Wedding Woes

Time to verbalize your boundaries.

Dear Prudence,

As a child, I was raised in a pretty straitlaced, “white picket fence” type of family. My aunt “Carolyn” married into the family and became a mentor of sorts to me. She lived a far more liberal lifestyle, and I admired her carefree willingness to build her own life. We were fairly close when I was a teenager. As I’ve grown up, though, I’ve come to feel hurt when she speaks negatively about my family and upbringing. Yes, there were drawbacks, but we also had a lot of love and stability. She has started criticizing my choices—comments like, “You got into business school? I thought I’d been able to talk you out of that!” I think she means it as a joke, but there’s an undercurrent of tension. I know she disagrees with the way my parents raised me, and she believes they stunted my free-spirited personality.

At this point, I’m over it. I know she would have made different choices, but she’s not my mom, and I don’t enjoy spending time with someone who doesn’t respect my parents. I’ve tried to bring this up, but she claims I’ve been “brainwashed” into not questioning my upbringing. I haven’t! I just respect and love my parents for who they are, and I don’t feel the need to criticize 20-year-old choices. Who’s right? Is it possible to grow out of a mentor? How can I get my aunt to stop doing this if she actually wants a relationship with me?

—Aunt With an Agenda

Re: Time to verbalize your boundaries.

  • banana468banana468 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    "I realize that we have different opinions on the right paths to take.   I respect that you followed your path and I am going to have to ask that you respect the path I am taking." 

    That really should be it.   If Auntie wants to continue she has to know that her opinion isn't always requested.   

    FWIW, on occasion I find myself just not engaging with my own aunt.   She's never wrong and has strong opinions and I respect that she's a strong woman.   But she will criticize others when they are not necessarily of the same mind and once she started talking about the Cheeto in Chief as the guy who will fix things I began to engage less often because it isn't worth the argument nor am I interested in hearing her spout unsupported opinions as facts.  I still love her - but we now engage less often. 
  • mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    It sucks to grow up and realize the adults your idolized are just human with their own hang-ups.  LW needs to stop waiting around for aunt to 'get it' from their silence on the issue and start standing up for themselves and their parents if they feel that aunt is wrong.  Disagreeing with someone and/or telling them they're hurting you is not an attack on them, it's you respecting yourself. 
  • The LW is right, in this scenario.  And it's definitely possible to grow out of a mentorship.  

    If the LW hasn't already been blunt with this aunt, they need to be.  Basically that they don't want to hear negative comments about x,y,z and will leave and/or end conversation if it comes up again.  Unfortunately, it might be time for the LW to start distancing themselves more from the aunt if the behavior continues.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • It’s fine to grow out of a mentor, it’s also fine to say “I don’t feel that way about my childhood but I really appreciate your role in my life”. 
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