Question:What would your reaction be if you were looking at Facebook photos posted by relatives and noticed a deck had been built on your property?
Here’s the story:
My brother and I have owned a piece of property jointly since 1995. Our mom quit claimed it to us. It’s in Robe, Wash. It’s been in the family since the 1930s. My grandfather bought 10 acres along the Stillaguamish River and gave parcels to his three kids (my mom was one) and to his sisters.
Robe is a beautiful, magical place. It’s pristine. There’s no running water or electricity. My dad designed a cabin in 1959 before I was born. My mom and dad, with their own two hands, built the cabin that has given me some of my best childhood memories. Fishing at dawn for breakfast trout. Snuggled into our mummy bags listening to the roaring fire at night. Floating down the rapids with friends. Jumping off the giant rock into the deep swimming hole.
About 15 years ago, my brother and I had the cabin torn down. It was falling apart. Someone had trashed the interior and lit the floor on fire. The roof was leaking. It was a liability and was inviting trouble. We left the fireplace. Some relatives hauled it off in exchange to access to our property which my brother arranged. I thought he had paid a service to do it.
Although the extended family — I have no clue who most of them are these days — have their own lots, ours is where they gather for an annual reunion. I go from time to time. They prefer our lot because our property faces the swimming hole in the river with a big rock. There used to be a sandy beach, too.
Now here’s the question of whether someone has gone too far. I was glancing at photos on facebook from the recent family reunion that I was unable to attend. This is a photo of a deck on my lot. I’ve never seen it before. Nobody asked me if they could build it. Apparently it was for a distant relative’s wedding — that I didn’t know about. My brother knows nothing about any of this either.
What are your thoughts of somebody building on your property without your knowledge or permission?Or holding a wedding?
Does anyone have a person in their life that when their name pops up on your phone, you want to run? I do. And the name popped up yesterday. I was feeling so good after my vacation and visit with mom, only to fall down the distress hole after interacting with “that” person.
I got very upset. I let it take over my moments of joy and relaxation. It bled into today. And I need to stop letting this person take over my emotions.
This person almost always causes me stress. As much as I want to have a better relationship, it never seems to happen. I think it’s a control issue. This person likes to micromanage and have control and tell me what I should do. I naturally bristle at that. I looked up an article of how to deal with stressors in my life and this is what I discovered from “The Main Causes of Stress” by Elizabeth Scott, M.S. on a website called verywellmind
There are people in all of our lives that cause us stress. It could be a family member, an intimate partner, friend, or co-worker. Toxic people lurk in all parts of our lives and the stress we experience from these relationships can affect physical and mental health.
There are numerous causes of stress in romantic relationships and when couples are constantly under pressure, the relationship could be on the risk of failure.
Common relationship stressors include:5
Being too busy to spend time with each other and share responsibilities
Intimacy and sex are become rare due to busyness, health problems, and any number of other reasons
There is abuse or control in the relationship
You and your partner are not communicating
You and/or partner are consuming too much alcohol and/or using drugs
You or your partner are thinking about divorce
The signs of stress related to personal relationships are similar to normal symptoms of general stress and may include physical health and sleep problems, depression, and anxiety.
You may also find yourself avoiding or having conflict with the individual, or becoming easily irritated by their presence.
Sometimes, personal relationship stress can also be related to our relationships with people on social media platforms, such as Facebook.6 For example, social media tends to naturally encourage comparing yourself to others, which can lead to the stress of feeling inadequate. It also makes bullying easier.
This stressful relationship I have is with a relative, but not my husband. So a lot of the bullet points above don’t apply. But I want to know how do I not let this person affect my psyche and mood? Do I stop communicating all together? Or, do I set boundaries? How do I let the words bounce of me? It reminds me of certain childhood rhymes:
“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
“I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounce off me and sticks to you.”
What suggestions do you have for me to avoid the feelings of conflict and stress interacting with this relative?
In the article on HuffPost today called “The Hypocrisy of Parenting,” Dr. Kurt Smith makes a point that until we are a parent ourselves, it’s very easy to judge our friends and strangers during small snapshots of their parenting life.
“There often seems to be something about not having children that makes everyone a parenting expert. Many of us quietly have thought to ourselves, “I can’t believe they…”
“Let him watch TV that late! or,
Sleep in their bed, or
Scream in a store, or
Wear THOSE clothes, or
Eat nothing but mac-n-cheese and Cheerios
This list could go on and on.”
I have several memories of being judged or having my kids judged by relatives and friends. I was judgmental before I had kids, too, so I get how easy it can be to think you know best if you’re removed by years from the toddler years — or never have been a parent.
What annoyed me was I knew there were times I made a decision to bend or compromise my rules because we were in public. It was a conscious and I felt necessary choice. Sometimes it’s easier to give in rather than create a scene in front of the sister-in-law or friend you’re trying to hang out with while juggling the demands of both a toddler and an infant. Maybe it’s not the best decision, but seriously aren’t we doing the best we can — at the moment? It isn’t helpful at that moment to be judged on your parenting.
My good friend who came and stayed with me couldn’t believe how uncooperative my two-year-old son was when I was trying to get him out of his comfy PJs into clothes. “I never!” I remember hearing her say under her breath. I believe that was followed with great parenting tips from her, who wasn’t pregnant yet with her first child. What she said was correct in theory, but practicing parenting is a whole other animal.
Flash forward a few years and she apologized to me in a restaurant where her firstborn wouldn’t sit still in his high chair. “I am so sorry!” she said. “When I was criticizing you, I had no idea!”
That is truly a good friend.
My son at age two with his “Ahhh,” a quilt made by a dear friend.
I know other people in my life who were critical and not very kind with their opinions and judgments. Seemingly, they had forgotten when their children threw temper tantrums on the department store floor or when their kids didn’t come straight home from school and had to be hunted down. Those days were before I had kids and I was judgemental and amazed at the lack of parenting skills — until I had my own kids that is. Then I understood that it’s best not to judge.
I haven’t forgotten how hard those years can be on parents when kids act out. Usually, it’s when children are tired, hungry or sick or in a new environment. Please remember they are not little adults who know how to act perfectly in public and can control their emotions.
Here are three things Smith writes in HuffPost to help us out:
When children enter your world you have to remember that friends that haven’t taken that step have no idea what you are feeling, whether it is frustration, joy, embarrassment, elation or just desperation not to scream. When they offer an opinion it is likely coming from a good spot. And, if your friend hopes to become a parent someday, or is having trouble in that regard, be kind. They may have preconceived ideas about what would work. You very likely did.
As a parent it can be difficult when your friends are trying to offer advice or ‘parent’ your child. Generally they do this because they are close to you and likely want to feel included and important in your life and your child’s. Whenever possible it is important to take the opportunity to make sure friends, especially the ones who haven’t decided to have children yet, know the important role they play in your family’s life.
Parents need to remember that your friend was likely your friend before your child was born. That doesn’t mean they take precedence, but try not to forget them. Your new role as a dad or mom means that they may feel theirs has changed or is no longer important. Make sure you occasionally find time to let them know what they mean to you and that your life is better because they are in it.
As silly and simple as it sounds, before we were parents, we weren’t. And although it isn’t listed in many places (if any), becoming a parent will make you almost instantly a hypocrite. When maintaining friendships across this new terrain, both parties would do well to remember that.
Have you experienced friends or relatives who were judgemental about your parenting techniques? In what instances have you judged others because of the behavior of their kids?