Stop Accepting Bad Behavior. My husband has a spinster aunt who drives us all nuts. She tends to control everyone and every situation. Annoying is putting it nicely. I understand she means well but doesn’t have the tools to express herself appropriately making for some very trying situations. I am planning a birthday party for my mother-in-law and she too has an upcoming birthday within the same period of time. I sent out invitations as I was planning the event. Unbeknownst to me she takes it upon herself to send out her own invitation to her side of the family (paternal members who reside in the midwest) and announces it is a dual celebration so as not to inconvenience any of them into making two trips to San Diego.
As you can imagine when I received her invite I was not only confused but a bit perturbed. She meddles without understanding the ramifications of her behavior and doesn’t realize when she offends or hurts someone’s feelings. You would think at age 89 she would have evolved into a more age appropriate person and not act out so much as to appear like a 5 year-old child or adolescent teenager when expressing and managing her emotions.
Her entire family tends to ignore this bad behavior and continue to make excuses about it. This enabling doesn’t ever give the person exercising bad behavior the opportunity to learn and get better. It creates alot of stress for me and my family as my husband and I do not enjoy most of their family get togethers because she is ALWAYS at them doing “her thing.”
In Marriage Counseling I help my couples acquire and implement tools to effectively communicate. I use a 3-step process in which to discuss a problem or issue. 1) State your problem; 2) Discuss from the standpoint of your Mature Self; 3) Tell the person what you want from them or how you want them to feel afterwards.
So using the 3-step process I sent her this message to bring to her attention her interference and what I wanted from her in the future.
“I understand some people have a conflict with the date due to personal obligations. I informed (my in-laws) during a family get together when they were here in San Diego that if those who couldn’t attend wanted to do an alternate birthday celebration for (my mother-in-law) they certainly were free to do that. With your birthday a couple of months later those same people could celebrate yours then, as well.
I had no idea you wanted to combine the parties. I don’t mind doing that. The problem I have is that no one shared that information with me or (my husband). (Other family members) called me this week confused and I didn’t know what to tell him.
In the future would you please communicate your thoughts and feelings to people involved in the process. I would appreciate the consideration with a “heads up” as I am spearheading the party. I make a living teaching people how to effectively communicate and when I am involved in matters where there is ineffective communication I become very disenchanted. Please be mindful in the future that appropriate behavior would be appreciated.
Thank you for your time in reading this.
This woman did apologize for her behavior. I was happy she received the note with an open mind and hope she learned something from it. The important part to this process was I needed to let her know how I felt and she needed to know what she did was not appropriate or acceptable. Teaching people how to behave around you is crucial to your well being as it is to their learning curve to exercise better behavior.
For more information on how to become a more effective communicator please contact me at (858) 735-1139.