when relatives don't want your kids near their kids...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by recovering doormat, Oct 20, 2008.

  1. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    How do you deal with the hurt and shame when your brother or sister tells you not to bring your children to visit because they don't want their kids contaminated by your difficult child's behavior?

    I've been crying since I got off the phone with my younger brother in Virginia, who asked me not to bring my two difficult children and the younger easy child who is actually a Terrible Tween to his daughter's confirmation this weekend. My brother's kids are really wonderful, innocent, respectful, smart, great kids...and he wants them to stay that way. So do I.

    My brother was at my house last June when my oldest had her graduation party. She invited two girls who smuggled in alcohol and got horrendously sick all over the place, in front of all my neices and nephews and out of town relatives. When everyone left, my brother asked my son, difficult child 2, to be kind to me and don't give me a hard time. So what does my son do? He waits til I go to bed, then invites a boy I've never met before over to smoke weed in his room downstairs. I catch them and throw them out.

    I have a big mouth and I tell my brother everything that is going on at home; what I don't tell, my mother fills him in. He knew that my youngest refused school three weeks ago and the school sent a cop to fetch her. He thinks she is doing this regularly and doesn't want his youngest daughter, who is nine, to think this is a good thing to do.

    It's just that when the criticism comes from a loved one, it hurts so much more. I don't think the younger two will be disappointed that we aren't going; my oldest will freak out and cry and whine and feel sorry for herself.

    When I tell the kids that we aren't going, I'd like to tell them the truth so they will understand how their behavior impacts other people, but I don't know how to do it without sounding like I"m blaming my brother. How do you do that? has anyone here been in this situation with family members and gatherings?

    I have never felt so low as a parent before, and the worst part is that I understand why my brother told us not to come. It's his daughter's day, and even though my kids tend not to act out at other people's homes, I can't guarrantee they won't say or do anything that their uncle and aunt would not approve of.
  2. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    Honestly, I can understand your brother's concerns. I understand your pain too. I would be honest with your children. Their choices in life will, at this point forward, be a big factor in how they are viewed by others, including family. They need to begin to grasp that every choice has a consequence---and that sometimes that means others will not want us around. It's sad that they have done this to themselves. You haven't done anything wrong. You have done the best you can. So, let go of the guilt and let them own their behaviors. Hugs.
  3. Rabbit

    Rabbit Member

    I understand and send Hugs
    However i do not have any good advice since my family
    has disowned me for the same reasons
    Hugs Rabbit
  4. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    My thought would be to tell your difficult children exactly why you aren't going, lay it firmly at their door and let them own it. Tell them this is an example of how their behavior affects others and continuing such behaviors will bring more of the same. I would also tell them, if they were my kids, that they have deprived ME of an important family occasion and they will be seeing the consequences of that (choose your own removed privileges here). It's reasonable for them to realize they have harmed you with their behaviors, not just done themselves out of a family visit. When they start in blaming your brother I would firmly restate that it's their responsibility and this is how other reasonable people in society will react to their behaviors as well; then end the conversation and refuse to re-engage.

    One summer we had to leave a visit at our relatives' place and drive 400 miles home because of difficult child behavior. I've never felt more humiliated. {{{hugs}}} to you.
  5. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Everywoman makes a very good point. Your children own their behaviour and their choices, and those bad choices are starting to come home to roost. They behaved badly and now they are reaping the consequences of that.

    I would talk to them in a straightforward manner and tell them that their actions have resulted in their being asked not to participate in important family milestones.

    I'm so sorry that you're having to deal with it. It's a tough situation all around.

  6. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Is there any way you can hire a sitter so you can still attend?

    If they ask why they aren't going, tell them brother doesn't like their behavior and leave it at that.
  7. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    Great advice! I already broke the news to my son, who seemed to understand and only mildly offered a defense of "but I'm doing better now." It is a harsh part of life that even when you improve your behavior, not everyone will notice right away.

    I could still go myself, and this confrontation with my brother would have been avoided if I had stuck to my original plan and gone alone, but as usual I started to feel sorry for my kids, that we hadn't done anything fun as a family in a very long time and this would have been a nice treat.

    I like the idea of making them stay with their dad anyway and giving myself a break for the weekend!
  8. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Miss KT managed to alienate half the family just last week. I agree with letting the kids own their behaviors...they're old enough to hear the truth. Many hugs...I know how you feel.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Although I think you got good advice, I have two comments. First of all, your brother's kids are going to come into a lot of contact with kids who are like your kids unless they are homeschooled and locked in their house. I personally don't think he was very kind to you about your kids. I can't imagine banning my nieces and nephews from an event. If I felt it was risky, I'd probably say, "Do you think you can watch them so what happened before isn't repeated?" And I'd have left the decision up to you--watch them closely or leave them home. Of course this is just me. It wasn't very nice of him in my opinion to make YOU feel like a bad parent. You didn't want your kids to be this way, and they could very well change while his could turn the other way...

    Also it sounds like there are no boundaries in your family--what you tell mother goes to little brother, etc.
    It's up to you, but you may want to find a good friend or a therapist to talk to. I don't know how you feel about it, but I wouldn't want the entire life of my kids channeled to all of my relatives. I would probably not talk to them about my kids. If my confidant, my sister, told everyone else the things I told her, I wouldn't tell her anything about my family. JMO
  10. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm sorry you are having to deal with this. I hope you do decide to go and enjoy. I'm sorry for your hurting heart. We've never experienced relatives not wanting their kiddos around difficult child but my dad's wife doesn't really like being around difficult child too much. All of the grandkids get a week at grandma's and grandpa's when they turn 10. My difficult child didn't because Dad's wife didn't think she could deal with difficult child. While appreciated her honesty it did hurt (especially because I know Dad would have done well with him).

  11. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    I'm still getting tearful now and then but I suppose I should be glad that my brother was honest with me. It would have been much worse if I'd gone down there and felt that the vibe was all wrong, and that they were resentful of me for bringing my kids.

    I'm all for getting these kids to own their behavior, but unfortunately, only my son seems to get it. My youngest has a football game to cheer for and plenty of friends at home,so she doesn't care. My oldest is probably making a voodoo doll of my brother right now.

    This is a good lesson for me to keep my trap shut. My mom is my main confidant through my messy divorce and she knows way too much about her grandkids, and it does get funneled to others. She has a big mouth and I know that...it's just that things have been so awful for me for a long time now, that there is precious little I can talk to her about. I think I have to learn to white lie better and just tell her everything is great...while doubling up on the appts. with-my therapist. I'm also looking into a support group for myself.

    My kids have been troubled for a long time, and although I know my brother and his wife love me and my kids, he has a hard time relating to their issues. I think he sees them as spoiled brats who needed tough love a long time ago and didn't get it. He told me once that he just couldnt' understand my oldest not being able to get out of bed to go to school when she was at her most depressed. I told him that I hoped to God that he never had to deal with a child who had major depression. He tends to have very strong opinions and to see things in black and white; what's interesting is that when he was a teenager he was party animal/stoner/rock n roller who thought nothing of lighting up a bong in the house while my mom was at work. He still tokes up from time to time and is a very social drinker (read: functioning alcoholic). I did not raise any of these issues during our conversation.
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Oh, I am so sorry.

    You've gotten some great advice, and already acted on it.

    I'd go alone. It's still your neice's day.

    I'd keep your brother's drug use out of it. Otherwise, it's going to sound like t*t-for-tat. He won't understand.
    In fact, I'd keep him out of a lot of conversations, as well as with-your mom. I've got a friend who doesn't have kids, and to whom I told way too many things about my difficult child, and now I regret it, because she hates him.
    I rarely talk about him any more to her, and when I do, it's always something positive.
    It works better for both of us, but it was a bitter pill for me to swallow. It's always hard to understand how someone can love a child who is supposedly so unloveable. You know that old expression, "A face only a mother can love."

    It's great that your son made that comment. He is learning.

    My little sister has a daughter, C, who was into very hard drugs for yrs. One of our older sisters told her not to bring C for Christmas, because "She's trouble." I don't think my little sister will every forgive her. Big sister invited us all this summer, and also for Christmas, and didn't get any takers. Hmmm...
    It can work both ways.
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Your kids HAVE brought this on themselves, but your brother could be a bit more compassionate also. Frankly, be honest but non-judgemental (not like your brother). Be generous, but frank. If they think badly of their uncle then that is up to them. Do not protect your brother, but do not malign him either. But while he does have a right to ask you to keep your kids away, he really should show more understanding and be more supportive.

    You describe yourself as a recovering doormat - again, be aware of the tendency to continue to allow people (the kids, your brother) to walk all over you. Stop protecting people from the natural consequences of their own actions; stop trying to take it all onto your shoulders. Until they have to carry their own burdens, they won't learn, they won't change.

    Dumping the load from your shoulders isn't being selfish - it's actually doing the right thing as a teacher and facilitator. So not only should you NOT feel guilty, you should feel justified, vindicated, lighter for the burden being places where it belongs.

  14. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    Ladies, thank you so much for your support. I woke up earlier than usual this morning feeling miserable, but after reading your posts and thinking about it, I realized that I am continuing to act like a doormat for taking my relatives into my confidence about the kids, then feeling hurt when they are judgemental. Andmy mother and brother are very judgemental (interestingly, so is my ex...maybe we do marry our mothers!) and less than compassionate. My brother is the type who, when traveling in NYC during the late 1980's, would lecture a homeless person begging for change to get a job. Some years ago, his wife forbid their 9 year old daughter (the confirmation girl) from seeing a friend who was going through a hard time with her stepmother -- I'm not sure what got my sister in law so worried, the mere fact that this little girl came from a fractured family, or if she was concerned that my niece would be somehow tainted by associating with a kid with family problems. When my sister in law told me the story, she mentioned that another mother called to reproach her for being judgemental and said that she hoped if her daughter were in the same position, that other families would be compassionate and include her to make up for the lack of warmth at home.

    The geographical area that my brother and sister in law live in, Northern Virginia, although filled with us transplanted Yankee trash, is still far enough below the Mason-Dixon line to have a much more conservative, family-values oriented culture than the urban/suburban Gold Coast of Connecticut, where we live (town is 50/50 white/non-white, lots of divorce, single parents, etc, extremes of rich and poor). My sister in law was raised very conservative Roman Catholic and the kids reflect this -- they flinch when they hear my kids utter a swear word. Which is great, because there is no better way to teach adolescents how to behave publicly than beiing with well-behaved kids.

    I agree that my brother's current recreational drug use is not for discussion, I wouldn't out him. I suppose I wish for a little honesty from him -- I wonder what he would tell his kids if they found his stash of weed or coke. Out of his presence, his 16 year old son makes fun of his dad's heavy beer consumption during parties. Our dad was a functioning alcoholic but no one in the immediate family would ever countenance that fact -- alcoholics are fall-down, throw up drunks who can't hold jobs, my dad just liked to enjoy himself. I tried to have that discussion once with-my brother, that my kids' anxiety and depression has its roots in the previous generations who drowned their sorrows with liquor (we are Irish/German, after all, it kind of goes with the territory), and he was having none of it.

    LIke they say, denial isn't just a river in Egypt.

    I'm feeling better today and on my way to see my shrink and ask her for help in removing this load of guilt from me and placing it squarely on the backs of my difficult child's and easy child.
  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Sounds good. It will be a good session.
  16. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    For what it's worth, complicating the situation with a lot of family dynamics can either dilute or make it difficult to see the point.
    The kids didn't meltdown or over react emotionally. They made choices to bring alcohol and strangers into your home. Needless to say this is dangerous and disrespectful to you and your home. You are dealing with things on your own but the consequence is that others don't trust them.
    Having others not want them to ruin another person's day is reasonable. It's not about your kids. It's about a celebration for another child.
    All the mom/brother/ family stuff is just background.
    Your oldest shouldn't be blaming his uncle. He should be putting a mirror up to himself and ask how it got to be this way and what could he do to make it better.
    The kids will have to earn back trust from you and the family.
    I think it was a good thing that brother invited you and loves you enough to realize there was a problem. He wants you in his life but until the kids pull themselves out of this ugly place, he doesn't want to have them around. Let's face it, he isn't upset with a kid with depression or anxiety is he? He is upset with the behaviors that you described.

    I know it hurts. Everyone wants their family to love their kids but some of our kids aren't always lovable to others. No one is obligated to like our kids. Some days I'm not too wild about my own kids. I have no expectation that anyone else ignore their behavior. I do hope that aunts, uncles, grandparents will allow your kids to earn their acceptance and respect by doing the right thing and by being respectful to the family.

    The unfortunate thing is that at any point one of your nieces or nephews can fall of the straight path and have problems. Hopefully you will have a high level of tolerance.

    Hang in there and don't make their behavior your cross. Go to the family function and have a great time. Smother niece with love on her special day and forget for a while that your children aren't there.
  17. bran155

    bran155 Guest

    I guess I am the "odd man out" as I am insulted for you!!! I think I would be furious with my family. While I do understand their point and they don't want to ruin their kids day, however you and your children are FAMILY!!!! I guess I am a bit bias as my family has stuck by me and my difficult child through everything. I am very lucky in that regard. One day with your kids will not "corrupt" theirs!!! You mean to tell me, their kids go to school with angels!!!??? They will never be put in a situation where they must decide right from wrong? They will never encounter peer pressure at school? Your kids are the only people in the world that will ever have an influence on them? I feel for you and your kids. I think that is horrible!!!

    I do understand their position but I just think family is more important than their concerns. I am always afraid to bring my difficult child anywhere, especially to a family function as I never know what will happen, however my family has never alienated me or my difficult child. They say bring her and we will deal with what ever happens. I guess I am truly blessed with a wonderful supportive family. My poor sister lives downstairs with my 12 yo nephew who both have endured my difficult children wrath on a daily basis for years. My sister is my biggest support, shoot so is my nephew!!! They live what I live everyday and have never shunned me or my difficult child. They have never even made me feel like a burden. I am so sorry that you are going through this. I think family should stick by eachother no matter what!!!!!! After all, your kids are sick, they have an illness they are not evil nor will their sickness rub off onto others. They aren't contagious for pete sake. And if their kids would copy any behavior from anyone after spending one day with them then they have bigger problems then they are aware of!!!!!

    {{{HUGS}}} I am so sorry. You and your family will be invited to my next shindig!!!! :)
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm so stunned to read that little bro was a stoner, still lights up, and is an alcoholic (functional or not) that I skipped all the other posts to respond...lol. Hope you don't mind.
    Excuse me, but HE HAS SOME NERVE!!!! What does he think his kids see when he is always drunk????? That they don't know it????
    Girl, you need to REALLY stop being a doormat. You don't need to confront it. He sounds self-righteous, like he'd explode and not speak to you for years for pointing out the truth about himself, but in my opinion your family dynamics are dysfunctional and nobody needs to know what your kids do, except a therapist or a trusted friend. I can't believe THIS man is judging you and your kids and thinks that keeping your kids away from his will negate HIS bad influence on them. Pfffft. I'm not a doormat...lol. If it were me, I would have skipped the whole affair and sent gifts to the nieces and nephews. I'd tell mom and co. only surface stuff, what they need to know. Or if I didn't I would be very aware that a game of "telephone" will happen and nothing I said was sacred. My family was sort of that way so I shut out Mom. I would say "Please don't spread this around" and as soon as I called Auntie or Sister they'd blast me about what Mom told them. When I called her in on it, she'd say, "There are no secrets in a family." Mom was no great parent, but she loved to criticize me (I was family scapegoat, partly because I allowed it). Mom passed on and I know i can trust my sister to keep everything to herself. If I couldn't, I would tell my best friend or a therapist about my kids, but not her. I didn't read to see what you figured out, but I hope you realize your brother's incredible hypocrisy and dismiss his feelings about your parenting. Obviously, some stuff runs in the family (and that's NOT your fault). Obviously your brother also got some of the genes that make one predisposed to substances. Jeeeeeeeeeeez. I have to part from those who think your brother was in the right and justified in (in my opinion) being a jerk. I do agree that family should come first and that it was insulting of him to ask your kids to stay home. Friends, maybe. Family, no. I find it self-righteous and I would be ticked off. (((Big hugs)))
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2008
  19. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Wow. Given the history of your daughter's friends coming over and being sick all over the place, and your ds smoking up later that day, I figured it was a reasonable consequence for your kids to find themselves not invited to some celebrations. In general, I still think that's the case.

    On the other hand!! The hypocrisy!! Your brother has been an addict all his life and now he condemns your kids? Does he truly think his kids aren't clued in to his drinking and drugging? Talk about denial (that river in Egypt, again). Fortunately it's not your responsibility to enlighten him; your responsibility is to yourself and your family. Maybe you should send a gift, hire someone to stay with the kids, and go have a spa weekend with a couple of girlfriends! ;)
  20. Pandora

    Pandora Member

    I have been in this situation with neighbors, not family. I would tell the kids the truth. But what about you? Do you want to go?