I need your help. My new husband’s family is a hot mess. Any family event somehow turns into a competition. Sunday night we went to an Oscar party at my brother-in-law’s house and there was a betting sheet about who would win what. Everyone had to ante up $5 and then predict the winners. By the end of the night there were accusations of cheating, screaming and I was afraid two of my brothers-in-laws were going to punch each other out. Did I mention children were present for this? Another family member will be having a NCAA Basketball Bracket party in a couple of weeks and quite frankly I’m a little scared to go. Do you have any suggestions on how to survive my new family?
Here’s the bad news. You are not going to change this family dynamic. This is all they know and I’m going to guess they kind of like the whole rough and tumble of it all AND see nothing wrong with their behavior. Not to be too much like your husband’s family but I’d bet money if you suggest they bring it down a notch or maybe even have a family get together that doesn’t involve a wager they would think you had the problem not them.
So, here’s my suggestions: First, pick your family encounters very careful. Easter dinner – yes. Easter egg hunt – no because I can see a beat down over who found the most eggs AND I would steer clear of any invites that revolve around a sporting event. Also, if there’s a betting pool simply choose not to participate. Chances are there might be other extended family members and by that I mean those not related by DNA that will gladly follow your lead. Lastly, Buck Up. You’re going to need a backbone to take on and flourish with this bunch.
If you have a question for Dear Snarky please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org