|February 18, 2003 - I just had a heated discussion with my brother about grocery shopping. Well it went a little deeper than that but it illuminated some of the differences between our personalities. We both agreed that we want the family to eat healthier. We want to eat in more and make fast food a rare treat instead of a common occurence. We'd rather have fruit than cookies. I'm getting sick of sweets in general. We'd also like to eat three meals a day because right now we usually eat only one. On Sunday I had half an apple and dinner. That's all I ate. The hunger pangs go away after a while and I'm losing weight, but this is still rather unhealthy. And we all eat that way. So these are things my brother and I agreed should happen. I'd be so much happier if we could eat healthier. Now my mother and father were fast asleep because it is almost 4am so they weren't privy to this conversation. Well the problem is my father doesn't seem to care one way or the other. I think my father is tired all of the time. He just lets a lot of things just flow and happen. In fact, every time I see my father nowadays I feel sad. He seems so weighed down. Now because I feel this way I take special care when I go grocery shopping to appease his tastes. I also do this because he is the head of the household. Sometimes his tastes are quite unhealthy. Now my mother's tastes are just all wrong. Since I am the one who does the grocery shoping, my brother said that I should just buy the healthy foods and plan the meals based upon our preferences. But this does not sit well with me. I do not feel that I have the authority to make such choices for 3 other adults. I've wanted to do it for a long time but I long ago became resigned to the notion that I will be able to make such decisions when I am on my own. You can only control yourself. You cannot make someone else change, they have to want to change. My life's experience has certainly proved that axiom, many times over.
Well my brother believes you can inspire change basically by force. If I just bought the foods I feel are right (and they probably are) then my family would get used to it. My father would certainly be amenable to it, and he'd only voice displeasure rarely. My father is not a complainer, even if he is unhappy. He would just ask, "Can you get me some Vienna cookies next time?" Now see, I'd have to get them because he requested them. So since I know he wants them anyway, why not just avoid the agony and get them for him the first time? That is just the thing my brother can't accept. But he knows that my parents do not want to change their eating habits. Or maybe they are not ready to change. He knows this and he did not disagree. He just feels you can force it. I don't feel that I have the right to do that. My brother has never felt close to my mother and her mental illness has made them quite distant. He doesn't know what she likes and he really doesn't care. He does care about her, but he doesn't care enough to get to know her. And I know she'd have major issues with changing the eating habits. She just doesn't want to and no one can make her. She is a grown woman. But my brother dismisses that because he doesn't feel she is capable of deciding what is best for her.
So my brother suggested that we just discuss it with them. My father would generally agree with the changes, just like he ALWAYS does. But he would not follow through, and my mother certainly would pitch a fit at first but give in, as she usually does. I can't take that anymore. We've had discussions about groceries, the budget, home maintainence, family study, so many things. I've made so many lists and plans. And this is when I learned that others have to be willing to change. I have gone through a lot of angst over their attitudes toward money. I just wish they could change, just a little. Try to cut down on expenses and save money some way. Open bills when we receive them and actually think about how to pay them. They usually agree with the need for change but there is no strong desire and effort. My brother's approach to the money issues is just not to help them out because that would only be encouraging things. He acts like he is someone's parent! I feel he is wrong to do this because he lives in their home and he does not have the right to refuse to help with bills. My approach is to just cope with things as they are, try to make gentle reminders, and generally stress myself out with the worry until I give up. I've given up on the money thing and I've given up on eating healthier until I am in control of these things for myself.
My brother just does not get this. And I can't stand his paternal attitude. He's been that way with me all my life. It was really bad when we were teenagers. My father and I disagreed a lot and we got into many arguments. My mother was very sick and depressed so she never offered any opinions. And my brother would not only side with my father, but he'd verbally discipline me as well. I hated that SO MUCH. Just thinking about it upsets me. My father allowed it because my brother was agreeing with him. Those two are always in cahoots. Well now my brother's attitude is extending towards the entire family. Yet on the other hand my brother is usually very sweet, amiable, adaptable and somewhat reserved. But he likes to be a provider and he is only laidback until he feels things are being done incorrectly. As I said, I agree with him on the basic issues but not on the solution. I even tried to use the scripture at 1 Peter 3:1,2 to illustrate the point. The wife may be able encourage change in her unbelieving husband by changing her own conduct and showing by example. Not by forcing him to change by doing things like only allowing bible literature in the home.My brother didn't understand the analogy and said that she could pray with the children even though that would be against his wishes. I don't think that has anything to do with the principle but he didn't get it.
We had a discussion earlier in the day along the same lines. I cannot stand the taste of water. I have never liked it. It is very nasty to me and I don't care if it comes straight from the spicket or in a bottle that says "Spring Water". It is water itself that does not agree with my taste buds. It may be a really hot summer's day and I pour myself a nice tall glass of crystal clear water. My throat may be parched and I may be quite thirsty. So I start to drink the water and for half a second the coolness of it will be quite satisfying. This is followed quickly by "ick". I'm sorry, I can't help it, I do not like the stuff. I know that it is good for me, that I need it, blah blah blah. I have tried to make myself drink it. At one point I would not allow myself to drink anything else. I was in agony. Seriously, I flinch whenever I bring a glass of water to my lips. Well anyway, I was a little disgruntled because there is never anything to drink in the house (just like there is no food). I would like some apple juice every once in a while. And of course, my family, all of whom love water, said "Drink Water". Okay, whatever. My brother told me that I should force myself to drink water for two weeks and I would acquire a taste for it. His approach to everything is force it until you (or they) like it. Well first of all, just like my mom and her snacks, I don't really want to change. Healthy or not. Secondly, I wouldn't last two weeks or even three days. Lastly, I still wouldn't like water even if I could do that. At best, I'd be able to tolerate it more. I still wouldn't want that to be my main drink. Not ever, no way, no how. Acquiring more tolerance is just not enough of a motivation right now, but maybe later. In the meantime, I don't see why anyone else should take it upon themselves to force the stuff on me by bringing nothing else into the home. But again, my brother and I see things differently. I even made an illustration regarding another type of food. Green vegetables. As children we are always told to eat our veggies, particularly the green ones. Well some people don't really like them. But they should eat them anyway. Still, wouldn't it be horrible to make them eat only veggies for their meals and their snacks too? Well I don't want to drink only water with breakfast and lunch and have that be the only thing I can sip on through the day. So that's how I feel about it.
My brother and I are similar in how we look at things but as I said, we don't reach the same conclusions as to the resolution of an issue. As a contrast, my mother doesn't really plan ahead and she just does whatever is pleasing at the moment. She eats what she likes when she likes it, and she spends money when she wants to. She's sweet, but this can be very hard to deal with. So I guess that is another reason my brother and my mother cannot see eye to eye on anything. Ahhh family. I love em.