We’re back from our fabulous trip to Duluth. I’m still getting back in the swing of things, but I just saw someone talking online about feeling down because of a nasty mother-in-law and thought I’d dig this up from the old Magical Childhood newsletter archives.
This is for all those magical mamas (and papas and so on) who are dealing with icks out there…
Are friends and relatives down on you for how you parent?
I hear from way too many parents who seem to be surrounded by icks. Now we all have to deal with icks in our lives, but some of you poor people seem to have an unfair serving of them.
How do you know if loved ones are icks in your life?
If they start most of their sentences with “If I were you….”.
If you can’t remember the last time they paid you a compliment.
If you get a panic attack when they pull into your drive.
If you have been known to clean the oven to get away from them.
If their advice makes you feel bad about yourself.
If you would choose elective surgery over an evening in their company.
What should you do about icks in your life?
Well, the obvious answers (booby traps, fire extinguishers, hornets…) are too hard to coordinate. Plus, icks tend to have the sticking power of starved leeches, probably because they’re so used to having people push them over and take off running to get away from them.
So what should you do? Here’s some suggestions.
~ Take up a hobby that will reduce the amount of time you can spend with them.
~ Get caller ID.
~ When they offer unwanted advice about how you parent, look thoughtful and say “That’s interesting, it’s exactly the opposite of what our doctor told me.”
~ Tell them you’ve just been diagnosed with a severe ulcer and have been told to eliminate stress at all costs. Whenever they start to say something you don’t like, grab your stomach and moan.
~ Every time they start to give advice, jump up and suddenly remember something you have to do in the next room. They’re icky, not stupid. They’ll get it.
~ Compliment them extensively for anything good they do. Icks are dreadfully insecure and are used to everybody thinking they’re heinous (they are, after all). Therefore, nobody compliments them, even though lots of people may pretend to be their friends. Find anything real and gush over it. And be sincere. Redirection works for your two year old so why not try it on your father in law.
~ Avoid them. I’ve done this for years. Hey, they don’t pay any cash for having social graces towards icky people. Why exactly should I play nicely with the old friend who treats me like an idiot? Why visit the relative who makes me feel bad about myself? Pfft. People whom you did not give birth to have to earn the right to your company.
~ Find better people. If you surround yourself with enough neat people you’ll be better equipped to blow off the obnoxious ones. Even an online group of supportive friends can work wonders to drown out the drone of a lecturing relative. At the very least you can vent and have somebody say “poor thing” and “they suck” a lot.
~ Remember the most important thing: You’re great and they’re wrong. Any time some ick is prattling on at you about how you should spank your child for not staying at the supper table, or how you’re ruining your baby by holding him, or how your house is too messy or your kid is too shy, then I want you to picture me saying it again. You’re great and they’re wrong.
(Apologies but you’ll have to picture me saying it on a camel, since this seems to be the only recent picture I can find of myself. But it kind of adds a nice touch, don’t you think?)
Got it? One more time. You’re great and they’re wrong.
And I know it’s true, too. For one thing, the type of person who tells other people what’s wrong with them is always wrong. It’s science. A law of nature. Nice people don’t lecture. So it’s proof– the minute they open their mouths and find fault you have it.
You’re great and they’re wrong.
And if they’re still too rude to take, you send ‘em to me.