I could use some wisdom and advice on how to handle a situation that recently came up with my TBM family.  Please let me know how you would handle this.

Two weeks ago we left our 3 kids at my parents to be baby sat while DW and I left town for 2 days for a workshop.  My parents and family are VERY TBM.  We had a nice weekend with out the kids and when we returned and picked them up, I asked how the kids behaved and they said "good".  Well just yesterday, while I was visiting my parents during my lunch break, they brought up some "concerns" they had with how my oldest child behaved (8 yr old boy).  I guess he said a lot of "potty" words and other "crude" language.  Now I'm not trying to dismiss or justify my son's language, but I would like your opinion on what you think of what my parents said (to follow below) and how you would suggest I respond to them.

So my dad asked me if we were showing our kids "adult movies" because my son said a lot of "sexual" words.  I immediately said "no, we don't", which is the truth.  I then asked for clarification on what he said that was sexual in nature.  The only thing they would give up is that my son and daughter (next oldest) were fighting and kicking each other and my daughter told my son not to kick her in the crotch.  So then I guess my son kept saying the word crotch and laughing.  I didn't find that sexual in nature other than saying the word that represents an area of the body, although it's probably not an appropriate thing for an 8 year old to say.  My experience with being 8 and other 8 year olds is that they are always laughing at the funny words regarding the body (crotch, butt, farts, etc).  My dad went on to say that my son has addiction to potty words.  My response was that he just finds them funny and likes the attention he gets out of people.  Other than this, all they said is that he said poop a lot (my son still occasionally has accidents, so he's probably self conscious of it and projects that on his siblings "so-n-so has poopy pants" etc.  Not much other details came out of this, just a really accusatory attitude that our kids are very offensive to the "mormon's in the family".  My dad didn't even witness any of this behavior as it was related to him by my mom and sister.

I feel like my parents (mostly my dad), is being very condescending and accusatory, like it's our fault our kids are so offensive (maybe that's true, but besides the point) and that they are just fault finding.  This isn't the first time such concerns about our kids or our behavior has been brought up.  While I want to maintain a good relationship with my TBM parents and family, they certainly aren't making it easy.  We are working with our kids in our own way to teach them better manners and appropriate language, but this inquisition on behalf of my parents is just going to make us walk on pins and needles even more when in their presence, or make us worry about what event will happen the next time we have them babysit (which isn't very often, a few times a year is all).

So what are your thoughts on both how my parents came across, and how to go forward with addressing their accusatory manner and establishing boundaries etc.  Thanks in advance.

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Mike. I think it's tricky because you want your parents to keep baby sitting. Assure you parents that they did not learn those words from adult movies. They are part of every elementary school. Also, let them know that you will talk to your kids about it. When you talk to them, tell them that the grandparents have rules against those words that you should obey when at their house. They can say crotch and poopy anywhere else.

Different versions of this will continue to arise over the years. I have had to tell my daughter that she can't drink coffee at her grandparents house. Those are the house rules even if they are dumb. My daughter is 22. It never stops.

That's my two bits. Good luck.
What you described is mostly what we are trying to do. At Grandmas, they have to live by their rules so as not to be disrespectful or offensive. I think it's kind of sad that they get so easily offended by kids being kids. Even when I was TBM, I always thought of Jesus and 'Christlike' people as the least likely to be offended and strived myself to not be so easily offended. I continue to learn that Christians/Mormons don't generally equate to 'Christlike'. Last night I was also thinking that this would probably never change. Kind of makes me want to escape Utah :-(
Hi Mike,

The words I have to say to you on this matter are probably not ones you want to hear, but they come from my own personal experience.

You said, "they are just fault finding". Mike, I'm very saddened to tell you that this behavior of theirs will probably continue until the day they die. It is quite possible that your relationship with them is over. I know that stings, I know that feels like your heart has just fallen from a 25 story window, but sadly, it's probably true.

I've spent years trying to show my tbm family that I still loved them. I've received nothing but judgement and hate to the point that this week I finally had to write and tell them that as long as they are in the church....I'm just not interested in a relationship because frankly I cannot handle the constant fear, the pins and needles, the condescension, the judgment, the lack of friendly feeling, the lack of any sort of friendly anything. I've grown used to years of abuse, and now I've found myself in a place that I can't be around it anymore and don't want to be around it anymore. Their faces are fading in me as it has been years since they have been even remotely kind to me.

Years of hate will indeed drive you away and make you forget any love you once had.

I know it sounds harsh, but Mike, this will not end well. You cannot be so committed to living an authentic life and still be around people who have abandoned their lives to a cult. They have made their choice and as hard as it is, they have to live that choice...alone.

Love, Lori
Thanks for the heads up Lori. I realize that my efforts to maintain a healthy relationship can only go so far and requires that my family reciprocates or it won't work so well. So far we've generally gotten along okay. Just these occasional spouts that are more annoying than anything.
Sorry, I meant to say "Micah", not "Mike".
Thanks for the advice and affirmation Jess. Since I was raised in a way that made me fear my dad, it's hard to face him even now, due to the deep rooted childhood fear. Maybe an email would be a more assertive way to communicate my thoughts to him, as it would take way the debilitating fear that seems to arise when in his presence and trying to challenge/face him etc. Trying to have an adult level communication with TBMs seems nearly impossible, especially because in their minds, they are on higher ground and superior. Sometimes we just have to withdraw for our own well-being an that of our kids.
I think you handled this well, and while I see bits and pieces in the comments of the others that I agree with, I suspect there is little value in confronting your parents, and possibly almost no value in discussing it with them. From their perspective, they are right, they know they are right, and you will not be able to change their minds.

I think you handled it pretty well, and I think future run-ins are inevitable. In raising my children I had kind of the opposite thing happen, I was TBM and my family is NeverMo and mostly non-religious, somewhat irreverent, and in general pretty worldly from the TBM perspective. It did me no good to reason with them about how DW and I were raising our children. We just had to deal with it on an on-going, ad hoc basis. I think confronting your father ESPECIALLY IN AN E-MAIL has great potential for doing real damage to your relationship. If it's only a few times a year, it's manageable, teach your children do deal with it as best they can as well, but in 10 years (which passes faster than you'd imagine) you want to still have a relationship with your parents, but quibbles over these things could cause a real rift. (Obviously, if it becomes something serious, e.g. "Grandpa begins teaching your children that you are leading them into hell and that they must seek Jesus . . . " that's more serious and must be dealt with, but Grandma getting upset about "poop" merits an "I'll talk to him" response and nothing more. Your parents will go on and on, just grin and bear it, it will be over soon.)

I have 3 sons in their 20's and have done everything I can to foster a relationship with them of openness and none of them are afraid of telling me that I am wrong on something. If you don't have that relationship with your dad now, I just don't think it is likely to ever develop. Confrontation (which is what virtually ANY attempt on your part to mitigate this will seem like to him) is just not worth it over these trifles. Parents have a tendency to be annoying at times (as do children).

With my own children I am a very "in your face" hands-on parent. I have been very involved in their lives, but now as they are into adulthood they have to make their own decisions, but I do sometimes still give them advice and counsel in a clear and sometimes forceful way. In our case, they sometimes just look at me and tell me "no" (sometimes including the liberal use of profanity), and we just go along our merry way. I think it is a great relationship to have with the kids, and I wish you had something like that with your father, but it may never be possible because of who he is, how he raised you, and how he was raised, etc.

Now, turning on my own paternalistic "know-it-all attitude" my suggestion to you (which I suspect you are already doing) is to work very hard with your own children to have that open, clear line of communication, love and mutual respect. I would encourage you to be sure to tell your children in every conversation that you love them, and then to do things to show them that you love them, sometimes even explaining that the reason you are doing something is because you love them, and even when you must discipline them, be sure they know you still love them. Too many father's go through life thinking "my kids [wife] know I love them [her], so I don't have to say it out loud." I think you do have to say it, show it, not be afraid of being emotional with your kids, etc. I just get the feeling from you that you are that kind of dad, and it makes me optimistic for the rising generation.

Best wishes.
Thanks Flat Lander! Great advice. I really liked the part about raising my kids with such an honest and open relationship, which is what we are trying to do. I grew up rarely, if ever, hearing my dad say those words "I love you". I am trying my best to say those words to my wife and kids at least once a day or more to break that trend. I know that my dad loves me, but it really does need to be said. I think you're right that trying to address this with them will likely just blow it out of proportion and could lead to a more distant and damaged relationship. We'll just grin and bear it the best we can. It's very helpful to have you and others be there as a parent figure since I can't have this open communication with my own parents.
Small request: Will you post a list of what all the initials stand for, ex TBM. I haven't learned the lingo yet and wonder what you are talking about sometimes.Thanks
Sorry about that. Here's a good list: http://www.exmormononline.net/forum/topics/glossary-of-terms-and-ac...

TBM is generally used for "True Blue Mormon" or "True Believing Mormon".
My instant reaction to reading this story was more of a generational gap type of thing than a TBM or judgemental thing. Most elderly parents would prefer not to hear of bodily function type referrences. They used to be so taboo no matter what the religion.

The mention or question of adult movies was way out of line and poopy pants is not something they would hear in that setting anyway. The crotch is a common and accepted word for an area of the body and your father is showing his ignorance in a big way. Your response was a very good one and I would stick to my guns on that point as well as emphasizing to the kids that there are places to say things and places not to.

Besides "crotch" is a funny word to say especially when one is eight years old.
It very well could be more of a generation gap than strictly Mormon programming. Thanks for sharing your point of view.


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