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At the end of my rope with this - any other perspectives or coping strategies welcome.(26 Posts)
Some back story here;
Basically the problems mentioned in the previous thread persist and since my sister's last child was born it's escalated into some sort of point scoring exercise over how much our parent see each set of grandchildren and how much they do for each of us (I.e. diy, babysitting etc). I am one of 3 children, problem sister has 5 children, I have 2 dcs and younger sis has 1 dc and pg with no 2. Problem sis is the eldest and is technically mine and younger sis' half-sister although we think of her as full sister, never known it any other way.
Older sis (OS) dcs are from 2 marriages so there's roughly 20yrs difference between eldest 3 dcs and youngest 2. Younger sis (YS) and my children are closest in age to OS's younger 2 dcs.
This point scoring and general attitude of them and us began after OS went through the divorce with her first DH 7-8yrs ago and has just snowballed from there, becoming particularly bad after OS tragically lost one of her older DCs in a traffic accident over a year ago. She seems determined to always be the wronged party, always saying that parents give YS and I the most attention, complaining about the amount of time parents spend with our DCs. The truth of the matter is that YS and I are both routine people and have longstanding arrangements to see parents on set days each week. OS lifestyle is more chaotic, working shifts and not really knowing what they are doing from one day to the next makes it hard for any of us to keep track of her and arrange anything but we all do our best
. Except that for my parents, nothing they do is ever good enough, OS just wants more and more and my dad in particular has become the focus of her anger for anything that goes wrong in her life. My mum survived cancer 6-7yrs ago but has been suffering badly with depression and anxiety since which, unsuprisingly, has got worse since neices sudden death. It's taken a massive physical toll on both parents and they do struggle with my mum's poor health. Yet still OS complains they don't help her enough or see the dcs enough. This has led to arguments between OS and parents whereby both have lost their tempers and my dad has said some awful things in the heat of the moment. He doesn't handle being upset very well and tebds to shoot his mouth off, regretting it later. Apologies have been made but OS decided she didn't want to speak to him anymore
OS seems determined to drag YS and I into the middle of this and try emotionally blackmailing us into making a choice between parents and her. YS and I have both agreed that we will not be doing this, we try to council both sides equally without acting as go betweens and are trying to negotiate a solution which is proving increasingly difficult. OS seems to delight in telling people a rather one sided version of events to garner sympathy from people. She can't make her mind up, one minute she's saying she doesn't want to have anything to do with them, the next crying and complaining that they've not been in touch when all my parents are doing are trying to respect her wishes. YS and I have suggested some sort of family counselling or at least all getting together to discuss it in the hope of intervening when OS or dad lose their temper, however she doesn't want this.
It's come to a head today when OS accused me of sitting on the fence and not telling my parents to make contact and apologise for past behaviour. I am doing this behind the scenes but not running to either side telling them I am doing this as I don't want to be a go between. I was told that I should make a choice between her and parents and am in the wrong for not doing so. I was also told that I obviously don't care about anything as long as my life is a-ok and my DCs relationship with my parents is ok. I am made to feel guilty by OS whenever the DCs see or do anything with my parents (such times are neither often or excessive, just normal visits, odd afternoons out, no preferential treatment whatsoever).
I just don't know where to go from here, OS' latest comments have left me feeling extremely low and even suicidal at times. YS abd I are in frequent contact and regularly discuss what we can do about the situation. YS feels recent comments by OS have been nasty and unfair, OS would never dream of speaking to YS as she has to me.
So sorry that this has been so long, it's so emotional and complicated and I really can't see a solution at the moment. Any comment or advice would be gratefully received.
Thanks you mistle and eldritch - some good pointers there which I will try when we speak next.
Hello dear, next time she asks how you would feel tell her 'I've no idea, honestly. And this is about how you actually feel, not about how I might feel' or something like that.
Can you get a list of 'useful phrases' practiced and even perhaps printed out and stuck near where you have the phone calls?
'Perhaps you should take that up with him yourself'
'I'm sorry, I'm not taking their side, but I cannot say that to them'
'It's much easier to see them on a regular basis as we have a very regular routine'
'No, we're not stopping you doing that, you have been invited and turned it down'
'I don't want to be stuck inbetween them and you - its your problem to sort out, not mine'
X-posts. Thanks eldritch, that's also really good advice and something I have been trying to do to some extent but probably need to be more assertive in our discussions. OS does come out with 'how would you feel if you were in my situation' an awful lot, it's really difficult as I feel like I am being trapped into agreeing with her, and therefore siding with her. I find emotional phone conversations really difficult and I can never seem to find the right way to say what I need to.
Thank you, I have tried doing this up to a certain point but am a bit soft so usually end up getting dragged back into the discussion. I will have to start taking harder line and refuse to be drawn into it and see if this improves matters.
If OS knew how I felt I honestly don't think it would make a difference, she just can't see beyond how bad she feels at the moment, and that is fine at the moment, I can rationalise it as it's down to the grieving process. She never asks how I am or acknowledges that it's probably fairly crap being on YS/my side of this. Again something I'm ok with because I know why and hopefully it won't last forever.
Calmly ask her lots of questions, like:
What is it that you would like me to do?
How do you see that going?
Is that likely to be successful, do you think?
If Dad doesn't want to hear that, what then?
Why do you think that I should be the one to do that?
Have you told [dad/sister/mum/whoever] that yourself?
What do you expect to happen?
Is this really the best time to do that?
How do you think you could change the situation?
It is a good way of challenging her assumptions that (i) it is your problem to solve; and (ii) it is a problem that you have the power to solve. Also, it is less confrontational than some approaches. You need to keep at it even if she gets upset or angry, to show that there is no pat answer and she is the one who needs to take ownership of this.
If I was you, I would stop being piggy in the middle. If your OS starts on at you about your parents, tell her your not interested, that as her sister you love her but you will not choose sides and she must deal with her unhappiness directly with her parents. Explain that you have not fallen out with your parents and that as a family you have all had your fair share of terrible things to deal with. As for the point scoring-ignore let her tot it all up, shes only getting herself in a twist, but you have to work on YOU not getting in a twist about it.
hope things improve for you soon, to think that your have thought about ending your life is an unbearable place to be you must take a step back and let go. How do you think your sister would feel knowing that....?
medh thank you
spaghettio and everyone else who has given their insight - thank you for your perspective and advice. It seems there's no simple solution to this, just got to keep on keeping on it seems and hope things gradually get better.
Unless anyone has experienced the selfishness that comes as a form of grieving, I don't think you can say OP is being harsh.
I lost my husband a few years ago - and his mother has this intense selfishness. Lots of people (especially on here) have said that I need to cut her some slack. But she was like this before - she just has an excuse now.
I am fully aware how harsh that sounds.
They become lost in their grief and forget that other people have lives to carry on with. Especially when other intense situations (illness) arise, they still seem to think that their grief trumps all other issues.
OP, I'm afraid I have no advice to help - but you are not alone in your situation.
I'm sorry I was so hard on you - your hands are so full and no doubt you are grieving yourself.
Good Luck x
Sorry I didn't mention, but yes, these incidents go back for 7-8 years, way before we lost our neice - and they had been getting steadily worse. The score keeping and jealously began when all 3 of us began to have children, when her eldest 3 were very young YS and i were also young so OS eldest DCs were the first grandchildren and obviously doted upon. When the younger kids were born it seems to have created some sort of competition for our parents attention in OS' eyes.
The loss of OS' daughter has understandably compounded it all. OS' issues with our parents have not always been justified but I agree that since the breavement last year our dad has been shit, he hasn't been there for OS as much as she's needed. His justification (rightly or wrongly) for this is that my mum is so poorly that she is barely functioning for the majority of the day and he is putting all his energy into looking after her and feels that he just doesn't have any more to give. This does sound very heartless and YS and I are trying to deal with both sides and negotiate some sort of truce so they can build their relationship again. My parents are so low at the moment that whenever I can't get hold of them I start panicking that they may have tried to commit suicide and if I have to let myself into their house I make the kids wait in the car just in case.
When I say I'm at the end of my rope I don't mean with anger, I mean I'm physically and mentally worn out from dealing with the fallout from both sides and trying to suggest solutions so we can all move forward. Then I feel guilty for being upset because bo matter how I feel, it's magnified infinitely with what my sister is going through. Maybe me feeling like this does make me heartless, I don't know. It just feels like I'm trying so hard but getting no nearer to a solution.
I think the OP is getting it in the neck rather - because OS was not exactly great in 2010 before the bereavement. The bereavement has probably just given her added justification for her bad behavior.
Ah apologies would have helped if you mentioned that.
meandthekiddies the first thread was from 2010 - from before the bereavement.
sorry for 3rd post, and I have read the op on your first thread "when the truth of the matter is that she is so flakey that she either forgets she's been invited, then declines, declines outright or simply ums and ahhs until the last possible minute then pulls out anyway. She never seems to commit to anything unless there's nothing else better for her to do. "
You know all of this is down to depression and grief, and I thought the "lost a child over a year ago" in this OP was telling.
You and your family should get your act together, stop expecting your sister to be over it and actually support her properly a new baby does not replace the old child, although it will be healing.
She needs you all so much, she is just showing it badly, because no doubt, lots of other people have abandoned her already.
This annoys me so much - your DAD is your sisters father, I am sorry he needs to step up to the plate, that is disgraceful.
I have been through grief, its been 2 years for me and my child is still alive.
You sound absolutely heartless - sorry if thats too blunt.
I agree that part of this behaviour is a grief reaction and YS, dad and I have all agreed that dad just happens to be the focus of all her anger and frustration. But instead of stepping up to help her through it, he says he can't because of how bad my mum is - which is a shame but I have to accept that but I can also understand why my OS cannot accept this as I would probably feel the same in her shoes.
It's just all so messy and I know if I tell her I'm taking a step back she will see it as my abandoning her and siding with our parents. I've said to OS before that I will be there for her and listen to her whenever, whatever she wants to sound off about but that I won't be a messenger and I can't give the answers on how to fix this. She's also tried grief counselling and had to do this via NHS but it was a long waiting list and not many sessions offered, she says she can't afford to go private unfortunately.
Maybe it's a case of trying to ride it out until OS emerges from whatever stage of grief she is going through. I know she will never be the same again, none of us will. I've just got to hope that whatever is left is enough to build back some sort of relationship.
nothing is good enough, because she is looking for a quick hit to make her feel better, it doesnt work so she is onto the next thing.
Also, yes, do not get drawn in to her dramas. Be available in a different kind of way as this isn't helping anyone. Perhaps point her in the direction of grief counselling.
She's still grieving. People when they are still wrapped up in the depths of grief often do become intensely selfish as if they are the only ones who have ever had anything bad happen. It isn't a pretty thing to admit to. I did it when my Mum died, so did my Dad. A few close friends I know also experienced similar.
What your sister went through was very traumatic and will affect her deeply for the rest of her life. Read some of the bereavement boards here. Even many years later significant milestones passing which will never be marked by anyone else can cause devastation. A lifetime wondering what if can drive anyone to despair.
Her grief is pouring out in the only ways it can right now and that is to partially revert back to a childhood relationship with her parents and call out "but its not fair."
That doesn't mean you have to be the scapegoat and accept her stirring, but rather show her a bit of understanding and help her find the right outlets for her emotions rather than her current destructive path.
OS seems determined to drag YS and I into the middle of this and try emotionally blackmailing us into making a choice between parents and her.
OS accused me of sitting on the fence and not telling my parents to make contact and apologise for past behaviour
It is not up to you to manage her relationship with her own parents for her. She has to do that.
For your own sake you have to step back from OS, and I would tell her honestly how low you feel (not in a guilt-tripping way, just to explain why you are stepping back).
There is a book I've recommended quite a few times on here, I think you might find it helpful. it is 'The Dance of Anger: A woman's guide to managing intimate relationships" by Harriet Lerner.
I disagree Johnny5 although it is a tragedy and she is no doubt distressed it is no excuse for behaving badly.
OP you can't change her but you can alter how you respond to her. Your priority here is your own wellbeing and that of your DC and DPs. Your OS is responsible for herself and her DC and her relationship with the DPs.
It all sounds very fevered. Can you step back and cool things down a little? Become a bit busy and less available? And a bit less informative?
It seems as though there is a lot of blurring of boundaries and tolerance of awful behaviour. Maybe this is understandable due to your OS's loss but still not healthy and sets you up for trouble. You would not be unreasonable to strengthen those boundaries and refuse to accept harsh treatment.
You sound very kind
Believe me, a lot of slack and tiptoeing about has (and continues to) be done. YS and I have been very supportive but this rift between OS and our parents just seems to be getting worse and I am clueless as to how or indeed if we can help make it all better.
She's lost a child. Can you cut her some slack?
Off to read other thread.
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