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How to handle SIL re cancelling on my 3year old

(54 Posts)
Francescgrace Mon 08-Jul-13 09:05:52

We had a family birthday barbecue at home yesterday for my 3 year old DS's bday. It had been planned for several weeks with everyone agreeing to the date. We have small families so it was just my mum, MIL and FIL, my bro and his wife and my husbands sister and her husband.

Two hours before I got a text from her saying that their barbecue the previous night had gone on longer than expected so their friends were still there and they weren't going to come. I replied just saying "DS will be very disappointed" and then got another one back saying she was sorry.

I think this is a) rude as you just don't cancel at that short notice when people have catered for you etc and b) a horrible thing to do to your three year old nephew. My husband is angry too and we don't know how to handle this for the best. We don't think they enjoy spending time with us which is fine, but I feel the need to protect my son from being treated badly. The family is generally pretty dysfunctional and my inlaws have defended my SIL and asked my husband not to fall out over it.

Any tips for how to handle this without blowing it out of proportion but at the same time giving the message that we will not be treated like that and just ignore it?

Thank you.

tobiasfunke Mon 08-Jul-13 10:05:11

If my SIL cancelled at the last minute I would have been overjoyed.
If she's a bit of a PITA then look at it as a blessing. They were probably totally hungover - remember the days before kids when you could party until the wee small hours if you really wanted to. She probably isn't interested in your child I know my SIL and Dsis aren't interested in mine. It's shitty but just don't bother inviting her in future.
Everytime my SIL caused yet another upset I used to get annoyed. Then I realised I was wasting too much energy.

pictish Mon 08-Jul-13 10:05:50

Agree with quint.

OP to be frank...I'm not arsed about kiddy birthday celebrations. I have three kids of my own, and kind of view it all with a weary eye. I actually do the bare minimum I can get away with, and pile the pennies into the present. That's just me.

BC I probably wouldn't have made a special effort for someone else's kid's birthday bbq. If I was hungover with friends round, even more so. I'd even have thought I was doing well by giving you the heads up. blush

They don't have kids. It's not a slight (at least no more than any other) - it's laziness...but honestly, plenty of people don't appreciate the significance of these events pre kids of their own.

I struggle to find the enthusiasm for it even now (although I always do).

For you to day 'ds will be very disappointed' was a bit much. He's three, and the only expectations he's got are the ones you have given him.

That's not your sil's fault.

IMHO, I think 'addressing' this with SIL/ BIL would be the wrong thing to do and would only bring you a world of confrontation.

I don't think your DS would be upset, and I don't think as he gets older it would really be a big thing. I come from a family where I have very close relationships with 2 or 3 of my aunts and uncles, and not much of a relationship with the others. In fact the others I only see about once a year at Christmas and any weddings or funerals!!!

It was always just normal to me and I never thought anything of it, so don't overthink the impact this will have on DS.

But as to how you deal with it...... I would deal with this in the same way as if it were a friend who was doing this to you all the time... start 'phasing' them out. Don't make a special effort with them, realise they are unlikely to come to things and focus on inviting/ socialising with those who do care.

I'm closer to some of my Mom and Dad's friends than I am my family. In fact close family friends of my parents are godparents to my son!!

You cannot change the reliability/rudeness/laziness of your SIL. Nothing is within your power. Grumpy comments, bitching to their faces or behind their backs. Falling out. Not falling out but taking their presence or otherwise with bad grace. You will not change them

You can change how you react to it.

You can choose to get annoyed, grumpy, pfb-defensive, bitchy, upset, wound up, het up, tearful, angry, cause family rift.

Or you can choose to shrug it off. That is them. It is not how you behave. It is how they behave. It is like being grumpy if it rains on a trip to the zoo. It happens. Get over it.

Choosing to shrug it off is not condoning their behaviour. It is choosing not to let their lack of manners have a negative impact on you.

BeCool Mon 08-Jul-13 10:20:05

YOU are hurt & upset, your DH is hurt and upset - but I very much doubt your DS cares at all about this at all. And if he does it will be a reaction to you and your feelings/reactions to SIL's absence.

Sounds like SIL etc had a heavy night the night before and couldn't drag themselves hungover or whatever to keep their date with you. Some people are like this and you really need to get over it.

Alternatively you can let the behaviour of flaky relatives "ruin" your celebrations forever.

It might help to remember it's not about you - SIL is hungover, tired, uncommitted, flaky or all of the above - it's not a plot to get at you. Focus on fun and enjoyment with the people who do turn up.

As for it being rude, well it may be. But in the scheme of things if she is not living up to your expectations - you may need to lower them of do away with them completely. Stick the extra sausages in the freezer!

And rudeness is all relative - on a hot sunny weekend she went with it and spontaneously had guests stay over/partied through the night. This is fine - I'd do the same (pre-DC). You could argue it would also have been rude to kick her hungover/perhaps still drunk guests out. She picked the "rudeness" that she preferred - as we all would in the circumstances.

Chloe1989 Mon 08-Jul-13 10:20:50

I think you should seek counselling for your son. His aunt not turning up to his 3rd birthday BBQ could lead to an emotional breakdown of catastrophic proportions.

Wishfulmakeupping Mon 08-Jul-13 10:24:16

Some harsh comments on here today bloody hell. I think most people would be annoyed if their child's auntie didn't turn up their birthday party because they were hungover.
Yes OP is very upset but most people would f be happy about this surely?
I would be pissed off in all honesty I wouldn't have sent that text more than likely I would of asked oh to have a word

Oh and I have an agreement with my Dsis over family/DC based events. She is invited and hugely welcomed. She is also single, has a fabulous DC-free social life and sometimes the hangovers to match grin. So she has utterly the option to pull out if she is too hung over/a more exciting offer comes along. She is family. We are a dull option compared to some of her invitations. But sometimes our home is what she wants/needs. I would rather she was with us and wanting to be here rather than here wanting to be elsewhere.

I have said the odd occasion when I really need her to commit for numbers/catering reasons - and she obliges. And how I deal with DCs - Auntie Persphone is maybe coming - or just not mention her at all and her arrival is a lovely surprise.

PoppyAmex Mon 08-Jul-13 10:30:39

I'm the type of parent who normally assumes that most people have a negligible (if any) interest in my child and it doesn't bother me at all.

Having said that, I think in this case it's irrelevant if it's a 3 yo birthday party /graduation/ dinner party - it's just terrible manners to cancel the same day and on top of that make it clear it's because they have some "better" to do or because they "can't be arsed with children's parties".

Still, I'd let it go and like someone said upthread just notch her down as a "maybe" in the future. If she's a repeat offender, just stop inviting her.

ImNotBloody14 Mon 08-Jul-13 10:33:38

Really over reacting.

Tell your son nothinv unless he asks. If he does say " oh aunty X cant make it today- but uncle y and grandma are coming wont that be great.

As for sil- it has been dealt with- shes not coming- you old her ds will be disappointed. End of.

Some people are rude. Dont invite her next time. You are under no obligation. I really dont bother with family who piss me off and my life is so much happier for making that decision.

maja00 Mon 08-Jul-13 10:35:58

I'd find it rude and be really annoyed too. I wouldn't invite her to anything else.

Francescgrace Mon 08-Jul-13 10:39:22

Thank you all for helpful comments. Am leaving thread now as some of the replies are getting unpleasant- BeCool I never used the word "ruin" so I don't know why you've used quotation marks, and Chloe1989 I said upthread that my son wasn't bothered on the day so not quite sure why you felt the need to be so sarcastic.

I understand that not everyone likes children's parties and TBH I find them pretty dull myself. But I made it clear that it was the short notice cancellation that I objected to.

Many thanks to all who made helpful comments- they were really useful.

PoppyAmex Mon 08-Jul-13 10:42:40

Frances I didn't think you sounded precious at all.

I think most of these answers are very strange; I wonder if people mocking your reaction would feel the same if a family member cancelled on the day of their birthday to hang out with more interesting people?

As far I as I can see it's an event you hosted and presumably involved some work/organisation/expense, it really doesn't matter what the occasion was, she was very rude.

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Mon 08-Jul-13 10:57:27

poppy - but a 2- or 3-year old child won't notice or remember that an auntie wasn't there in the way an older child or adult would. Their friends stayed over longer than planned - which is more rude, to tell them they have to leave or to tell the in-laws you won't be able to make it after all. No win situation, you've got to be rude to someone.

wishful - where does the OP say the in-laws were hungover?

BeCool Mon 08-Jul-13 11:13:54

I wasn't quoting you Frances

Use of Quotation marks - from Wikipedia "Quotation marks can also be used to indicate a different meaning of a word or phrase than the one typically associated with it and are often used to express irony"

You posted asking how to handle the situation - and I think you've got good advice here. Don't let flaky SIL get to you, don't focus on her behaviour. You let her know you were disappointed at them time - which is honest and great. What more do you want?

brilliantwhite Mon 08-Jul-13 11:32:55

i doubt your ds would of been that bothered , but it is rude as you will have got enough food and drink in for everyone , id be tempted to return the favour .

cory Mon 08-Jul-13 13:56:18

I think you are perfectly entitled to be annoyed about the rudeness towards yourself as the organiser and hostess. It was rude.

But what you should not be doing is project your feelings onto your son and make it about him: that could easily grow into a habit that doesn't do him any good in later years. Often it's the nicest people who do that, the ones who don't feel justified to stand up for themselves so have to convince themselves that they are standing up for somebody else instead. It can be very unfair on the "somebody else", landing them with a totally undeserved reputation for being a PFB.

So nip it in the bud now. Be brave enough to tell yourself: "My feelings matter- this was rude to me". And then move on.

nenevomito Mon 08-Jul-13 13:58:38

You can't make someone change the way they behave, you can only change your reaction to it. So either continue to invite her and be pleasantly surprised when she does turn up, or don't invite her.

Lavenderloves Mon 08-Jul-13 14:08:23

I would'nt have wanted to attend either. Birthdays are good for their friends at three. dull for adults a nice sunny day in the garden with friends sounds much more appealing....sorry

BerkshireMum Mon 08-Jul-13 14:35:34

Lots of good advice already. Only thing I'd add is to make sure you don't build up your DS's expectations.

My DC have a couple of family members and godparents who have turned out to be unreliable. As they get older, they do notice and can get upset. We now keep it light and say they "might" come or will "try to be there".

With one in particular we even joke about whether they will actually show up. It's not ideal, but the best way that we've found to avoid going to the extremes of either creating a rift or seeing DCs disappointed.

PoppyAmex Mon 08-Jul-13 15:54:29

"I would'nt have wanted to attend either. Birthdays are good for their friends at three. dull for adults a nice sunny day in the garden with friends sounds much more appealing....sorry"

This is a strange argument - OP's SIL is perfectly entitled not to want to attend, but she presumably she knew it was a child's birthday party when she accepted the invitation?

cory, what an excellent post!

LIZS Mon 08-Jul-13 15:57:39

If SIL has no children and the family is fairly casual then I wouldn't take it personally. In her shoes I'd probably make more of a friend's visit than a bbq for a 3yo. Just ignore and don't make an effort to invite her again, if she asks say x had a great time , sorry you missed it.

Hissy Mon 08-Jul-13 18:58:30

Honesty, your 2yo will be delighted to see them another day. Your child won't know that today is more special to him than tomorrow. If someone rocks up with a gift in a month's time, he won't be fazed at all!

IF your SIL has ANY motive/agenda, you NOT reacting at all other than an "Oh well, never mind, can't be helped, let us know when you want to come see him" will be the best way forward.

Seriously, I don't see a massive slight here.

Harryhairypig Mon 08-Jul-13 21:47:47

Me and my sister get on great, but I often don't promise her appearance to the kids as she often ends up cancelling/changing things last minute so if they don't know she's coming they can't be disappointed. Might be worth taking that approach in future to save your DS being dissapointed when he's old enough to notice.

PinkPlum Mon 08-Jul-13 21:57:33

OP, your SIL was totally out of

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