Do you share personal issues with family if their response is useless?

Since two weeks, I’m home from work. Overworked. I don’t feel very stellar.

I have told friends, but not my family. Not my dad, mom, brother. Why? Because whenever I told them any problem, or shared a positive milestone, their response is usually worse then useless.

My brother would make a flippant remark, something like: “Well, shit happens”. He might follow up with a slightly related rant against society, bosses, jobs, slackers at work in general. That would conclude the conversation.

My dad will care, in a way, I’ll give him that much. He might rack his brains to solve my problem and come up with a solution like: " I’ll pay for you to go volunteer at a leprosy hospital in India so you’ll get some perspective and stop being so irritable with everyone, because you’ll chase them away." That would conclude the conversation.

My mom is worst. If I told her, she would be interested because she wants to collect juicy stories that confirm her worldview. And act out scenes that make her feel good. She might act in a syrupy therapist-like way for three minutes, trying to get out all sorts of details I won’t tell her. Then she’ll confirm happily that all my irritation at her of the past decade was not her fault, but the fault of me being overworked, and she might revel in that, because, told ya! . Then she will conclude by giving some useless advice, like: “Take it easy”. Oh, and to try relaxing bubblebaths and herbal tea. I hate bubblebaths and herbal tea, and have hated them all my life.
She might even recommend the latest thing she herself is enthusiastic about, like numerology or iriscopy. Then she’ll be very happy with herself and that will conclude the conversation.

And so I have to conclude that I usually get much more useful advice reading books and posting about my troubles, and milestones, on this messageboard, then from my family.

So, how about you? Do you tell family about your personal issues, for theirs sakes, or the sake of the relationship? Even if their reaction will be either insincerely caring, or useless?

I pick and choose what I tell them. If I’ve had good advice/support from them in the past relating to a similar issue, I’ll tell them. If I haven’t, I won’t.

Personally I think that when you become an adult, you should deal with your own shit as much as possible.

Aside from my partner, I’ve never talked to family or friends about problems either now or when I was a child.

When I was younger, I found it irresistable to do so, even knowing it would go hinky for sure. But as I matured I began to examine what it was, in me, that kept me going back to the well, when I KNEW the water was contaminated.

I determined that, as an adult, if your seeking approval, acknowledgement, acceptance from someone else, you’re almost always barking up the wrong tree. The only approval or acknowledgement, acceptance, etc, that matters comes from within. So I stopped looking for it from people who did not have it to give. Instead accepting it graciously from those around me offering it willingly.

For me it kinda came down to, the tribe you’re given vs the tribe you make.

Wishing you Good Luck with this, it’s not easy I know.

But SHOULD we share such things with our family? Is it a sign of a bad relationship if we don’t ? I do share such stuff with friends, and that goes very well.

I guess I don’t expect, or want, or even need, any kind of support from my family. It just feels weird to acknowledge that. To acknowledge that it is far easier, probably on them and me both, not to tell them anything serious. But, then what is the relationship about?

In my family, they will be sympathetic at the time, but will use the information against you later. I don’t tell my family anything.

They aren’t useless, they are vicious.

That is a bad relationship.

Sahirrnee, I looked up some of your past threads about your family. My god, your family is terrible. Reading about them sure gave me some perspective on mine, so thank you.

Now I just don’t know if I should:

  1. just accept that ours is a family who really are not that into one-another, and leave it at that
  2. just accept that ours is a family who really are not that into one-another, and say that out loud to them
  3. focus more on what we might share, with the risk of disappointment all around.

All this just with my dad and brother. My mom is beyond repair. But sometimes I wonder if my brother hasn’t given up on family just because our mom is so useless and he thinks mom represents all of family, you know? Maybe a good relationship with my brother is still possible. We are now polite strangers keeping up appearances twice a year.

If you want a better relationship with your family members, I don’t think sharing your problems with them is the best way to achieve it.

I tend to think of family as a life-long workplace. You didn’t choose these people, you have some commonalities but also a lot of differences. And the key to enjoying their company is to focus on the positives and mitigate the negatives.

Also bear in mind that your family members might be completely happy with the current family dynamic. You don’t get to decide what the perfect family dynamic is and impose that on your family.

Edit: you sound eager to discredit your brother. I agree that your mother is fake (mine was the same way) and may or may not be capable of human emotions beyond the selfish or basic ones, but I’m not sure about everyone else you’re talking about.

Thank you! Actually, that is a very new (new to me, anyway) way of thinking about it. Interesting. Might work.

I had a similar epiphany a few years ago when I realized I should bring home work manners when I ask my husband to do stuff.

But it didn’t occur to me to apply the same principle to the rest of my family. Mmm…there’s this idea that workplace manners, that instrumental politeness, should not be needed with our loved ones.

I shared very little with my mother (we lived together for many years, long story) because she’d always find something to criticize, whether it was the situation I was telling her about, my behavior in said situation, the people I was with in said situation, whatever. I came to the conclusion early on that if she was going to act like that, then fuck it, I’m not telling her anything.

Do you know what it’s like sharing a dinner table with somebody with whom you can’t speak? Most of my friends (and now my SILs) have close relationships with their mother where they giggle like girlfriends and gossip and go shopping and stuff like that. Hell, that’s the kind of relationship my college roommate had with my mother and they only saw each other when roommate visited me.

When my mother was diagnosed with ALZ but still lucid she mentioned that she always felt shut out from my life. I told her flat out that if she hadn’t acted like an asshole toward me we would’ve have a much closer relationship. She started to cry and thanked me for saying that because yeah, she admitted it, she was an asshole toward me and never forgave herself for it.

Even though I am close with my parents and brother and could share personal issues and problems with them, I rarely do. I rarely share them with anybody. This is not because I am a super repressed secretive person, I just eventually found that this kind of sharing rarely got me anything I wanted.

I grew up with the impression that sharing problems was how you got to intimacy. Countless books and movies and tv shows showed the moment where someone shared a problem or worry and the people became closer as a result.

But my general experience with this kind of sharing is that the other person struggles to know how to respond and either gives a response I don’t like or we both just feel awkward.

Also, if having problems to share is the path to intimacy, then getting to intimacy requires that you have problems!

I have had much better success with my family, with my husband and with friends from finding fun experiences to share, like movies and TV, witty banter, outings, games.

If I really do need to share, I find it most useful to tell the person what I need in response as well as what I need to share. I have actually called a friend to say “can you just tell me that you like me? I’m feeling a little lonely and like nobody likes me.”

So true, and another example of how TV can distort our view of what life should be. There’s also the TV-trope of someone acting all huffy when they find out a friend hasn’t shared a problem with them.

a month ago, my father was invited to give a short lecture. He did fine, and most audience members were just wowed at the enthusiasm of this 83 year old guy. I was in the audience, and all I heard, was how his missing teeth, amplified by the microphone, made him lisp. After the speech, dad came down from the stage, hugged me, and asked me, How did I like the speech? I said great, and then, that he really should do something about his teeth. So yeah, I was a negative asshole. But in a way, it was love; if we are critical of ourselves, we can be just as critical of the people we view as “ours”. Still, it was bad behavior and should stop. But it made me realize such critical behavior CAN indicate a sort of love.

I’ve heard similar in the “If I didn’t care I wouldn’t say what I’m saying” kind of way. One of my first managers actually said that, and if anything, he was 100 times worse than my mother doling out the criticism. With him, it was easier to realize that his criticisms were meant to kick my ass to be a better employee, and oh hell, I gave it right back to him in being his model employee, which was the point.

It’s harder when it comes to parents. My mother was incredibly critical of herself, something I hadn’t realized until I was well into adulthood. In turn, she was incredibly critical of me. In turn, I’m incredibly critical of myself, although I’m at the point now where I’m so tired of kicking myself for ~whatever~ that I’m finally willing to accept parts of myself “as is”. Then I want to kick myself for being so lackadaisical about myself, LOL.

But to go back to my old manager…his reason for being so critical was finite and concrete. With my mother it would lead me into a head-spinning quandry as to what I’d done/said/worn/behaved and doubting myself at every juncture. What’s the good in that? How does making me doubt myself make me a better person? Because I didn’t behave the way you would’ve? Is that it? Why can’t you just be happy with me as I am? Trying to make my mother understand all this almost always led to a huge fight between us where neither of us would speak for days. I still don’t quite understand the reasoning and I probably never will.

I don’t share problems. I figure other people have enough on their minds that they don’t need my problems added to it.

Sometimes it can be good to share problems though. For example, I discovered that my husband and his father never shared any of their problems with my MIL (manic depressive) for fear of making her feel worse. What was actually happening was that she got a distorted view of the world where it seemed like everyone else was coping just fine and she felt worse for not coping with her issues. When I started talking about my problems (not in a seeking advice way, but just sharing some frustrations), she was so grateful to realise that she wasn’t the only one that struggled with things. In fact, she realised that many of her issues/frustrations were completely normal!

I don’t know that “utility” is really the measure I use. I share my problems with various friends/family because I want them to know me, to know what’s going on with me, and I generally like to know what’s going on with them–good or bad. I don’t go into every detail with everybody, but it’s a big part of being connected to someone for me, even if it doesn’t “help” with that particular issue. It helps with the relationship. It creates the relationship.

I’m assuming your family members love you and care for you, right? So in their own inept way, they are trying to help or make you feel better. You know the response you’re going to get from each of them, so if you are going to talk about issues that are bothering you, perhaps you can tailor how you tell them so that it does not give so much opportunity to let them ramble at length unhelpfully, and also to try to remind yourself, that this is how they show that they do care. Mentioning it and then moving on or changing the subject before they wind up into a long spiel that is just going to make you feel worse may also help.

My mom never tells me she loves me. I know she does, but she just can’t say it. Our conversations end with “take care”. In my head, I translate that to “I love you”.

Fuck, no. I finally have some kind of relationship with my dad, but I don’t rely on him for support at all. My mom’s been dead for seven years, but before that I called her only once for support, and it was for a physical injury, on a Sunday, no less.

Everything comes with a price tag attached, with my family.