The gobbled-up expression came from a dear friend, a strong Introvert, who years ago vented: “When Joe and I recently visited his parents for a few days, as soon as we arrived, before we even unloaded the car, Madge after hugging everyone, directed me to sit right down and have a warm brownie and a cup of coffee. Hardly taking a breath, she began rehearsing the food she’d prepared, and all the plans for the kids; what is currently irritating her about Earl, Joe’s dad, and what Joe’s siblings are doing and not doing; rapid-fire questions about my siblings. She laughs a lot and her voice gets louder as she talks. I love her and appreciate all she does but I just feel gobbled up. I don’t know how to handle this. “
Regarding those who responded to my informal poll question “Have you ever felt gobbled up by a family member or friend?”, I noticed squinty eyes as recall took place, then a story would pop out.
When I had 3 small kids and my neighbor had only one, she was on my door-step constantly. It amazed me that she didn’t get it, that I was too busy to stop everything and listen to her. M.
My mother-in-law constantly and arrogantly ignores our directions for snacks that we do not allow our children to have. It is so frustrating. Naturally, our children cry and say that we are mean, but we want to avoid any unpleasant word battles with their grandparents. N
My sister-in-law is independent, well-off financially and has free time. When she comes to town, she moves in and takes over my house. Her stuff is in every room. Her friends stop by and my sink piles up with coffee cups, straws, napkins, dirty plates and silverware. I think she believes that she’s doing me a favor by bringing excitement to my dull life. I teach school full time. H
My beef is the domineering other g-mother who after entering our daughter’s home, goes directly to the coveted child who is sitting in my lap while we are reading a book, picks her up out of my lap into another room, completely oblivious to my feelings or that of the child. V.
As a teacher I have encountered helicopter parents who constantly "hover" over their child. These parents get too involved in their child's school day. They try to control everything & everyone. They meddle in classroom, playground, cafeteria, & bus activities. They quiz their child about every area of their day. They try to find any injustice against their child. They phone & email the teacher ad nauseum. If they feel that the teacher has not addressed their concerns, then they notify the principal. Meanwhile they are discussing the issues with neighbors & friends. Again, their child is the ‘victim’ and hasn't done anything wrong. Some issues are actually petty. Eventually other students don't even want to be anywhere near their child. I always tried to encourage my students to come to me with their concerns. Nip a problem before it becomes a major ordeal. Sometimes students are better at handling concerns without involving their parents. I used to tell parents that I will only believe half of what I hear goes on in their home if they will only believe half of what they hear happened at school. J. Didn’t take me long to realize that this was a subject that had touched—or still touches—about everyone at some time. I wondered if Thinkers ever confronted being gobbled up.
After an Introverted Thinking gentleman-friend, smiled, nodded and after mulling the question over, paused a moment, then projected, “But the question to ask is are we coming across overwhelming or overpowering to others? I thanked him for his insight, enhancing my focus.
As I type out these experiences, I ruminate “I don’t have a gobbled-up story”. But then one gradually slid into my mind from my memory bank. I couldn’t remember her name, but while I was Dean of Students Secretary a prospective student came to my desk to enroll but she, I’ll call her Sue, had not followed the guidelines for enrollment. She was attractive, well educated, confident, with significant achievements to her credit. Dr. G rejected her application. Sue was disappointed, having travelled from several states away, pressured me to help her qualify. I urged her to satisfy the enrollment guidelines and her enrollment was approved. She came by my desk often asking me to go for coffee but I had no breaks. One evening, much to our surprise, Sue knocked on our door. I invited her in, but was busy getting our children ready for bed. Jim had just graduated and we were packing. I served coffee and cookies. She talked about herself. She asked for other favors and I complied. Jim thought she was presumptuous and didn’t appreciate her overbearing mannerisms.
A couple of weeks after we moved to pastor a mission, who showed up at our door, but Sue. I have no idea how she tracked us 1500 miles away to Pennsylvania. I can’t remember much about our conversation except that she wanted me to drive her to Lancaster, an hour away. I apologized that I was not familiar with the roads and hadn’t even driven around our area. She pressed me strongly again about driving her to Lancaster. Jim stepped up and said, “Ruth is not driving to Lancaster.” With an astounded look on her face, Sue shot a glance at Jim, then at me and then said indignantly, “Friends can be replaced”, turned on her heel and stomped out. We never saw her again. Yes, ‘tis true, friends can be and often should be replaced.
Unyielding, blatant, abrasive, monopolizing conversation and demanding are other descriptive words for overbearing. Many people suffer from manipulative and domineering people at home, with relatives, at work, in clubs, in the neighborhood, and at school. What can be done when it’s obvious someone wants to have or has their ‘emotional’ hooks in us?
The mother with three little kids could have said: “I am not being unfriendly with you, but I do not have time to visit at this time. Another day, we can work out a day and time that I could give to you.”
Madge is like many we have dealt with. They are so capable and outgoing that they assume everyone could be the same way if they wanted to. My friend learned to be honest by using an ‘I statement’, “Madge, I’m not ready for questions this early in the morning.” My friend also learned that if she just let Madge talk without feeling obligated to answer personal family questions, that Madge seemed fine with that. “Madge liked to hear herself talk”, my friend concluded. People who are naturally bundles of energy and full of information often are unaware that they are intimidating by monopolizing the conversation.
On the other hand, many may feel threatened by their introverted, unsmiling spouse, child, boss, teacher, roommate or friend who is silent for an inordinate period of time. Without realizing it, Introverted Intuitive Thinkers are particularly intimidating as a friend, married many years, kindly shared her oft repeated experience. As my husband and I sit together on the sofa to watch the evening TV shows, he does not comment about the programs, converse with me or even crack a smile. How am I to know what he is thinking or feeling? So, I ask, "Have I done something to upset you?" To which he replies, “No, why do you ask?" And he goes back to sitting quietly.
Although silence from an Introvert is expected and partially understood, when an Extrovert resorts to unnatural silence, it’s ‘deafening’, a bit eerie and usually on purpose to emphasize upset, anger or punishment. It’s their way of saying “pay attention!”
Arrogance reeks with pride, conceit, self-importance, haughtiness, presumptuousness and egotism, so when caregivers, grandparents or friends who ignore parental requests not to serve certain snacks, beverages to others’ children are ignored, the parents are wise to reiterate: “We have asked that you not to give…etc.”
And the grandmother swooping the grandchild out of the arms of the other grandmother, aunt, or friend is the epitome of arrogance and has to be pointed out as unacceptable and inappropriate, but it may need to come from two or three who agree. “We are not comfortable with the way this child was being treated, to say nothing of the adult who was holding her/him.”
Like my gentleman friend cautioned, many who are overbearing or overwhelming are unaware that they are running over others or intimidating them until someone points it out to them. Using an honest “I statement” is most often received graciously. Faithful are the wounds of a friend Prov. 27.6.
Being kindly honest is the path to healing. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Gal. 5:22-23.
Has someone attempted to be in control of your life?