Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: family system

Untangling the webs

It’s hard to talk about family dysfunction for several reasons. One, it’s considered taboo. There is a strong feeling that family is everything in America* and to say anything to the contrary is outre. There was a thread on the weekend post at Ask A Manager from someone who wanted to know how to tell her father that she’d be spending Thanksgiving with her mother’s side of the family. The original poster (OP) made clear that she saw her father regularly as the only sibling who lived near him. It wasn’t as if she’d never see him again. Many people were supportive, but a surprising number of people scolded her and called her selfish (because she said as one point that her mom’s side of the family was more ‘fun’. That wasn’t the only reason she gave, though.) A not-small number of people acted as if she said she was going to shun her father and never talk to him again. It was so bizarre. Her question was how should she talk to her father about it and more than a few people took the opportunity to scold her instead. Even the context of she was the only sibling who was there (because of pandemic) and her father went on a cruise one year instead of stay for the dinner did not dissuade some people.

My own view which I did not express was that fuck holidays. More nuanced than that is in this case, she spent time with her father (which she noted). It wasn’t as if she was going to cut him off completely (which can be merited sometimes). She just wanted to know how to tell her father she wanted to spend Thanksgiving with her mom’s family. But, no, she was selfish for even considering not spending Thanksgiving with her father.

You can probably guess that I’m not a big fan of tradition for the sake of tradition or ‘but faaaaamily!’. My mother once told mem that tradition wasn’t bad. I agree. Tradition isn’t bad in and of itself. But, it’s also not good in and of itself. In other words, question everything. That’s pretty much my motto.

Back to the matter at hand. If I told you I took a morning walk with my parents, you’d probably think, “Oh, that’s nice. What’s the problem?” Because if I’m mentioning it, you know there’s a problem. I’ll get to that in a minute. The way it works is that I walk as fast as I can on the way out. That means I’m way ahead of my parents because I walk much faster than they do. Then, I wait for them and we walk back at a more sedate pace .Fine. Dandy. It’s worked pretty well. Except in the past few weeks, my mother has taken to saying, “Are you cold?” when we meet at the halfway point. One day she said, “I bet you’re cold!” So one day, she asked if I wanted t go for a walk I said yes as long as she didn’t ask if I was cold halfway through. It wasn’t the smoothest way to bring it up, but it wasn’t terrible, either. A bit passive-aggressive, which is the way of our family.

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