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Suzanne
Suzanne, Mental Health Professional
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 919
Experience:  LCSW, RN. Mental Health, Relationship & Parenting issues.EMDR, Hypnosis.
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ASK SUZANNE, My father-in-law is 80 and not in great physical

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ASK SUZANNE, My father-in-law is 80 and not in great physical health. Mentally he is all there though. My husband hasn't been able to find a fulltime job for 4 years now. Due to his loss of income, we racked up a credit card and are in the process of negotiating an amount to pay it off. Anthony asked his dad for $5,000. ((his dad more than has the money.)) I took my son his grandson to go visit him one night. my father-in-law yelled at me and said it was my fault that we are in the hole. My fault that we aren't in better financial shape. In addition to this, My father-in-law has a tendancy to say negative mean things. I'm going to be around my father-in-law this weekend. How should I respond if he says, "it's because of all your spending," you guys are in the hole. He has a tendancy to say other negative things. How should I handle them? My husband does this too. Thanks, Jen
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Suzanne replied 4 years ago.

At eighty, there's no chance you will change his mind, so it's best to not even try. One of the best ways to diffuse the tension when someone is being unreasonable is to say "You may be right....we learned a lot from this situation and won't make the same mistake again." If he keeps at it, just keep saying "you may be right." If you don't argue against him, he'll eventually lose interest (hopefully). He may be afraid that if he lends this money the spending will start again, so that's why adding "we learned a lot..." may help convince him the two of you have no intention of going into debt again once this one is paid off. There's nothing you can do about the debt of the past, but you can offer assurances that it won't happen again...which may be, at the botXXXXX XXXXXne, what he wants to hear.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I really don't want to say, "you may be right." I feel like since anthony hasn't had consistent income for 4 years now it is mainly his fault. I don't want to say, "you may be right to my fatherinlaw." is there something else I can say instead? Or can you help me feel better about saying, "you may be right." thanks, Jen
Expert:  Suzanne replied 4 years ago.
Well, if you say to him that Anthony hasn't had consistent income, etc., then he will just come back with "then you shouldn't spent what you didn't have"... Older people did not grow up with credit cards and many of them only used them in emergencies, if at all. Especially since this is his son, and because he has lent your husband money, it doesn't seem wise to try to convince him that his son is at fault. People rarely want to hear that their children have done wrong. There is no logic to his argument, and things will most likely escalate into a shouting match if you try to tell him he's wrong. Saying "you may be right" lets him feel as if you have heard his concerns--which is what people actually want: to feel heard.The words in the phrase are chosen carefully...it doesn't say he IS right. If that doesn't work for you, you could use other words like " I understand your concern. We've learned a lot from this situation." "or "This recession caught us off-guard, and we never dreamed Anthony would be out of work for so long."Trying to defend yourself against someone who is set in his ways, and who doesn't sound like he's interested in the truth, is a losing battle--one you can't win. After all the other problems with his family, it may be that the smartest long term strategy is to try to keep out of conflict with them.
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