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Is it time for forgive my sis-in-law?

(44 Posts)
Katehy Tue 26-Sep-17 19:16:28

I'm having a hard time forgiving my sis-in-law for the way she behaved when my baby was born. My son was very ill shortly after birth and spent weeks in intensive care. It was touch and go and for a long time we weren't sure whether he was going to make it. Thankfully he pulled through, but there is a good chance he will have lasting effects from his illness.

Anyway, during our time in hospital my sis-in-law made almost no contact with us at all. I received one text from her complaining about being uncomfortable with her baby bump, i thought this was quite insensitive as our son was fighting for his life. My father in law visited every day and he mentioned that despite speaking to his daughter several times she didn't once ask after our son. He was also very hurt by this.

She made no effort to visit us in hospital, ok you might say she was heavily pregnant but even after we came home and her baby was born she did not come and visit until our boy was 3 months old. She never asks about how he is or how his many, many appointments have gone. He has had brain scans, hearing tests, physio etc she knows about all the appointments but never asks after him.

I thought I would feel better as time went on but with every week that goes by and she doesn't ask after him I get more and more angry. I haven't confronted her as my husband isn't keen for me to do so (it's his sister). He has very little family so I would feel bad if it caused them to fall out but equally I feel it is eating me up.

Should I forgive and forget for the sake of my husband? Or do you agree that her behaviour unforgivable?

OhOhDearling Tue 26-Sep-17 19:19:39

sorry you've had such a tough time with your baby son. I wouldn't forgive and forget, but would just try and accept that she isn't doting aunt material at the moment and won't be giving you moral support with the medical stuff.

Katehy Tue 26-Sep-17 19:21:12

Thank you OhOhDearling. I still feel so angry about it 6 months later, I wish I could let it go and just accept that she isn't there for us. I have lots of people who are so I don't know why it bothers me so much?

Notevilstepmother Tue 26-Sep-17 19:22:32

Do you think it's possible she was quite scared by the whole thing?

Her behaviour does seem nasty but it can be useful to understand what is behind it if you want to forgive her and if it's not normal for her to be like that?

Notevilstepmother Tue 26-Sep-17 19:23:22

I can understand why it's not easy to forgive.

Katehy Tue 26-Sep-17 19:25:48

She is quite a selfish person, never really asks after us but I thought with something like this she would be there for us. It did cross my mind that she may have just been giving us space while he was still ill, but then in the weeks and months after she still hasn't shown any interest in him!

MargaretTwatyer Tue 26-Sep-17 19:26:55

If she was heavily pregnant when this was happening she probably felt a mixture of terrified and also huge guilt if she had a pregnancy/birth at the same time as you without issues.

She might well feel that bringing it up might appear that she is being smug or unfavourably comparing your child to hers.

Aquamarine1029 Tue 26-Sep-17 19:28:54

I totally understand how hurt you are by her behaviour, but I see a possible other side to this. I think she, being pregnant, may have been so terrified that something could go wrong with her baby that she mentally couldn't cope with seeing or talking about your little one. Denial, fear and avoidance can be very powerful forces. I'm not trying to excuse her behaviour, but this could be a reason why she was so distant, and it's possible she didn't even realize what she was doing. Aside from this instance, how has she behaved in the past? Is this normal for her?

Katehy Tue 26-Sep-17 19:29:29

I hadn't thought of it like that. That may be a possibility I suppose

ssd Tue 26-Sep-17 19:29:36

sorry but she sounds like a cow

as you have other support I'd quietly withdraw from here, let your dh have all the contact he likes but if I were you, I'd back away from her

Katehy Tue 26-Sep-17 19:31:35

I think had she been distant while he was in hospital but there for us in the weeks and months afterwards I may have been able to forgive but she just seems to show no interest in him at all. She has been quite selfish in the past but I've never had anything major in my life so it's never bothered me too much

Katehy Tue 26-Sep-17 19:32:33

ssd that's how I feel at the moment

Crumbs1 Tue 26-Sep-17 19:34:47

You don't forgive people for their benefit you forgive them for your own benefit. Anger and bitterness eat you up. When you forgive you are choosing to take control and dump the anger, freeing yourself to be happy and move forward.

abbsisspartacus Tue 26-Sep-17 19:34:57

Kind of happened to me pregnant at the same time as my friend her child has severe difficulties I was pregnant and backed off I didn't want to upset her but I did phone her and I went over when the baby was back home

grannytomine Tue 26-Sep-17 19:35:37

I remember when my brother was born, just days after my cousin died at birth. The first time my aunt visited my mother was nearly hysterical and literally tried to hide my brother! My father told her not to be silly, my aunt knew the baby was there. It can be hard knowing what to do and say in these situations. Maybe give her the benefit of the doubt?

Cakefortea1 Tue 26-Sep-17 19:40:04

I think it's fear causing this. Not the same but I was having fertility treatment whilst my sister in law was pregnant and had my niece. I withdrew, it upset me so much, I tried not to let it but it did and I wasn't around much for the pregnancy or newborn stage. Love her to bits now though (18 years later). She may be terrified for her own baby & so withdrawing. It appears selfish but it's maybe protection.

Wishfulmakeupping Tue 26-Sep-17 19:43:07

Op i written before about a similar situation but with my mil.
My ds was very poorly in hospital and mil made no contact, didn't visit, didn't call think she did text Dh once. During this time there was a family party for my dh's sister which was attended my mil obviously. The thought of his sister and mother partying away while our ds was seriously ill was quite sickening frankly. I though she would have wanted to know he was ok but she was just not that interested.
The stark contrast for me was that I was getting messages from people I'd never met - my grans next door neighbour was saying prayers for him, my sisters boss was offering help etc everyone was mucking in helping looking after our eldest but nothing from mil.
I went no contact after this I literally can't trust myself to be civil with the woman following this situation but this was the latest in a long line of being a shit human being if it was the first instance I would acknowledge it and see what the response is.

CocoPuffsinGodMode Tue 26-Sep-17 19:43:23

I can understand that she might have felt scared about her own pregnancy or misplaced guil because her child was fine but I'm afraid that just wouldn't excuse this for me. It's six months later and the woman still can't bring herself to show any interest or concern? There's no excuse for that IMO.

Op I wouldn't be able to forgive or forget. I don't mean that I'd have a row about it or do the "NC" thing but it would always be there. She's made it clear she's not bothered so the most she'd ever get from me is civility, I couldn't fake any warmth for her and I wouldn't try.

I think your anger is directed in the wrong direction (although SIL sounds selfish).
I wouldn't forgive and forget but treat your relationship with caution and only give as much of your time to her as she does to you

Katehy Tue 26-Sep-17 19:47:01

Wishful Im so sorry to hear what you've been through. How is your little one now? I also had people I'd never met message and send cards, it makes it all the more hurtful that family can't behave the same way. We didn't have a great relationship before so I too feel this is the end

beesandknees Tue 26-Sep-17 19:47:34

I'm so sorry to hear of your DS's health challenges. What a scary time for you all.

She is quite a selfish person, never really asks after us but I thought with something like this she would be there for us.

In my view, and of course I mean this gently! YABU to expect a selfish person to become less selfish due to your baby being born. You already knew how she was - it just sounds like you assumed her selfishness would not extend out into your family once your DS was in the picture. That's not an unusual assumption to make, many people imagine that their baby is as important to their broader family as it is to them, but it's an incorrect assumption, generally speaking.

Selfish people tend to struggle to understand how anyone who doesn't impact them directly, should have any of their attention / headspace. It's just the way selfish people are.

I think the key here is to manage your own expectations and train yourself to expect less of SIL. Was she rude not to ask after DS? Yes. Can you do anything to change that? No. Being arsey with her or avoiding her will not make you feel better in the end. But what will make you feel better is to start seeing her as she is, not as you wish her to be, and to stop expecting things from her that she clearly doesn't want to or know how to provide x

Fruitboxjury Tue 26-Sep-17 19:47:37

What's her relationship like with your DH? I suspect her actions are mostly driven by that and have very little to do with you or the child.

If this is out of character in the context of a normal relationship then I would feel the same. If it's not out of context then I would be more inclined not to overthink it.

Also, did you make any effort to contact her and was she receiving updates from e.g. FIL or DH? If she was then she may not have felt the need to contact you directly, perhaps short sighted but it doesn't mean she didn't care what was happening.

A DN of ours was regularly in hospital when little and the parents never told us or contacted us to let us know, so it was difficult from our side to know how much they wanted from family. We occasionally had updates from in laws who they were in touch with everyday so we took the cue from them that they would get in touch when they wanted to and when they did we responded immediately and appropriately. Was there any reason you didn't visit her until DS was 3m old either?

Lastly, it isn't unthinkable that for some reason (and I can't think of a good one) there was a degree of pfb jealousy that your baby was getting more attention than hers would. There's no excuse for this at all, but pregnancy does some weird things to people.

Either way she's obviously not a particularly effusive person but that doesn't mean she can't be a good aunt and mother in the future so I wouldn't bother burning my bridges. You've nothing to gain and there's no reason at present that they can't have a good relationship in the future especially as the children will be cousins, I think it would be a shame to jeopardise that for the kids by falling out.

Katehy Tue 26-Sep-17 19:47:38

Coco that's exactly how I feel!!!

ineedbanoffee Tue 26-Sep-17 19:48:54

You need to talk to her. Not confront her in an angry way, but say something like, 'you know, I wouldn't feel upset with you if you talked about [my son] or asked about his appointments or his treatments. I know you might be avoiding the issue in case it upsets me or makes me feel uncomfortable, but it really wouldn't, and I'd actually prefer to be able to talk about it with his close family'.

That might be all it takes to get her to open up. Or she might tell you the real reason she's been like this. Either way, I think it's hard to judge what the situation really is here until you've talked to her openly.

Just to clarify my post a bit. I think that given all you have been through that having anger towards someone is easier than having other emotions stronger - sadness, guilt and fears for the situation of your young child.
I do think that your sil has behaved horribly in the lack of concern for her nephew (can't she even fake the concern)

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