Here is the scenario: My sister, who had been married for 10 years, is going forward with a divorce from her husband. She’s in a rough place in her life right now, and I feel deeply for her, because they both need to file bankruptcy and her three children (two of whom I am Godmother to) are also affected. It’s a bad divorce. I also feel like she is very insecure at this moment, and selfish, where she needs to find affection from a man, and has made poor choices with regard to introducing her children to her male “friends” way too early. We have had it out in regards to this.
Unlike my sister, I am in a good place in my life — happily married, with a wonderful, healthy daughter, a great job, a home, a cottage, etc. A few times, my sister has commented on how much of a “perfect life” I have, which makes me feel guilty and sorry for her. I want her to be happy and to have nice things. She does work hard for them!
Anyway, when my daughter was born, my best friend made the effort to come to the hospital that very day and the day after even. This was understandable, because she lives only an hour away, while my sister lives 4.5 hours away. I didn’t hold it against my sister that she wasn’t there. But a week later, when we went to our cottage, which is 45 minutes from my sister’s place, she decided to go to a friend’s party instead of coming to see us. I was extremely upset and had it out with her. She showed up the next day and brought many gifts with her. It seemed forced, but it was over, and we didn’t talk about it further.
Since my baby girl has been born, my best friend has made continuous efforts to being in my daughter’s life, and, when she comes over, she seems genuinely close to her. She entertains her, plays with her, feeds her, changes her. I never have to ask for this.
On the other hand, when my sister comes and visits — very rarely — she barely picks her up or shows interest in my daughter. She seems all about herself, and I don’t know if this is how it will be forever, or if her current situation is distracting her. My husband and I have talked and agree that my best friend would be better suited as Godmother of our child, but the fact is that I did ask my sister, even though she won’t be that full presence in her life, and I’m also afraid to hurt her, especially in this stage of her life. I feel like she’s fragile, and I would definitely be hurting her in taking this title from her.
Please get back to me at your earliest convenience, because my baby girl is due to get baptized in three short months. — A Godmother Dilemma
You’ve already asked your sister to be the Godmother and rescinding that invitation now would do far more harm than if you’d never asked her to begin with. Why not have two Godmothers for your daughter? And for God’s sake, cut your sister some slack. She has three children of her own, she’s going through a bitter divorce, and she’s filing for bankruptcy. No wonder she doesn’t have the energy to fawn all over your family when she comes to visit. She’s probably just trying to catch her breath after dealing with her problems at home, not to mention the commute — 4.5 hours? — to come see you.
I’m curious: do you ever go visit her? Have you stepped in and offered to help with anything as she navigates these huge life challenges — bitter divorce, bankruptcy? Have you ever watched her kids for a weekend to give her a break? Or is your “help” more focused on “having it out with her” about how soon she introduces her children to her male friends, which by the way, isn’t really your call to make.
I’m also curious about whether your best friend has a family of her own. Perhaps the reason she gives so much more attention to your daughter than your sister does is because she doesn’t have her own children. Your sister has three kids! It’s not unusual that a baby wouldn’t be as thrilling for a family member who already has kids of her own than it would for a friend who’s never had a baby. Of course, I don’t know if that’s the case, but if it is, I’d think it’s one more explanation for why your friend is more present right now than your sister. The other explanation, of course, is that your sister is, as we’ve discussed, going through a divorce, filing for bankruptcy, raising three kids, and, oh yeah, lives 4.5 hours away.
You call your sister “selfish,” but in all honesty, you sound a bit selfish yourself. Or, at least, incredibly self-involved, if not a bit smug, too. Your sister is going through some enormous life struggles and you are so focused on what title to bestow on her in relation to your newborn daughter — hint: she’ll be called an “aunt” above all else — that you don’t even seem all that concerned about how you can help her — I mean really help her, not just criticize her choices. Here’s another hint: a listening ear, free babysitting, help moving, and maybe financial assistance would probably all mean more right now than the honor of being named your daughter’s Godmother. But since you’ve already asked whether she’d be a Godmother, you can’t rescind that invitation and expect to have a good relationship with your sister afterward.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.