My husband’s relatives say racist things in front of my North African family. How can we overcome this? Ask Ellie


QMy family is originally from North Africa, but we have been in Canada for almost three decades. We are very much assimilated into daily life but have our own customs and traditions which we respect.

My husband’s family members still make racist comments in front of us, but look appalled when we call out to them. They continually respond that they don’t think negatively of the comments at all.

My husband and I have repeatedly tried to explain to them why their comments are so hurtful. They don’t apologize, get defensive and swear they didn’t mean anything.

They are older but not so old that they cannot see how hurt we are by their words.

How can we overcome this so that we can enjoy our large multinational family?

stinging words

AI’m so sorry you have to deal with this. It is certainly difficult to teach new tricks to an old dog, but it is not impossible. Seems to me you need to keep talking to your in-laws.

Try to show them, with words, how their words make you feel. Don’t give up on them – for the good of all, but especially the next generation. Your children need both sets of grandparents to know where both parents came from and be able to make independent decisions about what makes them who they are.

QAbout six years ago I met and married a wonderful man. His wife had died tragically and he was raising two little boys on his own. We fell in love and had two little girls in quick succession. The boys and I have a wonderful relationship, as do they with their stepsisters (we don’t even use the term, I’m just clarifying).

My husband’s family accepted me with open arms and made it easy for me. They had all been close to his first wife and deeply saddened by her passing. But they made room for me in their hearts and I am very grateful to them. Extended family gatherings are warm and loving.

Unfortunately, I just don’t connect with my husband’s friend group. It’s not my cup of tea at all. I don’t understand their humor, their idea of ​​fun, their camaraderie. It’s weird because I think my husband is funny, charming, a great dad, a great friend, a great husband, and we have a lot of fun together alone and as a family.

It’s not a big deal but I know it hurts him that I think his buddies are below average. How to get out of this impasse ?

loving wife

AAlthough the loss of your husband was tragic and undoubtedly left an indelible mark on him and the boys, your life now seems wonderful. You are a blessing to them and your daughters. I am so happy for all of you.

Here’s the thing: you don’t have to like his friends. It’s okay if you don’t. It’s how you handle it that matters. Are you rude? Dismissive? Hostile? If so, that needs to change.

But if it’s just a lack of connection, then you can figure out how to make it work. It’s just his friends you don’t click with? If so, let him enjoy guys’ nights out. Is it also their wives that you don’t like? Also, a simple solution – limit the time you all have to spend together.

You have four young children, which everyone knows takes up most of your waking hours and cuts into your sleep, leaving you exhausted. No one would be surprised if you pulled out for a night or two.

FEEDBACKThe latest about the father who didn’t want to buy expensive shoes for his still growing son (September 20):

Reader: “If the father wants to avoid an emphatic ‘no’ to the son’s request for expensive shoes, he can offer to pay what he was willing to pay and have the son make up the difference.

“It will teach the son to appreciate the price of things, and he will certainly cherish and treat the shoes better since he had to help pay for them. How many times have you seen children get their feet stuck in shoes without untying them , breaking the backs of shoes in the process, or worse, leaving them behind somewhere knowing their parents will easily replace them.

“There would be a few lessons to be learned from this negotiation, such as in, what things cost and how to take care of them.”

Lisa: Amen.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are senior columnists for the Star and are based in Toronto. Email your relationship questions to: [email protected]


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