I'm the oldest of an extremely multi-racial family. My younger brothers and I are all biologically related and our parents are still married. Because we are so ethnically diverse, my brothers and I don't really look related.
We just moved to a new town because of my dad's work. My dad spends the majority of his time in surrounding states for his job and isn't around much.
I'm comfortable with my family dynamic and I typically turn a deaf ear to rumors. I just can't do that in this case, not when the perceived integrity of my parent's marriage is at stake. My peers, and even worse, adults, think I come from a single-parent family, my mom is promiscuous, we're all adopted, and/or that my dad didn't stick around — all rumors as a result of my dad not being a big physical presence.
This is an extremely small, family-oriented, and somewhat judgmental community, and as tough as it is, other people's opinions matter. How do I dispel these rumors to establish my and my family's credibility? I want to belong here and I hate that people are thinking so lowly of my family.
Whoa, whoa, whooooooa. Uh, Sparkler? Leaving aside for a moment the things people may or may not be saying about your family, do you realize that you just roundly insulted every kid out there whose folks are divorced, who does share a household with adopted or half or foster sibs, or who was raised by a single parent?
But hey, we know you didn't mean it. Surely a member of the Sparkletariat understands that there's nothing actually wrong with these things, and surely you wouldn't be so awfully small-minded and judgmental about people you don't even know! Right? You just made a dumb, unthinking jump to conclusions—and now, of course, you realize your mistake.
...And that, right there, is exactly the state of grace you're going to strive for when it comes to people who make stupid assumptions about your parents' marriage or your family's home life.
Because short of taking out a full-page ad in the local paper or walking down the street with a megaphone to announce your parents' still-married status, there's nothing you can do dispel these rumors that won't happen just as easily on its own. Your problem is only a problem for as long as it takes for people to realize that they screwed up—which they will soon, if they haven't already. The truth will come out, all by itself, because that's what the truth likes to do.
Which means that, for the time being, you can devote your brainpower to thinking about more important things... like, say, exactly what sort of people you're trying to impress.
Forget the perceived integrity of your parents' marriage; how about the actual integrity of your moral center? How far does your desire for acceptance actually go? Will you stop at assuring your peers that you're not one of those families? Keep silent when they gossip about and ostracize other kids who don't have a dad around? Join them in doing to someone else the same thing they're doing to you right now, all in the name of belonging?
Seriously: think about it. Because the other people in your community will discover soon enough that they made a mistake, and when they do, you'll need to decide which kind of person you are: the kind who'll do anything to fit in, or the kind who refuses to seek the good opinion of malignant judgmental asshats if the price is becoming one of them.
Have you ever dealt with dumb rumors about your family? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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