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Sibling becoming distant

(19 Posts)
ThatsNotAKnifeThatsASpoon Sun 21-Dec-14 22:34:03

Hi, I know this is not the worst thing in the world in the grand scale of things but it is on my mind and I would appreciate the thoughts of the wise mumsnetters on the Relationships boards.

I have two older brothers. I had a happy childhood with them, though my eldest brother (7 year gap) was definitely the more distant. We did click with some things, I remember him introducing me to books he thought I would like to read. I fought more with my brother who is 3 years older than me but I do remember occasions where he stuck up for me, like with a school bully I had trouble with. Anyway we all met our long term partners around the same time, and we all now have young kids (eldest grandchild is 6, mine are 4 and 2).

I am feeling a bit sad about our relationship as adults now though, as they seem happy to keep things very superficial, and make little or no effort to stay in touch themselves. Most contact is via our parents or if we see each other while visiting our parents.

My eldest brother in particular has upset me. It was my birthday recently and neither he nor his wife acknowledged it. I don't expect a fanfare but a text would have been nice. There is a bit of recent history here as his wife has behaved a bit oddly the last while. Things had been going well actually and we were meeting fairly regularly for playdates between my neice and my two dds. This was great for my eldest dd in particular as she is autistic and has trouble socialising but always got on well with this cousin. Suddenly my SIL called a halt to these meetings with a very lame excuse that she wanted more 'mummy time' with her dd. I was a bit taken aback by this, the playdates had been going really well (though my brother wasn't involved at all in these arrangements). She is pregnant with dc2, I don't know if this has anything to do with the change. I was upset by this turn of events but never said anything.

It was a significant birthday for this brother recently and my parents had a small celebration. I went to some effort to make him a particular cake he likes that my parents hadn't managed to find in the shops. I am sad that even in spite of this he couldn't be bothered to remember/acknowledge my birthday. I have spoken to my mum about it and she acknowledges that he is quite detached in this way, as can SIL be. He is not great at keeping in contact with my parents either, despite living geographically very close to them. She was quite shocked at the business with the playdates too.

Anyway I am just rambling on, just trying to articulate how disappointed I am at how my sibling relationships (but in particular with eldest brother) have turned out. I know a birthday is not a big thing when you are an adult but a text takes next to no effort at all. I would always have sent a text and a card. I won't anymore sad I always thought I had a good family but it seems to me that my siblings attach little significance to our relationship now as adults.

Any mumsnetters have wise words? I know I probably shouldn't take this so much to heart. My father in particular is not that close to his siblings (brothers and one sister) and I always thought that was sad growing up and that would not happen to me but it looks like I'm already there sad

hillyhilly Sun 21-Dec-14 22:37:44

Mine are the same, same age gaps, both brothers and we're like polite strangers with our own lives really.
I decided after a particularly painful pair of phone calls on Christmas Day about three years ago to stop trying so hard and detach a bit.
Still makes me sad when I see others with great sibling relationships and I really hope my kids get on better.

ThatsNotAKnifeThatsASpoon Sun 21-Dec-14 22:40:00

Hillyhilly, I'm so sorry you're in the same situation. Yes I really hope my own kids aren't the same, but you can't control these things, can you? I feel bad for my mum, actually, she always tries to look on the bright side of things with my brothers and to put a good spin on things. It was unusual today that she admitted how badly he's behaving. I would hate to see this happen between my own kids.

JamesAndTheGiantBanana Sun 21-Dec-14 22:41:16

Going through this a bit with my db at the mo. Could sil be the root cause? If she has decided that she's not happy with you/your kids for whatever reason, she could have some influence over him. Or maybe she's the one who usually reminds him to buy or write your card, and she just hasn't.

It's only a guess though, it may have nothing to do with her.

yongnian Sun 21-Dec-14 22:44:19

Snap! Similar gaps similar dynamics, me bothered by it, them apparently not....have sadly concluded its perhaps a gender/age thing...a few years ago I had a significant birthday and wanted to have a family celebration...was told by mum they couldn't come as they were going to a gig with my cousins...cheers for that! My DH is routinely astonished by our desultory sibling relationship, as he is very close to his brother still but they have smaller age gaps and all men, so maybe thats the difference.

ThatsNotAKnifeThatsASpoon Sun 21-Dec-14 22:45:34

I think she is the one who would manage the cards/reminders, yes James. She would actually be really good at this sort of thing. For whatever reason she hasn't done that this year. I can't imagine what's caused her change of heart, her dd has always got on really well with my two. I'm not sure how to put this, but she isn't great at being pregnant. Doesn't enjoy it in any shape or form and seems to be quite narky in general this time round, so that may be it, to some extent. No excuse for my brother though. My DH doesn't send cards to his sisters but would remember to text and would even call of his own bat occasionally as he seems to actually like his sisters!! Can't say the same of my brothers.

ThatsNotAKnifeThatsASpoon Sun 21-Dec-14 22:48:26

Thanks yongnian for the reply. Yes I am forever analyzing various gender/age combinations between siblings to try to understand why our set up doesn't seem to work. DH has a brother, btw, but he is a lot younger. They don't have a close relationship at all. I had it down to sisters being better at this sort of thing but your DH with his brother has blown that theory out of the water! smile

JamesAndTheGiantBanana Sun 21-Dec-14 22:56:02

Well ok, so maybe the pregnancy hormones are making her a bit strung out or whatever. Maybe you don't need to take that personally. When was the last time you rang your brother, or saw in him in person without sil, just to chat, reminisce, maybe you could even talk about the growing distance?

In my situation, our parents have died and it's bloody hard keeping us all together with no parental "glue" - I've seen db maybe 2-3 times this year. It's Christmas and apparently my db can't even be bothered to visit for two hours on one of several dates I offered. He's off all over christmas but blaming sil's work (but secretly told another family member that he feels it's "unfair" of me to ask sil to come here after work. They have no kids) a) He could come on him own. b) It's once a year and I haven't even seen sil since LAST christmas c) this is the very first Christmas I've invited anyone here. In fact it's the first time I've formally invited them here at all. and d) I'm inviting them here for two hours, any two hours of their choice, to eat cake and see the kids. It's not like I'm asking for a fucking kidney. I'm not even expecting them to come on Christmas day or anything.

But it's too much to ask, apparently. He's not bothered about keeping the family together, and I can't force him. It makes me sad.

ThatsNotAKnifeThatsASpoon Sun 21-Dec-14 23:07:41

Well James, I can't remember the last time I rang him. We aren't great at chatting or reminiscing. I always feel I am making the effort in conversations and he's just responding when required. He's always been like that.

I'm sorry your db is causing you so much heartache. If my parents weren't around who knows if I'd see him at all (we live 15 mins by drive apart, btw).

He's even worse with my other brother. He was living in his new house for over a year before he invited him and his family over, and that was only for my niece's birthday party sad

MadeMan Sun 21-Dec-14 23:10:27

I see you've played 'knifey spoony' before?

ThatsNotAKnifeThatsASpoon Sun 21-Dec-14 23:12:02

Lol mademan smile

'Coffee? '
' C O...'
'B E...'

MadeMan Sun 21-Dec-14 23:13:09


ThatsNotAKnifeThatsASpoon Sun 21-Dec-14 23:14:15

<Old Simpsons nerd alert>

MadeMan Sun 21-Dec-14 23:16:28

900 dollareedoos?

Yeah, the Simpsons oldies are the best. smile

Innocuoususername Sun 21-Dec-14 23:16:29

You have my sympathies OP, I have a similarly distant relationship with my brother, though in my case it is mainly down to physical distance and him being a workaholic. When he first moved away I made a big effort to keep in touch, visited him, sent big parcels for Xmas, but he didn't put the same effort in and I realised that the relationship just wasn't as important to him as it was to me.

I was really upset about it and mourned the relationship for a while. Now I can see that actually, we don't have a lot in common and there are some aspects of his personality that I really don't like. On the rare occasions we see each other it's fine, but no more than that. Funny enough in the last couple of years he has got better at Xmas and birthdays, maybe he's realising what he's missed.

No real advice, just wanted to say that it's ok to feel sad, the sibling relationship is a significant one in our early years at least, and when it changes its really hard.

lomega Sun 21-Dec-14 23:23:06

I tend to find when my Db is seeing a girlfriend I hardly ever see/hear from him. One time I didn't see him for 3 months, despite the fact we were both living at home with parents at the time, because of working/school and his girlfriend! I didn't mind as I knew he was happy at the time but it did feel odd sitting down to dinner with DPs saying 'no bro tonight again?'

From what I can tell men do tend to go off and form their own families and break away from their FOO a bit. Just from what I've experienced. My uncles do not really bother much with my Dgm, it's my mum that does all the visits and effort.

ThatsNotAKnifeThatsASpoon Sun 21-Dec-14 23:23:09

Thanks vertdeterre, that sounds similar alright. This db is a bit if a workaholic too. He's just not that bothered about his relationship with me though. I will pull back, though I'd rather not. It's worse nearly now I have kids of my own, I almost want to preserve my sibling relationships even when we don't have much in common (apart from our kids) because I'm afraid if I don't have successful sibling relationships as an adult then who's to say own dds will together in the future? sad Which is an awful thought for me when I see how close they are now

ThatsNotAKnifeThatsASpoon Sun 21-Dec-14 23:30:25

Yes lomega that seems to be a common pattern alright. My own dad was close to his mum but the only DD in the family was closest to my granny. The brothers are not close to each other and my aunt has often complained about their childhood; I think she feels hard done by somehow. I wonder now if she felt isolated because the brothers didn't foster a close sibling relationship with her through to adulthood.

Yes their own families seem to have become their primary concern. I can understand that; my Dh and dds are my world. But at the same time my brothers will always be my closest relations after my parents. I am sad this doesn't mean much to them as adults.

ijustwanttobeme Sun 21-Dec-14 23:59:48

DB and I were close as children, maybe as we had quite an odd upbringing. We were fostered together and separately for a few years, then after coming back to DParents, we were very much latchkey kids, as from 6am to 8pm they were working. DM was emotionally (and physically) abusive too.

Hoeever once he moved out, we drifted apart as he was living in a trendy part of town, racing up the career ladder and I was in a dead end job and had a council flat.

He now lives in the US and responds to my emails only when he feels like it. To be fair, I invited myself over few years back, and we had a really good time, with his family. Yet, despite the invitations he never comes over to us .

My DF passed away at Easter and he came for the funeral, staying for one week. Wouldn't stay with me, booked a hotel and saw his wife's family (not really an issue, as understandably catching up) more than me and DM, who he'd been estranged from for 16 years.

Funnily enough for the first time in about ten years, yesterday we received a Christmas card from him.

It hurts as apart from DM, he's my only living blood relative-not including my DCs. Plus I know he's so close to SILs family.

But Hey ho, that's life I suppose.

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