Hi, Carolyn: My father’s wife sends several political emails a day to her bcc’d distribution list. I’m on that list. She knows we are not like-minded politically, and I told her I do not discuss politics the first time she brought the subject up.
She tells my father he is failing in his responsibility to guide me to correct political thinking because he does not send me these emails himself. My father has always encouraged me to have my own mind even when we didn’t agree.
I delete the emails, sometimes upon receipt, sometimes after skimming. They are always inflammatory and combative. I hate having to wade through them to find news from family and friends.
So do I continue to delete her over-the-line emails at my own discomfort, create a rule to delete all bcc email from her, which risks missing family news, or ask her to respect my right to my own political opinion?
Whenever I resist her will, my father is berated for my lack of compliance.
I wish her political emails didn’t bother me so much. Help me find the right balance.
Done With the Great American Schism
Amen to that signature.
Tell her once, clearly and kindly, that you don’t open political emails, so you’d be grateful if she removed you from her list – thereby making it easier to find emails with family news. No judgments, just a factual request.
If she refuses, then have no compunction about creating a bcc-delete rule.
Your father may hear about it, yes, but you won’t cause him this pain. She will, for believing parents have control over children’s opinions, and he will, for marrying and/or remaining married to someone who has such an unhealthy need for control. May you filter in peace.
Hi, Carolyn: Our mother has been ill for the last 18 months, recently had surgery and is on mandatory bed rest for the next six months.
That means that every now and then I take my siblings, 8 and 12, out for doctors’ appointments or just fun outings to get them out of the house since their father is separated from our mother. I am in my early 20s.
Every now and then, someone will ask me if I am their mom or if my “children” would like something – or they will just say, “Listen to your mom,” and it bothers me because I look like a teen myself; my siblings and I look nothing alike; and they are just as tall as I am. It just baffles me that someone would be so assuming or so nosy.
What is a polite way to say, “That’s really none of your business,” or how else should I diplomatically handle these comments?
They Are Not My Kids
They’re not your kids, but they’re lucky to have you.
And you have enough to carry without the burden of managing what others think. Where bystanders say “mom,” just say, “sister!” – or feel free not to correct them at all. Besides being a nuisance, there tends to be very little cost to letting strangers come to the wrong conclusion.
When it does matter or just when you’ve had enough, “That’s really none of your business,” is not only fine to say gently, but also what some need to hear.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.