They feign curiosity, but their only intent is to unrelentingly criticize with hollow arguments and offer unsolicited advice with unsubstantiated authority. They do this over and over again, permuting arbitrarily through unrelated topics until you are disoriented to the point of craving escape, or until every reserve of your patience has been exhausted, or both

In the former case, where you feel the need to flee, they blame you for your lack of participation and the subsequent degradation of relations. They ask, with complete seriousness and obliviousness, why you never talk.

In the inexcusably cruel but unrestrained explosion of your frustration, which follows the latter case, they deny any awareness of their actions, and insist your anger and lashing out are because you are a sadist and not because they’ve provoked you.

When calmly confronted — not an easy task — they clam up immediately, and armed with irrational rhetoric and ad hominem, they rebuke your claims before they’re even spoken, sticking proverbial fingers in her ears and denying any chance at constructive conversation.

In the off chance that I’ve forgotten the ubiquity of the above, and make the mistake of attempting to chat with them, their instinct almost immediately directs the flow toward a sensitive subject: e.g., nonsense directives they’re perfectly capable of carrying out; the state of smoke detectors in obscure places I’d never visit; and how I manage my money.

I don’t know how to fix it, and in the back of my head I know their intention isn’t malicious, but their practice is still painful.

They aren’t bad.
Is that ok?
My heart says no, but my head sighs because the answer is obviously yes.
Mom doesn’t have much to offer in terms of advice, and Dad is affected by them even more than I am.

Not sure if that makes it better or worse.

Regardless I love them.