All Articles Tagged "family matters"
There are two types of people in the world who feel as though they’ve earned the right to say anything they want to people, no matter how it makes them feel. I would argue that those people include the elderly and anyone who uses “culture” as an excuse for the way they behave. And while our elders surely have earned the right to call us young whippersnappers and give us a piece of their mind, the other group of people mentioned are just mean and don’t realize it. Or maybe they do and don’t care. *shrugs*
I thought I should write about this after sharing a comment a future in-law made about my skin with my co-workers and realizing that quite a few of them had experiences with relatives who talked somewhat recklessly about their features.
While getting to know the aunt of my fiancé, who is in town from Nigeria, we did some shopping and chatted about who I am and the wedding. I thought we hit it off pretty well. We had our moments where it was obvious that she was probing me to ensure that I would be a good fit for her nephew. She asked me if I knew how to cook Nigerian food, if I could speak Yoruba, and if I could speak my own group’s language (yes, not really, and just the basic greetings). I wasn’t interested in trying to impress anybody, so I just kept it real and kept it cute. But I was taken aback a little bit when me, my fiancé and his aunt rode the subway together, and she asked me about my face.
“So what are you doing about your pimples for the wedding?” she asked.
I felt a little sting at the inquiry, the kind that lets you know your feelings are about to be hurt, but went on to giggle nervously before saying, “Oh, I’m just going to use a makeup artist.” What I really wanted to say was, “I’ve been using some strong products lately, and for me to be on my period this is actually a good day for my skin, thank you very much!” But you know, life doesn’t work out that way, and I didn’t want to be disrespectful.
I handled it the best way I could, which was to try and brush it off. But her “What are you going to do about this face?” question took me back to Nigeria. When I’d visited in past years with my sister, my parents, and heard relatives make all kinds of comments about my skin and my sister’s weight. Yes, I’ve had bad skin since I hit puberty. And yes, my sister’s weight has fluctuated over the years. But neither of us were expecting these family members we didn’t know all that well to say things like, “Look at you! You’re so fat!” and “You’re getting so fat! What’s going on?” Or in my case, to have my uncle ask, “You know you have pimples all over your face? Why is that?”
Before I could explain to him that being a teenager and eating crap probably contributed to my struggle, my older sister, who’d had just about enough of our relatives after a week and some change in town said, “Uncle ___, why would you ask her that?” It was at that moment that I realized he didn’t really know any other way to talk.
“I’m just asking her why she has so many pimples,” he said, genuinely confused.
“But you don’t think she knows that?” she shot back. “You guys probably don’t realize this, but in America, when you ask people questions about the way they look like that, it’s rude.”
“It is?” he asked before looking my way. “I’m sorry! I won’t ask you about your skin again. I’m not trying to make you feel bad.”
This straightforward, blunt way of saying things was just the common way my relatives, including my uncle, addressed people about obvious things that some might deem as imperfections, even though we here in the States wouldn’t dare try it (well, that is, unless we’re hiding behind computer screens). And this way of telling you things, either jokingly pointing out that you’ve gotten “fat” or saying it in a voice of sadness, is common in all kinds of cultures. Like my Guyanese co-worker whose aunt used to ask her “Why did you get so black? You need to have an umbrella out!” And the other aunt who said, “It’s so good that you shaved off the 25 pounds!” when she dropped just a few pounds. “Praise God that it’s gone!”
Yep. Too common. Guyanese, Nigerian, Vietnamese, and more, and your own family isn’t out here trying to mince words or look out for feelings. And while some would tell you to have a good comeback ready (i.e., “I’ve gained weight? Well, that makes two of us!”), it doesn’t make having family members who are supposed to embrace you but would rather damn near harass you about your looks feel any less sucky.
So, if you can relate to this struggle, how do you deal with these types of relatives and their frank comments about your appearance?
There are all kinds of customs and expectations when it comes to getting married. Having a color scheme. A wedding party. The bride wearing something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. And then there are the cultural things that others remind you of. Like my fiancé’s mom telling me that she was supposed to pay for my dress or the idea of having a traditional ceremony before the actual wedding. But what happens when you, the bride, want to follow certain so-called customs, but your family members don’t?
According to traditional expectations, the bride’s parents are supposed to pay for the church ceremony and the reception, but in the case of a woman I recently met and hung out with, as she was preparing to plan her big day, she found that her parents were awfully quiet about how the arrangements would be paid for. Knowing that it’s probably not a good idea to assume anything, she asked them if they would be able to contribute to covering those costs, and her father told her, “probably not.”
She said he told her that if truly needed, they would help out where they could. But considering that she and her fiancé are over 30, make decent money and don’t have more than your ordinary bills, loans and responsibilities to cover (no kids yet), they should be able to fund the wedding of their dreams. However, the bride-to-be is a little hurt by the move. She’s their only child and expected that more would be done by her parents to help her celebrate one of the biggest days of her life. She understands that both of her parents are retired. Therefore, money isn’t flowing and growing on trees. But she almost feels as though they’re not as excited about this milestone as she is, or they would have jumped at the chance to help pay for her church and reception costs. She doesn’t feel like this is the right time for them to teach her and her future husband a lesson about being responsible and covering the expenses of the things they really want for themselves. She’s their only daughter for goodness sake…
I would have to say that I would probably be a little salty. And I hope that they’re not forgoing helping out more because she’s getting married after 30 (because the woman does wonder if they would be more giving had she met someone and tied the knot in her earlier twenties…). Still, at the end of the day, I think it’s best to go into these types of situations assuming that you and your spouse will be the only ones trying to fund your wedding. Assuming other people will step in and step up will only leave you disappointed and sour (trust me) and in even larger amounts of debt. Both of my parents are actually retired too, so I didn’t expect them to be able to really help out at all for my upcoming nuptials. But they’ve both said that they would contribute financially in different ways, which I definitely appreciate. But just their presence on my wedding day and their support is enough. Because while parents may be obligated to pay to house you, clothe you, feed you and raise you as a kid, as an adult, they’re not obligated to pay for anything, let alone your wedding.
Family Matters: My Cousin Posted A Picture Of My 5-Year-Old In The Tub And Doesn’t Understand Why It’s Inappropriate
Do you remember when you were a kid, and all the young’ns used to bathe together?
It was supposed to be a time of bathing and playing (and a way to keep folks from wasting water on separate turns in the tub), and for some parents, it was a cute way to gather memories. So they snapped a picture of you with your siblings or your cousins and placed it in a photo album. You know, the types of albums parents keep around to blackmail and embarrass you in the future. But at the end of the day, it was all in good, clean fun, and no one saw the image except for your immediate family (and maybe your future significant other).
But in a time where people now share pictures via social media, are those harmless, “in good, clean fun” family bath photos actually a bad idea? And not just bad, but inappropriate?
That’s what a fellow gym rat and friend of mine thinks. Denise*, who is also a fan of Teen Mom 2, was recapping a recent episode of the show with me. One of the dads, who used to be a hardcore deadbeat, is finally trying to do better by his daughter–to the chagrin of the mother. And while she tries to give the guy visitation, she prefers if it’s supervised by his parents, because she just doesn’t trust him to make good decisions with their daughter on his own.
Anywho, in the recent episode, while visiting with his daughter and a younger daughter from a previous relationship, the guy gave both girls a bath. He sat them in the tub, and during their bath, he took a picture of them–and then he shared it with his thousands of followers on Instagram. The child’s mother came across the image and was livid. Denise was too, because she could relate.
“You know my cousin did some sh-t like that to my daughter,” she said. “I’m still not speaking to him over it.”
As she would relay, Denise dropped her daughter off to spend the day with her cousin’s kids (two girls, 3 and 6). They want to the park, ran around and got a little messy, so her cousin gave them a bath. During the girls’ time frolicking in the tub, her cousin took a picture of them cheesing it up (and without clothing) and posted it on Instagram, thinking it was all cute and innocent. And while it may have been, Denise came across the picture on her IG and was mortified.
“It’s just really inappropriate, man. I know he probably didn’t think anything of it, but they’re little girls. And these days you can’t just put little naked girls on social media. They’re not little, little babies anymore.”
Denise told her cousin to take down the picture. They had a disagreement about it, but he eventually ceded and removed the image. Still, she says that he maintains that he didn’t do anything wrong. In his mind, telling him to take down the picture is yet another way people are perverting the purest of acts, and that there’s a difference between protecting a child, and oversexualizing them. But Denise says he can do whatever he likes when it comes to posting pictures of his own daughters. But her child, her rules.
It is sad that so many things are now looked at through a distorted lens. A grandfather tried to post a picture of himself taking a bath with his grandchild last year (he had on bottoms), and people attacked him for it, calling him a pedophile. And the minute people post these type of pictures, some comments immediately say, “You should take this down.” Yes, the collective bathtime picture we’ve all taken before our bodies were developed is now frowned upon. But honestly, even back in the day, it wasn’t something people were sharing with their neighbors, co-workers, and complete strangers just for the hell of it. They just printed it out and kept it for family. So it should be no surprise that sharing such an image with the world via social media, just because that’s what we’re all used to doing now, is deemed improper. How well do you really know all the people who follow you after all?
I would agree that a bath — a supervised one — between siblings and young relatives is harmless, but in the world we live in now, capturing it and sharing it with the masses just isn’t.
A conversation was had earlier this morning in the office about the relationships people have with the fathers of their children, control issues, and what one parent needs to ask the permission of another parent for, before doing. Like a man giving his son a haircut without asking the child’s mother beforehand.
If you’ll recall, a video surfaced about two years ago of a man named Earl videotaping his ex-wife, Kim, as she stood behind his car, keeping him from leaving the parking lot of a police station while she held onto the hands of their twin boys. Kim, along with her mother, was filmed making quite the scene as she picked up the boys because Earl decided to get their hair cut without asking her permission. Most who saw the video, including my co-workers, agreed that she overreacted to the nines, especially since she kept Earl from moving his car so that she could scold him, remind him that he abandoned his family (he, in turn, recalled that he just left her), and then pretended that he put his hands on her in the parking lot so she could file charges against him. It was all bad.
And while we could all agree that her response to the situation was quite exaggerated, we were torn over whether or not it’s okay for a guy to cut the hair of his child without saying anything to the mother.
As I’ve stated before, I’m a big Teen Mom and Teen Mom 2 fan, and in an episode that came on last night of the latter, cast member Jenelle found herself frantic after her former fiancé, Nathan, took their son to another state during visitation time without telling her. He kept the boy for much longer than they had previously discussed. He also had the child around his current girlfriend, whom he started dating during his relationship with Jenelle. And that woman actually filed charges against Jenelle after the reality star threw a cup at her as she sat in Nathan’s car during a dropoff gone bad. I said all that to make it clear that there’s all kinds of bad blood brewing in this situation.
To make matters worse, when the one-year-old boy was finally returned to Jenelle, she realized that his hair had been cut. And because Nathan’s new girlfriend is a stylist, Jenelle came to the conclusion that the new boo did the cut. Not only was Jenelle upset that she wasn’t asked if it was okay for her son’s hair to be cut, but she was also angry that she wasn’t present for that moment, and that his hair was cut Nathan’s girlfriend–who Jenelle doesn’t even like around her son in the first place.
Angered by Nathan’s decision, she blew up his phone, told him she was going to change her number so he wouldn’t be able to contact her any further, and that if he wanted to see his son from that day forward, he would need to meet her in court. In Jenelle’s eyes, he had already overstepped boundaries by taking the child out of state. But he really crossed the line with the haircut. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Or, better yet, make that the strand.
When I shared that story with two of my co-workers, one said that it was unacceptable, particularly the part about the meddling new girlfriend being the one who did the haircut. But another said that she felt like a boy’s first haircut is a moment for the father. And since the baby is Nathan’s as well, he shouldn’t really have to ask permission to do anything for the boy when it doesn’t have to do with visitation.
I think that considering the role the new girlfriend played in the ugly end to Nathan and Jenelle’s relationship, and the fact that she has charges against Jenelle, she probably doesn’t need to have such a hands-on role with their son just yet. It’s just asking for more drama, and they already have plenty of that. But regarding Nathan’s choice to cut the child’s hair in general, why not?
Well, then again, some could take a man’s decision to cut a child’s hair without saying anything to the mother as that individual trying to make a statement. A “Damn! You need a haircut. What has your mama been doing?” statement that implies they disapprove of the way the mother has been handling things. Yes, even something as trivial as hair. So, again, it sounds like a lot of drama waiting to happen.
But what do you say? Do fathers who don’t have primary custody of their children need to ask for permission to cut their child’s hair or alter their appearance?
While in town for my best friend’s wedding, another one of my friends from childhood told me a fascinating story about some issues her oldest sister is having with her husband’s stepmother. Matters that have become so uncomfortable, her sister has been labeled as impolite, and the stepmother, delusional.
As I’ve stated before, in Nigerian culture, it’s common for people to call elder women “mom” or “mommy.” And, of course, if you actually marry a man, and his mother becomes your mom, it only makes sense to call her “mom” or “mommy.” (But at your own pace…) However, in the case of my BFF’s sister, Funmi*, she’s very hesitant to call her father-in-law’s new (and much younger) wife “mom” because of the simple fact that the woman is not really her elder. Technically, her new mother-in-law, Modupe*, is older, but both women are actually in the same age group: Funmi is 38, Modupe is 40. When she visits her father-in-law’s home, Funmi greets him with “dad,” a curtsey and a hug, but her mother-in-law doesn’t get the same pleasantries from her, or Funmi’s sisters. They do give her a hug (and Funmi’s younger sisters, including my friend, do curtsey), but that’s about it.
And that bothers Modupe. A lot. She told her husband, or “reported” as my friend put it, that Funmi was disrespectful. As her elder and the stepmother of her husband, Modupe said that Funmi should really make a better effort to “greet” her. Same for Funmi’s sisters, including my BFF, when they come around. And as you would guess, Funmi said she isn’t doing it. She finds it to be weird considering that her new mother-in-law is just right above her in age. And in her mind, Modupe is just looking to have someone make her feel important and give her an ego boost. So, it’s safe to say that this relationship will remain chilly.
What would you do in this situation? I can say from experience that tradition is a mother to try and get around. I’ve actually written about it in the past. I still struggle with being comfortable enough to call my mother-in-law “mom” or “mommy,” which is what she would like. And it’s not because of age, as my fiancé’s mother is definitely my elder. But rather, it’s because I’m especially close to my own parents, and I’m not too keen on placing such labels on someone automatically. Some people need the time to get to know their in-laws better and to feel comfortable enough with them so that they can openly greet them with a “mom” or “dad.” But others just aren’t okay with it, and personally, I think that’s fine.
However, as I previously stated, there’s tradition. And expectations based on cultural customs are very important in Nigerian culture (and at times, a tad bit suffocating). Still, some stuff just isn’t for everybody. And calling someone who could technically have been a classmate “mommy,” isn’t for Funmi. Can you blame her?
One of my best friends surprised me recently when she revealed that she’s getting married–in a few weeks. She’s decided to do everything at the courthouse and have a small gathering of family and friends witness her special moment. When we were talking, I asked her if she was going to set up a registry, and she emphatically said no. According to her, they don’t necessarily need anything, as they already live together. And on top of that, she finds the idea of setting up a registry for a courthouse wedding to be a little tacky.
I wondered if this feeling was a common one, so I hopped online. I ran across a story of a woman whose sister was having a courthouse wedding. There isn’t going to be a reception, and not many people are even being invited to the wedding, but, there is a registry. Big sis finds the idea to be extremely boorish and is wondering if she should tell her sister since the registry idea isn’t sitting well with a few other family members as well.
The consensus, according to these Internet streets, is that having a registry for small courthouse ceremonies, and ceremonies that involve eloping, in general, is not a good idea. In fact, a poll was taken on a WeddingBee board with the question “Friend is expecting gifts for a courthouse wedding?” After 156 votes, 112 voters found such expectations to be “Rude,” 34 voters said “It’s ok,” and 10 voters went the “Other” route, not knowing what to think of the scenario.
Wedding planner Taylor Lea Thomas wrote for MadameNoire in 2012 that women should forgo gift registries for courthouse weddings and only share gift ideas if friends and family ask if they need or want anything:
Perhaps you can have a small gathering at your home, friend or family’s home, at your church, etc., whereby guests come to celebrate your married life together. In this case, guests can bring a gift if they so desire. Again, do not request gifts! That’s just as bad as requesting cash. You may, however, offer suggestions to those who ask if you’d prefer something specifically. In the end, be a gracious bride and those genuinely interested won’t need a gift registry announcement to buy you a wedding present.
And one woman, who was married at a courthouse and had a small party afterward, said she didn’t ask for gifts, and others shouldn’t, especially if the bride and groom already live together.
We didn’t expect gifts or really want them as we had lived together for the better part of 4 years and had everything we needed. My parents gave us a week at their timeshare for our honeymoon, but otherwise, we just got a few small things like photo frames and photo album. We didn’t have a gift registry. My personal view on wedding gifts (whether you have a big wedding or small wedding) is that if the couple hasn’t lived together before, it is fine to set up a gift registry so they can build a home together with the things they like. If they have lived together, I don’t think their wedding should be an excuse to re-decorate their home for free, and a registry shouldn’t be set up, it’s just kind of tacky.
In my opinion, I just think it makes sense, whether someone is getting married at a courthouse, in the Lord’s house, or outside a beach house, and even if they already live together, to come bearing gifts if you’re invited–even if you choose to bypass the registry. It doesn’t have to be something big, especially if the couple already resides in the same home. I think that if this woman tells her sister that she’s being rude by having a registry for something she deems too small, she’s tacky. Plus, it could cause some unnecessary drama. Just get the girl some pots or a gift card, let her know you got her some things the newlyweds can use, and call it a day.
Do you think there is a nice way for her to tell her sister how she feels about the registry? Or should she keep that to herself?
How far would you go to help a loved one?
It’s a complicated question to answer. If we’re talking about making one’s self available to offer aid or emotional support, I’m all here for it. But once you enter into a territory where we’re talking about money, things can get very complex.
Like a story I found online where a young woman was approached by her aunt to help her relative out in a major way.
The woman, who has done pretty well for herself as a nurse, went to visit her aunt and uncle one evening. In the midst of shooting the sh-t, the aunt put the woman on the spot and asked her if she would be able to co-sign for a loan, for a house of all things. The woman’s aunt and uncle said their home was in bad shape, their landlord is a bum, their neighbors are not the best people, and basically, they want to move out–preferably out of apartment buildings and into a home with just a little more space. While the woman understood both her aunt and uncle’s reasoning for wanting to move into a home, she didn’t really feel comfortable with them asking her to have such an integral role in that transition. Plus, she says that they’re not that close.
Still, not to burst anyone’s bubble, she told them that she would think about it and get back to them. When the woman asked her other family members what they thought she should do, and how she could go about letting her aunt and uncle down easily, her loved ones were vexed. The fact that the pair even requested her help in such matters was deemed disrespectful by her mother, and the woman’s boyfriend said such a bold request needed to be shot down. Considering that they’re family, what would the woman do if her aunt and uncle all of a sudden couldn’t pay on the home and she got into trouble because of their decisions? Co-signing on a loan, to her, sounds like a mistake waiting to happen.
And Equifax agrees. Mechel Glass had this to say on behalf of the consumer credit reporting agency in a story from 2014:
“If you co-sign a loan with someone who doesn’t pay his or her bills, the damage to your financial standing could be far reaching. The other person’s failure to pay could result in accounts being turned over to collections, lawsuits filed against you, garnishment of your wages, or liens placed on your property. If you are not in the position to repay the loan or take over the payments on the loan should the primary owner of the debt stop paying on the account, these are real possibilities.”
And even if they do pay their bills, Glass said that anything could happen that could turn things upside down.
“Co-signing with a family member doesn’t necessarily mean your finances (or relationship) will be negatively impacted, but the fact is that family members may run into financial difficulty due to unforeseen circumstances. This could cause the person to default on the loan, creating problems for everybody involved. As with any financial decision you make, before you co-sign, be sure you weigh the consequences and have the facts.”
With that being said, I wouldn’t do it. I know people who have loaned and co-signed loans for large sums of money to help family members get cars, an education, and all sorts of things. But a house is a whole other beast. I think there is a possibility that things could go left, and if they do, this woman’s credit could be affected in a major way, and her relationship with her aunt and uncle could be irrevocably broken. And more than anything, I’m not down for people doing anything they know in their heart they’re not comfortable with just to keep their relatives from feeling salty and acting funny in the future. But the decision is this young woman’s to make.
How would you handle such a request from a loved one? What is a good way to turn them down nicely?
Author Abiola Abrams recently talked about the drama and misunderstandings that can come from blended families, particularly ones where children came about through infidelity. But after speaking with a few of my friends late last week, I realized that it’s not just an uncomfortable tension one can feel when they have half-siblings, but in some cases, a slight indifference.
One of my friends has a younger brother, now a teenager, whom she admits that she doesn’t really connect to or call. At almost 30, she doesn’t have much in common with him–aside from their father.
Another friend said that she hadn’t spoken to her much older sister in a while, specifically because the woman went ghost on the family for a short time, and when she came back around pretending as though nothing happened, my friend wasn’t here for it. She doesn’t really trust her sister (and her sister’s judgment), so while she tries to be cordial, that’s about it.
As for myself, I have four half-siblings. One I’ve literally only seen and had a serious conversation with once in my entire life. And I felt bad during that single visit, because while around me, my brother, and two sisters, all born from my mom and dad, it didn’t seem as though he was that comfortable with us. Considering that he didn’t have much of a relationship with my father over the years, maybe it was just all too much to take in at once.
My other brother, my dad’s second son from a short-lived relationship, is much closer to us because he makes an effort to visit, to call, to send photos of his children, and to stay connected. This became crucial for him after the death of our brother (the second child of my mom and dad together).
My two eldest siblings, my mother’s son and daughter from her previous marriage, I grew up in the same household with. We are all reasonably close.
Still, it’s not as it should be. I realized this as my eldest half-sister called me recently to check in, and lamented that we don’t talk enough, blaming herself.
“I’m the oldest sister, so I need to do better,” she said. “I don’t want you guys ever to think that I don’t care about you or that I don’t have time for you. It’s just that with my kids, it’s hard for me to find a lot of time to call. But I’m going to do better because I love ya’ll, man.”
It hit me then that we’re really not that close at all.
No, that’s not true actually. It’s been apparent for quite some time that we’re not in the chummiest of places. But more so evident when I was trying to prepare save the dates for my wedding and realized I didn’t have the addresses for my half-siblings. It was something my mother deplored.
“You don’t have your brothers’ and sisters’ addresses? Wow. That’s terrible. And shameful.”
I felt bad about it at the time. I mean, moms did lay it on thick. I wanted to tell her, “I try to link up with them. We text sometimes!” and recount to her the ways I stayed updated on what they were doing via social media. But then again, that doesn’t take much effort now does it?
The truth is, I have made attempts to call, to be more in touch, just as my siblings have, but our various responsibilities have made that hard. And the fact that the age differences are more than 10 years (my eldest brother is literally in his mid-40s, and I’m 27), it can be a struggle to find things to talk honestly about other than the usual update convos: “How’s work?” How are the kids?” “How is New York? We’re going to come up there soon enough…”
I do love all of my siblings dearly, but there’s just something about growing up alongside people in the same household for many years, being around a similar age, traveling together, dealing with the same issues regarding identity as a Nigerian-American who is a little more Americanized that most, and having such a bond, that makes it easier to call and connect with one sibling over another.
Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel sad about it, and that I don’t want things to be different. But just like my co-workers who did the classic shoulder shrug and “Sorry, not sorry” face during our conversation about our relationships with half-siblings, I would agree that it’s complicated: “We’re just too different.”
So I wonder, if you have half-siblings, which I’m sure you don’t call “half,” are you close to them? Do you make attempts to bond with them? Or have you accepted that while you are blood, you just don’t have much in common?
Are there people in your family who are jealous of you?
Of course, those people would never come right out and say it to your face, but it’s something you notice in the way they talk to you about certain things. Or rather, the way they talk to others about things that have to do with you.
I have a good friend who was telling me about the fact that she hadn’t spoken to her older brother in quite some time. Not because she had any beef with him, but because a new position at her job had left her overwrought with responsibilities and long work hours, making it hard to reach out. She was trying her best to answer calls and Facetime folks back when her schedule allowed, but at a certain point, her brother decided to become distant and stop answering due to her so-called schedule.
She would later find out during a check-in conversation with her mother that her brother had said that as the eldest sibling, my friend needed to do better about contacting him. He basically went in on her.
“I know she likes to pretend like she’s so busy, but family is family,” he said. “People think their jobs really mean something, but she’s not the first person to have had some money. Sh-t, I’ve had money too, but I don’t start turning my back on my people.”
When my friend found out that her brother felt this way, she was hurt. She didn’t feel like she had tried to throw her success in the face of her loved ones. To her, her brother’s opinion was unfair. And in her opinion, she felt it had a lot to do with the fact that he was struggling when it came to holding down a steady job.
He held pretty good positions in sales here and there, but when the companies he was employed by started to struggle, he was let go. That was the case almost a handful of times over the last few years. During those times, while trying to take care of his family, he would ask my friend for a loan now and then. Sometimes she would oblige, other times, she couldn’t. When the latter would happen, he would act as though she was being stingy and would make those same comments about my friend letting her job and her salary get to her head. Her brother went from one position as he watched his sister, my friend, buy Chanel bags and a house. He eventually trained to work in another more lucrative field and found consistent employment earlier this year.
But it’s an animosity he’s held on to for quite some time, enough that he’ll talk about her behind her back to other family members. My friend is sick of it.
And who could blame her? We all expect support from our kinfolk, not to be talked about and hated on. Sadly, it’s all too common.
One of my good friends from college had a cousin who badmouthed her for years after they moved to New York together to make their dreams come true–but only my friend was able to find work. It was something her cousin took to heart all the way back to their hometown, trashing my friend until they finally reconciled earlier this year to keep the peace between the family.
Like my college BFF’s cousin, my childhood friend’s brother is dealing with issues that he won’t confront that he prefers to take out on others. Specifically, insecurities about his employment ups and downs. He’s especially upset with my friend since she can’t be the walking ATM he hoped that she would be during such times. But that’s something that he has to work through on his own, instead of talking crazy about his blood to whoever will listen.
Thankfully, though, my friend hasn’t cut off her brother in the way that some would. She’s aware that he hasn’t had it easy over the last few years, and so she has decided not to take it too personally. She will continue to support him (not financially though), but has decided to do so from a distance. Because who has time for that kind of negativity?
How would you handle things if a family member you thought you were close to held animosity towards you for what you’ve been able to accomplish and they haven’t? Has this ever happened to you?
So there I was at damn near 2 a.m. trying to keep my eyes open to watch Love and Hip Hop New York. I had just come from a dinner and movie outing with one of my best friends from childhood and knew I needed to go to bed, but the ratchetry was calling me. So I listened here and there as my eyes opened and closed, sleep taking over. But one part of the show caught my attention, and I darted awake. It was the part where Rich Dollaz and his 16-year-old daughter, Ashley, were catching up in his living room, and he asked her about her love life. The man even asked her if she was a virgin, to which she hesitantly replied, “No…”
Feeling as though 16 is too young for sexual activity, Rich immediately worried that his child was going to be out here getting played and passed around left and right by men who only want one thing. You know, the way he does a lot of the women he’s featured alongside on Love and Hip Hop.
In an effort keep that from happening, Rich was honest and upfront with the teen and told her that he would never want her to fall for a man like him.
“You’re 16, so you’re still a baby,” Rich told her. “You’re still my baby. I would never want you to bump into guys like me. You understand? And I think you and me gotta always be here because ain’t no dude going to be able to run game on you that I haven’t tried to run or have run before. So you can always come to me, and I will always tell you the truth and be honest about what a ni–as intentions are.”
He continued in his confessional, “Maybe I haven’t set the best example when it comes to healthy relationships, but having this conversation with Ash right now, I’m hoping it helps her make better decisions with men. The last thing I want for my baby girl is to end up with a creep–like me.”
I think it does take a lot to admit that you’re a scumbag when it comes to how you treat the women who have come and gone in your life. But I think the next question is, what will you do about it?
I’ll never forget a conversation my sister and father were having during the holidays a few years ago. I’m not exactly sure how the conversation started or what the point of it was, but I do believe my dad made a comment about marriage and his hopes for the men who try to come into our lives. Out of nowhere my sister said, “Would you say you want us to marry someone like you?”
My father laughed a little and then said something to the effect of, “Well my daughter, I would say no.” The truth was that my dad hadn’t always treated my mom well, and to this day, things between them go up and down. He wants better for us, but his admission of that didn’t spur real change in his behaviors and choices. And I think that’s one of the reasons my mother was initially worried about my decision to be with and marry a Nigerian man (it wasn’t something I was trying to do, that’s just the way love goes).
But I never grew up wanting a man like my father. I even said I didn’t want to date Nigerian men ever. And to this day, Nigerian man or not, I don’t want what my mom has dealt with. I think I’ve gone out of my way in my own relationships to keep that from happening. The communication issues I saw growing up I try to avoid by hashing out issues immediately after they happen. And some of the similarities between my father and my fiance I’m often on alert about (being stubborn, blaming everything on culture, trying to start businesses abroad, etc.). But we have good communication, and we genuinely love one another. Still, whatever is meant to happen in my own relationships will happen, and my efforts, as well as the words and efforts of my father, won’t change that. Whatever mistakes I make are mine to make.
Same for Ashley. Rich might try and give her pep talks about “creeps” and hope that his efforts to have in-depth conversations with her about all the men she meets and dates will keep her from cavorting with the wrong ones. But whatever she is meant to do, she will do. Whomever Ashley is meant to be with, have her heart broken by or fall in love with, she inevitably will. Having a better example growing up would have been nice, but who has time for shoulda, coulda and woulda?
The best thing he can do for his daughter, and himself, is instead of living by a date-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-date rule, treat the women he encounters romantically better. They are someone’s daughter, too. But, as always, folks don’t care until they see the women they dupe and disrespect in their own “little girls”…