless I ask for your advice?”

CyanoticWasp's avatar

This could be Fluther’s “Question of the Season”, since so many of us will be dealing with so much family from now until the end of the year… and there is some really spot-on advice here, too.

GQ, @prolificus… and GA, all.

misstrikcy's avatar

Does your mum have any really close friends, whom she listens to?
Just wondering if maybe them having a chat with her is an option. Any chance they can try and make her understand how much she is hurting you?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

This is a tough situation – I have the kind of mother you’re talking about and I have tried everything save for cutting her out of my life completely to try to rehabilitate her pathological need to be right and to criticize anything I do and all that I stand for. If you feel like spending time with her anyhow, you have to kind of have fun with the following: tell your partner all the things you imagine your mom will say to poke fun and then come up with some kind of rules for a game to come later: every time your mom says something from the list that you came up with, squeeze your partner’s ass and smile about it. This game will try to take the focus away from something you feel irritated about to something you like to do, like squeeze your partner’s ass and the sheer silliness of it coupled with your mother not really knowing what’s going on will dissipate some of the tension. Otherwise, you have to confront her (yes, again) and say very directly, not in a screaming voice, ‘please refrain from saything things like this or this will be a short stay for us, thanks.’ Also, I agree with @iamthemob (shocking, as usual).

Jeruba's avatar

Brava, @rooeytoo. Great answer.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Jeruba – thank you, I thought so too, she says modestly!

Seriously though, I still stand by what I said. My dad could be difficult and when he was dying even more so. That advice was given to me by my mentor and I thank him for it often. I have no regrets about my actions towards my dad.

And really your mom’s behavior is just button pushing and the best way to get anyone to stop pushing your buttons is to not react. It’s no fun if there is no reaction.

Aster's avatar

I would try hard not to react. Someday, you can look back on all this mess and feel like you were nice. You’ll have no regrets. but two weeks is too long. One week is enough , IMO.
I“m so glad now that I didn’t challenge my dad during his dreadful behavior. I ignored it. To his face, that is.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I would avoid “deep” conversations and when your mom goes in for a side stab then fall silent, put on a blank face, blink dramatically for a few seconds then speak out with, “ok, now what was I doing/saying?” You’re mom’s being a sadistic wench, best keep her at arm’s length or in the presence of others in the hopes she won’t act out as much as she’d like. I can’t imagine having people in my home for more than a few days who would treat me like that, family or no.

Joybird's avatar

I would not resist her. Instead I when she starts poking I would simply state that she does not appear to be satisfied with how I turned out and ask her pointedly whom she would rather have for a daughter and what they person would look like in detail. Acknowledge her lost vision and her grief for what she thinks she will never now have. Acknowledge that in her mind she feels she has failed because you don’t meet her vision.
None of this is a critique on you. None of this belittles you. What is does is allow you to take back your power. Ask her questions. Let her answer. Affirm and validate. She will remember how you made her feel….heard.

prolificus's avatar

@YARNLADY – Fortunately I do have hiding places in the house! Long walks will help!

@Jeruba – I agree! Will be putting on my zen cap and practicing self-control as much as possible!

@rooeytoo – Agreed. I try almost always to treat them with such things in mind; hence why I’ve not drop kicked them to the curb yet!

@iamthemob -

when they’re in our home, that’s when they have to learn to respect you.” – YES!

…answer the question with a question. Why do you want to act like a man?” “Why do you want to act like a woman?”” – WILL DEFINITELY USE!! Great idea!

Use the “my house, my rules” argument. Set the rules, and if they violate them, they get punished.” – Hmmmm, there will be Thanksgiving Dinner dishes to clean! Consequences not a bad idea!

@Kayak8 -

I would give myself a threshold number which, after passing, I would talk to her about it. When you sit down to talk, you have real examples of her behavior to share, you are not in the heat of the moment, and you can tell her the score you gave the comment so that she gets that she is actually HURTING you…” – I like the idea of waiting and having concrete examples to give to my mom. I have a tendancy to say something in the heat of the moment. This idea will help!

@lucillelucillelucille -

I think you should sound an airhorn everytime she says or does something you don’t like.” – LOVE IT!!!! This is my favorite idea!! I enjoyed sharing the idea with one of my friends, and acting act the possibilities!! Had us cracking up with laughter! Maybe there’s an iPhone app for that!!!

@Adirondackwannabe – I’m not hosed! In spite of their background, we do have some points of agreement and there’s some civility between us. They do acknowledge my partner and are respectful to her. Mom and Dad have come a long way since when I first told them I’m gay, it used to be a lot worse! I’m not without hope.

@Pied_Pfeffer – thanks for the words! Will actually paraphrase and use with my folks!

@CyanoticWasp – Thank you!

@misstrikcy – My Mom has family, not close friends. She does talk with selected family members, but I don’t know to what extent she talks about me.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir -

have fun with the following: tell your partner all the things you imagine your mom will say to poke fun and then come up with some kind of rules for a game to come later: every time your mom says something from the list that you came up with, squeeze your partner’s ass and smile about it.” – PERFECT!! Lovely game to play, will find ways to implement it! Thanks!

@Aster – Thanks for the advice, will try to be mindful.

@Neizvestnaya -

when your mom goes in for a side stab then fall silent, put on a blank face, blink dramatically for a few seconds then speak out with, “ok, now what was I doing/saying?”” – Another great idea! Thank you!

You’re mom’s being a sadistic wench” – Well, this is where I get biker gang on you and anyone else who calls her names!! Watch it bub! ;-) Although, when I do share how Mom really acts, there name-calling reactions from others is pretty typical. :-D

@Joybird -

I would simply state that she does not appear to be satisfied with how I turned out and ask her pointedly whom she would rather have for a daughter and what they person would look like in detail. Acknowledge her lost vision and her grief for what she thinks she will never now have. Acknowledge that in her mind she feels she has failed because you don’t meet her vision.” – I think this is a possibility! I would be careful to stay present as her daughter, and not as her friend or counselor. But, worth trying! Might bring some closure!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Ah, yes…a walk with your SO will allow you to vent in the fresh air and come back with a better level of tolerance. It’s best not to keep your frustrations bottled up. A tip from my SO and me: let your partner know when you need to vent and not necessarily get an opinon or advice. It’s a tacit way to say “I’m about to spew a bunch of stuff, and you aren’t required to pay attention.”

prolificus's avatar

Thank you all for the wonderful suggestions!

We picked up my folks from the airport last night. So far, so good. However, it’s like managing two three-year-olds with ADD!! Their quirky thought life and question asking keeps me on my toes!

I have officially entered the Twilight Zone: Dad loves watching the 700 Club and Fox News. I’ve set up the DVR for him so he won’t miss his favorite shows!

Also, seriously, what is it with aging parents who like to stay up late and get up early, making lots of noise while doing it? Whisper is not a part of their operating modes! ¡¡¡Aye aye aye!!! It felt like an episode of Roseanne this morning, one of the early ones when Roseanne’s parents drop by for an overnight visit unexpectedly. (Dan and Roseanne sleep on cots while her parents have their bedroom – same with my partner and me. After a poor night’s sleep for Dan and Roseanne, her parents get up at 4:30am to make breakfast. They do so very loudly, asking Roseanne lots of questions, all the while thinking they’re quiet and telling Dan and Roseanne to go back to sleep!)

iamthemob's avatar

@prolificus – Good to hear.

Go to the hardware store. Lock up the cabinets and refrigerator in the kitchen. Leave a lovely worded note directing them to the 24 hour diner around the corner. Tell them to have a long breakfast, as the door will be dead-bolted until a reasonable hour while they’re out. ;-)

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@prolificus: Ha ha, enjoy. Yes, old people love to go to bed late and rise early to celebrate life with all the noise they can still make and detect. In our house we have fancy cabinets with some sort of air shock type of system supposed to stop a drawer or cabinet door from slamming shut, we even have adhesive gel bumpies on the inside door faces but my mom has still perfected an good old fashioned slam. Every morning. We often wonder how many utensils she needs to stir one gawd damned cup of coffee.

rooeytoo's avatar

When you get old you don’t need as much sleep and you don’t know how much time you have left so you don’t want to waste it sleeping. Our hearing is not as good as it used to be so we don’t think we are making noise. Or we are remembering all the sleepless nights and noisy awakenings the kids caused over the years and we are getting even.

Take your choice.

prolificus's avatar

Today I used @Kayak8‘s suggestion. My Dad made a comment which stung a little, so I gave it a 4. I didn’t acknowledge him when he made the comment, and I feel less stressed because I didn’t confront him. I feel better after trying this method of self-care: documenting (internally) concrete examples so I can share (if needed) with my parents to let them know specifically what hurts without being caught up in the moment of emotion. I feel like I’m properly defending / protecting myself without allowing hightened emotions having rule over me.

@iamthemob – sounds fun, but too much effort on my part! ;-)

@Neizvestnaya – <smile> Go Super Mom! lol

@rooeytoo – I’ll taken option #2. Payback is a biotch!

iamthemob's avatar

@prolificus effort yes…but think how amusing the struggle will be to watch – since you’ll be up anyway. ;-)

prolificus's avatar

Quick (related) question: do I keep or take down the rainbow decal shaped like a dog? It’s on my windshield, and easy to remove and replace. Folks are going with me in my car. I’m ambivalent, don’t want to provoke but I don’t want to hide either. Thoughts?

prolificus's avatar

Nevermind, I’m keeping the rainbow decal where it it! <crosses fingers>

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@prolificus: About the sticker, if your parents even notice then tell them it came with the car, that most dealerships even have “homo-discounts” now. ;p

Jeruba's avatar

@Neizvestnaya, @rooeytoo,
> old people love to go to bed late and rise early
> When you get old you don’t need as much sleep

All my life I thought I’d finally need less sleep and want to get up early when I got old enough. Now I’m in that age bracket, and retired, so I don’t have to get up and go to work any more. I still hate to get up in the morning, and I claim more sleep now than I did through my entire working career. In fact, I feel like I have years of sleep deprivation to make up for. So these days I’m rarely up before 11, and it’s often much later. Same goes for my husband, and he is older than I am by enough years to count.

When I have to get up unavoidably early for some reason, I tiptoe around and try to be noiseless—even if I am home alone!—so I don’t wake myself up too much, never mind disturbing others.

So I have to say this: I don’t doubt your personal observations, but I sure do have to question your generalities.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Jeruba – Well you are the lucky minority according to my compatriots who all say they get by with a lot less sleep.

As for the tiptoeing, my mate and I really think we are being quiet as church mice but the children complain about us and the big dog padding on the bare wood floors.

Actually I hate staying at anyone’s house, we always opt for a motel nearby, then you can get up when you please and make as much noise as you want!

JilltheTooth's avatar

@prolificus : Thanks for asking this. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has benefited from the Q and everyone’s responses. Just wish I’d had this 5 years ago before I worked out a coping plan with a therapist! Have a lovely holiday, try not to bleed all over the food from all those jabs!

jca's avatar

would your parents understand what the rainbow means?

Jeruba's avatar

If that rainbow sticker were mine, I would not remove it.

prolificus's avatar

Well, I kept the sticker. They didn’t even notice or say anything.

Dad surprised me this morning by saying he wants to go with me to my “gay church” on Sunday. I go to a MCC church. This will be interesting!!

My parents have been very gracious and sociable, and there have been no jabs about my appearance or lifestyle. However, there have been a few “normal family button-pushing” jabs. I continue to use parts of the above suggestions. My barking dog has been the air horn! <evil laugh>

My parents will be meeting my partner’s family for the first time today. Everyone is looking forward to this!

In other news, I’ve been slaving over a hot oven since yesterday. I’ve baked two gluten free (GF) pies (sweet potato and pumpkin) from scratch! And, I’ve baked GF savory cornbread from scratch to use for stuffing. Also, I made GF white bread in the breadmaker (first time using new machine). Turkey is in the oven, with various herbs and spices. Homemade herb butter spread under and over the skin. Have lots more cooking to do, just wanted to share some good news for which I’m truly thankful!

iamthemob's avatar

Best news ever. :-)

jca's avatar

I love that statement “I want to go to your gay church.”

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I read the link in periphery as, McGay Church, oops

prolificus's avatar

So.. The meeting of the families went very well!! Thanksgiving Day turned out wonderfully, without a hitch! My folks really like my partner’s family, and by observation I gather the feelings are mutual.

Several hours after my Dad surprised me by saying he wants to go to my church, mom said to me she wants to go, too. She said they had decided together they wanted to go with us.

Prior to their visit, I had been wondering how the whole church thing would be handled. I had decided not to mention anything because of an incident I had with my mom two years ago. When she found out I was attending “the gay church” (as my folks call it, not by me nor by the people at my church), mom had a total melt down, cried “don’t go to hell,” hung up on me and didn’t speak to me for several days. Then, she called and left a message telling me that she doesn’t want to hear anything about my lifestyle or my church, and to tell me she’s praying for me. This was two years ago. Now, she and my dad want to visit the church with me.

On Thanksgiving Day, while my mom and I were in the kitchen cooking, she told me about the decision. She went on to say there must be a solution as to why there are huge differences between interpretations of the Bible (regarding homosexuality). Also, she said she doesn’t agree with preachers (specifically TV preachers and public leaders) who promote homophobia (not the word she used, but the sum of her words) and hatred towards gays.

As she spoke, I simply listened and didn’t engage in discussion or debate about anything. I just said “hmmm” as needed.

Additionally, mom shared her opinion of my partner. She has a great deal of respect and appreciation for her, and enjoys her personality. (Mom still hasn’t gotten to the point of referring to or acknowledging her as my “partner.”)

Mom had also asked about my friends in the area (another same-sex couple). She has been genuinely interested in the happenings of my life and the lives of my friends (she met them a few years ago). (Several months ago I had posted a question about the relationship I have with my mom and how I feel she doesn’t know me nor try to know me. It feels good to have her show genuine interest!)

Last but not least, it felt good to hear my mom tell me several times on Thanksgiving Day that she’s proud of me. I must have done an excellent job with the cooking! ;-)

iamthemob's avatar

And who says there are no more holiday miracles. ;-)

Awesome, @prolificus – truly awesome.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@prolificus : Wow. This is truly the best thing I’ve heard of the holidays! I am hugely happy for you, your partner, and your parents, who really seem to get it now that your happiness is more important to them than whether or not you’re gay. Happiest of Holidays, indeed!

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@prolificus: It’s hard to beat the feeling of the people you care about most humming along together. Congratulations :)

rooeytoo's avatar

@prolificus – good on ya matey, glad it is going well.

Jeruba's avatar

Clearly your parents faced quite a hurdle. Their response of two years ago gives you a clue to how big it was. Getting over it could not have been easy for them, but they loved you enough to put you as a person and their relationship with you ahead of their judgments and prejudgments.

I hope you told them right back that you are proud of them for doing the work of keeping an open mind and an accepting heart. You’re very fortunate to have such a strong family bond.

liminal's avatar

@prolificus Nice to hear that your visit has been positive for you and yours! Lot’s of good things. I trust the enjoyment will continue. With Jeruba, I am impressed with your parents for pressing through their fears and I applaud you for doing the same.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@prolificus wonderful news! Baby steps, right?

Maybe your parents started a Fluther account or two or did some other independent reading and thinking. Let’s hear it for independence!

prolificus's avatar

Thank you all!! @Jeruba, thank you for the reminder to reciprocate the feeling of pride. After church today I made it a point to tell my parents I’m proud of them for staying with my partner and I, for meeting my partner’s family, and for going to church with us. My mom was appreciative!

Church went very well. My folks met many of our friends and the pastor. Mom said she enjoyed the service, and both my parents said they think people there are very nice [read: they weren’t weirded out by being around a bunch of gay people]. Another surprise came when my parents initiated receiving communion with me (another big step for my folks considering they view communion with a great deal of spiritual respect).

After the service my folks had many nice things to say about the church. Mom only expressed one concern, but it wasn’t derogatory – just a matter of theological preferences.

It felt amazingly wonderful to be in church with my folks!! Yay!

prolificus's avatar

Darn it! My parents made me fall “in like” with them again!!

This morning they returned to the East Coast. The past two weeks flew by so quickly! For the most part, everyone got along very well. My partner scored many brownie points with my folks, too. She even enjoyed their visit so much that she invited them to visit next summer for two weeks!

This evening I mentioned to my mom about the haircut I got today. She said, “I knew you grew it out for me!” And, “I bet it’s all buzzed short.” Followed by, “You’re not a man, you’re my girl. I have boys, you’re my girl.”

Sigh.

It was actually light-hearted banter and I held my own!

Any hoo… I said all this to say… I’m glad for the visit, I miss and love them. Hoping the relationship I have with my folks continues to improve as a result.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@prolificus : You’ve restored my faith in the basic good nature of humanity…Yay!

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