Is this disrespectful?

seekergalSeptember 29, 2010

I find that I am getting irritated with the way my step-children leave messages on our phone answering machine.

I understand that they are calling to speak with their father, and not me, so this isn't the issue.

What is beginning to bother me - because it has happened a lot - is that when they leave a message, they say, "Hi DAD, called to see how you guys are going." I feel that it would be helpful if they could say, "Hi Dad and (my name), called to see how you guys are doing."

I do exist, and I do have a name, and it seems easy enough to mention it in the salutation.

I guess I am touchy because my husbands sister and niece took it upon themselves to yell and scream at me in the hospital when their mother (grandmother) was dying. They said I had no right to be there because I "wasn't family". My husband had asked me to be there, and to help him during that time of high stress. My husbands sister also began rattling off a "list" of things that she had been mad at me for YEARS about - SILLY things - that could have been EASILY cleared up if she had said anything to me! Instead she has been harboring this anger for years. Even her husband was shocked at how his wife and their daughter took off on me! He had no idea they had been holding in this anger for so long.

So, I guess this could be why I am being sensitive about the phone messages from my stepchildren. Are they also harboring anger/resentment/etc... and this is their way of letting me know they are? They claim they aren't, but we aren't sure. As I have posted in another place, my stepchildren tend to not be open and honest with their feelings.

Thanks for your input.

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First, the hospital issue. I wouldn't take it to heart, as emotional issues always come to a head in such situations. Not that it's the right way to behave, especially in a hospital where people are injured/dying.

Second, the phone. I leave messages with BOTH people when I call somewhere. Like, "Hi Donna and Jack, this is Silver. Donna, blah blah blah blah".

So yeah, it's not what miss manners would do. But it's not extremely rude either, IMO. Especially if they said, as you put above Hi DAD, called to see how you guys are going." rather than "how YOU (dad) are doing/going".

I'd leave it be. Not the hill I'd die on. But I can understand the irritation :)

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 11:18AM
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Who is on the message machine 'answering' the phone? If DH is the voice who 'answers' (left the original 'greeting), kids saying "Hi Dad...." might not even be an intentional thing on the children's part. Yeah, dad did not really 'answer' the phone, but dad's voice is the 'Hello, this is ______, we're not able...'.

If it's your voice I'm still not sure it's intentional on the children's part. They do acknowledge you, 'you guys' does include you.

Unless there is something else more incdicating the kids are snubbing you, I don't think this would be too annoying. May be rude, but is it on purpose and with deliberate undertones to be taken with unmistaken meaning?

You did not note much so unless you really have reason to think you're slighted out of resentment or dislike, I would not give it much thought.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 11:41AM
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I agree, at the hospital.. YOU became the focus of their hurt & it came out in anger, because that's an easier emotion to deal with.. and redirecting it onto you instead of dealing with the pain of losing their parent was probably easy for them. There may have been underlying feelings as there are in all families but it doesn't necessarily mean they were harboring ill feelings for years... just that it's easier to dredge up little things & tally them up so it seems they have a reason to justify all this anger they are spewing at you.

As for the message... I remember calling my dad & leaving similar messages, but it wasn't anything personal against my stepmom... I was just calling to talk to my dad. It really never occurred to me how it would make my stepmom feel. In step situations, it's so easy to misunderstand what is said... interpret things one way when they weren't meant that way at all... feel slighted when the other person meant nothing by it. I find that happening all the time & sometimes it's with my own kids. It's much easier when you have a parent/child bond, more communication & years of living with someone so you kinda know what they meant or how they really feel. If my kids don't send me a card on my birthday, it's not a huge deal. I know they still love me but maybe forgot. When a step (or even a spouse) forgets, it might upset me more. I know that's not really fair, but it does happen.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 11:55AM
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Thanks for the input.

It can be difficult at times to decide if your are being a codependent enabler or not, and if a boundary needs to be set.

Concerning the situation at the hospital with my SIL, she had been making 'snippy' comments to me even before her mother got ill. I was choosing to ignore it, but maybe I shouldn't have. She does the same thing with her oldest daugher - whom she feels isn't living up to her (SIL) high expectations. the hospital my SIL decided she was going to let it fly and her middle daughter (whom she is very close with) followed suit.

Just to clear things up, my voice is on the answering machine.

We talked to the kids, and we asked them as a "gift" to please include me in the salutation. They didn't really understand why, but they did agree after we spoke further about it.

They commented that maybe they were 'subliminally' leaving me out of the greeting because they still had some anger towards their dad for divorcing their mother.

During the discussion, they commented on the fact that they wished they could see their father more, and I told them that I would be glad to step back and give them space to see their father alone (without me) more often - if this would help. I told them it was my "gift" to them. So, we are exchanging "gifts". ;)

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 10:31AM
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I think you handled that quite nicely. Wish my husbands adult children were open minded enough to be able to deal with such issues that neatly. Alas it was not meant to be.

Good job. Makes a huge difference when your DH is at your side and makes the request with you.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 11:05AM
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I guess I'm just cranky because if someone said "please include me in the salutation as a gift," I will honestly admit that I would most likely NOT include them as I would take offense at someone trying to dictate how I leave a voice message to my own father. But again, I'm just cranky like that!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 9:37PM
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I don't think it is disrespectful if they do include you. They do ask how you guys are doing, so it is good enough. If they wouldn't then it be a different story. I almost never call my parents home number, I call their cell phones, so the message is always for individual person. If they want to talk just to dad then maybe they should call his cell.

It is not nice screaming in the hospital but when loved ones are dying people do strange things. My aunt never raises her voice and is very nice person yet she gave a very hard time to nurses when grandma was dying. Maybe they were under too much stress or maybe they are just rude under any circumstances, don't know. When my grandmother was dying under hospice care, everyone came to say their final good byes, but only my mom, I and aunt stayed till the end. Maybe your DH's sister and niece (and DH) just wanted to be there with their mother alone, everyone is grieving in their own ways. It does not excuse their screaming though just trying to understand.

lonepiper, you are funny. I think it is narcissistic to ask people to name you in their voice messages, I would probably start calling dad's cell phone from now on.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 12:05PM
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I think bioparents should try to spend some time with their kids without SM if the (even adult) kids wants. Not all the time, but some.

My guess, they'll either think you are an idiot or a narcissist for wanting to be in salutation and either laugh at you behind your back or call dad at work or on his cell.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 9:18PM
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Ditto Silver. I can see why you're annoyed, but I don't think it's a huge deal.

Although it already sounds like you talked to the SKs anyway.

I get irritated when I call my dad's house phone--and on a random weekend, or whatever, his GF will answer. UGH. It's just awkard and, honestly, it makes me just call his cell.

She doesn't live with him but it's not unusual on weekends for her to spend a night or two there.

I don't care about that but it bugs me when she answers the phone, esp. knowing it's me---he has caller ID.

I don't know. Not really the same situation....but I think phone etiquette stuff can be hard to navigate.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 12:29AM
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Love, before I lived with SO I never ever answered his home phone. I spent with him more than just one night on the weekend, we were in each other houses all the time. Yet if it is not my residence then it is not my home number and I had no business to answer it. SO asked me many times to answer, I didn't. Now when we live together, it is my number as well and of course I answer.

It is very rude of your dad's GF to answer his home phone. I would call his cell from now on.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 10:45AM
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kkny, I also am pretty sure SKs laugh behind SM's back. Even if they agreed to mention her in their messages, they still laugh about her ego.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 10:46AM
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My Xs SO changed the answer phone to her name before the divorce was final. And she wonders why DD, Xs family want nothing to do with her.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 10:47AM
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"kkny, I also am pretty sure SKs laugh behind SM's back. Even if they agreed to mention her in their messages, they still laugh about her ego."

Yep. I agree. When my SM changed the voicemail the last time, I actually called up a couple of people and had them listen to it because it was so funny. She barely mentions that Dad even lives there. It's like, "hi, you've reached Sm's house and this is how you get a hold of Sm and Sm is sorry I missed your call and ifyouwanttoleaveamessagefordaddosoatthebeep.....BEEEEP


They've been together ages but I hate to call and rarely call the house phone for that very reason. Also, she tends to complain (I was sleeping, I was in the shower) when I call (then TURN OFF the darned RINGER!!!!) and I feel weird every time so I just call Dad on his cell. Works for both of us.

If she had asked me to include her when I called, Hi dad and SM... I would just stop saying "hi dad" and say "hi, this is Silver, call back when you get a chance" and hopefully she'd get the hint I wasn't talking to her when I said that.

Not that I hate her. But I didn't marry her. She never wiped my nose or helped me pick out outfits or made me lunch or did any mommy things. She's his friend. I'll be nice. But beyond that.... WTF does she expect?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 9:59AM
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