While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On being the alcoholic who is constantly offered drinks: I just tell people I’ve already used up my lifetime supply, and they laugh and let it go. – K.A.
On buffering kids from obnoxious relatives: People underestimate their power as parents to influence their children, and do not need to fear the effect of inappropriate gifts and the stupid things that come out of the mouths of rogue family members. They can counteract that nonsense with a few well-chosen words, and be confident their children will hear them.
When I was a child, most of my relatives were a joy to be around, but we did have one toxic aunt. My mother would simply dismiss what she said, saying afterward: “I don’t know where Aunt XXXX gets these things. She makes no sense at all.”
Children also need to learn that sometimes adults act like bad examples and say things that are senseless or untrue. The ability to separate and ignore stupidity is a life skill worth developing. – V.
On enduring the complaints of the fortunate: As one of the lucky, happily married affluents, I find that sometimes I can’t win in conversations with relatives and casual friends. If I even mention events in my life that the other person cannot afford, I’m “bragging.” If I admit that something in my life is bugging me, I’m “whiny.” If I redirect the conversation to the other person’s life after a modest non-answer, I’m being “secretive.”
I realize that tone of voice and exact wording are very important, but I have come to the conclusion that some people will see bragging or whininess regardless of my tone and words. – The Other Side
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