Families ...the joys of Christmas! bah humbug!


by javaneh29

I am really struggling at the moment to come to terms with what happened in our family over christmas. I'm trying hard to harbour some good thoughts and understanding and my other half puts it down to cultural differences but that doesnt wash with me. See what you think ? I would like to know other peoples views,

My other halfs brother, wife and two children came to stay over xmas. they arrived xmas eve. Until then only my bro in law had been here: we had always visited them because we have a car and can travel easily and they dont. We usually go and see them monthly and stay for a few days. And theres never been any problems with that, So my other half travelled to get them and brought them here, over 400 miles in one day. I was at home preparing food and making their rooms ready for them. The idea was to give the children a first xmas and for my bro in law and his wife to have a break.

From the moment my sister in law arrived she refused chai, or any refreshment let alone something to eat and the children copied her example at first. She went to bed without even a good night. Ok I thought .. she's tired, I didnt dwell on that.

The next day, xmas day, she continued to refuse food and refreshments. I offered and offered... I was worried about her and getting tired of this. but she would not be persuaded, It was now 24 hours since she had arrived! This continued throught out their 3 day stay here ??? The children and my bro in law were allowed to eat , thank god, what is that about? Our house is clean and I am clean.

We had guests for xmas dinner, good friends of ours with their small child. They brought the children presents and my sis in law wouldnt allow the children to open them. Instead they had to take their presents unwrapped upstairs in their room . I did not understand this at all.. Her children were not allowed to play with our friends child and she asked the girl aged 6 to stand next to her to ensure she didnt play. My bro in law wasnt allowed to leave the living room and she watched his every move. At one point he went outside with our friend to look at our friends new car and she went crazy!! causing a big row in front of our guests. My other half told her off and did not speak to her again.

The next day she woke up and went out before any of us were awake, She was gone 4 hours. We were worried about her because she doesnt speak english and had never been to our town before. And she didnt answer her mobile. Eventually we found her wandering around a mall. On her eturn she went to her room and I followed her there and found her crying. She said she had a headache .... not surprising when she had not drunk any fluids for 2 days. She only took some paracetamol without water.

Her husband asked me to take her out and buy her a meal and I said no! I had food in the house and had cooked iranian food for her ... im a good cook! I was begining to get cross by now and asked him 'what is wrong with her, is my my house dirty that she cant eat my food'?

A row ensued between them all and I took the children out if it into another room. She then decided she wanted to return home and went off to pack their bags, The children cryed and asked if they could stay? The 6 yr old ran under the table and refused to get come out. She let them stay. I was surprised! And they stayed for three more days and we gave them a great time, until she sent my bro in law to collect them. I was going to drive them home the next day!

When he came here, he wouldnt talk to me as he usually did, only polite tarof type of conversation. . As if I had done something wrong???

This has left a very bitter taste in my mouth as since their arrival in the UK we have done our upmost to help them with immigration issues, financially and looking after the children when they had things to do.

I dont understand what happened.... Im at a loss. My other half is upset and puts some of it down to cultural misunderstanding but I dont buy it, I think shes just damn rude and a little crazy. What do you think? I know this is only my take on what happened but Im 100%  sure I did nothing offensive,




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Your comments are a sad comfort

by javaneh29 on

Thanks guys, I am less distressed than I was when I wrote this blog and your comments have really helped me put it in perspective a little more. More and more pieces are coming together.

Both her husband and mine wern't keen on the idea of her coming here. I hadn't understood that fully until it was explained to me after the unfortunate event. And I don't think they could have predicted just how bad it turned out. My husband told her off good and proper and I was proud of him for doing it, It seems no one else does. At the time I was determined to give the children a good christmas and her a rest. This was partly my mistake.

However it doesnt detract from her behavior in the slightest. I still think about it and have the dilemma over the children. Sadly my bro in law, is after 15 yrs completely under her  thumb, I don't know why and he admits that he feels powerless both as a husband and as a father. I now know there has been DV in the past, but as a result of pent up anger because of her behavior and trouble she has caused. If DV is part of the scene today, it will be from her. Your right Mona.... he needs help but is too frightened to do anything about it.

She has decided to remove herself and the children from the UK and go to Germany now. I only hope that he doesn't go too and gets help and strength. I hope too  that she is unable to stay in Germany and has to return to Iran. At least then he can take the children from her,

I swear I would bring these children up myself if I thought there was a way it could be achieved, My heart aches for them.



she sounds so very troubled

by Monda on

I would be worried for their children as well. Although, had there been serious domestic violence you and your better half would know, right? I mean, isolating her kids is innapropriate and considered psychological abuse; I didn't quite read the intensity of  her tone when she removes her kids from activities or other people. She needs some work done. She sounds confused, angry and abusive to her family and of course to herself. I think that in Germany psychotherapeutic services (assessment & diagnosis as well as treatment) are offered as part of the social health plan.

Getting her to seek help is another story though. Sounds like your brother inlaw needs lots of help, education and support with his his wife's state of mind. How does he see things as they happen? What are his contributions? How in tune was he before their move, about his wife's issues and concerns? Often times, as you know, working with a partner effectively could benefit the more troubled half. And of course effective parenting support (book, workshop, free support group?) at least for him to lessen the negative impact on their kids. I wonder about his level of awareness in all this. Did he not predict these events when you initially invited them for the holidays?! Hmm.

Sorry your Christmas was stressful this year.  I hope your 2009 is healthy & joyful :o)

American Wife

for this to happen to someone as kind as you

by American Wife on

is simply mindboggling!!!!  It's so easy for us to say "don't worry about it... forget about it" but you just can't do that.  A similar situation happened to us with my brother-in-law and for the life of me, I couldn't figure it out.  It stayed with me for the longest time and I've never really determined what more I could have done to entertain or satisfy them.  I just hope it doesn't stick in your head and worry you.  You are far too giving and kind a person to have someone hurt your feelings so.  Just know in your heart that whatever you do WILL be appreciated, even if you don't verbally hear it.


not cultural nor religious

by sherry (not verified) on

Javaneh Jaan,
I know it can be very devastating when you have done your best to prepare for a happy occasion and to have it go so wrong.
The truth, to me, seems like it is not cultural nor is it religious but something is wrong inside their family.
Apparently they have some major problems, and you cannot know nor be responsible for their problems.
I cannot accuse her of anything since I don't know her and I don't know her background and problems in recent years.
But a lot of problems can arise from just the financial and immigration issues.
Since the charity issue and control issues have been discussed here I have a question: Is she a jealous person?
Could it be that when she saw your home etc after some time, she felt sad and down in the dumps and had to spill it out into the open too?-- just a question.
I'm sure not only her husband and children are suffering but she must be suffering too. She perhaps has never learned to ask for psychological help.
Those who don't recognize they have these problems never ask for help.
As for my personal experience, many years ago in Iran I had a friend at school. A very nice girl who I'd hang out with everyday.
At school we were all more or less on the same level. In my family it was always a no no to show off or speak of belongings. My father hated this trait -- very common these days throughout the world -- one day I invited this 14 year old friend to my home.
She was never the same again . In fact she started talking behind my back and made up lies about me and she cut our friendship short.
I was devastated, because i didn't know what I had done wrong!
Some years later I found out she had told a member of her family that she hated me for having things and a nice home when she didn't and couldn't.
I'm not sure this applies but it could be a reason or part of a reason too.
I hope you can still help the kids in some way.
Best of luck and best for 2009.


ok and thanks

by javaneh29 on

I appreciate your comments and suggestions. I left out some of the details because I wanted to see what you guys said about these things in particular. eg the present issue and the not drinking and eating. If it was a cultural or religious thing for example. I had never come across anything like it before.

Yes I have no doubt that she hasnt adapted yet, she has only been here a year and that does bring problems. I cant accept the charity theory as there has been no problem with accepting our help or money up to this point over the last year. Why now? And usually we stay at their place and she never lets me do anything. So in a way, I was trying to show her some hospitality for a change. I did try to engage her in some thing helpful and it was genuine..... preparation of the xmas meal and I thought it might encourage her to eat if she helped prepare it. And there was no way she could have travelled on public transport with two small kids and her luggage. At other times, she has asked me to travel 3 hours just so she can go to the dr's and doesnt know how to find her way and I have done it.

Bn you are right she is a bit of a control freak.... she wont let her husband smoke occassionaly and checks his mobile phone all the time. She told my friend that she isnt going to allow her husband to visit us again and told me my friend that she wears too much makeup and her dress wassn't appropriate and I shouldn't be friends with her.

Everyone here was iranian except for me..... and she wanted to experience a typical english xmas. She said she loves english food. Other than xmas day I made iranian food as I thought she might prefer it .... anyway we always eat it ourselves.

I feel so angry with her as she spoilt xmas for everyone making a scene and controlling everything with her moods. None of us really enjoyed our time after that as we were all conscious of her opting out and her disapproval. I have seen another side to her now and it leaves me with some serious worries.

The kids were happy to be left with us even though they had never spent a night away from her before. The little one didnt ask for her mother once. She cried when she did have to go eventually. She actually ate more than I had ever seen her eat before... she's seriously small for her age. She had no clothes with her other than the t shirt and pj bottoms she wore when she arrived and I had to buy her some clothes.... age 4 clothes were far too big for her. I am worried about the kids, having witnessed some of the things she did and said to them. ie. she told the 11 yr old boy that because he choose to stay here, he was now homeless and I saw her lay into him, her husband did nothing. I had to intervene.

I feel helpless about the kids and I dont know what I should do. If she was not family I would not hesitate to  have reported her to social services for child neglect and abuse.

They now plan to leave the UK and go to Germany. When they arrived in the UK a year ago, the little one didnt speak to anyone. I have watched her bloom a little over the year and thats another reason why we visit monthly.. to keep an eye on the kids. What's this next move going to do to them?

Its a really sad situation. Im heart broken for those kids.



It is obviously difficult to

by cat (not verified) on

It is obviously difficult to guess in this case, but it may look like marital difficulties, or that she is going through a hard time adjusting to her new situation ( marriage, children, location). It might be that the husband is closer to his own family, and she rarely sees hers, and that may bring some resentment.

Also, if she speaks no English with little familiarity with the culture, and without few resources, she may feel entrapped, bored and isoolated in a cold place. She definitly needs help from a trusted source, a good friend, may be even a professional.

Happy new year!


That is why, I don't ever...

by Parthian on

I never celebrate holidays with family. During holidays, I either travel, go hiking, moutain hiking, diving, or skiing. I visit family when it is not holidays. First and foremost, I hate gossiping which happens a lot, second, it seems during holidays, it is always more tense because of unrealistic expectations. I have to tell you, I know you ladies don't like to hear this, but Iranian women are very very good at creating situations out of nothing. Why waste a beautiful holiday like this? Next time, do something with immediate family.


Why does she have to eat

by Sahar34567 (not verified) on

Why does she have to eat Iranian food if she is not Iranian? maybe she doesn't have the taste for it, you cannot force her into it. Other than that, if you have done everything in your power to make her comfortable, just dump the bitch, let her come to you if she is interested in having a relationship with you, but trust me, dealing with families is tough, you don't have to deal with them, keep distance and be as polite as long as you can stay sane. Merry Christmas. Just do your best hon.

bajenaghe naghi

javaneh jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

i am so sorry that your sister in low was so rude and ruined your christmas in such a bad way.

i think it was not religion that made her so crazy. you can be religious and be polite and deal with what comes your way in a polite manner. what was going on with your sister in low was that i think she is a control freak and in your house she had lost all her control except over her own immidiate family yani her husband and her kids. she could not function with out being in charge. she felt like a naked person very vulnarable. her actions were meant to show that she was in charge that she could control her hunger and thirst and not to eat or drink.

i think you should not think that there was any thing wrong with your house or your delicious food. it was her and her crazyness.  


I am intrigued but clueless...

by alborz on

... Javaneh.   If you are puzzled by it all, then I doubt anyone can crack this case definitively.  Anyone's guess will be as good as any other, so here is mine.

If they are immigrants and have yet to settle and more importantly have a standard of life equivalent to what they had previously, then it may explain the strain in their life.  The act of kindness from your family may be perceived as "charity" and as such can be a very public reminder of their current situation.  We as Iranians are particularly prone to evaluating ourselves through making comparisons. We show our emotions and thoughts readily and as such it can be perceived as quite inappropriate here.

So the context of these interactions is far more important than the specific instance.  For example and perhaps she feels that in her interaction with your family and you particularly that she is on the receiving end and that she cannot reciprocate.  In our culture this is particularly relevant and the visit with you just put it over the top. Refusing food and water are extreme signs of limiting one's indebtedness, particularly if the visit with your family was not her choice and perhaps had led to a conflict with the husband. I can just imagine, "khayli bad mishe...inha badbakhtha inha hame raah oomadan donbaleh maa".  Considering that they had to be picked up and brought to your home over a long distance can really be a reminder of their helplessness in their new circumstances.

The only recommendation in this context is for you to find a way in which she would be able to "help" you in some way and be able to "return the favor".  I trust that you will figure something out that is genuine.

Kindness and generousity can easily be perceived as charity and this is particuarlly hard in our culture.

Hope that all will be well soon and Happy New year.


Darius Kadivar

Gee That's Sad ...

by Darius Kadivar on

That Really Sucks when someone breaks the Christmas Spirit for everyone else. How Selfish of her.

Are you sure she has not been having a quarrel with her husband or seeking divorce ? Maybe she was going through a personal crisis. Or Maybe she is religious or traditionalist ? But the fact that she cracked and cried and behaved strangely proves that she must have had some quarrel with her husband before they arrived don't you think ?

In anyways that was Very Selfish and Impolite. Hope the Kids did not find it too sad an experience. Christmas IS SACRED !

Wishing you and your family a better Christmas next Year and in the meantime a Happy New Year 2009.