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Family hierarchy within one home not extended family

(18 Posts)
Goandplay Fri 01-Jan-16 11:37:30

I am really at a loss as to what I can do if anything to influence my Dsis family. There is her, her DH and their 2 DC's.

They don't seem to particularly like their eldest DC. They even say openly when you speak to them about the problems between the two DC's is that their eldest DC isn't a nice child.

Their first DC was conceived unexpectedly and her DH (DP at the time) wanted a termination so they broke up and she went through the pregnancy on her own. Throughout the pregnancy she wasn't particularly excited for the arrival of DC and I would even go as far as saying she may have been depressed. When DC arrived DP visited despite saying he wanted nothing to do with the DC. They were then off and on for about 2 years. The relationship was turbulent but they eventually settled into family life of some sort. They decided to have another DC. This pregnancy was different, they were excited and were happy buying the things a new baby needs and preparing for the arrival of the new baby.

Their relationship has never been smooth running but they stuck together. Now a few years on as the youngest baby has become a child it seems as though the eldest is at the bottom of the family.

DC2 calls the shots in the family. He decides what's for dinner, what activities they do, what toys are played with, what games are played. Despite a 4 year age gap DC1 is expected to revolve all the games to suit DC2. Even when friends are visiting.

The parents will say they are disappointed that DC1 doesn't check DC2 is happy and playing happily when they visit peoples homes or they are at home.

DC1 has the same bedtime as DC2 because DC2 doesn't want DC1 to stay up after him. The parents will lay with DC2 while they go to sleep, if DC1 asks for a cuddle at bedtime they will be told no and to stop being annoying.

DC1 is told off when they are ill if they don't make it to the toilet in time, or they call for their parents or they are noisy. DC2 is taken in to the parents bed.

DC1 was able to get a break from home with sleepovers but now this can't happen because DC2 doesn't want DC1 sleeping out.

None of these are single episodes. This is how it is in their home, day to day.

Most of the things I have mentioned I have either witnessed myself or Dsis has told me about them herself. Not seeing how unfair it seems for DC1.

DBil has quieried why DC1 tells us so much about their life. DC1 doesn't even tell the Dparents about successes at school or good things they have achieved.

I've tried saying before how maybe DC2 has too much say at home but there is always a 'reason' for this, they have so many 'justifications' for the behaviour. The grandparents have also made similar comments how DC1 doesn't seem to like being at home and says he isn't loved. They will say this is DC1 (7years old) is being manipulative. Dsis has had counselling for a different reason and in the process the counsellor has picked up on this issue and has tried encouraging changes but they never happen or they are half hearted. Dsis has decided to stop counselling now so this won't be explored further.

I want to make DC1 life easier, but I worry that saying too much will cause DC1 more problems at home.

glentherednosedbattleostrich Fri 01-Jan-16 11:46:57

So because they fucked up they are emotionally abusing their oldest child.

I don't know what you can say other than that. Hopefully someone helpful will be along soon.

FATEdestiny Fri 01-Jan-16 11:48:34

OP, as an aside, how many children do you have?

kittybiscuits Fri 01-Jan-16 11:49:21

This is so sad to read. DC1 has been horribly scapegoated and DC2 is the golden child. It's hard to know what you can do about it as they are so unaware that they are not even being subtle or hiding it. I had a lump in my throat when I read that poor DC1 is only 7. I think this is emotional abuse. I would worry about further deterioration as the children grow older. Your relatioship with DC1 is very important. You can provide an accurate mirror to the child of themselves, which they don't have at home. Do you have any contact with school? Do you have a way in to talk to school? I can't imagine that self esteem issues wouldn't be apparent to DC1's teachers. Neither is being so blatantly favoured a positive thing for DC2.

Goandplay Fri 01-Jan-16 11:55:53

I have 3 DC's smile

DC1 had sporadic illness's that couldn't be tied to anything medical. Dsis spoke to school and they said they had noticed DC1 wasn't happy but it was home related rather than anything going on at school. DC1 has friends and was doing well at school. If I spoke to the school surely they would have to tell Dsis. I feel like it isn't y place to intervene at school.

junebirthdaygirl Fri 01-Jan-16 11:56:12

They have rejected their oldest child due to the circumstances of his birth. That is shocking. I would confront your dsis on each incident as they happen. It's actually a form of abuse on the second child too as overindulgence is not good either. It's all very dysfunctional. When the child is rejected they can act out of that and so further the parents opinion that it's their fault. If they were hitting him your whole family would intervene. Call it abuse to them. Tell your sister she needs to go back into counselling on this issue.Maybe family therapy. It's good he has ye and lots of love and support is needed. Also don't take a set against other child as they are a victim too. It's heartbreaking

NicoleWatterson Fri 01-Jan-16 11:57:05

I knew a family like this, it is and was heart breaking. Social services were involved at one point as it is emotional abuse. Nothing changed though, because they didnt want to.
The child has a safe haven at grand parents but that's it. could you be that safe haven?

Goandplay Fri 01-Jan-16 12:00:04

DC used to stay a lot with us but this has been stopped because DC2 doesn't like staying out.

Same with the grandparents - they stay as a set.

SeaCabbage Fri 01-Jan-16 15:27:11

That is heartbreaking. I think you need to have an extremely frank talk with your sister. This is emotional abuse and neglect at a high level. that poor child.

HOpefully someone else will be able to tell you who else you could approach if your sister won't listen. But I would definitely risk falling out with your sister in order to save this poor child from years of unhappiness.

this is just so horrible, very upsetting to even read.

JeanSeberg Fri 01-Jan-16 15:32:51

Would you consider phoning a children's charity for advice?

NicoleWatterson Fri 01-Jan-16 16:50:16

The person in the family I know, who called social services has been unbelievably persecuted for it, nothing's improved for the child, if anything the child has lost another adult who was protecting them.
It s emotional abuse, it is neglect, it is damaging your nephew.

Twinklestein Fri 01-Jan-16 17:08:50

Could you cope with another child OP? If that were me I'd want to take the child in.

bumbleclat Fri 01-Jan-16 17:45:32

This is really sad so sad for both children really.
I used to Nanny for a family who sound identical to this and I realised eventually that as long as I could keep a foothold in the family then I could be some kind of normal for the eldest child then when she's older she will remember me as a point of reference for someone who made her feel valued and loved equally to her younger brother.
The parents got really uncomfortable when I started to put their daughters needs above their little dictator of a son and things got tense between us. When I left I rang social services and told them everything, they kept it on record and I always think about that poor child.
Could you confront them about it?

Goandplay Fri 01-Jan-16 18:02:24

Had a conversation today. My sister brought the conversation up. She thought my nephew had been unfair to his sibling. She mentioned that she though counselling for him would be a good idea and I said what I thought and said that I thought family counselling is the way forward.

I have said he is always welcome at my house. He could live with us and I have mentioned this in passing if everyone needed a break. My sister would consider it but I don't think her DH would at all.

I think from now on there can be no beating round the bush, I need to be more direct.

I said today that the children will never get on if one feels lower than the other. Resentment builds over time and cannot be repaired with one or two days effort.

MiscellaneousAssortment Fri 01-Jan-16 18:09:46

How was your sister today when you talked? Did she seem open to ideas? Or just wanting to vent?

And yes to the poster who said one adult setting a good example can have a lasting effect. For me, home life was miserable, but I babysat for a family who showed me what normal human kindness and love looked like. Without them I think I'd never have realised how wrong my home life was in comparison. It's not much, it's certainly not a solution, but it's something.

Footle Fri 01-Jan-16 18:11:00

They may not accept family therapy if they feel it's putting them on the spot. It may be better for the child to have separate counselling, and hope she/he will feel safe enough to talk freely about what's going on.

Goandplay Fri 01-Jan-16 18:22:12

Thank you everyone for your replies.

With a lot of what I said she was saying 'yes i know but...' I held myself strong rather than agreeing, and I continued with another example each time. I also said that one of my DC's had picked up on it and says often that he feels bad for Dnephew. I said if another child can see it then it must feel really bad to Dnephew. sad

kittybiscuits Sat 02-Jan-16 08:35:07

Good for you OP! Sounds like if you are firm and use a broken-record technique, you might be able to impact on your sister.

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