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to hate my sister for walking out on her kids

(70 Posts)
Rosyloo Thu 19-May-11 02:53:01

Hi. So i'm 6 months pregnant with my second kid and I could never fathom doing to my kids what my sister did to hers. She walked out on them, and her youngest daugter was hit the hardest. She went into depression for 10 years, all of her childhood basically, had recurring dreams about her mum's funeral, was bullied etc. She seemed to get things back on track- I live in Leicester and she's at university, so I tend to keep track of her via my ex brother in law (her father). Recently I found out that during the summer she miscarried. Now, why she was even pregnant at 18 is beyond me! Anyway, the miscarriage apparently hit her hard, and despite hiding the pain, I know she must be feeling all the crap she felt when her mum walked out. Anyway, recently, as in this year, she had a major health scare and she sunk into a short but sharp depression, and she was told that she could intercalate, but for her, being at university symbolised her victory over her mother, and that she has beaten the odds. She has a few people she can talk to, and I spoke with her the other day for the first time in ages, and I can't help but feel that behind the smile, the pain she feels is still there. Does anyone know how I get through to her on a personal, emotional level. I mean, I've had a student come to me after their mum died recently, but this is very different. Any ideas people? And do I have a right to pass judgement on my sister for this?

positivesteps Thu 19-May-11 03:19:55

Hi

Girls can I have a young sister who is 17 but she is quite stroppy and its very hard for them at that age . It is hard for us to get through to them as teenagers think they know best. I would try and talk to her and let her know that you are their for her.. Maybe arrange some trips out and spend some time together.
As for your sister maybe you don't really know what she was going through at the time. It is bad tht she left her and I would feel sad about this for the child but possibly she had issues that you maybe did not understand.
If your sister had genUine problems then maybe she felt it best she wasn't the one caring for her. And the person she left her child with would bring her up better. Who did she leave the child with ?

positivesteps Thu 19-May-11 03:23:11

Hi

I have a young sister who is 17 but she is quite stroppy and its very hard for them at that age . It is hard for us to get through to them as teenagers think they know best. I would try and talk to her and let her know that you are their for her.. Maybe arrange some trips out and spend some time together.
As for your sister maybe you don't really know what she was going through at the time. It is bad tht she left her and I would feel sad about this for the child but possibly she had issues that you maybe did not understand.
If your sister had genUine problems then maybe she felt it best she wasn't the one caring for her. And the person she left her child with would bring her up better. Who did she leave the child with ?

SockShitter Thu 19-May-11 04:13:41

YANBU to feel anyway at all. Hate won't help you or your neice though. Just try and be there for your neice, let her know she can call on you and count on you x

nothingnatural Thu 19-May-11 04:16:20

I don't think it's unreasonable to be cross with your sister for damaging her children. But this happened a long time ago (10 + years) and you give no details about your sisters circumstances when she walked out, so it's hard to know if she was being feckless and irresponsible or a woman having some kind of major life crisis. Either way she caused untold pain and distress to her children but one could engender sympathy and understanding rather than huge judging.

It's a bit unclear from your op but you seem to be saying that you (her aunt) had very little contact with her during her childhood and only recently have been made aware of her circumstances - at uni and having had a miscarriage, is that the case? If so WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

I think the only way to get through to this young woman - who sounds a remarkable person to get herself to uni after such a rough start - is to spend some time with her, include her in your life, talk to her, make her feel welcome into your family. Frankly all stuff which I would think a concerned aunt would have been doing for the past 10 or so years.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Thu 19-May-11 04:22:35

I agree with nothingnatural, and would add that saying things like "Now, why she was even pregnant at 18 is beyond me!" comes across as utterly judgemental. It is well over the age of consent, after all. If you steam in there all "now, dear, you've made some bad choices, clearly you're feeling the pain from your mother leaving", she's going to close off to you completely. Don't try and get through to the pain behind the smile, or tell her how she feels, or tell her that she shouldn't have been pregnant, or that university is about showing her Mum that she can do it, or any of the other assumptions you've made here. Get to know her. Talk to her. Not as an object of sympathy, but as a person.

iscream Thu 19-May-11 06:48:47

Just be there for her as her aunt. Spend time together, try and bring some happiness to her life. Knowing she is loved by you and that you are here for her will mean a lot. Don't get all heavy on her, it will bring her down.

Bluemoonrising Thu 19-May-11 07:21:43

Do you know how your sister was and why it was she walked out?

I very nearly walked out on my daughter. I had the taxi booked. I was suffering from post-natal depression and was receiving no help for it. Everyone thought I was coping when I was really falling apart. There is no way that I would contemplate walking out on them now, but then it was what I thought was best for her. I didn't think that I, as a person with serious mental health problems, would be any good for her as a mother, and that she would be better off without me.

I am so thankful that I didn't go. I think if I had that decision would have haunted me. I have a fantastic relationship with my daughter now (she is a teenager now), but I really had to work on it.

I think you need to support your neice in the way of being really positive about what she has acheived, and not by blaming her mother, unless you are absolutely sure of her reasons to leave. It took me years before I could tell anyone about my PND, and I rather think that had I actually left I would never have mentioned it again, as I would feel like such an absolute failure.

QualiaQuale Thu 19-May-11 08:57:05

You want to sit around blaming your sister for something that happened a decade ago, instead of actually doing something to help the situation now? Whats the point in that?
You don't know why she left them, maybe she had a good reason.

TragicallyHip Thu 19-May-11 09:01:53

Are you saying your sister committed suicide?

springbokscantjump Thu 19-May-11 09:17:46

Rosy I'm going to sound a bit harsh I think, so I'll start off by saying that you obviously want to help your niece and are concerned for her.

But... you sound a tad judgemental - I certainly wouldn't confide in you if I was her. You read into everything she has done as if she is from a 'broken home' and is now this wrecked little child. It's also not clear why you weren't involved in your niece's life after your sister left? You have not said anything about what happened that caused your sister to go - for almost all women I imagine there must have been some pretty compelling issues going on.

That phrase 'why she was even pregnant at 18 is beyond me!', seriously? Do you think that realistically you could offer a sympathetic shoulder when that is your opinion on her pregnancy? Or do you think you might come across as saying the miscarriage was probably for the best? Because that's certainly how it came across to me.

Snuppeline Thu 19-May-11 09:23:51

Agree with those who have said your a bit late to be barging into this girls life really - harsh but true. If you wanted to help her surely 10 years ago would have been a better place to start... Wanting to build a relationship with her now is of course positive but you'll have to let your niece decide the terms, she may not want mothering and she may not want to be reminded of her mother leaving her. Do as another poster said focus on her achievements and focus on how you can help her continue to achieve good things in her life. Offer her actual practical help and maybe even financial help to get her through her studies. If she confides in you about her problems then help her deal with those either through therapy or other means. Make her a part of your family life by including her in birthday dinners and family meals - if she wants to.

I am also interested to know why you haven't had any contact with your sister since she walked out. Did you cut her off? Did your family cut your sister off due to her leaving her family? Or have you not been able to get in touch with her? Or did she commit suicide as TragicallyHip is asking?

ShoutyHamster Thu 19-May-11 09:24:05

Without knowing more about your sister's situation it is hard to judge...and maybe no-one should judge - you can see from some of the posts above how hard things can get. Try and use your (understandable) anger for good. It sounds as if your sister leaving is still affecting your niece hugely - so use your strong feelings to help her now. Write a letter, pick up the phone, let her know her aunt is there for her and that she knows that she's still having a hard time. Build a closer relationship with her, and maybe as a result you'll not only get to help her but also get the chance to work through some of your own feelings. Your sister wasn't there for her - but YOU can be. Good luck x

CrapBag Thu 19-May-11 09:27:07

YANBU.

My 'mother' walker out on me when I was 4, she still won't have anything to do with me to this day. I will never forgive her for it and I am full of anger. I have 2 beautiful children and I cannot ever ever imagine leaving them and I have PND and got it last time as well, plus 'normal' depression twice.

I was at my nans for the weekend (my dads mum), my nan took me back home on the Sunday and my 'mother' was just gone. SS knew she was going though. No one else did.

Yukana Thu 19-May-11 09:50:51

Tortoise Is right about your comment about being pregnant at 18, it was judgemental and I suggest if you wish to speak to your sister's daughter you don't mention that even if you think that way. Especially considering she's had a miscarriage, that would be heartless.

Just reassure her you are there for her when she wants to talk, and you will try your best to support her when you can. University must be challenging for her emotionally I expect but her determination is something to be proud of.

I can say honestly I'd probably not have a good opinion of your sister either if I were in your position.

Daisypod Thu 19-May-11 10:01:25

Sorry no time to read all responses but I have worked at Leicester UNi and they have a fabulous counselling service which she really needs to get in touch with. Also they have a Psychotherepy reserch clinic which might be good for her, just google ULCPRC.
If it is De Montfort Uni then they also have a counselling service, although I know less about them as I haven't worked there in a while.

Rosyloo Thu 19-May-11 10:06:31

hi girls. you're all right. She left due to mental problems, and was seriously ill for a long time. I wasn't involved in her life because I knew I would remind her of her mum. But then her oldest sister contacted me back in February, I think, around the time she was in hospital, and told me that long before their mum had walked out, she abused both of them. I had no idea what to do with this information but I kind of thought that I needed to be there for her because I was so ashamed that I had no idea what was going on at the time. It tears me up inside to think that my sister locked her daughter in cupboards, made her sleep outside, called her names. I wish I'd been there for her then, and I need to be there for her now to make up for not telling her everything was ok!
Maybe I don't hate, you're right, but how can I understand what she did? I mean, it's all very well telling your grieving student it will get better and that you're there for them, but when they're out of your reach, what do you do?
She was brought by her father, and he did a marvellous job- and I guess I did make her sound quite 'broken'!
Thanks for all your advice!

Rosyloo Thu 19-May-11 10:07:48

Oh no....I worked at DMU for a while. She's at UEA I think? Or it could be UWE...? One of the two. Don't hold me to that though. But I might just contact them for some advice maybe? Thanks

Rosyloo Thu 19-May-11 10:09:39

this is really wonderful and you are absolutely right! I need to stop judging and be more comforting smile

Bogeyface Thu 19-May-11 10:11:29

Its difficult because on the one hand I can see that you want to make up for not being involved before hand but you made, and are still making, a hell of alot of assumptions.

you said that you "knew" you would remind her of her mum. How did you know that? How do you know that it would have been such a bad thing at that?

And you need to differentiate between your sister and your neice in your posts because I am confused as to who you are talking about!

Rosyloo Thu 19-May-11 10:15:00

sorry....my neice is the one at university. my sister is the one that walked out.
Do you guys know what, each and every one of you is right! Where was I? and why am I judging her and my sister? I have no right to do that? I have to forget the past and be there for her! I think I needed to hear all of this for it to dawn on me that I'm actually being very selfish!

expatinscotland Thu 19-May-11 10:18:13

' you're all right. She left due to mental problems, and was seriously ill for a long time.'

She must have been very seriously ill.

Hate is a strong emotion.

It might be wise for you to get counselling about your feelings for your sister because hating her is a pointless waste of energy.

glassofwhiteanybody Thu 19-May-11 10:35:21

I'd say you should have some compassion for your sister with mental health issues. It doesn't excuse her mistreatment of her daughters, but may go some way towards explaining it. My friend's sister was a terrible mother in various ways, but because the children now realise that that she was very unstable, they have a degree of sympathy towards her.

I think you should have supported your nieces during their childhood and it sounds as though you stepped back from your responsibilities. It's ironic that you criticise your sister for walking out on them, and yet did the same yourself. They probably needed you more when their Mum wasn't around, not less.

If you really want to help your nieces, you should get in touch with them, apologise for not being more involved in their lives and perhaps say that it's only now you have family of your own that you realise how important families are and you'd like to get to know them better. It may not be too late to rebuild some bridges with them.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Thu 19-May-11 10:36:07

Well, judge if you like, Rosyloo, if it makes you feel better somehow but, taking into account the impact their Mum leaving has had on her children, it must have been some severe kind of breakdown she suffered for her to leave them in the first place. Mothers are wired up to protect their children no matter what, to stay with them, and when they don't, it's certainly not for any minor thing.

I've just seen your last post now 10:15 and I know you already know this. It seems such an alien thing to happen. If a sister of mine did it, I might fleetingly wonder (and worry) that it was a family 'flaw' or failing somehow... but you know that it isn't.

Keep on supporting your niece, make her a key part of your family and leave the door ajar for your sister. You do sound lovely. smile

Rosyloo Thu 19-May-11 10:40:50

Thank you soo much. I've had a little cry this morning, probably the pregnancy influencing that to be honest, and I know I should have acted years ago when they needed me the most, and I know how bad I look on here- I wasn't allowed to see them for a while- court ban- nothing to do with me, just that their father wanted them to have a shot at moving on! But you're all right. And thank you so much!

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