He won’t for­give late girl­friend’s par­ents for their ac­tions

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Tropical Sunday - BY CAROLYN HAX tellme@wash­post.com

Dear Carolyn: I’m very frus­trated with my par­ents right now. I moved in with them ear­lier this year be­cause my late girl­friend’s par­ents were su­ing for cus­tody of my 2-yearold daugh­ter. It was clear they were go­ing to use the fact that we lived in a small stu­dio apart­ment against me, so I moved in with my par­ents to re­move that dis­ad­van­tage. Last month I in­ally won my court case and re­tain full cus­tody.

They asked me not to hold the cus­tody bat­tle against them but I do. I hate them and I al­ways will. They say they did it for my daugh­ter, but they did it to pun­ish me for sur­viv­ing the car wreck that killed my girl­friend even though the other driver was at fault, and to re­place their daugh­ter with mine.

My par­ents are su­per­vis­ing their vis­its with my daugh­ter, which is great be­cause I never want to see them again. My mom told me she’d like to in­vite them for Thanks­giv­ing and Christ­mas din­ner and I said ab­so­lutely not. We’ve been ight­ing ever since.

I can’t be­lieve my own par­ents aren’t tak­ing my side against th­ese peo­ple. They say I’m just hold­ing a grudge and it’s bad for my daugh­ter. That’s a low blow, and even if it was true, don’t I have the right af­ter what they did?

How can I make my par­ents see how wrong they are?

— Frus­trated With

My Par­ents

It would make things eas­ier for you if your par­ents un­der­stood your po­si­tion, of course. They could say the same thing — if they could just “make” you “see” that it would be good for your daugh­ter if you for­gave th­ese par­ents ...

No­tice where this leads you? Into an end­less loop of ar­gu­ing and rear­gu­ing your core con­vic­tions.

And, wow, all par­ties have al­ready suf­fered pro­foundly — my deep­est sym­pa­thies for all of it. You don’t need an­other bat­tle.

You don’t even need to win this one be­cause you have full au­ton­omy; if your par­ents in­vite your late girl­friend’s par­ents, then you can sim­ply choose not to be there.

But we’re get­ting ahead of our­selves. Your goal of win­ning this ar­gu­ment doesn’t serve you, so I urge you to set a new, achiev­able one: dis­en­gag­ing from bat­tles you don’t need to win. All that re­quires is a po­lite re­fusal.

Peo­ple tend to push back when you deny them lever­age, so you need to be ready to hold your lines. Calmly. “I won’t have this ar­gu­ment with you.” Per your goal.

It can help, though, to serve up less for them to push back against. You throw around the “a” and “n” words — as in, “I hate them and I al­ways will” and “never want to see them again” — and you pre­sume to know th­ese par­ents’ mo­ti­va­tions. When you do that, you in­vite the log­i­cal chal­lenge that you can’t see in­side other peo­ple’s minds, and you can’t know what you will “al­ways” or “never” feel.

It’s still your pre­rog­a­tive to say what­ever you want — but why not choose words that pre-empt such ar­gu­ments? “I am still an­gry at what they put me through and will not share my hol­i­days with them.”

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