Would it be wrong to come up with a list of topics appropriate for dinner convo?

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The problem is my mom. She's a political activist, ALL (and I'm not generalizing, I actually mean ALL) of her conversations are about something horrible happening somewhere. She seems to be actually incapable of making small talk.

We've tried steering the conversation back to more neutral topics such as... um... the weather? Or books? But when we do that she gets angry (later. At dinner she'll just clam up and stop talking all together and look pissed then write us an angry letter saying how hurt she was).

My sister, daughter, friends and I are not the only ones who are bothered by this. I heard a friend of hers say when we were all at the beach one day last summer, "Look, I'm here to enjoy myself. I really don't want to hear about who was stabbed in Springfield last week."

So I'm thinking about Thanksgiving and trying to find a tactful way to handle it possibly ahead of time but I just can't. I suppose an actual printed list of acceptable dinner conversation would be out of the question. But then again, so would saying to my mom, "Now, listen, mom. we really don't want to talk about police brutality or they loss of the Marshall Islands due to global warming."

And to be clear: The rest of us are NOT unaware and apathetic. We just don't want to talk about it at dinner.

Suggestions?


Obamacare is not a blueprint for socialism. You're thinking of the New Testament. ~~ John Fugelsang



No suggestions only sympathy. I know someone like this and it can really be draining. I just try to throw him off by trying to make light and dragging the conversation to something not al heavy. Clearly that isn't an option for you here though.
Just wanted to say I know what that's like.


Posted from my "smart"phone. 'scues crazy typos
curlypearl likes this.
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I think it's already established that your mom is not going to change OR be controlled. No matter how diplomatically you try. I think the best you can hope for is to warn everyone ahead of time to please try not to be offended and just redirect the conversation back to something more pleasant.

GOOD LUCK! And, remember, it's only one day.
M2LR and Josephine like this.
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We'll usually just get up and walk away...
Your mom is something else!
If this was an acquaitance, would you even invite her to ruin your Thanksgiving? Would you invite her knowing that you would have to warn her and your other guests knowing that she won't even listen to you? I think you enable this woman. She may be your mom, but she is an adult and needs to understand that YOU will not tolerate her actions. I think she needs to grow up and deal with life. She won't do this if you and everyone else just deal with it. You just need to let go. She may be your mom, but you really don't need her drama in your life. It's ok. You really need to know it's ok to let it go. I recently let my mom go. She is dying, but she is such ***** and doesn't really care about anyone but herself. It was really hard, but I realized that my life needs to revolve around those who I love and love me. I think we get caught with family obligations, but we really need to see them as people and if we really want them in our lives.
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From Michael Berg:

Every person has a unique connection to the Creator that can never be extinguished, and every person has a great soul that can manifest important things in our world. To make a person feel less than they are because of something inside themselves, be it faith, race, or sexual orientation, is the greatest sin of all."
I think your mom probably knows what appropriate dinner conversation sounds like, she just can't pass up a captive audience and a list will only start her off pouting. It might be worth making a mental lists of subject changers so that you can quickly cut her off and redirect and then just let her pout and write letters. Ignore the pouting, ignore the letters. You are not going to change her and she's clearly not going to adapt even a little for the sake of oh, everyone else in the room.
mad scientist likes this.
I think having her clam up and writing an angry letter (that would immediately go in the trash anyway) is a fine option.

That's just me though.
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I would have a talk with her before dinner and come up with a key phrase and keep repeating it. "Mom, I really want to have some pleasant conversation over dinner today. Yadda yadda yadda...pleasant conversation...yadda yadda yadda...pleasant conversation." Then when she strays away from the pleasant conversation, casually mention it again...and now back to some pleasant conversation.

And yes, I would definitely have a list of pleasant conversation topics! Good luck and please let us know how it goes!
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No suggestions only sympathy. I know someone like this and it can really be draining. I just try to throw him off by trying to make light and dragging the conversation to something not al heavy. Clearly that isn't an option for you here though.
Just wanted to say I know what that's like.


Posted from my "smart"phone. 'scues crazy typos
Originally Posted by Narnia
I know what that's like also. Don't know what to suggest - really, it's so rude and inconsiderate. It's like they have a well of rage and bitterness inside that spews out when they have an audience. I hope you find a way to shut her up or deflect the venom.
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I don't think there's anything you can do. Bringing it up before dinner is going to piss her off, and would probably result in her just not talking at all and then giving you crap about how much you hurt her feelings.
Eres o te haces?
your mom can come to my house.
i'd love to discuss the loss of the marshall islands (are they really gone?? i'll have to google that).
my dad likes to stay focused on only discussing politics or the weather in order to avoid talking about important more personal matters.
I'd just state "no activism discussions at the table." If she didn't like it, oh well. If she gets pouty and just has to write that letter later I'd write one back telling her exactly how I feel about her table talk. I don't take any crap from family.
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I think it's already established that your mom is not going to change OR be controlled. No matter how diplomatically you try. I think the best you can hope for is to warn everyone ahead of time to please try not to be offended and just redirect the conversation back to something more pleasant.

GOOD LUCK! And, remember, it's only one day.
Originally Posted by RedCatWaves
I think your mom probably knows what appropriate dinner conversation sounds like, she just can't pass up a captive audience and a list will only start her off pouting. It might be worth making a mental lists of subject changers so that you can quickly cut her off and redirect and then just let her pout and write letters. Ignore the pouting, ignore the letters. You are not going to change her and she's clearly not going to adapt even a little for the sake of oh, everyone else in the room.
Originally Posted by CGNYC
Both of these. I think you're doomed.
M2LR, WileESteelNervs and Wiregirl like this.
I think it would be appropriate for the rest of you to agree to keep the conversation appropriate. After all, it's also wrong for one person to monopolize the conversation. Is there a way for you, or someone else to sort of make a statement at the beginning of the meal to remind everyone that this day is for giving thanks for the good we have in our lives? Maybe as part of, or right after saying Grace, if your family says Grace. Some families like to go around the table and each person states something he is thankful for. If you do it right, maybe your mom could go last and there won't be much time left for her to go in her usual negative direction.

I don't know if any of that helps, but I also agree that changing the subject is fine, and if there is pouting and/or a negative letter, then fine. If she expects a response to the letter, and you want to give one, than a simple, "sorry you were offended, but the rest of us find that subject upsetting and not okay for the dinner table."

I hope you find a way to work it out.
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I don't think she is doomed. She just needs to stand up and say "Hey, mom I'm not inviting you because you make any family/friend event your stage and you don't care to have your event ruined. Mom needs a reality check and she needs to grow up. She then will have the option of coming and being an adult or staying home. It should be her option. If she shows up and starts her crap, show her the door. You warned her beforehand. Like I said before, stop enabling this woman.
From Michael Berg:

Every person has a unique connection to the Creator that can never be extinguished, and every person has a great soul that can manifest important things in our world. To make a person feel less than they are because of something inside themselves, be it faith, race, or sexual orientation, is the greatest sin of all."
I heard a friend of hers say when we were all at the beach one day last summer, "Look, I'm here to enjoy myself. I really don't want to hear about who was stabbed in Springfield last week."
Originally Posted by Springcurl
How did that work out for the friend? Did your Mom back off from the morbid and politically charged conversations?

If she shut up for the friend, it means she is capable of being a better conversationalist.
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I was born to be a pessimist. My blood type is B Negative.
Springcurls...we have the same Mother....all she talks about is Nancy Grace and murdered little children!
Springcurls...we have the same Mother....all she talks about is Nancy Grace and murdered little children!
Originally Posted by Wiregirl
Bombshell tonight! <cue dramatic music>

I was born to be a pessimist. My blood type is B Negative.
I think it's already established that your mom is not going to change OR be controlled. No matter how diplomatically you try. I think the best you can hope for is to warn everyone ahead of time to please try not to be offended and just redirect the conversation back to something more pleasant.

GOOD LUCK! And, remember, it's only one day.
Originally Posted by RedCatWaves
I think your mom probably knows what appropriate dinner conversation sounds like, she just can't pass up a captive audience and a list will only start her off pouting. It might be worth making a mental lists of subject changers so that you can quickly cut her off and redirect and then just let her pout and write letters. Ignore the pouting, ignore the letters. You are not going to change her and she's clearly not going to adapt even a little for the sake of oh, everyone else in the room.
Originally Posted by CGNYC
Both of these. I think you're doomed.
Originally Posted by mrspoppers
LOL. I think we're doomed, too.

I think the ting is we can all talk about stuff related to our life-- my sister can talk about her new baby or her acupuncture business, my daughter can talking about preparing from Brazil, I can talk about my pug dog or derby. But since activisim IS my mother's life and that's all she does and all she wants to do, when we ask her not to talk about it she says, "But I listen to things going on in YOUR life."

We'll, luckily we DO have the 10 month old baby this year to keep us all occupied.


Obamacare is not a blueprint for socialism. You're thinking of the New Testament. ~~ John Fugelsang



Maybe just put the baby in her arms and hope she will shut up. Doubtful, but worth a try. To me this is way too much drama over "one" person, who really doesn't give a crap about anyone else. Oh wait, she has her causes. I have to wonder how much she really cares about that. I think she just wants babble about it.
From Michael Berg:

Every person has a unique connection to the Creator that can never be extinguished, and every person has a great soul that can manifest important things in our world. To make a person feel less than they are because of something inside themselves, be it faith, race, or sexual orientation, is the greatest sin of all."

Last edited by Lotsawaves; 11-20-2011 at 12:11 PM.

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