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About NativeFraulein

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  1. DH's extended family is becoming xenophobic---how do we handle it?

    Thank you everyone for your thoughtful responses and ideas.   To clarify my MIL is a completely innocent bystander in this situation. There are two step families from DH's side: that created by his Mom when she married her second husband (the father of the stepbrother/his wife) and that created by DH's passed on biological Father which includes the ex- girlfriend  who happily came to the baptism with her 'new' husband and children.   DH is of no blood relation to his stepbrother. Though no one will ever know for sure, it has been suggested that MIL married the stepfather in some haste so that my husband could 'grow up' with stepbrother. It has been assumed for many years that  they are close like siblings but if I am to infer anything from my DH at present---perhaps they aren't. If MIL knew this she would be distraught.    As an observer from the outside it seems like MIL tried to construct  a family for herself and my husband after her first marriage broke up---even of if  that ,meant including  in the mix her new husband's ex wife, her new husband, her son, her daughter in law and their kids. My MIL is a very family oriented person and I believe she is only behaving in a way that she best knows how to. It could also be, since MIL's parents have passed and she herself was the only child that she would feel lonely without this constructed family unit.   My DH and I have spoken more about this. For the time being we are cutting off stepbrother and his family (all of whom completely abandoned my daughter on her special day) because we cannot let this completely selfish, arrogant move on their part go unrecognized. We were always there for their birthday parties  and  special events. I politely attended parties (shockingly without making demands  )where no one aknowledged my  presence or our marriage. In reflection DH and I have come to realize that they have shown  no interest in our nuclear family or cultural traditions at any point.   I always thought the stepbrother was 'nice enough' and his wife always gave off a very cold impression but I let it slide (that's what I meant by passive agressive) but I feel like on Sunday we saw a second face---maybe their true faces. Stepbrother's wife moved to Germany from Russia when she was a teenager and therefore she thought it was completely ok to go off on a racist tangent about the Turkish Mothers at her kids' primary school because 'I am a foreigner too.' As is the case with  these types, she doesn't want to consider that perhaps different foreigners are in different stages of assimilating in Germany or that perhaps being 'German' has different meanings to different people.Stepbrother made such xenophobic statements/generalizations that even his parents sat there speechless.   Stepbrother's wife made comments about my teaching career credentials (while she does not work of course) and I let it slide.    DH and I bit our tongues because we didn't want to screw up the 1st birthday party of our daughter more than the so called guests already had.    It's important to DH  and I that our daughter grow up to be proud of who she is and  not feel lost or identity-less in a world that often pressures people to conform in order to be liked or accepted. For what it is worth, I believe that one's family languages are a key component in their overall sense of self. I come from a Native American family and often recall the stories my Grandfather had about being forced at 'Indian schools' to speak only English, practice proper Christianity and forgo certain customs like the keeping of long hair.  In my own life I have not dealt  with Racism, but did witness it as I was growing up against my clearly Native father. 
  2. Hello everyone,   I have posted here before about being a half-German and half-American family before in the Ruhrgebiet. It has obvious challenges but there is a strong sense of love and respect between myself, my husband and my MIL.  My husband comes from a very small family. He has a stepbrother who is married with two children. The stepbrother’s parents can also be included in this extended family unit. DH’s step family from passed Father’s side can be included.     DH and Stepbrother grew up together and for that reason it is important it is important to MIL that DH and I keep contact. I come a large extended family who I have often desperately missed since moving to Germany six years ago.     DH will raise our now 1-year old daughter as a proud bilingual. It works splendidly for our nuclear family. We can see no disadvantages in making sure that our daughter has a strong sense of self and is proud to be both German and American. We try to be fair with where we spend family holidays and in our usage of language.  I have always tried to be flexible, kind and polite even though stepbrother’s family has treated me a in a very ‘German’ passive aggressive way.     Anything involving DD directly is done bilingually. Yesterday we celebrated her birthday and she was baptised in both English and German at the church I attend. This was lovingly approved and attended by my husband, MIL and DH’s Father’s family.       The Stepbrother’s family began to pressure us to have the long since planned baptism *only in German* late last week. By Saturday they were threatening that if it wasn’t done this way that they wouldn’t attend.     Well, it came to a boiling point at DD’s birthday party. The stepbrother’s family was clearly not happy to be there. They didn’t try to converse with me and were clearly ignoring our poor DD. Just as the tense festivities are about to close the stepbrother and his wife go off on everything: our bilingual choice, our decisions about how to educate DD, how I am ‘not integrated enough’ and stepbrother goes off on this uncalled-for, uneducated (false) tirade about Turkish immigrants. That was enough for me----I won’t tolerate stupid, useless racism in any context. Unwilling to yell at this part of the family in front of my MIL and not willing to have DD cry at her first birthday the party ended then and there.     True to their word Stepbrother’s family and his parents skipped out on the baptism entirely. They did not try to compromise, understand or apologise. My husband had tried on Friday to tell them that the service would also be in German, but they said it wasn’t good enough.     My poor husband is hurting and angry, and my MIL is confused, and I think emotionally caught in the middle. I have been going through quite a bit of homesickness and have been feeling very alienated about the connections and friendships I have tried to make with German people over the last six years (no I haven’t been too successful.) and this doesn’t help at all. I should have been happy and celebrating yesterday but just felt so horrible. My DH is angry and upset.     My knee jerk reaction is to cut this section of DH’s family (not MIL) off completely. I won’t tolerate their xenophobia or disrespect. My DH and I talked about it and we really are sick of trying to ‘play family’ with stepbrother and co but do it for the sake of MIL.     We are very close to MIL. I love her and she is a wonderful Mother and Oma. I suspect Stepbrother’s family is actually not belittling us because of our bilingualism but rather because Stepbrother and his wife are envious of our close relationship, we are to MIL and about the attention DD receives from her. I suspect that this side of the family is trying to drive a wedge between MIL and us.   Luckily, my husband and I are on the same page about everything and these matters do not cause a conflict in our marriage.   How would you proceed? Also, Stepbrother’s family gave us greeting cards with money---I do not want to keep it and would like to know what the most tactful way is to return it.     Thank you.  
  3. Hello everyone,   I hope this is a relatively simple question but I feel sheepish about not asking it much sooner. I did search the forums I just need a bit of reassurance.   I have been living and working in Germany since September 2013.  Except for two consecutive months in 2013, I am employed just like any other non-selbständig German paying  taxes, health insurance, and church taxes. I am legally single, without kids and full time so I am at the upmost bracket.  No complaints. Brutto here, over a 12 month period I earn 28,000 Euros.   I am engaged to a German and will live here over 5 years for sure   I did not file US taxes because I believed that earning under 60k I was not obliged to do so. My undestanding *now* is that I should still file. I feel dumb.    I have no taxable assets and do not draw any kind of insurance or social assistance in the United States.    I have however, paid 25,000$ towards my student loans over the last two years (...I want that monkey off my back) and 14,000$ or so of that is interest.   Please advise. Can a person simply file online with HR Block (or another service) and what form(s.) Will I need to provide anything from the German side of things such as lohnsteuerbescheiningungen for the last 2-3 years.   Thank you