Grown son re­sent­ful at be­ing put on spot by his self­ish par­ents

The China Post - - TV & COMICS -

DEAR AN­NIE: When­ever I’m at my par­ents’ house and they have guests, they ex­pect me to “per­form.” I don’t mean play­ing the pi­ano or tap danc­ing. I mean they in­sist I “tell them that story you told me.” Any story they se­lect.

I feel I’m be­ing treated as some kind of cir­cus freak. This makes me very un­com­fort­able, and they know it be­cause I’ve told them. They al­ways prom­ise not to do it again, but then they al­ways do.

They can be in­cred­i­bly self­ish. My mother doesn’t want me to speak at fam­ily din­ners, and lets my sib­lings bull­doze over ev­ery­one. I hated this when I was a kid and still do. Now, when­ever she tells peo­ple, “Tell them what you told me,” I will say, “I think that story isn’t ap­pro­pri­ate for now, if you know what I mean.”

Am I be­ing un­rea­son­able? Did I also men­tion that my par­ents in­ter­ro­gate me about my job and then tell me I’m do­ing it all wrong? We have fights about what I wear to work. The last time, they told me to wear a shirt and tie to a job where I get my hands dirty. And they did it in front of my ex­tended fam­ily. What do I do?

— New Jersey Son

Dear New Jersey: You learn to ac­cept your par­ents as they are, and then set bound­aries that will al­low you to be less up­set.

Your folks ap­par­ently think you are a ter­rific sto­ry­teller, but you do not have to oblige. When they ask you to re­late some­thing, it’s fine to say, “Not right now,” and then change the sub­ject. A use­ful skill is to do so while be­ing po­lite, even smil­ing. Never lose your tem­per. Re­peat as of­ten as nec­es­sary and take your leave if they won’t let up. Save your con­ver­sa­tion for friends who ap­pre­ci­ate it in­stead of sib­lings who talk over ev­ery­one. Some par­ents are no­to­ri­ous for crit­i­ciz­ing their chil­dren’s choices in ev­ery­thing. Most chil­dren fig­ure out how to eval­u­ate what has merit and then ig­nore the rest, nod­ding po­litely in­stead of ar­gu­ing. We sug­gest you prac­tice.

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