Question of the Week: January 12th, 2016

Do you ever step back and realize how ridiculous your family is?

I think it’s common for many people to grow up and think their family is normal, only to later to find out how weird they are.  As I went through college and grad school, I became more and more aware of how much my parents argued with each other.  It’s hard to explain my feelings about it.  The arguments aren’t indicative of marriage problems, the arguments are just stupid.  Like if we go to a theme park, they will spend a long time arguing about the most efficient order to visit the rides, after the fact.

What helped me realize this was two things: living away from my parents, and having my partner meet my parents.  My partner was really bothered by the arguments at first, whereas I had long learned to tune them out.  In exchange, I’ve had a few things to say about my partner’s parents and their strange habits.  But it occurs to me that this isn’t a universal experience, since having partners who meet your parents isn’t a universal experience.

About Siggy

Siggy is an ace activist based in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and has a Ph.D. in physics. He has another blog where he also talks about math, philosophy, godlessness, and social criticism. His other hobbies include board games and origami.
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2 Responses to Question of the Week: January 12th, 2016

  1. Sciatrix says:

    The “partner meeting parents” thing gets slightly more complicated when there are two of them. 😛 One of my partners has met my parents, I have not met theirs (as they’re now estranged), and the remaining partner has neither met my parents nor have I or my third partner met theirs. So just one permutation, but my family’s involved.

    I think for me, anyway, realizing my family’s weird things was something that happened earlier than bringing home significant others did. For one thing, my extended family is very, very fervently Irish American. I think I started to notice that one was unusual sometime in college. The time I took a college friend to stay with my grandparents over St Patrick’s and we were called up from the basement so that we could watch a gentleman sing Danny Boy on the television, hands over our hearts… well, that more or less clinched that realization.

    With respect to more dysfunctional and less benign weirdnesses… that’s been a very slow process for me, because those are the sort of things that I try to control by assuming that I’m at fault for them in some way. Bringing home my partner to visit my family has certainly brought them to a head by erasing some of the mutual polite fictions and making it clearer that a lot of those dynamics are not within my control, but my noticing them started to happen well before that did.

  2. Coyote says:

    Mmmmyeah. Besides the arguing and being frustratingly dysfunctional, something I’ve noticed about my nuclear family: we sometimes redirect a tense conversation to become commentary on our cats. This is something that’s happened repeatedly and I’m not sure how to feel about it. Someone will be talking about the latest family crisis, or some logistical problem, or something they’re upset about, and someone will go “But look at that cat!” And then we all start talking about the cat and how cute and spoiled she is. This is an unspoken rule, something we’ve never even talked about, but once I started noticing the pattern to it it’s gotten kind of… eerie.

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