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Rude relative is a problem, but not for the reason you thing

Rude relative is a problem, but not for the reason you think

Q: My husband and I host a Passover seder for his family every year. One of his cousins was married several years ago to a non-Jew. At their first seder as a married couple, he was a no-show. Last year he came but stayed in the basement (where we sent his meal) while the rest of the family ate together in the dining room. I was shocked and found this to be very rude, but said nothing because it was clear the cousin was upset as well.

As Passover approaches, I am stressed at the idea of this happening again. I have two young children whom I have taught tolerance and openness and they are witness to this behavior. How do I tell the cousin that dinner will not be served in the basement and that her husband is expected to sit with the rest of the family? I don't want to have a confrontation as the husband is very volatile.


A: I read this too late to answer by Passover, but I'm answering anyway because these are everyday issues.

The real problem isn't his rudeness, it's his volatility. You're afraid of him. Please read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker to educate yourself on predicting dangerous behavior in people.

Also, anyone close to this cousin needs to stay in regular, listening-heavy, low-key-but-attentive contact with her. She'll need someone she can trust to help her if his volatility tips into rage. Or if she just grows weary of appeasing a jerk.

The easier problem to address is your children's exposure to the husband's odd behavior. Anything that doesn't traumatize your children will help you educate them, and this is no exception. You're teaching them tolerance and openness? Swell. Use any rudeness as the start of a discussion with your kids afterward. Let them speak, and see whether they even care; they may not care about this arm's-length relative. If they do care, listen for how they make sense of his actions. Guide them to keep them from blaming themselves or vilifying him.

As for how to deal with his rudeness: He eats where he eats, but he needs to serve himself.

Don't skip second wedding ceremony in protest; ask couple

Q: My son and his fiancee (late 20s) have decided on a destination wedding. Her father refuses to attend because it is not a Catholic wedding in his hometown (the groom is Protestant). Her siblings will not go against their father and will not attend.

Upon the demand of her parents, there will be a ceremony in the Catholic Church after the destination wedding. Our presence will be expected at that ceremony and we will be expected to follow the bride's father's wishes for the resulting elaborate ceremony. What suggestions do you have for the groom's family?


A: Taking the facts you offer at face value, I can appreciate your frustration at the bride's father.

But here's the thing. If you skip the Catholic ceremony in protest, your actions will be about you, just as the re-wedding is about the father.

If your principles dictate respecting the wishes of the couple, then ask them how they would prefer you handle the second ceremony. If it's important to your son to have someone there to support him, then you go support him. If the couple give you their blessing to bag it, then by all means, do.

Rude relative is a problem, but not for the reason you thing 04/23/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 23, 2011 4:30am]
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