For more I’ve been polite but distant with my brother-in-law for 15 years. I’ve been through a lot of inner turmoil about its unsustainable agricultural practices and the treatment of animals, including hunting and shooting for sport and pleasure.
As the only vegan/vegetarian in the family, I have guard it disapproval of myself, even though everyone knows I am an active environmentalist and animal rights advocate. I recently learned he teaches these traditions to his young son, apparently against the boy’s will. Knowing how sweet and compassionate the boy is, it becomes even more difficult for me.
Soon we will have what will be our last big family vacation with my elderly parents, which everyone is looking forward to.. But I am fear of no longer being able to remain passive and silent.
If I go on vacation with all of them, I know I won’t be able to deflect the cognitive dissonance. My discomfort, which has been bubbling under the surface for too long, is going potentially sour the trip and upset my parents. But if I decide not to go, I’m afraid to live to regret not being there.
If I raise a measured discussion I know I will be mocked or diminished by stubborn voices and becoming too upset to hold on. Am I selfish and weak if I make a excuse and miss last great family vacation? Or do i risk upsetting the apple basket and putting my sanity through the wringer by confronting a toxic and unethical mindset?
While it’s a conscious choice, staying silent isn’t necessarily the passive option – in some situations, it can be the most proactive thing to do. I’m not advising you to remain silent, but it’s important to be realistic about what you want to achieve and, if possible
backtrack to see if you can achieve this.
If you want to make sure your brother-in-law won’t upset you, the only real way to do that is to not go. But could you be angry if he stopped you from attending this memorable gathering? Doesn’t that give him tremendous power?
Maybe the best outcome would be to go find a way to lessen the impact on you, so it’s all about how to achieve that. Could you minimize contact with him by not traveling or staying with him? Could you bring someone with you – perhaps from outside the family, as an ally? I also wanted to know more about the boy’s mother – could she be an ally?
If the subject comes up, instead of defending your position, you might become curious about his; it can make him think about what he is saying. That said, I’ve met people like your brother-in-law and even that may be impossible: saying nothing seems complicit, but saying anything provokes blind fury.
What would happen if you lost your temper with him instead of trying to always stay the course? Maybe not on vacation, but some other time. Would it be so terrible?
I understand you’re worried about his son, but confronting the boy’s father puts him in a difficult position. I have a feeling you think if you could be heard, you could change your brother-in-law’s mind. It’s doubtful, and it’s not your responsibility either. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, but at some point you’ll have to decide whether to continue having this conversation or just ignore it.
You might find the podcast I did this with helpful conflict resolution expert Gabrielle Rifkind. : https://pod.link/1567190358/episode/a2b62f1b412cee3ff3c79ae45ca065dFor me, there are family members that I have decided not to see anymore because our differences are too great, unless it is a large gathering where they can be diluted.
Annalisa Barbieri discusses a family problem transmitted by a reader each week. If you would like advice from Annalisa on a family matter, please send your concern to [email protected]. Annalisa regrets not being able to enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions.
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