Sunday, April 16, 2017

When members of the same family do not talk with each other

This came up in my Facebook feed yesterday.

As of now, more than 400 people have typed "yes" or clicked on "like", thereby revealing more about themselves than they realize.

Before we get to that, notice two things about that message. It uses every trick in the passive-aggressive handbook. It starts with something that looks like sorrow but very quickly changes gear to shame its target with the suggestion that "the children" are suffering because of you. Then it brands the conflict as imaginary. That alone is sufficient grounds to dismiss it. Some conflicts are imaginary but most are not. Most conflicts are real.

Some people do, of course, take offence for trivial or imagined reasons. A lot of others, however, don't stop talking to family members because of a conflict. It may happen after a conflict but it is not that conflict alone that causes someone to stop talking to their siblings, parents or children.

I was curious about the page that would share such things. When I visited it the top posting was this:

There is a certain tension in finding both those memes on the same page.

By responding positively to the first post, more than 400 people have outed themselves. They've told us that they have a family member not speaking to them. This clearly bothers them. So they've decided to respond by using passive aggression, by calling attention to a post on Facebook where they hope the person who is not speaking with them will see it. How very nice vile of them!

When a family member stops speaking with you they are telling you that they no longer believe your behaviour is acceptable. They may be right or wrong in this judgment but it is very unlikely that they are being impulsive. They're doing this not on the basis of one thing but on the basis of long-established behavioural traits of yours. They are not nurturing resentment about the last conflict so much as they are adjusting their behaviour based on their 100 certainty that there will be more such conflicts in the future if they maintain contact with you. As I say, they may be wrong; if, however, you were inclined to type "yes" in response to the message at the top of this post, you can be pretty certain that you, and not they, are the problem.

It's Easter today—the ultimate feast of reconciliation. Reconciliation, however, is not simply a matter of getting together again. It requires making amends and attempting to sin no more. And sometimes, reconciliation is not possible in this life. Sometimes people feel they've been burned so often that they aren't willing to risk being burned again. If someone has decided to stop speaking with you there isn't much you can do about it.

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