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November 29, 2007 / missknowitall

Sister Is Pushing Us Out Of The Family

Dear Little Miss,

My SIL (husband’s sister) has tried so many times to push us and our 3 children out of the family. She makes my MIL side against us and manipulates her and the other siblings who are also both girls. I believe she is insecure and very jealous of our accomplishments. She has gone as far as to bully our children when we are not around but when we are there she is phony and acts loving to them. She also has a daughter who barely acknowledges us when we come around. My question is how should I go about making my MIL understand why we don’t come to family functions? She sees no wrong doing on her daughter’s part, only mine and my husbands. My SIL just had a baby and MIL wants me to be joyful but I just cant pretend to care about someone who has done so much to turn us against her. My husband is like an outcast since his father died. I believe my SIL likes things this way. Any suggestions to make my MIL see our side of things and how we feel?

Dear Trying To Convince,

It is a very tricky business trying to get a mother to see any faults in a daughter.  The trick is to not attack the daughter, but to actually defend her.  This is going to sound ridiculous, but just trust me.  When you tell your MIL that her daughter doesn’t like you and is rude to you it sounds like you are pointing out the faults in her child, and right or wrong she is going to defend her baby (no matter how old your SIL is).  So, don’t say it like that.  When your MIL asks why you aren’t attending family functions just say, “We would love to be there but we always get the impression that we are making (insert SIL’s name here) unhappy.  We just feel that everyone would be able to enjoy themselves more if we weren’t there.  This way you aren’t attacking anyone.  If your MIL wants you to come she doesn’t have to defend your SIL to convince you but she needs to promise you that you will get the response you want when you come.  Don’t say that your niece ignores you, just tell your MIL that you wish she liked your kids.  This way you aren’t seeing anything wrong with her, you are just wishing that she would bond with your kids.  When you free your MIL from having to defend your SIL’s bad behavior you free her up to start prodding your SIL to help improve family relations.  Oh, and you should definitely send the new baby a gift and a card.  It is NOT the baby’s fault that his/her mom has been cruel.

Also, make sure that you are building a relationship with you MIL without the whole family present.  Invite her over for dinner.  Invite the other sisters over.  Let them see you without the SIL around.  Let them see for themselves what you are really like.  And if your husband wants his place back in the family he should be doing the same thing.  He should do something helpful for his mother at least once a month and call her at least every other week just to see how she is doing.  If she starts to depend on him she will fight for his place in the family (the same will work for you too).

Passively aggressive,

Miss Knowitall  

P.S.  NEVER leave your children with your SIL.  Anytime there are discrepancies between children and adults then they should not be alone together. 

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One Comment

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  1. jen38 / Dec 5 2007 9:21 pm

    That is a terrific response to a really touchy and complicated family problem. I really like the “not attack but defend” tactic. I am going to have to try this one myself!

    Keep up the great work.

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