Opinions at Family Gatherings

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Joined: 06/04/07
Posts: 1368
Opinions at Family Gatherings


"No one in my family really gets my worldview, so I find it easier just to smile and nod and agree with everything," Wilmot said Monday. "When I'm with them, I tend to be a lot quieter than when I'm hanging out with friends." Wilmot, who grew up in Kalamazoo and now lives in Chicago, described the visit as "seven hours of self-censorship."
"Meredith said they're putting up a huge new Target Greatland right by their house," Wilmot said. "She says she's psyched because Target is way better than Wal-Mart. I just nodded and said, 'Yeah, totally.'"
"Once you let go of the need to express your thoughts to your family, you suddenly feel much lighter," Wilmot said. "You just float along blissfully, finally liberated from the burden of having any presence at all. It's sort of like getting to return to the womb. Which is way more enjoyable than trying to explain to a tableful of Celine Dion fans why you can't stand her."

Kind of fluff...This just got me thinking since we're having family gatherings for the holidays. Does everyone withhold their opinions all the time with family just for the sake of keeping peace? Do you speak up and give your opinion on what others are saying? If so, is it limited to just having a good debate or do you speak openly your mind on everything? Is this something that families overall have evolved to or do you think this is not the norm?

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

I honestly cant think about a time I have ever held back my opinion in my family.....except maybe with my Grandmother:)

I was raised to believe that you love your family no matter what, so that is really where I can be most honest. Even if we disagree, fight, whatever, we will always love each other and support each other.

My mom had 3 sisters, and I cant recall a single family gathering where at least 2 of the 'girls' didn't end up crying together in the bathroom, making up from some 'fight'. My family has just always been that way.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

I totally state my opinions when I'm with my family. There isn't anything wrong with discussing different views or having friendly debate.

At my mil's it is a different story. No one communicates. Period. So, I keep most of my opinions/thoughts to myself. However, if someone asked my opinion point blank (and, you know, hell froze over and pigs learned to fly) I would honestly answer them.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

I don't say anything to FIL about my views. He said to me once, when I was pg with DD, "If you don't bring that child up in the church she will have a miserable life and go to h*ll, so prevent me from actually killing the man with my bare hands, I never, ever, ever provoke a conversation about anything meaningful with him. Smile.nod.breathe.repeat.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3255

Luckily, that's not an issue for me. I can be completely open with my family as they can with me. We're all opinionated, and we're all expected to speak up when we have something to say!

Also, in general, we share the same belief system. There are ranges on the spectrum, but we're all more or less in the same place.

We also pry a lot -- no way would anybody be able to NOT speak up about something if they had an opinion on it!

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

I have no problem sharing my opinion on fairly trivial things, but I almost never speak up about anything having to do with religion or politics. They know where I stand on most things in a general sort of way (i.e. they know that I can typically be counted on to play the godless liberal in any argument ;)) But our worldviews are just so different. My parents are very conservative Christians and I am very not. When I was younger, I was constantly debating this stuff with them, and I'm sure I was plenty obnoxious about it, and it led to a lot of hurt feelings and fights particularly between my father and I. Now that I'm a little older, it honestly just doesn't seem worth the fight to even get into it, so I just smile and nod and keep my thoughts to myself. It doesn't matter - I love them no matter how much I disagree with some of their views, and vice versa, and it is highly unlikely that I would ever be able to change their minds or them change mine, so it just seems like pointless drama to even bother with it.

Joined: 06/04/07
Posts: 1368

I find it depends on who I'm talking to as to how far I go when expressing my opinions. My family is very opinionated (big surprise even though we have pretty much the same core beliefs), but my BIL's are very different in personality. Of course we all love each other, get along most of the time, and always work it out when it turns into emotions and feelings, but there's sometimes where we just back up and let someone do their thing because the outcome would work better that way. With some, I have no issues at all with openly expressing my POV. But with others - depending on the topic, the person, and how much I personally want to invest in it - I have to either choose my words very carefully or not offer my opinion at all unless asked. One BIL we feel we need to tiptoe around and just listen to them without offering any opinions unless asked, but that leaves me feeling very uncomfortable at times since I feel I can't be completely myself around him.

On DH's side, I feel very comfortable and we have a great time sharing spirited debates and opinions and I love that connected feeling. When I was with my ex, however, it was like walking on eggshells with his parents. Course it didn't help that his father placed a curse of death on me if I read a letter my ex purposely shared with me and his mother wrote letters to the judges that her boy would never do anything to hurt even a flea.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6697

Overall, I am a non-confrontational person. My brother is an Atheist and I am Christian. He is a Democrat, I am a Republican. We both know how each other stands on the issues so we don't typically bring it up. His girlfriend (the mother of his children) is rather sensitive so I don't usually bring up topics that I think would be offensive. I would rather not spend the holiday's fighting. Especially because I only see my family once or twice a year.

BFrantz's picture
Joined: 11/14/11
Posts: 86

I neither state my opinion, nor do I hold it back. I have this wonderful learned skill, called restating. I also have a lovely way of avoiding. Like this year for thanksgiving I am avoiding MY family, like not seeing them, not speaking with them, they are awful to me and I won't have a thing to do with them until they can learn that my life isn't to please them. I am also avoiding my husbands oldest sister because I think shes a sleezy skank and I want nothing to do with her immoral bull crap. I might even be avoiding my husband since he thinks its ok to go out with "the guys" the night before thanksgiving and be out unreasonably late, stupid jerk.

FLSunshineMom's picture
Joined: 06/07/06
Posts: 3859

I think it just depends. I will offer my opinion if I feel that it will be helpful to someone (not that it's always received as helpful, but I try, anyway); otherwise, I usually keep it to myself.

Thankfully there isn't anyone on my side of the family, or on DH's side, who would get highly offended at someone's opinion if it differed from theirs. Not to say we don't ever have debates, we do, but nobody flies off the handle or gets their panties in a wad. Except maybe my DD (but that's another story).