My family criticized me in front of my partner

I was in an accident recently and naturally I discussed the idea of suing the company with my hearing family. Then at a wedding where my family, my partner and our interpreter were, some family friends and my mother started a conversation between each other, and the interpreter relayed to my partner what they were saying.

It became clear that they were criticising my decision to sue for compensation. My partner had to interject three times before they stopped talking, they seemed so determined to exclude him and to ignore what he had to say. I still feel hurt and betrayed by this especially as my family have always told me they would never discuss me in my presence without involving me. I don’t want to get paranoid, but I’d welcome your advice on how to deal with something like this in future. 

 Deafauntie says:

This is a tough one – and you know what? Families rarely change. Even hearing people will tell you this and for deaf people it is doubly so as we often can’t get support elsewhere. Could you sit down with your parents (or the one you get on best with) and explain exactly how it was for you? Naturally your parents may be offended and upset and try to excuse their behaviour.

I suggest an assertion technique (‘Broken Record’) where you quietly and patiently let the other person finish and then you simply repeat what you have just said (“I’m really not happy that you felt it was OK to discuss us – in front of us – with other people”). If they try again to justify themselves, simply wait and then repeat yourself again.

Believe me, it works. If they storm out of the room, stay where you are for a few minutes and then make a cup of tea for everyone. Only by refusing to remain a child in the family, can you regain your power as an adult.


9 responses to “My family criticized me in front of my partner

  1. Parents will always treat you as their baby to be protected til the grave! Perhaps they have genuine concerns, but potentially misguided. Sometimes you have to ignore family and do what is best for you, your partner and especially for your children. Over time your family will learn to respect you and even come to admire your decisions. So I say don’t rock the boat, you cannot remove a genuine concern, but time will be on your side. Yes, by all means at a discreet moment give your views and opinions, ie. “Please don’t discuss my private business in public” directly, face to face over a cup of tea or something. The time will come, as it did happen with my late mother, that they will realise that you did make good decisions after all. Be patient – it has nothing to do with your deafness, but everything to do with being a “child” of the family.

  2. I can sympathise. It took me a long time to cope with family attitudes over the years before they realised too late (!!) that I am capable of making my own decisions in life. It is annoying when they your personal business in public! xx

  3. I feel that had this person been able to hear, the family would not have criticised in full view, but perhaps behind her back instead. They are taking advantage of her lack of hearing which is cowardly and unfair. If they don’t agree with her decision to sue then they should explain why in private and allow her to explain her reasons too.

  4. I must try the Broken Record – thanks for the tip.

  5. Broken record is a useful assertiveness technique, but sometimes it becomes passive-aggressive. In such circumstances, I prefer to ask the simple question, ‘does your behaviour show you as the kind of person you think other people should be?’ It’s then worth repeating as a broken record technique because eventually the penny drops.

  6. There is something about being deaf that causes people to treat you with a total lack of respect. I get a lot of that from my family and I find the best way to deal with it is to keep them at a distance. My parents were a complete pain, they knew nothing about deafness or deaf people and would frequently discuss me with their friends, right in front of me! So I found the best way to deal with that was to keep them all at a distance. That’s the rule with me. If people can’t behave in a civilised manner then I keep away. With parents like mine I don’t need enemies!

  7. I agree with deafauntie and Rob that deaf people have family issues writ larger. Though my family is loving, respectful and close, it isn’t without its frustrations and irritations!

    The fact that your parents brought the matter up at a happy family occasion suggests that they are troubled by it and are seeking advice about it from their peers. I agree that that neither the behaviour nor the setting were appropriate, I’m behind you on that 100%, and also agree that challenging them discreetly and privately is the best thing – set the example yourself, then they haven’t a leg to stand on.

    It might be worth exploring their motivations for their concerns, though, if you can bring yourself to do so. You don’t say how old you or your parents are, but I’m wondering about a culture/generational clash? If they’re “old school” enough to treat you and your partner as children to be “seen and not heard”, I wonder if they have other “old school” attitudes, such as being chary of doing anything that could potentially “upset the apple cart” or “draw public attention to oneself”. My mother sometimes had the view that doing certain things would “lead to terrible trouble”, especially if it involved challenging corporate bodies with more clout than I had as an individual, and I wonder if such a view is at the root of your parents’ ill-expressed concerns.

  8. I recall one dear friend, a chaplain with deaf communities, saying that for deaf individuals, family can either be a lifeline or a weakness. Also he said that deaf people are far too tolerant, too patient. too submissive and it goes on. Deaf people do need a forum to booster flagging spirits when families get too distant….controlling…..critical…..impatient. Endless but crucial to keep these issues alive for everybody seeking assurance.

  9. Not only hearing family do this – deaf family do the same, discuss things with other people who don’t have any business to know.

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