Am I mean?

There are two family members who like to criticize me. My idea of living life doesn’t jive with their version of living life. I don’t criticize the choices they make, none of my business and hey, whatever floats their boat. Go and be happy, just leave me alone and stop trying to make me measure up to your expectations.

One of the areas where they love to give me advice is in the way I raised my son. They always have something to say, either I’m too strict, not strict enough, whatever. Of course it’s always done as they are just trying to help me. :rolleyes:

Finally one day I had had enough and just pointed out that unlike some of their kids, mine has never been arrested nor spent any time in jail, that three of their six adult children don’t have jobs, and a few other negatives I won’t mention here, so why would I want to take parenting advice from them?

Now I am being told by other family members that I am* mean* and it wasn’t fair or nice of me to bring that up. Well, excuse the hell out of me, I’m not the one who runs her mouth telling other people how to live their lives. It’s not my place to judge other people or their choices but if they want to open that door then why am I wrong for pointing out to them that they aren’t in any position to judge me?
People who live in glass houses and all.

So am I mean? Do I need to apologize?
Because I’m pretty angry that somehow I am being made out to be the bad one here.

I don’t know if you are mean or not but you are my Hero!! I went through the same stuff, my son is the only one to finish college and is working on his doctorate, more importantly he is a responsible adult who is genuinely a good person aside from being a liberal. I have never thrown that in their faces but certainly wanted to on many occasions, I wish I was mean like you.

What do you mean? Are you mean to an end?

While I understand why you did it, it does sound to me like you went above and beyond what was necessary in order to resolve this. It’s generally not a good idea to insult someone when telling them why they are upsetting you. The person you insulted will almost never think they were doing anything wrong.

I mean, I’ve gotten angry at my family for legitimate reasons before, too, but the reaction of trying to hurt the other person is never right. I understand it, because that’s what anger does to you: it makes you try to win at all costs. But, ultimately, you did intentionally try to hurt their feelings, and that deserves an apology.

I’d apologize not for what you said, but how you said it. Something like “I’m sorry I got so upset and blew up like that, but I’ve been getting really frustrated with you guys telling me how I should raise my kids. I never tell you how to raise yours. I know you’re just trying to help, but I’m obviously doing something right since my kids are coming out fine. If I find I need advice, I’ll be sure to ask.”

You had a legitimate gripe, but you went overboard due to understandable anger. The latter what is what deserves an apology. And, if you apologize, you make it easier for them to apologize for your legitimate gripe, as apologies create a sort of quid pro quo. And if they really mean their apology, you will be getting what you want. A true apology means that you are going to try to not do it again.

Again, I understand completely what you did, but I also understand why they think they deserve an apology. You ultimately did to them what they did to you, but only worse. If it’s wrong for them to do it to you, it is wrong for you to do it to them.

You’ve cleared the air and set new boundaries. Now extend an olive branch and see if you can move on within the established guidelines. If they are crossed again or if they hold a grudge, you’ll know and adjust your behaviour accordingly. But realize things may never be the way they once were. C’est la vie.

I think she’s average.

I would’ve told them to stuff it in nicer terms. So I agree with the reason, but not the method.

If you are lucky, you were so mean that they will never speak to you again. Unfortunately in a similar situation, I’ve found such idiots often just up the ante by being even bigger fools.

that was an awesome burn! completely justified. feel no guilt. not a seconds thought. they deserved it.

It’s been my experience that people who are, themselves, _______, are very often the first to accuse other people of being ______.

Thank y’all for the replies.

I think I was just taken aback today when somebody told me I was mean to say what I did.
I am taking everything under consideration.
Honestly if these two never speak to me again it wouldn’t bother me in the least. Unfortunately I’m sure they will continue to run their mouths, I think they can’t help themselves.

I don’t think it was mean, but let’s say it was. So the hell what? Those people are out of line to criticize your child-raising. They deserve meanness, not kindness or tolerance. That’s the only way some people will learn.

Being mean on a rare occasion doesn’t make a person mean. It means that you’re assertive and aren’t to be messed with. And both of those things are good.

I think there are better ways to set boundaries.

I think you need to sit down with these other family members, and explain that you are very hurt by their taking the other persons’ sides without asking for your version of events.

That you are particularly hurt by their apparent agreement that you are a bad mother*.

That you might just find their apparent agreement that your child is an irredeemable failure unforgivable. You aren’t certain, but you might never be able to forgive that.

  • Are you a mother? It seems to me this always happens to mothers.

But it was fair and nice of them to nag and bitch and criticize you constantly? :dubious: As a side note, what the hell is it about people who are totally awful at parenting and/or relationships that compels them to offer instructions to the rest of us?

Some people have an amazing knack for overlooking someone being totally assy to another person, so long as that other person isn’t them. Ignoring the situation allows them to convince themselves that things are fine, there’s no friction, the someone in question isn’t being an asshole, etc. As long as the victim tries to ignore or rise above the situation, the illusion can remain intact. But when the victim finally retaliates…well, it’s easier and more comfortable to pretend the victim is suddenly being an asshole than to admit they were silently sitting by and letting the original aggressor be an asshole for ages. It doesn’t help that the original aggressor in these situations generally flails and stomps and whines to everyone who will listen about how awful the victim has treated them.

It’s stupid and shitty and unfair, but there it is.

I’d tell the family members taking you to task that you’ll apologize for criticizing bitch relatives’ kids and parenting when they apologize for criticizing yours.

Maybe you could get by with some sort of non-apology? “I shouldn’t have exploded at you like that. I guess if I follow your parenting advice my children will turn out as successful as yours have.”

Was this the first time you had said anything to this person about how her advice/opinion on this topic was not welcome? If so, then you went too far. I have the image of someone suffering in silence and then bursting out with too much damaging vitriol (my sister did this to my father, and their relationships was never the same).

I would start out by setting a boundary, that you don’t want to hear their opinion on that topic, without saying why (or say something like it is a sensitive subject for you and you don’t want to discuss it). Then make that boundary the issue, not their child-raising skills.

So I would not call you mean per se, just injudicious.


It’s weird, but that’s how family diplomacy works. Uncle Jack comes rolling in at one in the morning, stinking drunk, pukes in the fish tank, pees on the carpet, and sings O Sole Mio at the top of his lungs…but if you say, “Jack, you stupid damn drunkard,” then you’re the villain! Amazing, innit?

I think the key to family diplomacy is not to say, out loud, what everybody else is thinking anyway. If you had, instead, privately said, one-on-one, to others of your family, “Well, I suppose I’m not perfect, but my kids haven’t been in jail, now, have they?” then those you are talking with would have nodded and said, “Good point.” (ETA: I mean to others than those whose kids have been in jail. To the “neutral third party” members of the family. Politics is all about appealing to the “undecided” bloc.)

It’s only when you said it out in everyone’s hearing, so no one can pretend it didn’t happen, that you got in trouble.

Always leave people a way out, a “face saving” possibility of denial. When you corner them, they get trapped-rattish.

So true.

There’s no escape from family - in a sense we’re all trapped with each other, and people have long memories.

Each family can be a distinct culture of its own, with its own taboos, and its own mythology. Certain things MUST NOT BE TALKED ABOUT, even though everyone knows they are real and significant. In order to get along, you have to play the game, at least to a degree.

In the case of the OP, I get the sense that her family members know that they’ve failed in some significant ways with their kids, and they’re handing out advice, talking themselves up, as a defense mechanism. This way they can feel important, forget their shortcomings.

No, being assertive is explicitly about not being mean. Being mean is being aggressive. Being assertive means telling people what you want or need without trying to hurt them. Being mean is specifically about wanting to hurt someone, and thus is a form of aggression. (My citation would be the anger management classes I took as a kid.)

It’s understandable that she was mean in this instance. But that doesn’t turn it into a desirable trait.