more a WWYD, really... DD and DSis don't have much of a relationship

(34 Posts)
quesadilla Mon 26-May-14 13:36:35

My DD (who is 3) hardly knows her aunt. My DSis and I aren't super close but we get on well and enjoy one another's company. My DSis also lives fairly close to me.

I really want my DD to have some strong female role models in her life and I want her to be close to family members who can support her in various ways. My DM has dementia so is essentially out of the picture, I don't have any other siblings and I'm not close to my cousins.

My DSis has never been massively into kids, has never wanted any of her own and is dubious of the effect they have had on other people's lives, that's the starting point, so I know she is not a natural child-lover.

On the other hand, she has a close relationship with her god-daughter, who is now in her teens, and has been very active in supporting her since she was really quite small, helping her through a family crisis when she was younger and mentoring her in trying to find work experience etc. So she is certainly capable of having significant relationships with children.

Trouble is, she isn't interested in DD at all. I've invited her on several occasions to do things with DD (birthdays, local trips to museums etc). Never stuff that is too kiddy, as I know that would turn her off, just low key things. She is never hostile or rejects these outright but they never come to anything, she usually fobs me off or cancels. She gives her very generous birthday/Christmas presents but that's about it.

I would like to try to bring them closer together. I know I can't force it and the last thing I want to do is to make DSis feel bullied or pressured into a relationship which she doesn't feel able to enter into. If she doesn't want to know I am happy to leave it where it is. But I would like to raise the idea with her in a gentle and flattering way, just pointing out that she's a brilliant role model and I'd really like for her to develop a relationship which I think could sustain my DD through her life.

Should I just make my peace with the fact that she has chosen -- for whatever reason -- not to engage with her niece, or should I gently raise it with her?

NatashaBee Mon 26-May-14 13:39:09

Was she very involved with her goddaughter when she was a similar age to your DD? Maybe she just isn't into younger kids or doesn't really know how to play/ what to do with a 3yo, but will get more involved as your DD grows?

Maybe she doesn't like very small children? Or maybe she doesn't like children per se but she sees something in her god daughter she can relate to?

I don't think I'd raise it with her. You've made the effort by inviting her to things and at this point she doesn't appear to want to be involved. I would be disinclined to force the issue beyond that at this time.

Beeyump Mon 26-May-14 13:42:40

Don't gently raise it - I mean, what would you say?? It sounds like you want to squeeze her into this 'strong female role model' position, when in reality I believe this is something that just can't be forced. It sounds like your sister and daughter will probably engage a lot more when your daughter is a bit older. Leave it.

Vivacia Mon 26-May-14 13:43:57

Just ask her. "What kind of a relationship would you like with your niece?".

quesadilla Mon 26-May-14 13:44:46

Natasha She was definitely in touch with the gd from when she was a tiny baby, used to give her presents etc. I can't honestly remember how close the relationship was -- the gd is now about 17 so it was a long time ago. The gd's dad died tragically young when the gd was about 5 or 6 and my DSis was very involved, understandably, around that time.

But yes, I realise that toddlers are probably particularly unappealing to someone who essentially is fairly bored by kids. I think it might be easier as my DD gets older. I just would like to formalize it somehow, by saying I want her in her life.

pinkdelight Mon 26-May-14 13:45:35

Agree with natasha,your dd is still v little for someone who's not a kid person. No need to make any final pronouncements on their relationship. She may be fine when your dd is a teen. The present thing proves its nothing personal. But until I had dc, there's no way I'd have wanted to spend my free time with my young nieces beyond a brief word at family events. A day out would have been declined exactly as your dsis does it. Probably seems self-centred but that's the benefit of having no dcs, that you don't have to do all the (often tedious) stuff with kids in your spare time.

defineme Mon 26-May-14 13:46:08

You're right not to force it.
They may well get closer as she gets older.
My aunties are lovely but not really role model types-that was my mum, my teachers and employers I've had. You're dd will find plenty of female role models I wouldn't worry about it.

Beeyump Mon 26-May-14 13:46:30

Why do you need to formalise it?

quesadilla Mon 26-May-14 13:47:24

thanks for the advice, all. I wouldn't feel massively comfortable raising it, so probably best left.

NoImSpartacus Mon 26-May-14 13:48:46

Gently raise it with her in a flattering way. The way you suggest is perfect. I'm the same as your sister, I dont want kids of my own (and thus don't have any). However, I have two nephews, and I really enjoy spending time with them, but I guess if I didn't have a bond with them I wouldn't be as bothered, and I would say that at first, maybe because I'm not maternal, I wasn't that bothered, but my enjoyment of their company has grown over time (obviously I loved them but there wasn't an immediate bond, it had to be nurtured) maybe you need to gently encourage your dsis and dd to spend some quality time together to build a bond, if she's anything like me she will start to feel more interested after time.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Mon 26-May-14 13:49:23

I would say that you need to develop your own relationship with your sister if you want her to be close to your daughter. I know you don't mean it this way but it does come across as if it's all for your daughter's sake, what benefits she can derive from a relationship with her aunt. That's annoying.

As for the comments about 'never being into kids' perhaps she likes the children of the parents she gets along with? Those relationships are the primary focus, not those with random children. It drives me made actually, other people's children - family or not - are NOT lovable for their own sakes, their parents need to put the time and attention in also.

I think you should have a conversation with your sister but about your own relationship with her and how to improve it, what you can both start doing to achieve that - regular telephone calls, meet-ups, coffees at your house or hers - nothing to do with your child.

TheTerribleBaroness Mon 26-May-14 13:51:44

My guess is that she doesn't 'do' small children. And that she was actually more involved in helping her friend during the crisis than being with her daughter IYSWIM. Don't push her into anything or you will ensure that she will never have a relationship with your daughter.

My SIL accused me of all kinds of horrible things because I didn't gush all over my niece like her family did. I have never gushed over anyone's children, not even my own. I am now wary of so much as talking to my niece because she will be using it as evidence that I hate her or looking for proof that I'm faking being nice. My SIL is batshit crazy.

You could be describing my sister. What made her disinterest in my DD's was the interest that she showed in her friends DD, even one that lived in Spain.

She is now close to my eldest (28), this developed over about five years, the same is happening to my now nearly 19 year old.

We need more from family during teen years and older, usually.

I know a lot on MN have toxic families and good friends, but childhood is brief and I think your relationship as adults is what counts.

It's good that you are keeping the door open, so many Mums on MN don't see their children as part of a family and not their place to decide if their child integrates into the family.

I am never going to friends with my Sister, trying to meet up etc wouldn't work for us, but as much as a few insistence a over Christmas annoyed me (like going early to my DD's to start dinner, when I couldn't), I remain positive about their relationship.

CoffeeTea103 Mon 26-May-14 13:59:37

Does she have a closer relationship with her gd parents? You say that you aren't super close, but are you even close. That could maybe be a reason.

Phineyj Mon 26-May-14 14:06:37

I think keep inviting her, now and again, and the relationship will grow in time. One of our DD's 'ungodparents' is not someone who particularly likes DC, but he is making an effort in his own way with presents etc - and actually we chose him as we thought he'd be a terrific honorary uncle to an older DD later on.

Hickorydickory12 Mon 26-May-14 14:11:55

I have the same issue with my ds. My dd is now 15. I have been very hurt by the lack if effort by ds. I have 2 ds too.
Particularly because I was v supportive of ds over the years when she was younger.
Whether you are a 'child person' or not, I don't think it is much to expect a little effort occasionally. Simply because it is a nice thing to do, particularly if aunts made the effort with you when younger.
Your ds will probably come to regret it when she us older with no children and no niece who thinks fondly of her.

Beeyump Mon 26-May-14 14:16:22

hmm

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Mon 26-May-14 14:17:48

Some people seem completely unaware of the fact that they need to make an effort with their siblings, not just to 'get things' for their children, but for the whole relationship's sake.

I can't imagine anyone regretting a relationship they never had with a sibling's child if they never had one to speak of with the sibling in the first place. Your siblings aren't there for the benefit of your children for crying out loud. confused

thebodylovesspring Mon 26-May-14 14:22:38

I think you pick your own role models in life. Obviously your dsis isn't yours so why would she be your dds.

My dsis is similar, no kids and really no idea how kids tick despite being a senior teacher grin

No one can really be a role model can they? Everyone is floored and no one is perfect.

You sound like your dds best example. Not your dsis.

CoffeeTea103 Mon 26-May-14 14:27:59

I fully agree with lying. I don't understand how people who are not close to their siblings then expect some sort of close relationship among the children. I've seen it so many times here, people talk about siblings as distant acquaintances but are very upset when they are not actively involved in their lives.

grumblepuss Mon 26-May-14 14:29:01

I could be this aunt in a few years.
I don't want children of my own, I don't mind a few hours with toddlers. I'm more than happy to visit my friends toddlers, I will sit on the floor and build towers or play with Peppa or build train tracks etc.
But, I don't want to be solely responsible for a child (I'd worry about something happening) so babysitting and taking them out for the day would be a no-no.

A whole day with children isn't that fun, I'd meet you in the morning or have lunch but I'd make an excuse to not spend all day with you.

It's not that I don't like my friends, or their children. I find them hard work and after about four hours my smile wears thin and I want to do adult things.

grumblepuss Mon 26-May-14 14:31:30

Forgot to say... If my friends had a total crisis and needed me to babysit, I'd be there for them.
Me and the toddler would get through it in one piece, but it would be touch and go!

MrsDavidBowie Mon 26-May-14 14:31:41

Always amazed of peoples' expectations of family members on here.
You cannot force people to have relationships with other people to suit you.

quesadilla Mon 26-May-14 14:37:15

LyingWitch I hear what you are saying about people expecting everything to be done for their kids but think you have misunderstood my relationship with my DSis: we see each other about once a month, usually brief after work drinks. It's always a grown-up affair, I never talk about my DD with her, never expect anything on DD's behalf. We have supported one another a lot through my mum's illness etc. I have never functioned on the level you describe with anyone, least of all my DSis.

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