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Are we morally obliged to maintain sibling relationships purely "because we are family"

(70 Posts)
SeamusHeanysaunt Mon 07-Mar-16 14:19:32

How obliged are we (morally I mean or otherwise) to maintain sibling relationships because "we are family"?

Are we obliged to maintain relationships with our siblings on the basis that we happen to have emerged from the same womb, even though we don't like them as people very much?

I'm feeling very confused atm and would welcome any advice/insights. (I've name-changed for this btw).

The context is that I come from a large family that was seemingly very close; well, we all maintained that illusion when we were young. We are still close in some ways (well much closer than some siblings I know) but are now middle-aged and have our own busy lives and we all have very strong individual personalities. Since our parents died, a few fissures have started to appear in our relationships. (I am sure I am to blame for these as much as anyone else btw.)

And it has occurred to me that although I love a certain number (trying not to be too specific here!) of my siblings; I don't really like them very much and it really wouldn't bother me that much if I didn't spend much time with them ever again. We have quite different outlooks in terms of politics, religion, attitude to money, ways of living, ways of child-rearing and I just don't seem to have that much in common with them any more.

Dh though says I am closer to them than I think and if anything happened to them I would be devastated.

But after a series of conflicts and minor arguments (that I think reflect more major schisms) I am not sure how I feel anymore.

I know for sure that we are not the "one big happy family" we were all conditioned to think we were.

What do you all think?

SeamusHeanysaunt Mon 07-Mar-16 17:12:39

Anyone in a similar situation?

AndTheBandPlayedOn Mon 07-Mar-16 17:20:34

Just read the title and the answer is
No no no no no.
Will go read.
(disclosure-no contact with my sister)

isseywithcats Mon 07-Mar-16 17:24:07

im like you my brother lives the other end of the country to me and my half sister and brother live half way between the two, we only see each other at funerals nowadays and since my mom died (who was the biological part of our family) we hardly ever see each other or talk to each other and to be quite honest they have my phone number know where i live and if they cant be arsed getting in touch with me i cant be arsed keeping up a false front relationship with them

Wombatinabathhat Mon 07-Mar-16 17:29:28

I have 4 siblings and I am the only one who is still in contact with them all. (Some more than others)
The rest don't speak to each other.
Families are complicated and there is no guarantee that members will like each other. As an adult, I choose who I spend my time with. Our parents are dead but we were never close before they passed away.
As you say, we all have busy lives of our own.
Maybe you could just limit the amount of contact you have with them, citing work or children?
I would however be upset if any of them came to any harm or were seriously ill.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Mon 07-Mar-16 17:30:24

I think you are heading the right way. If you were talking about old school chums and just grew apart and the relationships faded away, would you second guess yourself? People grow apart. Relationships run their course.

Why would it be different for siblings? Imho, there may be some moral duty to parents even though I wouldn't characterize it as "owing" them, iyswim. But siblings? Completely different. If they are not adding a positive to your life, why would you endure it? You get to a certain age and just don't put up with crap anymore.

Your dh may be an issue here. He does not have the history or experience with your family that you have. His experience with his family does not transfer to you and your family. His opinions are, well, invalid. And imho, he is bang out of order to tell you how you will feel. Nip that one in the bud, pronto.

SeamusHeanysaunt Mon 07-Mar-16 17:30:26

Thanks both although I'm not so clear cut about it (or guilt free about how I feel) because they are all actually quite supportive in their own way. (And I hope dh and I are supportive in return.) But if I am supportive, I'm doing that more out of duty than anything else because I just don't really like spending time with some of them (although I feel awful saying that).

And everyone says that when the chips are down, it's your family you turn to (or vice versa of course).

And in general I am someone who values the concept of "family" and think you should try and work at things.

I'm not saying that people who have gone nc don't have their own good personal reasons for doing so of course.

SeamusHeanysaunt Mon 07-Mar-16 17:35:33

x posts with Andthebandplayedon

Interesting point about dh. I do trust his opinion generally, but not necessarily when it comes to family as he has a really wierd one grin But it has to be said he is a much kinder and more benign person than me.

As it happens, we don't actually see one another that often as we live quite far apart and I am receiving quite a bit of flack for that. One sibling in particular (who has a lot more time than me) is quite needy and the more you get involved with her life, the more you get drawn in ifyswim. Still feel horrible writing that but it's true.

Just really need to reassess things. Trouble is, my family are not good at discussing things honestly.

NoncommittalToSparkleMotion Mon 07-Mar-16 17:36:13

I have no idea if you're "supposed" to, but I don't.

We're not "no-contact," I just don't see them. I don't wish them ill or anything, we just aren't close and I feel it's better that way for a variety of reasons. We're different people despite being born and raised by the same family.

Life's short and I would prefer to spend it with people with whom I get along.

marriednotdead Mon 07-Mar-16 18:30:41

You are not obliged to do anything to maintain a relationship with your siblings. The stick point may be when you have to eventually bury your mutual parents.

One of my half sisters appears to be an alien species. I care about her on a human level and in many ways she is very likeable. But I cannot relate to her lifestyle, parenting and irresponsible attitude to life and it's getting worse as we get older.

SurferJet Mon 07-Mar-16 18:37:09

I've been NC with two of my siblings for ages - I actually hate them ( long story )

OzzieFem Mon 07-Mar-16 20:10:10

Families used to be very close as generally everybody lived and worked in the same area where they were born and rarely moved further away.

However with faster travel, better education, worldwide companies and emigration, families are spread thin, so it's not surprising that family dynamics change and peoples lifestyles and politics change.

<Long winded way of saying no>

Donge13 Mon 07-Mar-16 20:13:22

Don't speak to my only brother or one of my sisters and couldn't careless if I never do again

SeamusHeanysaunt Mon 07-Mar-16 20:16:28

Thanks for your thoughts everyone.

I must admit, I didn't expect to receive such broadly unanimous replies!

(Our family is very much separated by emigration and work as you describe Ozzie)

Is there anyone out there who tries to keep the relationship with their siblings going, despite their heart really not being in it?

UmbongoUnchained Mon 07-Mar-16 20:18:52

I'm a triplet. One of my brothers in super close too, the other one I probably see twice a year. Which is odd as he is really close to the brother I'm close too iyswim.

Room101isWhereIUsedToLive Mon 07-Mar-16 20:18:58

My sister is awful and yet still the favourite child. Have had no contact with her for over two years. And couldn't care less if I never saw or spoke to her again.
So imho, no obligation whatsoever.

Powaqa Mon 07-Mar-16 20:20:50

I can't stand my half brother or step sister. I last spoke to my brother 4 years ago and my step sister 8 years ago. There was no falling out etc, I just dont like them. It upsets my mother but as she now lives a leasta 3 hr drive away from us we just ensure that we visit at different times

coffeeisnectar Mon 07-Mar-16 20:23:17

I have four siblings in a quite complicated family.

One sister (lived with her until she was 2 and our parents died, adopted separately, very close)
One half sister (found five years ago, quite close)
One adoptive sister (who I grew up with. Not close)
One half brother (can't find him and never met him)

So I will always be in touch with them but my youngest sister who has the same parents is closest to me and we talk on the phone alot. Half sister there has been a few ups and downs but that's been down to family dynamics and we are quite close and talk regularly.

The sister I grew up with and have the most shared memories is the one I have little in common with. She had issues when I moved back near our parents and made it clear that our parents don't have time to look after my kids so don't ask them. I was a bit pissed off with that as she has relied on them and other family as unpaid childcare for 12 years now while I've never asked for anything. I think she felt I was going to rock the boat and stop her getting free childcare and dinners every week. As a result I rarely see her and once our parents are no longer about I assume contact Will reduce to nothing.

I've never found my brother.

BolshierAryaStark Mon 07-Mar-16 20:25:33

Absolutely not no, I choose not to see my brother because he is a lying cunt who isn't worth a second of my time. Life really is too short to waste any of it on people you don't like.

pointythings Mon 07-Mar-16 20:30:40

No, of course not. And I speak as someone who has spent periods of years not getting on with my DSis. We are very, very different characters with different feelings, values and attitudes. It's only in the last 15 years or so that we have grown close and discovered that we like each other quite a lot. But truth be told we are more like friends than like siblings. In a good way, for us.

StepAwayFromTheThesaurus Mon 07-Mar-16 20:34:11

I also don't try to maintain a relationship with my sister, simply because I really dislike her. She's a complete nightmare and I find myself glad that she lives hours away.

My mum used to try to pull the 'she's your sister; she's all you've got' manipulative crap on me. Memorably she tried this to try to get me to put my sister up (and pay for everything because she refused to get a job or sign on and expected everyone else to look after her) in a very small 3 bedroom house for 6 weeks at the end of my pregnancy with DS2 (and during which time he was born) simply because my sister wanted this. Apparently DH and I were ridiculous for not wanting a very annoying, lazy, leech staying with us at that point in time. Neither my mum nor my sister got their way (although they did really make the time around DS2's birth pretty unpleasant) and my mum seems to have gotten the message that I'm not going to stand for that crap (and, particularly, that DH won't).

Wombatinabathhat Mon 07-Mar-16 20:34:21

Yes Seamus I wouldn't really care if I never saw one of my siblings again but I feel obliged to meet up with them and family for meals/Christmas and always exchange presents for their/my OH and DC for birthdays etc.

SeamusHeanysaunt Mon 07-Mar-16 20:34:56

Some interesting family dynamics going on there; judging from everyone's posts. And even more interesting that one's closeness to a sibling in childhood doesn't necessarily translate in to a close bond between adults.

I am torn between thinking that so many siblings being nc or estranged is quite a sad situation but on the other hand, perhaps this is just a more honest way to go about things.

Can't help thinking about various tv programmes such as the one with Davina McCall where people search for long lost family. Or the A & E one where it is usually close family seated around the hospital bed. Family seems so vital to people in those situations.

I don't want to cut people out of my life and then regret it. But some of my siblings frankly cause more upset and stress than the relationship is worth ifyswim. I'm sick of it. And disappointed, like a veil has been lifted from my eyes, now that I can see them as they really are, rather than I thought they were ifyswim. (Not that I am much better probably but at least I am aware of that and don't pretend to be anything else.)

willowcatkin111 Mon 07-Mar-16 20:42:07

You chose your friends not your family. Friends mean more to me than my brother and have been there when I need them. Having said that I do have a curiosity about my half brother and sister who I have never met ....

SeamusHeanysaunt Mon 07-Mar-16 20:44:05

Wombat do you mind me asking if they are aware of you feeling like that? And why do you do it? Do they feel the same way? (Feel free to ignore if you don't want to go in to that level of detail.)

Pointythings think you must be one of the few on here who have perservered and made it work! Good to hear one happy ending!

Stepaway that sounds like an entirely healthy separation to me in that you and your dh have established boundaries that your mother obviously wasn't or isn't able to do. Your stance will probably benefit your dsis in the long term (although awful that you had to put up with that awful stress around the time of your ds2's birth). My situation is similar to yours in that several siblings basically take advantage of another one who lets them get away with it. (She then confides in me about the stress of it all.) But when I try to stand up for her, or protest on her behalf, all hell breaks loose.

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