View Full Version : Going back to school and family drama - need advice

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06-25-2010, 04:30 AM
Upon finishing my MA in English and teacher certification courses this past year, I collected information about doctoral programs in my area. I wasn't all that serious, but the idea has always intrigued me. So while applying for jobs in January and February, I dashed off a few applications and just sat back. All was forgotten as soon as I took a new job in April.

That was until yesterday. I received a letter in the mail that I have been accepted into a program near my home. Most of the courses can be taken online and they even have part-time options. My husband is very supportive and has voiced his desire that I pursue this option. I was all excited about it and made a post of my facebook page that I had decided to do it.

I didn't realize what a mistake that was with my family and friends on Facebook. All afternoon and evening I have been receiving e-mails and texts that I am being selfish. They tell me that I should be thinking about having a baby with my husband and providing my parents with grandchildren. Nevermind that we don't want kids and I couldn't have them anyway. I deleted the post on Facebook, thinking that would solve the problem. Oh no, it hasn't.

I turned to my one cousin I thought I could trust. She always seemed level headed. Her response...I must be looking for validation (my word, not hers) by posting that. She said that our aunts, uncles, and cousins were too busy with their own lives to worry about what stupid thing I decided to do with my life next.

No, I don't think that I'm supposed to be the center of attention. However, I did want to share the news that I was accepted with my family and friends. I never thought they would react the way they have at this point. My friends seem horrified that I come from a family like this. I'm embarrassed that they are showing out like this and deflated over their reactions.

While I can get through this, I'm questioning my role in my family at this point. My parents see no problem with the way their siblings and others treat me. This isn't the first time that I've been called selfish over the no child thing. I am starting to think that the best solution is for me to break off ties with these family members. I love my parents deeply, but I cannot keep going to family reunions, holiday parties, birthday celebrations, etc. when I know these people dislike me as much as they seem to right now.

What do you think? Am I overreacting? Have any of you been able to cut ties with family?

06-25-2010, 05:00 AM
I think that it is incredibly selfish to bring a child into the world when it isn't really wanted. Your birthing plan is between you and your husband. Period. Be like the rest of us FSUers are tell them to piss off. I dare you to post 'Piss off' as your facebook status. And congratulations on getting in to the PhD program!

06-25-2010, 05:00 AM
Your family has a bunch of meatheads. If your husband is supportive of your plans, the rest of your family should just shut their yaps. I don't blame you for being upset! Visit with those you respect and who support you, and ignore the others. It is true, you know...you can pick your friends....

Good luck!

Aussie Willy
06-25-2010, 05:07 AM
Wow that is really surprising because it sounds like it was just something really harmless you posted and great news - good on you. And obviously your husband was very supportive over it which is great. But to then turn it into "how selfish" or "what about kids?" attacks is really not on. I don't think you are overreacting at all and if people did the same to me I would be really p*ssed off too.

If your family members behave like that, then I would really think about how much would it mean to not have them in your lives. Sounds like there are other issues but this is compounding it. But when it comes down to it, it is none of their business what you do. Maybe you should post something on Facebook about how much this has hurt you and that you deciding not to have children has nothing to do with them.

I have cut ties with a sister who used to treat me like a piece of sh*t. Would speak to me in a manner that was not acceptable until the day I reacted back and stood up for myself. I still see her at family gatherings and we are very civil. But that is it. I have been hurt too much by her to want to enable her to behave like that again.

06-25-2010, 05:15 AM
ArtisticFan, congratulations on getting into a PhD program, and finding work! :cheer2:

As to the drama, do your family and friends know you are unable to have children? If so, it's extra selfish of them to harass you, but even if they don't, I'm with Jayar, tell them to piss off (though, I'd not use those exact words ;)). You are not obligated to have children, not to anyone. It's them being selfish, not you.

I would not cut yourself off from your family over this, because it's so hard to undo on either side, but I would choose carefully how, when, for what amount of time, and in what circumstances you interact with them. I also think it is possible to change who you interact with.

My family are estranged from one of my sisters, and I can tell you, it breaks all of our hearts, despite my parents pretending they don't care. Your family is your family, warts and all. The very limited contact any of us have with my sister and her family is not cherished as it should be, it is instead used as an opportunity for us again to dwell on the whole issue. It's incredibly hard to undo, and I don't believe it is something to either take lightly, or deal with or "get over".

06-25-2010, 05:17 AM
Holy.. I can't imagine my family reacting like that! I'm with Jayar.. tell them to go pee up a rope!

Congrats btw :)

06-25-2010, 05:19 AM
Whatever you decide to do, I wouldn't use Facebook as the medium for accomplishing it.

Setting boundaries and appropriate expectations of how much support you can realistically expect from each family member may be helpful in negotiating family dynamics.

pat c
06-25-2010, 05:21 AM
Don't cut ties, but be polite and distant. :D

Keep in touch with the ones you want to, and the others, well no. Someone I worked with years ago, gave me 2 pieces of witticisms

1. It's a great life if you don't weaken

2. For those who get on your last nerve, smile at them and say f*** you under your breath. Makes you feel better, and they're wondering what you're smiling about.

Congrats, your husband supports you, so live your life and ignore the others.

06-25-2010, 05:26 AM
All afternoon and evening I have been receiving e-mails and texts that I am being selfish. They tell me that I should be thinking about having a baby with my husband and providing my parents with grandchildren.
WTH. I'm sorry that your family is so selfish and arrogant.

My friends seem horrified that I come from a family like this.
Your family is definitely earning the horror.

You're not overreacting. They are being assholes. Your future is up to you and your husband.

Only you can decide whether you want to continue interacting with these people, but at the very least you should feel no guilt about deleting them from your Facebook friend list.

And congratulations on getting into the PhD program! :cheer2: I hope it is everything you are looking for :)

06-25-2010, 05:29 AM
What PatC (and many others) have said, and Good Luck! :)

06-25-2010, 05:49 AM
Pity you can't apply for new 'family and friends' online.

Congratulations on your course.

06-25-2010, 06:10 AM
Congratulations, ArtisticFan. :cheer2:

06-25-2010, 06:12 AM
Thank you all. I am still in shock at the reactions and comments from my relatives, but I know that I cannot put my self worth in their hands. This isn't the first time that I have felt like an outsider with my extended family. The comments and even rude behavior have been building for years.

These are people who have attended events at my house and thanked my parents for inviting them without ever saying a word to me. When I have offered to watch or take care of my cousins' children when there have been deaths in the family or other events, I have been told that am not qualified to take care of children, as I have none of my own. My mother and I share the same birthday. These people will call and interrupt our yearly birthday dinner to say happy birthday to her. They never even mention me.

I suppose that I had hoped that a venue like Facebook would be something that would allow us to communicate without the awkwardness that has become our yearly get togethers. I was wrong, which means I will be doing some spring cleaning of the friends list.

I need to remind myself that I cannot control their comments. All I can do is control my reaction.

Again, I thank you all for your comments and advice.

06-25-2010, 07:03 AM
Congratulations on getting into a PhD program!!!

I am sorry that your family are being clods.

06-25-2010, 08:44 AM
I need to remind myself that I cannot control their comments. All I can do is control my reaction.

This... I'm in a similar situation and have found that as much as I'd like to eliminate some family members being polite but not too social has been the best. There's certain things that my family members and I can't talk about. There's certain times when I know I won't be able to converse without losing it so I don't bother. It's more peaceful that way. I hope that eventually we can discuss some of the issues but for the time being it isn't going to happen.

Congrats on getting in to the PhD program!