It sounds like your husband could have done a lot more in the past twenty years to facilitate a better relationship between you and his kids, especially knowing how resistant his kids had always been to anyone in their dad’s life after their mother died. There were probably a lot of missed opportunities over the years to create a warmer environment to foster these relationships, and now that so much time has passed and you have drawn a line in the sand, saying, “no more for me,” I’m not sure what you expect? Your husband is not going to stop visiting his kids and grandkids. He isn’t going to – and shouldn’t! — cut them all out of his life. But if YOU don’t want to be in their lives, maybe don’t accompany him on the visits anymore. Sulking in a hotel room isn’t healthy. Stay home and make plans with friends or your own family. You obviously resent that you’ve traveled thousands of miles to visit family who don’t reciprocate, so stop. Accept that you aren’t going to have a relationship with these people (whom it seems you’ve never cared for or enjoyed anyway); quit trying to figure out why they’re mean and move on with your life. If your husband isn’t all broken up about the status of your relationship with his kids, you shouldn’t be either. This will simply have to be one part of your life together that you don’t actively participate in. Hopefully, in a relationship that has spanned twenty years, you’ve developed plenty of other mutual friendships, interests, and hobbies to make up for it.
Flash forward to now and everyone is excited about my pregnancy, including her. The conversation came of godparents and she asked me who is going to be godmother. I said I’m still deciding. She got upset, saying it’s the sister’s job to be godmother, and I told her I’m not thinking that just yet as I’m looking for a house first. She got upset and told me I’m acting bitchy, and now she’s saying she doesn’t care what the baby calls her or if she even sees the baby.
I spoke to my partner and I explained that my sister as the aunty will have the same privileges as godmother, but because of the way she treats me and especially my dad and mum like shit, swearing at us and playing victim, I don’t want her to be a role model for my child. I want someone to look up to for a godparent who shows the right behavior to family and friends. Do you think I’m overreacting and should I give her the godmother title or should I stick with my decision to have her as Aunty and pick someone else as godmother? — Godmother Decision Dilemma
Of course you don’t have to name your sister as your child’s godmother. It’s kind of redundant to name a sibling as a godparent anyway, isn’t it? Aren’t the roles of aunty and godmother kind of identical? And even if they aren’t, you clearly have valid and justified reasons for NOT wanting your unstable, rude sister to serve as a role model and spiritual mentor to your child. You have zero obligation to extend this invitation to your sister, and I wouldn’t if I were you. There’s no guarantee that doing so would cement a good relationship between the two of you or that she would magically become a positive light in your child’s life. There’s a good chance that, godmother title or no, your sister will probably waver in and out of your child’s life, model poor behavior, and disappoint you. Better to extend the honor of godmother to someone you love and are close to and trust to be a positive influence in your child’s life, who can be an additional source of love, stability, and guidance.
If you’re worried about how to tell your sister you’re choosing someone else for godmother, accept that there’s probably nothing you can say that won’t offend her. I’d keep it simple and spin it positively: “I’m really flattered you feel strongly about being my child’s godmother, and while I hope you will relish your special role as aunty and that you and my child will develop a strong bond and close relationship, I’ve decided to name someone else as godmother. It’s my hope that by extending the circle of influential adults in his or her life, my child will feel that much more loved and secure. I know as an aunt you have even more potential to make that happen than anyone, and I hope you will embrace that role.”
(She will probably yell and swear at you and tell you she wants nothing to do with your baby, but that should only serve as validation for you that you’re making the right choice.)
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.