From the forums:
Before I met my husband, I lived with my parents, who live in the same town as we do. I moved back home because I thought it would be hard raising my daughter without support. It had nothing to do with my financial situation, as I have my masters and make good money.
When my daughter was four months old, my youngest brother, 23 at the time, also lived at home and was diagnosed with a very rare cancer with poor prognosis. He is still getting treatment and at a great hospital where he has access to trials and the best doctors. Still, the cancer is horrible and has kind of become my parents’ and his life, so to speak.
When he was diagnosed, my mom was watching my daughter while I worked, and since he was home more, he got extremely close to my daughter. Fast forward to this past summer, I told my mom I would go to Disney with the family so that my brother could see my daughter enjoy Disney for the first time. I was kind of guilted into it because I don’t necessarily want to go without my husband who would have to work. Soon after, once I got pregnant, I explained to my mom that Disney wasn’t happening because I’d have a 4-month-old baby by then. The truth is though that I wouldn’t want my husband bringing our kids to Disney without me, especially for the first time, so I don’t want to take ours without him. If I tell my parents that, they will hold it against my husband, whom they already are super competitive with. They are constantly putting him down, passive-aggressively, and believe they should come before him, even with my daughter because they were in her life first.
There is a lot of built-up resentment, partly because when I moved out of their house, it was to go live with him, and they felt I was taking away “the one thing that kept my brother alive” (i.e. my daughter). I know that my brother is going through a lot and, being a mother myself, I know my parents are as well, but I cannot live my life appeasing them even if I wanted to. Sometimes I do it just to make my life easier and to feel less guilty.
Now my mother is saying that if something happens to my brother and he doesn’t get to see my daughter at Disney, she won’t ever go with us (which is honestly fine because I see Disney as a vacation that neither she nor my husband would enjoy together and my husband is the one who should be there and not her). She said I back out of everything and, by not letting her take us to Disney, I am taking her “grandma” perks from her and wronging my brother, her son.
My parents don’t realize I have a new family, and in the past explaining this only made more problems. Cutting them off when they become bitter and crazy about this isn’t really an option either because I lose out on time with my brother who is sick and they start telling me I’m taking my daughter from him and essentially killing him because he “lives” because he wants her to remember him when she is older.
Any thoughts on how to deal with this situation? Am I wrong and just being selfish? — Not the Most Magical Place on Earth
Oh, man, that’s a lot of guilt your parents are dropping on you, and it’s completely unfair. The responsibility to “keep your brother alive” by making your daughter constantly available to him, regardless of her needs, your needs, and the new family you now have, is really out out of bounds and inappropriate. You don’t mention whether this kind of behavior has always been typical of your parents (and it sounds like most of it is coming from your mother?) and the intensity was simply turned up when you brother got sick, or whether your brother’s diagnosis prompted a total change in the way she treats and reacts to you. It may also have been the roller-coaster of emotions of becoming a first-time grandmother, followed by your moving in with them for support as a single mother, followed by her 23-year-old son getting a devastating diagnosis that has made her a little coo-coo.
My point is, there’s a lot going on right now — for your brother, your parents, and you. It’s situations like these that can try even the closest of bonds and certainly rock shaky family dynamics. The best way to proceed will take a lot compassion and willpower. You have to set boundaries — like saying no to family vacations that exclude your husband and depend on your traveling with coo-coo parents, a very sick brother, a tiny baby, and a toddler. I mean, come on. That’s too much for even Wonder Woman to take on.
Saying no doesn’t mean you don’t love your brother or your parents. It means you are respecting the limits of your energy and time, as well as your desire to reserve such special trips for your immediate family unit (you, your husband, and your kids). So, stick to your no, and summon the willpower necessary to disengage when your mother starts the guilt trip and tells you you’re killing your brother (!). I encourage you to adopt a short phrase you can use that will diffuse and shift focus. Something like, “I’m sorry you see it that way, but I don’t and I’m not going to engage in a conversation about that. If you would like to see the kids, I can bring them over this Saturday.” If you bring the kids over and she starts in on you again, you say, “I’m sorry you feel that way. Since I am not interested in engaging in that conversation, we can either agree not to discuss it or I can take the kids home now. If you’d like to see them again on Wednesday, I can bring them over, but I will not be discussing your thoughts about how I am being a bad daughter to you and a bad sister to my brother.”
Every time she starts in on you, shut her down. You have something that is very valuable to her — her granddaughter (and, soon, another grandchild). When she learns that her bad treatment of you compromises her time with her grandchildren, and if she’s smart, she’ll learn to cut the shit. It will take some training and some patience, willpower, and compassion. The compassion comes in when you don’t cut her off completely and you continue to offer time with your child/ren. If she ever begins threatening you, though, or saying or doing anything to your kids that manipulates their feelings about you and your relationship with them (for example, “You want to go to Disney with Granny, right? Did you know your mother said we can’t take you, and that’s why you can’t go to Disney?”), SHUT THAT SHIT DOWN. You shut it down by telling your mother/parents in no uncertain terms that you absolutely will not tolerate the manipulation of your child’s feelings in regards to you and how you’re raising her, and if they ever pull that again, they will lose their “grandparent perks” for much longer than a missed trip to Disney.
I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’m sorry that your parents are watching their youngest son suffer. And I’m sorry that your brother is sick and his prognosis isn’t good. It’s nice that your daughter brings some levity to all of this and some joy to the lives of family who are otherwise not experiencing much of it. But she’s a kid, and it isn’t her job to keep anyone live. It is your job to keep her alive and thriving. As a mom, that’s your number one priority. As a mom of a toddler, and soon a newborn as well, you’ll find that there might not be much energy and time left for other things lower on your priority list. That’s ok. Remember your top priority, focus on that, and cut yourself a lot of slack while you’re deep in the weeds of parenting tiny children. Just because other people aren’t cutting you slack and being respectful of your boundaries doesn’t mean you have to bend to their will. Stay strong and plow ahead.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.
brise December 21, 2017, 10:04 am
Sorry, LW, your family sounds nuts. Don’t enter this drama, be an adult. You have your own family, you are pregnant, the Disney project is over, there is no drama here, no reason to feel guilty. Don’t give in to this pressure. I would also be cautious of this unhealthy proximity between your daughter and your brother: he doesn’t need her to live or be cured, the cancer blackmail is off limits, and it is bad for your daughter that she is used like this. You all need more autonomy and respect for each other. And the best way to access this adult state is to quietly, respectfully set your boundaries. Don’t use your mother as a free baby-sitter. Put some distance and be yourself more grown-up, they will act accordingly. It was probably a mistake to go back home with your baby, it was like being yourself a child again, and your story sounds like everybody is treated here like children. But you are not.
Skyblossom December 21, 2017, 10:09 am
You are not being selfish. You are meeting the needs of your immediate family which is your primary obligation. A lot of toddlers wouldn’t enjoy a trip to Disney, let alone a baby. You have no obligation to provide your children to meet your mom’s fantasies. Your mom is being manipulative and it is your job to say no when a situation is not in the best interests of your family.
I would say something like, “Mom, stop. That doesn’t work for us so we aren’t going.” If she continues bringing it up grab your daughter and leave her house. ” Do that every single times she begins to try to manipulate you. If she is on the phone you say bye and hang up. If she begins to do that at your house you ask her to leave. If she doesn’t leave take your daughter to her room and close the door or pack up your daughter and leave the house. Do not engage.
othy December 21, 2017, 12:09 pm
I totally agree that Disney is a bit much for a three year old. When my nieces were three, anything longer than about an hour would lose their attention and they’d want to go home. Even if we were someplace really cool (the zoo, the children’s museum, etc), an hour or an hour and half tops was more than enough for them. Combine that with traveling long distances, sleeping in an unfamiliar place, throwing out the daily routine, and eating unusual food, I wouldn’t dare go to Disney with anyone younger than about 5 or 6.
Kate December 21, 2017, 10:13 am
I don’t disagree with the advice people have given. That said, it strikes me that someone is very ill or dying here, and someone’s child is very ill or dying, and it isn’t the LW or her child. The mom may be having an extraordinarily hard time with her son’s illness, and may be experiencing some sort of unreasonable, unrealistic, “magical” thinking about how she can “save” her son. If she wasn’t always like this, I think there’s an opportunity to be more empathetic about what she might be going through. She might also feel like she’s lost her other “kid” and grandkids to an outsider. You were living at home, like Brise pointed out, giving Mom a full “nest” for a while, and losing that could be hard. I’d work on boundaries, yes, but also maybe cut her a bit more slack.
Dear Wendy December 21, 2017, 10:27 am
Empathy is important, of course, but the mother is telling the LW that she’s killing her brother (by moving out, by not taking the daughter to Disneyland with the family, but not being accessible around-the-clock). That’s not ok.
Some things to cut the mother slack on: being weepy or emotional or short-tempered; being upset that the daughter has moved out and saying things like “we miss you” or “I wish you still lived with us”: forgetting things (like birthdays).
Things not to cut the mom slack on: telling her daughter, *repeatedly*, that she is killing her brother by moving out (and in with her new husband) and backing out of a trip to disneyland with her toddler and new baby. That’s really fucked up, even for a mother who is beside herself with grief over the thought of losing her child. Had she made that comment once and then apologized about it? Ok. But to repeatedly tell the LW that she’s killing her brother is really kind of monstrous.
Kate December 21, 2017, 10:34 am
It’s awful, but if the Mom is crazy with grief and acting out in uncharacteristic ways, I think her daughter could be understanding and see that for what it is, while still pushing back. Rather than thinking about it like mom’s a crazy bitch, mom is going through something terrible right now, and it’s causing her to behave badly.
Bittergaymark December 21, 2017, 10:48 am
Agree. Honestly, the responses to this letter confuse the fuck out of me…
Fyodor December 21, 2017, 12:24 pm
The amount of relative sympathy for the LW having to deal with a stressful trip to disneyworld with her healthy, living children vs. the Mom who is watching one of her children die is incomprehensible to me.
Dear Wendy December 21, 2017, 12:30 pm
You want to see it as sympathy for a woman dealing with a stressful trip to disneyland with her small kids? Fine. I see it as sympathy for a woman watching her brother die while also dealing with a mother who is projecting her grief onto her and repeatedly accusing her of “killing” her brother, all while juggling a new marriage, a toddler, a pregnancy, and a full-time job.
Vathena December 21, 2017, 12:39 pm
Amen, Wendy. Also, the LW is 5 months pregnant and a lot of shit can go wrong with pregnancy and babies. There’s no way to say what LW’s family circumstances will be 8 months from now.
becboo84 December 21, 2017, 11:13 am
Add me to the camp of people who feel that more empathy and compassion should be shown to both the mother and the brother. I definitely didn’t “behave my best” when my dad was dying earlier this year, and I literally cannot imagine how horrible it would be if it was your child.
Also, it’s not like the LW would be going to Disney with two young children totally solo. Presumably her parents could help some, even if they are also helping the brother. As an aside, and I’m one of the farthest things from a super mom, my girlfriend and I had taken our kiddos on a FL vaca a few years (we’re from central IL), and she ended up being horribly sick the day we were supposed to go to Disney. We didn’t want the kiddos to be totally devastated by missing out, so I took 4 kids (11 months, almost 2, 4.5 and 6.5 at the time) to Disney by myself for 12 hours, and we ended up having a pretty awesome time!
I absolutely understand wanting your husband to be there for your kids’ first trip to Disney, but in this circumstance, I think it would be worthwhile considering this last “hurrah” vacation with your parents and your dying brother.
Sam December 22, 2017, 9:40 am
I am very empathetic to my mom, hence why I feel so guilty saying no to her. However, part of the reason I feel I have to make a decision based on more than her feelings is because she has been like this before my brother got sick, before my daughter was born…in fact, she became this person once I started dating/going out/socializing more than my brothers… around 17 years old. (11 years ago). Once she kinda lost control she started using guilt and threats to be disowned as a way to get what she wanted in any situation. What scares me is that if I keep giving in to everything, especially things that dont make sense for me in the current situation (financially, being pregnant and unsure of where i’ll be come August, etc.) this won’t end.
Her comments are not just about my brother either. If she gets mad she will tell me “well someone at the hospital just died so you live your life with people dying all around you”. I couldn’t imagine and I do feel guilty and that stops in my tracks and i end up giving in. However, i realize that she knows exactly what to say for me to give in and feel bad.
I spend a lot of time with my family…esbut 2 weeks of a vacation to disney/disney cruise will be hard for me and put my family (husband, daughter, soon to be son and I) in a financial rut. My maternity leave is unpaid so that’s part of the reason my husband and I are struggling to make this work.
I’ve told them I can go to disney and not the cruise, if they waited for me to save a little more and the baby was a little older, but they told me they already reserved their rooms and that was unacceptable. I told them that I am willing to do a weekend vacation to hershey park (much closer, cheaper) and that was a no.
Bittergaymark December 21, 2017, 10:23 am
Your brother is FUCKING dying. And you’re whining endlessly for paragraph after paragraph about… being… pressured to — the Horror! — to go to fucking Disneyland?!
Don’t people with babies go to Disneyland all the fucking time? This letter and the responses to it leave me… both depressed and confused.
Dear Wendy December 21, 2017, 10:33 am
Says the person who’s never brought a baby and a toddler on a trip to Disneyland without a co-parent.
I have a grandmother who is dying and I just brought my 6-year-old and 2-year-old to go visit her last month, and even with my husband’s help, it was a big ordeal and expense. Traveling with small children is nightmare. You don’t get to go off on someone choosing not to do it if you’ve never fucking done it yourself.
Dear Wendy December 21, 2017, 10:36 am
And in the LW’s case, they don’t need to travel in order for her brother to have time with his niece. They all live in the same town!!
Bittergaymark December 21, 2017, 10:47 am
Um… gee… As everybody’s go to single friend I have gone to Disneyland a ton of times with LOTS of tiny kids and usually only one parent… and we all had a blast.
PS — why the hell can’t the husband take a day off work and go? Seriously? Sorry, Wendy. Agree to disagree on this one. But this LW really comes off poorly in this letter. Her tone is awful… just awful. Self absorbed to the max.
Fyodor December 21, 2017, 12:21 pm
I know a lot of parents who have had to travel with small children on their own. It can be crappy and stressful, but c’mon have some sense of proportion. People do it for far lesser reasons than this.
Dear Wendy December 21, 2017, 12:32 pm
You act as if this one trip is going to save the brother from dying. That’s the same manipulation the mother is using on her daughter. Like, she’s such a horrible person for not wanting to travel with her toddler and baby to disneyland and grant her dying brother’s final wish. That’s not what’s going on here.
dinoceros December 21, 2017, 12:29 pm
Also, there’s not a lot of people who live close enough to Disney that they can just take off one day of work to go.
Hannanas December 21, 2017, 10:42 am
I think there’s much more to this story here than simply her “whining” versus her brother “dying”. And yeah, WWS.
Dear Wendy December 21, 2017, 10:54 am
Well, I agree with you on the husband taking a day off work issue. It seems strange that with a year’s notice, the guy can’t get a day off work…
Still, I am biased because the idea of spending an afternoon at Disneyland even without my children sends shivers down my spine, but taking a family vacation to disneyland that involved travel and an overnight stay with a toddler, a baby, two coo-coo grandparents, and a very sick brother would be my undoing.
Dear Wendy December 21, 2017, 11:01 am
Except that this trip would likely require multiple days off from work, and if the husband plans to take time off when the baby is born, hd may simply be out of vacation days.
Also, don’t you live very close to Disneyland, mark? I’m
Guessing the super fun trips you’ve taken with your friends and their small
Kids didn’t involve much travel or too many (if any) overnight stays, right?
Kate December 21, 2017, 11:02 am
Yeah, I would want no part of that either. Living in the northeast, a trip to Disney World might involve 4 plane rides, an expensive hotel, days of oppressive heat and lines… I’ve been a bunch of times as a kid, and would not want to as an adult, even without little kids. I’d say no to the trip and absolutely pushback on the statement that I’m killing my brother. I just… ive has my mom turn vicious on me when she goes into protective mode re: my brother, and she’s not at all a bad or crazy person. If one of us was dying, I could see her acting really bananas, and I’d need to remind myself that that’s not really her, and try to be loving.
Bittergaymark December 21, 2017, 11:04 am
There have been numerous overnight stays to Vegas (not my idea), San Francisco, and even wilderness camping!!! With — GASP!! — a 6 month old!!
Vathena December 21, 2017, 11:05 am
Yeah, if this trip also involves air travel (or long hours in the car) and hotel stays, that’s a huge investment in time and money for something that’s decidedly not awesome. Like, I can take my kid to the Smithsonian Air & Space museum and we can leave after 40 minutes if she’s not feeling it. Because I live near it. I didn’t spend $1200 fly our family across the country for a once-in-a-decade trip to DC. Same deal with Disney.
Kate December 21, 2017, 11:05 am
I don’t know, though, maybe I’d go if someone were dying and it was incredibly important to them. I might.
Dear Wendy December 21, 2017, 11:27 am
Admittedly, I would go if someone close to me were dying and this was a thing that was really important to him/her. I’d do it. I’ve made plenty of sacrifices of time and money and travel to bring some joy (i.e. the presence of my kids) to people I care about. It’s not always easy, and I think going to disneyland would be horrendous even under great conditions, but I would probably suck it up and do it if it meant the world to a dying family member.
LW, I know it’s got to be really hard to think of it in those terms, but if this is a dying wish of your brother’s consider making this sacrifice for him. Are you killing him if you don’t? Of course not! But if it means bringing some joy to his life of suffering and making some memories you and your parents can treasure later, and having photos your kids can look when they’re older, I think it could worth it. Especially since your mother is at least in good enough condition that you let her watch your daughter when you lived with her and you went to work and could theoretically be helpful when you travel.
Vathena December 21, 2017, 11:08 am
Well, that’s the thing. It’s obviously very important to the mom. We don’t really know how important it is to the brother. I might try to do it, too, but it would be really fucking difficult if they live far from a Disney theme park.
Monkeys mommy December 21, 2017, 9:16 pm
I am split on this one. We are Disney passholders, and I am going to tell you that this trip will probably suck ass for all. It is CROWDED here (Florida) and Disneyland is worse. Trying to navigate strollers and wheelchairs through the park sucks at the best of times, but add crowds and huuuge lines… it won’t be so magical. I do think LW is over the top with the whole “my husband should be there for her first time, not mom!” bit, and a 3 year old is not too young (our son got his pass at 2, we go monthly), but the 5 month old part will suck for sure. I think there is probably a compromise between mom’s guilt trip and LWs resentment. Maybe get Dad involved if he is more reasonable? Or let Grandma and brother take the kid to Disney. Just because you would like to be there for her first time doesn’t mean you have to be.
Tricia December 24, 2017, 10:26 am
So….not only do you have a concerning lack of empathy for a pregnant human being being pulled from pillar to post, you also enjoy sneering and looking your nose down on the husband for “not having a good enough job?” Its almost like you’re just using this girls problems and this dying mans scenario to get an argument regardless of what she said or did, because you are so desperate for attention for YOURSELF. You need help.
Guy Friday December 21, 2017, 10:37 am
Here’s the question I’M really curious about: Does your brother know that his name/illness is being used like this? Put another way, is it just your folks doing this, or is it your brother as well? Because if it does include your brother making these comments, then Wendy’s advice should be applied broadly. If he isn’t involved, though, I honestly think this may have now reached a line of “Talk to your brother about this.” I’m assuming, since none of the letter attacked your brother, that you’re not at odds with him, and I also get a hint from the letter that you might also see your daughter as having a positive impact in some way on your brother’s health, even if it’s just keeping his spirits up. If I were the brother, and we were close, and I found out our folks were doing this, I’d be the first one to call them out for trying to use me as a tool to bludgeon you with. It just sounds like you don’t want your brother to be collateral damage in this war with your parents, and that makes me think he’s not actually trying to guilt you and may be incredibly happy to fit wherever you’re able to fit him in your schedule.
Also, maybe if he isn’t involved you skip the parental interference and reach out in some degree to your brother to work out some “uncle/niece” quality time (assuming, of course, your daughter isn’t scared or otherwise emotionally struggling with dealing with your brother in his current state.) I mean, he may be sick, but you’re both grownups and can make your own schedules to a large degree, and even if that time is just grabbing a bite to eat at the hospital cafeteria so he can hear about all the fun things your daughter did last week I bet he’d be thrilled to do it. If he gets along with your husband too, all the better; you have an ally in this parents/husband war AND you have someone who can help be there with you to process what I can only imagine is an emotional struggle watching your little brother not be fully healthy.
As others have said, I’m sorry you’re all going through this. No sister should have to watch their brother suffer, and no parent should have to bury their own child, and no child should have to watch a beloved adult fight this fight.
Vathena December 21, 2017, 10:43 am
I wonder what is the BROTHER’S take on all of this. The LW doesn’t say that her brother is beside himself and despondent about missing his 3-year-old niece (who lives in the same frickin’ town, so it’s not like he can never see her). It’s all the mom saying that LW is “killing him”, but maybe he’s cool with not going to Disney in the sweltering heat with a three-hole and an infant. And though he has a poor prognosis, he has lived for 3+ years with his diagnosis, and this Disney trip isn’t planned to take place until next August (right?) So it doesn’t sound like he’s exactly on his deathbed.
@BGM, yes people with three-year-olds and infants go to Disney all the time, but why they would do such a thing, especially at the hottest time of year, is beyond me. That sounds like pure hell and a huge waste of money. And when you have *magical* expectations and are expecting a three-year-old to perform just perfectly, it’s also going to be a huge disappointment. Three year olds are known for having a terrible time multiple times per day, especially when they are hot, tired, and overwhelmed. They are not tiny vessels for wish fulfillment. (And then you’ve got your kids who are terrified of people in costumes. Recipe for disaster.) Take her to the fucking movies, or to a carousel, or the beach. You don’t need to hand over hundreds of dollars to Make Special Magical Memories.
Also, LW, stand up for your husband. He and your children are your primary concern now. If your parents can’t treat him politely, that shit needs to be shut down, too. See your brother without them around if it gets to be too much.
ele4phant December 21, 2017, 12:52 pm
Agreed. It really matters if this is something the brother wants, or if it’s something mom thought would be a great idea.
If brother just wants to spend time with his niece, make sure he’s getting as much time with her as possible and don’t worry about the trip or mom’s guilt trip attempts.
If he does really want this to happen, I might encourage the LW to consider figuring out how to make it happen. I don’t think she’s obligated to, I don’t think saying no makes her selfish or terrible, but these are extraordinary circumstances, so if I were her, I would make extraordinary efforts. For her brother, not for her mom.
I know it might be miserable to cart two very young children and a sick adult around, and that it might be sad that one parent doesn’t get to experience their daughter’s first trip to Disneyland, but I also can’t imagine that once her brother is gone she’s not going to regret doing this for him.
But still, if she can’t or doesn’t want to, that’s still okay.
Vathena December 21, 2017, 12:57 pm
I 100% agree with this. I hope we get an update from the LW clarifying if this is what her brother wants, and just how far they live from the Disney park in question.
Sam December 21, 2017, 7:59 pm
I am sorry to everyone for delay in replying. But I will try to reply as much as possible while I have time to spare. Thank you so much for all the feedback.
But yes My brother guilts me just as much as they do. He has gotten on his hands and knees (when I moved out) saying she is all he has. I find this unhealthy but really do try. I’ve pressured them all to seek counseling which never happened.
But they all say the same things and guilt me in the same way. All meaning my parents, brother and other 2 brothers. I make a lot of time for everyone in my family to see my daughter regardless, especially my brother who has taken her to the beach, zoo, Christmas trees, etc.
I’ve thought about sucking it up and going, but emotional blackmail is kind of how it’s always been even before my daughter was born or my brother was diagnosed. Also, it’s not just Disney which I should have clarified. I tried to even say I would come part of the trip. But no. It’s all or nothing for Them which is part of the reason I backed out. They want to do Disney for a week and a Disney cruise for another week. If not, I am ruining the trip. And they say if I can’t go that long my daughter should go with them which I don’t agree with either and wouldn’t want to be away from her that long esp with the cruise. Idkkk
Bittergaymark December 21, 2017, 11:01 am
Uh… if MY sibling was DYING — and wanted to go to Disneyland with my kids, I’d… uh… gee… I dunno… maybe simply make that fucking happen. But hey — that’s just me. Sorry, but I simply REALLY don’t think its THAT much to ask…
PS — And as an Angeleno I have been to Disneyland a billion times with my single / or other parent working friends and honestly? Have never had anything other than a good time.
Guy Friday December 21, 2017, 11:17 am
Ok, but in fairness, we’re getting this all seemingly filtered through the crazy-ish parents. We don’t know if the brother wanted to go to Disneyland because it was Disneyland or because it was a family trip. So if she can’t go now because of the new baby — and let’s set aside for a moment whether it’s legit or not, because I’ve read everything above already and don’t want another 12 rounds on THAT topic — his response may be as simple as “That sucks. OK. How about we figure out something else to do closer by?” which it sounds like the LW has no issue doing.
Seriously, I can’t shake the feeling from this letter that the brother’s not involved in any of this and he’s more interested in spending fun times with his niece and less where and when it happens specifically. Maybe I’m projecting because it’s how I am with MY nieces and nephews; I don’t know. But maybe she should get the brother’s perspective straight from him before drawing conclusions on what he wants, you know?
ele4phant December 21, 2017, 12:25 pm
I agree – I am curious what the brother wants here. Does *he* want to take his niece to Disneyland, or does he just want to spend as much time as he can with his neice and mom got it into her head that they should go to the most magical place on earth one last time for her son?
If it’s that, if the brother doesn’t really care where or what he does with his niece, I think the LW can easily say no without guilt.
Even if it is the brother’s idea, I still think the LW can say no if she wants. It’s a pretty big ask to fulfill, and the mother is being absolutely bananas in saying it would *kill* him if this trip doesn’t happen. It’s not going to kill him, cancer is. That sucks, but it’s nobody’s fault.
That said, if it were me, I still might try to make it happen if this was something my terminally ill brother truly wanted. I know financially, emotionally, and logistically it might be very very difficult to do, but if it was truly something my brother wanted, I’d be willing to try to move heaven and earth to make it happen. Even if that meant a miserable time for me, even if that meant I or my husband didn’t get to experience our daughter’s first time in disneyland.
But that’s just a personal choice I’d make. If the LW can’t or doesn’t want to, I still don’t think she’s a terrible person. Again, it’s a pretty huge ask.
And regardless of what happens, I hope she’s getting her niece and brother together as much as possible.
JMM December 23, 2017, 7:20 pm
LW updated. The brother is just as manipulative as Mom. Telling LW that her daughter “is all I have” and begging her on hands and knees… is damn creepy, IMHO.
LisforLeslie December 21, 2017, 12:06 pm
That is what YOU would do. And you say that from a position of not having a toddler and a 4 month old. So you are really in no fucking position to tell the LW what she should do.
Like with all emotionally manipulative people, you have to establish your limits. Disney doesn’t cure cancer. Whether he lives or dies is not dependent on if he goes with a 3 year old. As I said in the forums, she won’t remember it at 3 and honestly, you could take her to the Mall and tell her it’s Disneyland. Three year olds are notoriously easy to fool.
Irishgal December 22, 2017, 3:44 am
Well bully for you. Give yourself a medal and a round of applause.
What YOU would do is irrelevant. OP has her own boundaries for her reasons and you don’t get to decide she has no right to them. She can decide “dying wish” doesn’t work for her family and that does not make her a bad person and you a better one.
TheRascal December 21, 2017, 11:22 am
I am so sorry for your situation, LW.
Grief is not a blanket excuse to be an asshole. One or two times, yes, that is understandable. But the constant guilt-tripping and manipulative tactics your mother is using is unfair and gross — your daughter is not some magic pill that will keep your brother alive.
Your mom is being shitty. Perhaps she needs to see a counselor to help her cope with the complicated emotions she must be feeling.
Sam December 21, 2017, 8:03 pm
I honestly have tried to convince them all to seek counseling. They all guilt me the same way she does. My brother says the same things and I know it comes from a lack of emotional stability which would be partly dealt with through counseling. Not happening though.
JMM December 23, 2017, 7:22 pm
LW, I would NEVER EVER let your daughter be alone with your family. EVER.
Just Max December 21, 2017, 11:25 am
I get what BGM says about traveling to Disney with kids. Not the end of the world. I get it. However, having just spent only 1 day at Epcot with my sister, her husband, and their 7 yo and 2 yo, I tell you, it is unlikely I’ll do it again. My sister and husband LOVE THAT SHIT. They live 45 min from Orlando and have annual passes to Disney; they do this trip multiple times a year. They LOVE IT.
Me on the other hand, well, I was done within arriving there; car sick all the way there and back, walked all the miles, was exhausted by the 3rd hour (and we were there 8 hrs!). Mind you, I have a super active life (with the running, hiking, gym, busy job… I thought it’d be a breeze. Nope. That level of exhaustion is unique and definitely not my cup of tea.
My sister and her family though? They had a blast all the way to the last minute. My 2 yo nephew was the energizer bunny all throughout the day, and I still don’t know how.
All that to say, if this LW doesn’t want to do it, then she doesn’t have to! And was this Disney trip her brother’s idea or the mom’s idea? I feel it was the mom’s, but who knows. I still think it’s just wrong to use her brother’s illness as a guilt card to get the LW to do anything.
Bittergaymark December 21, 2017, 11:58 am
Honestly? When people are DYING — one might have to travel out of their comfort zone to do the right thing. Like, say… take their own fucking kids to amusement parks. (Oh, the humanity.) NEWSFLASH! If you don’t wanna deal with toddlers at amusement parks? Fine! Don’t fucking have them to begin with…
My last wond on this letter?
For fucks sakes, LW, get off the cross!! Your mom will need to plant it in the ground over your brother soon enough. In the blink of an eye, you will have the rest of your life to devote to your husband whom is all you clearly give a damn about. Merry fucking Christmas.
LisforLeslie December 21, 2017, 12:10 pm
Define “Do the right thing” for me. Please.
My step dad is currently dying a slow and increasingly miserable death. If his last wish was for me take $5000, hop on a plane and deliver it in person to a charity of my choice. It would not happen. Sure, I CAN do it. But I’m not going to do it. Maybe I send a check. Maybe I don’t. That’s up to me. I sure as shit don’t need anyone telling me what I should be doing.
dinoceros December 21, 2017, 12:26 pm
Lol, yeah, because not having kids is totally the best solution to not wanting toddlers at an amusement park.
CurlyQue December 21, 2017, 12:46 pm
I have to agree with BGW. This LW mentioned multiple times that her priority is her husband over her parents & brother and wonders why there’s competitive vibes from her mother?! You moved back home to use them as free babysitters and then immediately left when you met your husband and now don’t want to consider them at all in your plans now that you don’t need them.
I think you’re terrible and so incredibly self centered. (I DO NOT THINK YOU SHOULD BE TOLD YOU’RE KILLING YOUR BROTHER, NOR SHOULD YOUR DAUGHTER HAVE THAT PRESSURE AS WHAT HE’S LIVING FOR) I don’t understand why if the Disneyland trip was planned over a year in advance your husband wouldn’t take the time off work. He’s refusing to take the time off work so that your parents and DYING brother can experience Disneyland with your children for the first time. WTF. Why doesn’t he want to be included? Is he also stressing for a divide between your family?
Vathena December 21, 2017, 12:54 pm
Umm, wut? Last time I checked, when you get married, your spouse and nuclear family SHOULD become your top priority. It’s even in most people’s wedding vows. Leaving the parents and cleaving to the spouse, and so forth. And if the mom is viewing the husband as competition, that’s fucked up. Do you think it’s okay for someone to treat their daughter- or son-in-law like shit because they think the DIL or SIL “stole” their child away? It’s not. Plus, there are a lot of reasons why the husband would truly not be ABLE to take time off work for a trip to Disney. I agree it would be nice, if the BROTHER truly wants it, to try to go with him, but I’m baffled that everyone thinks it’s okay for the mom to push LW and her family around like she is.
dinoceros December 21, 2017, 1:09 pm
Why does not agreeing with an LW have to turn into “I think you’re terrible”? Even if you think she’s DOING something terrible, to say that someone else IS terrible because they aren’t agreeing to a vacation is too much. Happy holidays, right?
You do realize that she is also experiencing the impending loss of her brother too? If we’re supposed to cut the mom some slack, then why none for the LW?
I get it when someone writes in and says something like “I’m cheating on my boyfriend, and things are going wrong” that folks are like, “You’re a bad person, blah blah blah.” But for all the people who are saying that a trip to Disney is too insignificant for her to not agree to go, is a vacation really big enough for you to berate someone and call them terrible while their brother is dying? Talk about trying to show empathy…
Sam December 21, 2017, 8:09 pm
If I wrote this that means I care about a lot more than my husband. The trip just cannot work. It is 2 weeks. A week in Disney and a week on a cruise and I’ve tried to have them consider me coming part of the time, only to continue hearing that if I don’t come the entire time (regardless of how it would affect me financially), I am out of line and once again, making my brothers life not worth living and in turn if he dies it’s my fault.
My husband told me I can go and he will watch the baby. My husband is being considerate. He is not the one I care about, but he is the only one trying to make this easier and who has put in effort to appease them every step of the way. But financially 2 weeks wouldn’t work for either of us going away and spending money on a vacation in Disney. That’s a whole other issue though that my family believes is solved with swiping my credit card. Not that easy.
JMM December 23, 2017, 7:23 pm
Did you read the update? The brother is pulling the same “your daughter is ALL I have to LIVE for” crap as the mother.
Skyblossom December 21, 2017, 11:55 am
It is severely, emotionally damaging to a child to make them think that the life of a person that they love depends on them doing whatever is being demanded of them. This little girl should not be hearing that her uncle’s life depends on her going to Disney. This uncle is going to die and to phrase things in a way that will make the child feel guilt at his death is a horrible thing to do to any child. This uncle is going to die and the date of his death has nothing to do with whether this child goes to Disney. If her grandmother loved her she wouldn’t say things like this because she would be concerned about the child enough to know that it is harmful. She is being manipulative. She is probably using both her son’s cancer and the child in her manipulation. She wants to go to Disney with the child and will say whatever is required to make that happen. As the parent it is the responsibility of the LW to always protect her child from emotional manipulation and from the guilt of being responsible for a death that isn’t her responsibility. This LW needs to say no and cut off all discussion of this type, especially when her mom frames it as the life or death of the uncle.
My mom had a baby sister die and my aunt always felt responsible for that death but didn’t tell anyone until she was retired because she didn’t want anyone to know that it was her fault that the baby died. It wasn’t her fault. The baby had pneumonia and died of pneumonia but my aunt felt that if she had stayed/sat with the baby as they were getting ready to take the baby to the hospital she wouldn’t have died. She became an overprotective, helicopter parent who stressed her own daughter so much with her safety concerns that my cousin pulled out all of her eyelashes as a stress reaction. That kind of guilt damages lives and it goes on to future generations.
JMM December 23, 2017, 7:23 pm
LW, please protect your child.
dinoceros December 21, 2017, 12:04 pm
Some of the responses here remind me of when a student complained to an administrator because they said I wasn’t showing them empathy. They asked me to get them into a full class, and I told them that I don’t have the ability to and they should look at another course. Did I have empathy? Sure. Did I try to be kind to them? Yep. Does having empathy mean I automatically give them what they want? No.
The LW can show empathy without being required to agree to everything she says. I do think the fixation on both parents being there for Disney is a little strange, but it’s not unreasonable to not agree to a vacation that your spouse cannot come on and that is taking place when you will have a 4-month-old baby. And honestly, parents don’t know what their life will be like 4 months after a baby is born. If there is a difficulty birth, then it might be ill-advised for the father to go to Disney.
I think the LW can find other ways of spending time with her brother and letting the daughter spend time with him without being forced to go on this trip. Cutting the mom slack means not getting into arguments or letting her be a little selfish, but it doesn’t mean that you have to give them everything they want always.
Northern Star December 21, 2017, 12:27 pm
If your husband can’t figure out a way to get a day off to go Disney with an entire year to plan—what makes you think he would EVER make it to Disney with your kids? Also, the “joy” of experiencing Disney for the first time is just not that big of a deal. Your husband will survive if he can’t be bothered to be there.
Why haven’t you offered some other alternative for the day—like, say, visiting a theme park or MLB game or other cool attraction within driving distance of your home? Come up with some other special uncle-niece time for your brother who you say is super-close to your daughter before he dies. Don’t simply say, “Disney’s cancelled. Too bad, so sad, mom. Also, I never wanted to go in the first place.” Even if you haven’ said that last part out loud: Trust me. She knows.
Vathena December 21, 2017, 12:37 pm
For many families, going to a Disney park involves extensive travel. Unless they live in central Florida or Southern California, just taking one day off isn’t going to cut it. Also, as mentioned above, there’s a good possibility that he’s planning to use extensive vacation time after the new baby is born and wouldn’t have additional leave to use (or permission to take off again) for this trip. He may also be expected to work at that time of year no matter what, depending on his profession.
We don’t know that the LW hasn’t suggested an alternative trip, as she didn’t say either way. Also, again, the LW and her family all live in the same town. They can see each other any time they want. They don’t have to wait for a big special trip. Trips to the playground or to get ice cream are just as meaningful to a small child.
Dear Wendy December 21, 2017, 12:49 pm
We don’t know that the husband would need just one day to travel to disney. The LW described the trip as a “vacation,” implying that some amount of travel and overnight stay is required beyond just a day-trip drive.
Northern Star December 21, 2017, 12:58 pm
Okay, but why then is the LW determined that her husband must be there to experience Disney? Since he can’t take time off of work, even with a year in advance to plan, apparently? When would they EVER get to Disney, if it’s so impossible to travel there?
Also, there are about 10 million other amazing places to have a fun time besides Disney. This LW should get creative and find one of them rather than simply bailing on a final family vacation with her dying brother altogether.
Dear Wendy December 21, 2017, 1:12 pm
We don’t know that the lw suggested alternative plans to the disney trip! We also don’t know that this would be a “final family vacation with her dying brother.”
As to when, ever, would the lw and her husband take a family vacation to disneyland if not next summer, I don’t know, MAYBE WHEN THEY DON’T HAVE A 3-YEAR-OLD AND A NEWBORN BABY? Like, maybe the the next year, or the year after that or the year after that or the one after that or the one after that or the one after that? Or, maybe the one after that?
And we also don’t know that the law’s husband can’t ever take time off of work. She said he can’t take time off to go on this disney trip. Maybe that’s because he’s planning to use his leave to be home for a couple weeks after the baby is born. We don’t know how much time off he gets or how or when he’s using it. Don’t assume he has zero because he’s not taking time off to go on this one trip at this one time.
Vathena December 21, 2017, 1:27 pm
“Also, there are about 10 million other amazing places to have a fun time besides Disney.”
Yes, exactly, so maybe the LW’s mom doesn’t really need to emotionally blackmail her into taking a 3-year-old and an infant to Disney.
Emma December 21, 2017, 7:38 pm
Yes the LW and her husband can go next year or maybe the year after, or the year after that, or the year after that, or maybe the one after that? Too bad we can’t say the same for the brother…
Sam December 21, 2017, 8:14 pm
It’s not a day, It’s a two week vacation. I can not afford two weeks either. If it was a day This would probably be much less of an issue. And for them it’s all or nothing. Cutting it down to one week is unacceptable.
Sam December 22, 2017, 6:33 am
Also, I feel it’s important to stress that my brother already constantly gets time with my daughter to do uncle-niece things. We live in the metropolitan area and I’ve even suggested sesame place since it’s closer and a shorter trip, less money, etc. and was told no and had eyes rolled at me for even suggesting a different place. The issue is control I think, now that I read all this.
Its like this in even petty situations. When I tell them I tried a great restaurant, they always have to tell me why they would never try that one.
They don’t believe in giving Christmas presents during Christmas time (which is great and I grew up with Christmas as a time to give to people in need, not get presents) so me getting presents for my daughter is not okay.
If I say I want to send my kid to preschool when she turns 3, they suggest a half day and think it’s messed up sending her longer than that (for random reasons that make no sense).
They really just want to feel important with my daughter regarding decision making.? Which I think has always been the case. When I met my husband They did not suggest, they demanded that he have no contact with my daughter until we are married. That’s not realistic. When they found out that he was around her (we met for lunch at a mall), they all (brothers and parents) told me I was a horrible mother and should lose my daughter and “didn’t listen to them at all”. So yes, I did move out partly because of their inability to set boundaries with the parent of the child (me).
My brother has stated that when I moved it was wrong because “cmon she’s not just your kid we all lived with her”. I am very thankful for how involved they are as her family. But these comments have always caught me off guard because I’m the mom and have never just left my daughter to be taken care of by them on a whim, or given them parental responsibilities, with the exception I guess of my mom watching her while I worked 7-3 at a school m-f.
I really do, as I said, believe that it’s about control and getting what they demand, and using guilt as a way to do it because it works since I was younger. I really just need advice on healthy ways to deal with it all and not feel guilty, without cutting them all out, since I know anything can happen in a short amount of time, especially with my brother and that would only cause more guilt, sadness and regret.
Also if I get upset or disagree with my mother for something, such as saying something disrespectful about my family dynamics, life choices, etc. she gets emotional, and gets the whole family on board.
A couple months ago they all came over and complained to my husband that I was the reason they never made an effort with him and ignored him. They said I told them to. And that if he ever wants a rel with them he can come over. the door is always open. I sat there in absolute shock as my brother (not the sick one) and mom drilled this into my husbands head as if there was any truth. My husband sat there also in shock.
Afterwards my mom admitted to me that she knew I would get over it but she felt it was the only way to make things better with them. That’s the only way they have really tried to make things better with him lol. He has become a lot more understanding of why I get so worked up and upset though because she totally lied to get what she wanted, right in front of me, crying about how I made her ignore him and she was scared to say hi to him whenever he was around.
Monkeys mommy December 24, 2017, 6:22 pm
If they aren’t even PAYING for the vacation they demand you take, then fuck that. After your updates, I wouldn’t go either. And cruiselines don’t allow babies under 6months IIRC.
SpaceySteph December 21, 2017, 1:01 pm
I get the impression that both LW and her mother in some kind of emotional war using other people’s feelings as ammunition.
What does the brother think about this? Is he actually that desperate to see his niece at Disney specifically? Is her first trip to Disney so important to him that he’d want to accomplish it pretty much through extortion? Does LW even know what her brother really wants or is she just taking her mother’s word for it.
And then, does dad actually care about his daughter’s first trip to Disney? I mean I flipping love Disney. I went to college in Orlando, I had a ton of great times there and I would love to go back and take my kids. But if there was a family vacation with a dying brother and I had to work? I do not think my main concern would be about me missing out on her first trip to Disney. Which let’s be honest, LW’s daughter probably won’t even enjoy that much because she’ll be a hot, tired, toddler. LW only says she wouldnt want him to take them without her, not that these are his feelings on the matter. Maybe the LW’s husband would feel more like he dodged a bullet!
I think both of these women need to stop having a turf war over the granddaughter and think instead about what other people in their lives actually want.
ele4phant December 21, 2017, 1:10 pm
I definitely find the “I don’t want one of us to miss our daughter’s first time at Disney” to be a bit specious.
I definitely understand the concerns about cost, concerns that a newborn and a toddler with only one adult is going to be unmanageable, ect (I assume Grandma has to look after the ill brother so she can’t really lend a helping hand to the LW). I can definitely see how those are major reasons to say no.
And I can understand that you would be saddened if you miss your kid’s first time at Disney, but you know, this isn’t a normal scenario to have a sibling in their twenties that is dying. And besides, Disney is always going to be there. Go again with both parents when the newborn is old enough to understand what’s going on and get to experience that child’s first time. And its not like the older child is going to be over Disney for time number two.
SpaceySteph December 21, 2017, 1:17 pm
It also makes me wonder how often the LW makes her husband out to be the bad guy when she doesn’t want to do something with/for her mother.
Be honest LW, you don’t want to go with your mom and brother to Disney. This isn’t about your husband at all.
ele4phant December 21, 2017, 1:23 pm
It does seem like there’s a lot unsaid there in the LW’s relationship with her mother that goes well beyond this Disney trip. And not wanting to be around her all the time, that might be legitimate. They may have a very unhealthy dynamic.
So, I’m not faulting the LW here if she wants to say no. She’s not a bad person for saying no because traveling as the sole caretaker for two very young children is hard and expensive and maybe she and her mother have a toxic relationship .
But, I would hope she really considers what she can do to make her brother happy and makes sure he gets lots of time with his niece. And, if this is something that he really wants, I would encourage her to put aside whatever baggage and difficulties she has with her family to try to make it happen.
CurlyQue December 21, 2017, 6:39 pm
You said what i very poorly was attempting to get at with my post. The wording re the husband and her parents just seems off, as does the LW’s focus on both of them being there for the Disney trip and not on a family vacation. Just pick somewhere else if you’re so set on saving Disney (which as someone mentioned the child will enjoy in different ways at different ages) for your own familial unit. Or maybe Disney IS really close and why it’s the default vacation. I dunno.
It’s also possible the LW is dealing with some avoidance grief when it comes to her brother and prefers not to consider this trip as possibly the last with her full family which is why she wants to get out of it with the “both parents” reasoning. Thank you for whomever called me out on not considering her grief and the role it’s playing in her actions.
Rangerchic December 21, 2017, 1:24 pm
I agree with Wendy on this one. Also, I too think she should talk to her brother and see what he really wants to do and come up with a compromise if possible.
Count me in as one of the people (unless it is something like the previous poster’s family who loves this stuff) who doesn’t understand taking toddlers (and babies) to Disney. I feel it is such a waste of money and time because they will not remember it (for the most part) and toddlers usually could care less about going to a place like Disney. Besides, quality quiet time is probably more beneficial for the sick brother and niece rather than running around and going and going and going non-stop for hours which would likely be exhausting for both (for everyone probably).
JMM December 23, 2017, 7:25 pm
Read the updates. Her brother is just as manipulative as Mom. He thinks LW’s daughter is also HIS child to raise.
AMac December 21, 2017, 1:38 pm
I think many commentators are missing some of the nuances here. The older child is not the LW’s husband’s. When the plans were initially made OP was not expecting and probabbly did not feel as bad as leaving the husband out of the trip but now he’ll be missing both kids 1st trip to Disney. I have a feeling LW’s mom sees LW’s husband as stepping into a role that the mom does not think he should have and also is taking the role the brother was sort of fulfilling until the husband came around (older male figure in first child’s life). The LW basically said that her parent’s are already jealous of her husband and accused him of taking her and her daughter from them. If the LW will have a 4 month old at the time of this trip her husband likely will have used most of his vacation and time off for any paternity leave he will take after the baby is born. I am assuming LW lives in the USA and everyone knows how little time off most people get let alone how men who take paternity leave is frowned down upon. LW is trying to create a new blended family, which is so difficult even when everyone is on board – clearly not the case here. By going to Disney without husband and with everyone else it is really signaling to the husband that he is not part of the family, which from the letter I am getting the feeling the LW’s mom already does to him anyways and this is just another example. I also believe the mother is in horrible grief and probably acting erratically, this is an explanation not an excuse. If the mother already sees the husband as an intruder in the family, what do you think she thinks will happen once the brother moves on – she is probably thinking she’ll have no children left (even thought this is not true) because LW will have her family unit and the mom and dad will be in-laws, extended family. Prior to the husband they were all just one family living under one roof – the mom is likely grieving multiple things. I think the focus on the Disney trip is not the real issue – it is a symptom of the much larger issues and dynamics happening in this family. I think the LW needs to do what is best for her, her children and her husband but compassionately express her feelings to her parents. I also think she should try and arrange something else local or closer for the brother and her kids to do that could also be a “first”.
Dear Wendy December 21, 2017, 1:50 pm
All of this, but also: the LW says that this is her “youngest brother” who has cancer, implying there is another brother. As horrible as it must be to watch you child suffer and to imagine losing him, this is not a story of the LW’s mother having no one left should the worst happen and she lose her youngest son.
Displaced Hoosier December 21, 2017, 3:55 pm
Whether or not the mother has other kids is entirely irrelevant. Even if the mom had 7 kids, losing one is still an awful, horrifying thing and I’m quite certain it’d be no consolation if anyone told her “well, you’ve still got other kids”. You don’t know anything about other sibling(s). Maybe they are estranged from the mother. Maybe they live abroad. The other sibling(s) weren’t mentioned at all in this letter.
Dear Wendy December 21, 2017, 4:21 pm
Well, when the narrative is being spun so that the LW is evil because she is denying the grandmother all the family she has besides her dying son, I think it is relevant to point out that there is, in fact, at least one other sibling implied in this letter. That absolutely does not negate how horrible it would be to lose the one who is sick, and I did not mean to imply such.
Loo December 21, 2017, 2:07 pm
I wonder if the LW’s 3-year-old could go with rest of the family on the Disney trip without mom and dad attending. Seems like the best of both worlds, to appease grandma and allow the quality time between the daughter and uncle without LW personally having to endure the crazy.
ele4phant December 21, 2017, 2:15 pm
I would doubt sending the three year without either parent is a feasible solution.
From a logistical standpoint alone – we don’t know how much energy the grandparents would have to wrangle a toddler and someone with a serious illness without a set (or two!) of extra adult hands.
Also – if the LW’s main objections was that she doesn’t want her husband to miss the daughter’s first trip to disneyland, then both of them missing it really isn’t going to cut it.
Skyblossom December 24, 2017, 10:34 am
When the grandmother is claiming that her son will die if the granddaughter doesn’t come on this trip you say no because the grandmother is being emotionally abusive. You don’t try to appease grandma because she is over the top inappropriate. When someone tries to use your child, which is what grandma is doing, you have an obligation to say no. You don’t allow an emotionally abusive person to be alone with your child. You especially don’t allow them to take your child for two weeks of emotional abuse. If the LW did allow them to take the child she would be a poor parent. As the parent it is the LW’s responsibility to protect her child. That includes protecting her from an emotionally abusive grandmother. Not all grandmothers are great. Not all grandmothers are warm and loving. You have to look at the situation. Even if she is the grandmother you don’t allow her to be emotionally abusive. Even if her son is dying you have an obligation to protect your child. There is no excuse for the claim that the son will die sooner if he doesn’t get to see his niece in Disney. That is pure and simple emotional abuse. That is all you need to know to say no.
wobster109 December 21, 2017, 2:25 pm
What I find really sad is there’s no mention of what the brother wants. It’s all, the mother says this, the mother says that. I think if the brother heard that his sister, whom he presumably loves, was being blamed for his illness, he’d be horrified.
Not that I’m blaming LW. I blame the mom for this. She’s made the brother’s illness all about her and her feelings.
JMM December 23, 2017, 7:26 pm
Read LW’s updates.
Autumnrose December 21, 2017, 3:46 pm
At LW you don’t have a NEW family…. You have your OWN family. ( by the way you term it sounds like a child running away and getting a “New” family). This isn’t all that complicated and I think you are being dramatic. Your brother (who has cancer and will die) would like to spend time with his niece at Disneyland and that’s a problem why? Can she not go without you? Are you one of those annoying parents who think you should be at your childs FIRST of everything moment type of person? Are you that sentimental (*cough cough* Selfesh) person who whouldnt let you child go because you need to expirence her first moment at a theme park) your quote right says it all …..”The truth is though, that I wouldn’t want my husband bringing our kids to Disney without me, especially for the first time, so I don’t want to take ours without him.” Your brother isnt going to be there for your child’s first of many things. And at the end of the day(your life) you might think back and say I should have just let her go….. Life moves so quick and in a blink of an eye… Don’t be that person, that mom. You might even find regretting not going. Love those while you have the time and quit thinking you have a “new” family and learned to be a family. Put differences aside.
ArgyllWisp December 21, 2017, 6:36 pm
I thought much of this as well. I don’t see why sending her oldest to Disney with grandma and brother without both parents is not on the table. Someone above mentioned they might not have enough energy to watch her, but presumably there is at least one other healthy sibling who could go and help out. I think this isn’t a big sacrifice. You can still have a nuclear family first Disney trip when baby is older.
Plus some time where both you and husband can relax with just the new baby AND time where your oldest gets to feel super special with this trip after new baby is in the picture seem like win-wins all around.
Autumnrose December 21, 2017, 8:29 pm
Exactly…. I don’t think her parents are that “old”. They are probably in their 50s and could manage. The mom is probably still in her 20s.
Skyblossom December 24, 2017, 10:35 am
You can also regret letting grandma get her hands on the child for two weeks of unrelenting statements about how the child is responsible for how long her uncle lives. You can regret making bad decisions that cause lasting harm to your child.
Ron December 24, 2017, 11:25 am
This is so totally true. It would be a very serious error to turn the child over for two weeks to a grandmother and her clan who don’t accept the child’s father as having parental rights, views her son as the only legitimate male figure in the child’s life, refuses the respect LW’s right to live apart from her with her own nuclear family, and persistently and belligerently restates her opinion at every opportunity and is unable to accept LW’s parental decisions and persists in trying to destroy her marriage. Plus, it seems that beyond grief and worry for her sick son that the mother is an extremely controlling mentally ill person. If LW gives in and allows her child to spend 2 weeks alone with grandma, it will be 2 weeks of disorienting brainwashing.
LW has afforded ‘most honored uncle’ status to her sick brother and makes sure he sees her daughter 3 days a week. That this isn’t enough for grandma and sick brother is not LW’s fault. I believe she is doing what is needed to protect her daughter from her toxic birth family.
Another Jen December 21, 2017, 3:58 pm
There’s a big difference between denying a dying loved one’s final wish to go to Disney with his niece and backing out of a planned trip due to the fact that you’ll have a new infant when that trip was cancelled.
The brother has had cancer for 5 years, is still undergoing treatment, and is planning a Disney trip 8 months from now that, ostensibly, he’ll be well enough to take. If it’s so important that he see his niece’s first Disney experience, why not go now? Next month? Two months from now? Or, at any point when the Dad is actually available? It’ll be a heck of a lock easier for mom to handle one toddler at Disney than to juggle a toddler and an infant.
LW mentioned that brother’s cancer has kind of become his (and their parents’) life. I get that, but just because that’s their focus, it doesn’t mean life stops for everyone else. The uncle may be dying…it may take a really long time. Does that mean grandma has a perpetual trump card in all family decision-making from now until he passes? Adding a new baby to your family is also a BFD. I think a bit of consideration for a family entering a new phase of life is also in order.
Also, why the urgency? Can they play it by ear? My kids and I will join you in Disney if I’m fully healed, in a decent state of mind, and feel like I can handle it. If not, have a great time without me and we’ll see you when you get back. I mean, assuming the brother will be well enough to travel seems to be quite a leap, too…maybe a more flexible attitude is what’s needed.
Ron December 21, 2017, 4:52 pm
There is a ton of sadness and grief here about the dying brother/uncle/son, but at the end of the day this is a mother/grandmother — daughter/young mother dynamic, which has gone south in a very sick way: the LW’s mother is beyond upset that LW had the audacity to get married, move out, and become pregnant with her new husband. She is using every tool at hand and has been to hit back at LW for this move and to re-establish control. The dying brother seems almost just a sad prop in all of this. “You are killing your brother” is just so over the top, that LW’s mother seems to have drafted and weaponized him in her battle to regain control over her daughter and grand-daughter.
The advice that LW needs to talk about this with her brother (outside of her mother’s hearing) was very good advice. I have to wonder what LW’s view of this would be if her mother acknowledged and accepted her adulthood/autonomy/new marriage. I wonder if what LW’s mother is grieving most isn’t the departure of LW’s ex.
Sam December 21, 2017, 9:01 pm
My mom cannot stand any of my exes. This may sound like I don’t have a great track record but she can’t stand any one of my sibling’s significant others. She always finds something wrong with them. Anyone who takes a place in the heart of her children has kind of been seen as an enemy to her. She’s gotten easier on my brothers because they have a “I don’t give a crap” attitude these days, but with me she kinda knows that I take what she says to heart and it could affect me more than it affects them.
Anotheramanda December 21, 2017, 7:43 pm
If your brother is still undergoing treatment, this Disney trip might not happen anyway and if it does might not be what your mom envisioned. Long term effects of chemo can last long after the drugs are finished. My sister was falling asleep constantly, had fragmented thinking, headaches and breaking bones doing simple things like opening doors and putting on her shoes. He physically might not be able to DO anything but walk around, if that.
baccalieu December 21, 2017, 7:51 pm
Wow! This letter sure generated a lot of heated responses. But what struck me is that most of you aren’t really disagreeing. Rather the differences in your opinions depend on the various assumptions you are making about facts you don’t really know. Those who criticize the LW are assuming:
1) that this particular trip to this place at this time is very important to the brother and that he is not just interested in spending quality time with his niece – the trip being simply one way to do this;
2) that it is likely (and not just a possibility) that the brother will die very soon after this trip (Yes, I know she said he had a poor prognosis, but that can mean different things and not necessarily imminent death.)
If these two assumptions are true (and I am not saying they are unreasonable, just that we don’t know for sure) I would agree with everything that those people are saying, but if we knew they were not true then I think that most of them would change their opinion.
I would think that most of the people who support the LW are also assuming that she facilitates her brother spending as much quality time as possible with his niece. All we know is that they live in the same town, which should make it easy, but we don’t know that it is happening. Is he well enough to drive himself to visit (and does he have access to a vehicle)? Is public transportation available and reasonably convenient and is he well enough to use it on his own? And how often does she bring her daughter to visit? We assume that lots of contact is happening, but it may not be true, which might explain why Mom is making such a big deal about her daughter canceling the trip and, before that, moving out.
I would tend to view this the same way as Wendy, because the letter really seems to suggest that this is more the Mom’s demands than the brother’s. Also, the Mom accusing her daughter of damaging her brother’s health or shortening his lifespan is pretty indefensibly awful. Yes, she should be cut considerable slack because she is coping with her son’s serious illness and the fact that she may well lose him, but it’s not okay for her to keep saying things like this, especially to someone who is also facing the loss. As some have mentioned, having empathy does not mean you have to give in to the sufferer’s every request, or ignore everything they throw at you, and it is certainly okay to suggest modifications to a request that might satisfy the sufferer’s needs without putting you to as much inconvenience.
Sam December 21, 2017, 8:41 pm
So I guess I will respond to everyone at this point.
First of all I care about everyone in this situation. My daughter, brother, husband, parents, other 2 brothers who live with my parents, etc.
My parents and brothers have told me many times that it was wrong to move out and get married with all this going on. One person had it right when he or she said that my mom feels I took the role of an adult male from my brother and gave it to someone else. However my brother sees my daughter a LOT. At least three times a week, she even visits him on his days at the hospital, goes on outings he attends with me such as the zoo or aquarium, and really is considered her favorite uncle.
I’m trying to think of what else people were questioning….
My brother also has guilted me and does still, about my daughter and I moving out, this vacation and other situations. I am always trying to work things he wants to do into my schedule and I’m really only as good as the last thing I did for them in general. Goes the same with what my family asks me to do with them. If I say no to one thing, I am a horrible sister/daughter for taking an experience from my brother.
If I tell my mom I am not an uncaring bitch for saying I can’t go to the zoo or whatever that weekend because I already made plans, she starts telling me about someone she knows from the hospital who recently died, what I’m trying to say is that I think she has always used guilt and manipulation to get me to appease her. And she still does. That’s because I do VERY MUCH care about my brother and parents and what is going on with my brother. I am very involved and my family is extremely close. I am the only one who has moved out and is currently moved out though. So yes, we have a different dynamic then her and her other children right now.
But I think my question really was about how to deal with the guilt and stick to my decisions without letting it keep me up all night. Maybe that’s not how I worded it but I see from the answers that what I lack is how to handl all of this without letting The guilt of my decisions (whether it’s disney or anything else) get the best of me and make me feel like a shitty daughter and sister for making decisions that don’t necessarily mesh with theirs.
I guess the only other thing important to mention is that compromise is not an answer. The vacation is 2 weeks or nothing, they say. A week in Disney and a week cruise. Financially even if I wanted to go it’s not something I can do even if they helped me with some of it, because a three year old, and a 4 month old are expensive enough and I’m trying to save for preschool while knowing I’ll have an unpaid maternity leave. I’m not making excuses I’m just trying to explain why my husband can’t take off work and I really can’t do the 2 weeks even if I thought going was a good idea.
Maybe I should also note that my family has done a lot for me by watching my daughter while I worked and lived with them, but I gave them all my savings for my brothers medical expenses as well and have never asked for a penny back. I also co-signed a car for my dad that has 3 late payments on it, and this is just being said to explain that asking me to spend money on this trip is also kind of difficult to do. I don’t have a big savings now and my credit went from 800 to 640, which I never complain about or hold against them either. Idk why I felt that’s important to mention. I guess because some people who responded think I don’t consider my family and what they are going through but I go above and beyond for Them already in many ways.
TheRascal December 22, 2017, 6:40 am
Ooof. You are seriously enmeshed with your family and the dynamic sounds very toxic. They take advantage of you and use emotional blackmail to get what they want. Your mom seems awful.
This may be a start. Anytime the guilt or manipulation from her begins, tell her you simply won’t have the conversation. If she persists, either leave (if you are there in person) or hang up the phone.
The dynamic that your child is seeing is NOT healthy. In fact, she may already be internalizing that she is responsible for keeping her uncle alive. How devasted will she be when he does die, and she has that hanging over head?
If you can, I would also suggest seeing your family way less. I said it earlier that grief doesn’t excuse being an asshole; neither does terminal illness. A sick asshole is still an asshole.
Skyblossom December 22, 2017, 8:04 am
Your mom has managed to keep all of her other children under her roof except you so far. You are the one that has managed to move out and get married and live a somewhat independent life.
It is up to you to set the boundaries that protect your children from your mom’s emotional abuse. There is no other appropriate word for using your brother’s cancer as a weapon to demand that you cater to your mom’s every whim except emotional abuse. You need a firm boundary that doesn’t shift on the issue. You need to put distance between you and the rest of the family every time she uses that weapon because it is so inappropriate and so damaging to your daughter.
I think you would benefit greatly from talking to a counselor. You need someone who can discuss the manipulation and give you ways to deal with it and can talk to you about the consequences of not dealing with it. You should never feel guilty about saying no to things that won’t work for your family, meaning you, your husband and children. You should not be guilted into taking a trip that you cannot financially afford using vacation days you can’t afford to use. You shouldn’t be guilted into taking a trip that is designed so that you husband can’t go. You shouldn’t be pressured to take a trip with an infant that you don’t yet know whether it will be an easy baby or a fussy, crying, irritable baby. You shouldn’t be pushed to take a trip four months after the baby is born until you know the baby and until you know that you are healed from delivery and until you know the baby is healthy.
Your mom has used guilt to manipulate you your entire life. Now she will do the same to both of your children. Think about the best way to prevent your children feeling the level of guilt that you do and seek ways to protect them. If you end up cutting grandma mostly or entirely out of your life that is fine if it is what you need to do. If you want your brother to see your daughter it is okay to meet him at places that aren’t at your mom’s home. It is also okay to say no to your brother. Cancer doesn’t give him the right to dictate how you live your life and give him the ultimate say in how your daughter is raised. If he ever indicates that you and your husband aren’t the sole parents of your daughter you need to tell him that you are the only parents and that if he can’t accept that he won’t be seeing her very often. Tell him that you need to make the best decisions that you can for your daughter and that if he can’t or won’t accept that then you will also need to make a decision about him.
Your children need you to be their protector. Don’t feel guilty protecting them. Don’t feel guilty saying no. It is okay to say no. You can say no to this trip without feeling guilty. You can say no and not have to justify your decision or debate your decision with your mom and siblings. Just repeat, “I said no. We will not go.” Then exit if necessary.
Your mom has let up on your brothers because they don’t give a damn. You have to not give a damn. You have to place your immediate family ahead of your family of origin, make your best decision possible and then stick to it. I think that at this point in time you need a huge amount of distance from your mom. You have to show her the I don’t give a damn attitude or even better the you won’t treat my kids with emotional blackmail attitude. It is okay to say you aren’t allowed to talk to me that way. It is not only okay but necessary to tell your mom that she will never emotionally blackmail your children. You need to make the answer to any request that comes with emotional blackmail and automatic no. She has to learn that no matter what it is, even if it is something you would otherwise do, if she throws in a dose of emotional blackmail then it won’t happen.
Sarah December 22, 2017, 8:21 am
I don’t think the guilt ever goes away so do what you can to ease it and maybe lean on your husband to help decide if you have done enough. I think you have but I would need reassurance. I know most people will say set up boundaries but with a sick brother that will be hard and is hard with a mother either way. This may not work for you my mom is not as diabolical but since her mother died she has taken on the assumption that since she is the oldest family member that everything she says is right and should be followed (she decided that women should not work more than part time last year, and wants me and my sister to quit and is getting nasty about it) But we have started where when her and my Aunt start in on the stressful manipulative stuff or the crazy over the edge stuff we tell her that is not a decision she gets to make and if she cant leave it alone we will leave until she can. Then since she is the self appointed leader she goes on a tirade and we leave and we don’t answer her calls until the next day. In the beginning it was awful, we have left restaurants in the middle of dinner (so embarrassing), parties, a funeral, and even thanksgiving. I’m not sure if its working on her part she does seem to be noticing right as she is doing it and looks like she is debating with herself now it hasn’t stopped but by the time we are home I am usually less stressed. My dad has caught on and reminds her when she starts that we will leave and take the kids so that is something I guess. Good Luck, do what is best for your kids and give yourself a break from them.
Skyblossom December 22, 2017, 8:31 am
It is also never okay for your parent’s to demand that you spend a large amount of money on a vacation. They should never have that kind of control over your budget. I assumed that your mom was going to pay for the vacation but if your parent’s are missing car payments then they cannot afford the trip and it seems that they would be trying to dump the cost of the trip on you and your husband. That isn’t okay. It is meddling to try to decide for you and to force you to spend your money in the way that your mom has decided. You must draw a financial boundary that is strong, just like a strong emotional boundary is needed. They are already damaging your credit rating. It is up to you to stop that. Never cosign with them again. They need a cosigner because they don’t pay their bills. That is as good a reason as any to tell them you can’t do it. No need to explain any reason to them. “That doesn’t work for us,” is more than enough. Repeat as needed. “That doesn’t work for us.”
You need to come over or your brother will die. That doesn’t work for us.
Your father needs a car and you will have to cosign. That doesn’t work for us.
You need to let your brother see your daughter more. That doesn’t work for us.
You shouldn’t put your daughter in all day preschool. That doesn’t work for us.
I suggest the us in that doesn’t work for us to emphasize that you and your husband make decisions together. You are a united front. You are an us.
I’d quit leaving my daughter with them for babysitting because they are far to emotionally damaging. One of your primary responsibilities as a parent is to protect your child. You don’t need to feel any guilt for doing that.
Sam December 22, 2017, 9:08 am
Thank you so much for your input. I really appreciate all the strategies you provided and explanations. I also think it’s a good idea for me to seek counseling, and limit the amount of time my mom is around my children without me. Your comments have really helped me see things from a different perspective.
LisforLeslie December 22, 2017, 9:53 am
Thank you for coming back and providing more information. Not to arm chair diagnose but you really sound like you’re dealing with a bunch of narcissists. I recommend reading up on it and seeing if it resonates.
With narcissists and manipulative people, once you say “no”, they start upping the ante. They try every strategy to get their way. Guilt, bribes, threats, whatever it may be until they get what they want.
To be honest, I’m surprised that they haven’t offered to pay your way. Of course, pretty typical behavior is to either promise to pay and then not pay or using that as leverage for years “Remember when I took you and your daughter to Disney. Boy that was an expensive trip, but it was worth it to see the two of you happy. I just wish it hadn’t been so expensive. So will you be staying with us for Christmas for the next 10 years and can you leave your husband at home? Disney was expensive.”
Therapy is absolutely in order. But seriously consider reading up on techniques to effectively deal with narcissists. Reddit has very active thread on children of narcissists where you can get sympathy and tips too.
Vathena December 22, 2017, 10:28 am
Wow. Your family is…wow. Difficult. YES to everything that’s been said about boundaries. I can’t vouch for it, but I’ve heard that the book “Life Skills for Adult Children” can be helpful. You should absolutely see a counselor to figure out how to handle your mom and family. This won’t get better until you have some tools to help you stand up to them. It’s super difficult to un-learn a lifetime of being trained to jump through those hoops. But you’re not alone – tons of people have controlling, manipulative narcissists as parents. You don’t have to live your life this way. YOU are in charge of whether and how much you see them, whether and how much you tell them about your life and your children’s lives. Therapy can give you the tools to assert yourself.
Definitely protect your finances. You can’t pay for that trip. Don’t go. They can’t force you to swipe a card or board a plane. Do something to salvage your credit from that unpaid car loan (if it keeps going unpaid, your credit will get steadily worse. It takes a long time to bounce back from that! You are already in territory where it will be tough and expensive to get loans in the future.) Protect your financial stability for the sake of your kids.
I really hope that everyone who declared that it was SOOO awful for you not to go on this trip reads your updates and thinks twice about what they said.
CurlyQue December 26, 2017, 11:27 am
With all of your updates, i definitely change my advice in that you SHOULD NOT go. And really, if your father is late on his car payments they shouldn’t be going either. I wish you so much luck with your obviously manipulative family. If they were offering to pay then maybe they’d have more room to be so pushy, but they’re not. If they really wanted you and your daughter there they would’ve picked something that was more feasible for you to do it. They didn’t and they won’t compromise, that’s on them. Don’t forget that. You make your daughter available on a regular basis and you offered a compromise with the Hershey’s Park. You’re done. That’s all you can do it and you’ve done it. Again, lots of luck.
Keyblade December 21, 2017, 10:35 pm
LEGO land. Stay at the resort and it will blow a three year olds mind. You can all get front line passes (that aren’t necessary, anyway and still save money. It’s a smaller park, the lines aren’t nearly so terrible, I’ll bet your baby will like it.
There is also universal but it’s seems pricey to spend on a park that has loud rides referencing movies your daughter surly won’t understand.
WIth a baby though? Seriously go Legoland.
Or to Hershey Park, Dollywood, or that knotty jelly place.
carolann December 22, 2017, 5:55 am
I have been to all of the parks mentioned except Legoland. I used to live in Southern California so Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm I went to repeatedly.(several times on dates in High School too) I also lived in FL and my husband worked for Disney. I don’t really get all the fuss, but to someone who lives far and has never been it is obviously a big deal. (Hershey was my fav when I was a kid, but it isn’t the same)
I think the Mom has been a bit too blunt in the way she has come across, but I also believe that LW going from one guy (1st baby daddy) to family helping so she could work, to moving in with new guy, new guy adopting kid and now another coming in a pretty short period of time has been hard on her family during an already rough time. That may be where some of Mom’s resentment is coming from. LW probably needs to crawl out of her husbands ass crack long enough to see the sun and she may get some clarity. We get that you are newlyweds and so in love and you are happy that someone stepped up when obviously the other guy did not BUT I seriously doubt your husband missing both the kids first trip to Disney (the little one will be so young it may as well not even count.) is as big of a deal to him as you think it is. (or he is saying it is to shut you up when in reality he would probably love some time to himself after becoming a husband and a father to two kids in a relatively short time and adjusting to his first experiences with a newborn.
I don’t think Disney with two kids will be easy, but a baby that little will probably not be that bad as long as they have a comfy stroller, a clean nappy and something to eat. (assuming he is colicky) I would think the toddler would be more difficult to wrangle. I would suck it up for my brother and ignore Mom’s drama as much as I could.
carolann December 22, 2017, 5:57 am
*assuming he isn’t colicky I mean!
CET December 22, 2017, 8:24 am
Wow, your mom is nuts. Totally certifiably nuts. Honestly, since your brother is dying and really wants to see your 3 year old daughter enjoy Disneyworld, I would talk to him and plan it. Without your parents. We took our son when he was 5 and our daughter was a 5 months old. We went for 2 days. I pushed the stroller and we didn’t try to do everything or tax ourselves. It actually was very easy with a baby…but again we didn’t rush around trying to do everything. Then later we went again when our daughter was 5. This time we went 4 days and went to a couple of the other parks (Animal Kingdom and Epcott). Again, we didn’t tax ourselves or try to do it all. We headed back to our very nice resort in the afternoon to relax and had dinner there each night. I know there are many reasons why you can’t go…but I would try hard to plan a small vacation with your brother…even if you only have one day there over a long weekend. This would be a very nice gift to your brother.
Skyblossom December 22, 2017, 8:34 am
But financially it would be a strain. That is enough reason to not go. Her brother shouldn’t have to have a specific experience with their daughter to make his life complete. Seeing her three times a week should be of more value than a quick trip to Disney.
Bittergaymark December 22, 2017, 12:32 pm
Uh…. What financial strain? The letter rather plainly and explicitly states that the mother would be paying. “By not letting her take us to Disneyland.” Apparently, neither reading nor compassion is anybody’s strong suit this week.
The fact that so few here are willing to even put up with the most MILDEST of inconvenience… like say… an all expenses paid trip to Disneyland… speaks volumes about how shallow and narcissistic our society has become.
ele4phant December 22, 2017, 12:50 pm
Umm, no they are not paying for it:
“I guess the only other thing important to mention is that compromise is not an answer. The vacation is 2 weeks or nothing, they say. A week in Disney and a week cruise. Financially even if I wanted to go it’s not something I can do even if they helped me with some of it, because a three year old, and a 4 month old are expensive enough and I’m trying to save for preschool while knowing I’ll have an unpaid maternity leave. ”
Look – yesterday I was on the side that she should try to make the trip work if she could, but after her update screw it. Her mother has been manipulating and infantilizing her children their entire lives, and the letterwritter has clearly made substantial efforts to keep her niece in her brother’s life. She’s allowed to have her own life now, and she’s allowed to say no to some things.
Skyblossom December 22, 2017, 1:33 pm
@BGM You obviously didn’t read her update. Mother taking them means mom makes the arrangements but she pays for herself and her kids for a two week vacation that includes a one week cruise. Her parents are already missing payments on a car loan that she cosigned for because their credit rating is so bad so it is obvious that the parents can’t afford to pay for even themselves, let alone the rest of the family.
Ron December 22, 2017, 10:48 am
Allowing your parents to run your life is a guarantee for a lifetime of unhappiness and a failed marriage. Your parents enjoyed you as a single mom and they are doing their best to return you to single mom status. that puts them back in charge of you and your children.
Remove your sick brother from the equation. You are dealing with that in your own way, with your daughter seeing him three times a week. This is a problem between you and your mother (both parents) which would exist even if your brother was healthy. It is telling that all of your siblings and you and your child were living with your parents. That was by their design. You need to put protecting your marriage and independent adulthood foremost. Given what you say about your mother, this will be a tough and on-going fight. Drawing and enforcing boundaries is vital.
You need to politely, but very firmly, tell your mother that she has only one life to live and that isn’t your life.
Bittergaymark December 22, 2017, 12:33 pm
By all means — it is so much better she bows down and worships at the alter of the almighty husband who’s career is so fucking shitty he can’t ask for a few days off a year ahead.
ele4phant December 22, 2017, 12:37 pm
What? How can you possibly read the LW’s updates and not at least come away with *some* empathy that her family dynamics are seriously screwy? That her parents have serious serious issues with boundaries.
And yeah, I can totally see how this dude may have no vacation left because he’s planning on taking time after four months beforehand for the birth of a child. Seems like a pretty legit reason to know he won’t have additional vacation this far in advance.
Vathena December 22, 2017, 12:43 pm
Did you even READ her updates? They are demanding an expensive two-week vacation. They are demanding that the LW PAY for herself and her kids to go on the vacation. They have already wrecked her credit by getting her to co-sign for a car loan. And YES, spouses should prioritize one another and their children over their shitty parents, even if their careers are shitty ones. What the hell is the matter with you today?
Sam December 22, 2017, 1:07 pm
I should have been more specific about what letting her take us meant.
It doesn’t mean everything will be paid for. That didn’t mean she was paying, just that she was organizing it through her time share. Plane tickets, meals, tickets to the parks would not be paid for. I also wouldn’t be able to get the cheaper tickets or tickets for less days because their itinerary which I would follow (or be told it was a waste to even come and be In the same situation as now anyway) involves parks every day. I also would be paying for the hotel stay, unless I shared a room with my parents. I feel like mark, you think I’m not being empathetic. I’ve tried telling my brother I’d gladly pay for a trip to a closer place with just him and my daughter for a weekend. It is all about them getting me to say yes not compromising. And if I say yes to this, it means they expect me to say yes to everything else. 2 weeks = 1 to Disney World and 1 Disney cruise. That’s not a mild inconvenience it’s something that, maybe didn’t come off right in my letter, but I agreed to part of awhile ago (a week in Disney), found out before it was booked on their end that I was pregnant, and decided before it was booked that I couldn’t go. I told my mom this months ago and she recently acted like I never said anything and told me they all booked everything on their end and the point was to go with us, or they wouldn’t have. A mild inconvenience is a weekend trip, this was sprung on me after I already explained it couldn’t happen.
Also, with regard to my husband I’m not sure why I’m bowing down to him. as everyone is saying, more vacation time than he already anticipates for the baby is out of the question and even if it wasn’t, my maternity leave is unpaid. So he is already working his normal job (his career that no, isnt as shitty as you are insinuating) and a second job to make it easier once i stop working for a few months.
My husband is not the problem here and that’s not because I put him on a pedestal. I have chosen my family over my husband too many times to count. I have also made it clear to him most holidays must be with them because I don’t know how long my brother has, and he hasn’t complained, despite the fact that his family doesn’t live in the same town as us, but across the state and in other states.
He has walked into rooms with them, said hi, and been blatantly ignored, only to have me make a lame excuse for them so that he continues making an effort. My mom has called him crying and screaming that her son has cancer as well. He is not the type to act rude to her and instead says “ I understand I don’t really know what to say” and then hangs up when she ends up hanging up on him, and tells me she is crazy. My husband isn’t the first of my significant others who has dealt with my family being rude either. They do not consider him a parent or an important person in my daughters life. I feel it’s my job to set boundaries in their rel because at the end of the day it’s not their place to put the emotional blackmail on him either. Therefore it may seem like I’m putting him on a pedestal but it’s more like regardless of the circumstances, I’m constantly in situations where they make me choose them over him. They put him down for everything and have said many times that I should have stayed in their home because marrying him was a mistake. If they had valid reasons fine, if I married a shitty guy fine. but they don’t and I didn’t. So YES, in a way I am finding it hard to NOT look at this as another attempt to show him and I and my daughter who really matters. But NO me not going isn’t COMPLETELY because of him, I just see it as one factor that I can’t even mention to my mom bc she instantly will feel in competition with him.
::my daughters swim lessons – if I invite them my parents say no at first, because “we don’t play second fiddle to your husband so just because he can’t come we should have been the ones invited first” um no. Sorry. I don’t agree with that and this Disney thing feels like An extension of that to a degree.
Honestly if my brother felt this was important, and it was the only thing I did for him, and he never saw my daughter otherwise or went to great places with her (he has), fine I’d have to do it, but there are so many reasons I feel this is hard and not ALL of them include my husband.
Kicia December 22, 2017, 5:35 pm
@BGM, as someone said above, “Apparently, neither reading nor compassion is anybody’s strong suit this week.”
Tabathos December 22, 2017, 6:22 pm
Oh dear, stop the bullshit. LW’s has already explained her situation. Your comment is totally unnecessary and it doesn’t add a positive income to the conversation. If he can’t ask a few days off a year ahead, for whatever reason it is, shouldn’t be nobodies business here.
Ron December 22, 2017, 7:31 pm
And we’re not talking a couple days off work. We’re talking 2 weeks. Two whole weeks on a vacation planned by his abusive MIL. Many young workers don’t get more than 2 weeks vacation in a year and this guy needs time to help around the birth of his child.
Bittergaymark December 22, 2017, 10:52 pm
Nope. Missed the updates. Gee maybe learn to write a letter. Talk about burying the lead. That said — much of this sounds made up.
Sam December 22, 2017, 11:16 pm
I wish it was made up, I apologize if my letter didn’t explain things as best as I could. In all honesty I prob should have written it out, read it over on the computer instead of my phone, and included some important points that weren’t mentioned initially. I didn’t really expect to get so many responses so I thought I’d answer as they came if specific questions arised. I also didn’t know how to include more when I already wrote such a lengthy question lol. I thought people would find it too long to bother reading to begin with. But I totally get that some points should have been mentioned initially.
I don’t deny that my parents deserve empathy, as does my brother, but I do think what I got out of this is that I prob need counseling myself to deal with providing empathy in a healthy way that involves boundaries too.
I really appreciate everyone’s responses, even the ones that looked at me negatively because it gave me different perspectives and another look at how my parents and brothers might be seeing things.
Skyblossom December 22, 2017, 1:34 pm
@Ron I think you have it. The mother wants to control all of her children and keep them all under her roof and she can’t stand the idea that the daughter got away and she will do whatever she can to break up the marriage to get the daughter and grandchildren back under her roof.
Sam December 22, 2017, 11:17 pm
This is similar to what my friends have said in the past.
Ron December 23, 2017, 9:21 am
Another thing I should have commented upon: you say that your husband has adopted your daughter. He is now the girl’s legal father. Yet your mother insists upon speaking of him as just an illegitimate interloper in your (really plural you and your husband) daughter’s life. Your husband isn’t jealous — he seems to accept your brother as a favorite uncle who is entitled to a lot of time with your (again plural you) daughter. This is a healthy approach. Your mother’s attitude is very unhealthy, divorced from reality, and it will destroy your nuclear family if you don’t push back strongly and put a stop to it. When she says this, you must just object and walk away. To her, your husband is nothing more than the guy you are currently fucking. Until she is willing to treat him as your actual husband and your child’s legal father, things will only get worse. I think you and your daughter and husband may need to ignore youre mother and deal directly with your brother. Your mother is poison to your marriage. If you let your daughter go on a vacation with her, she will poison her mind. I’d also look elsewhere for help with childcare.
Skyblossom December 22, 2017, 1:37 pm
Do not allow them to push you into making payments for a trip that you can’t afford. If they made arrangements for you to go after you told them that you couldn’t go you tell them that it is too bad because you still can’t go. Don’t get into an argument. You don’t need to justify you decision. Tell her she needs to cancel your portion of the trip because you aren’t going. If she goes ahead with her plans and books for you that is too bad. That bad decision is on her and you have no obligation to bail her out financially and you have no obligation to go. She will try to force you to go and you can say no.
Tabathos December 22, 2017, 6:14 pm
OMgosh, wtf is wrong with the people here? It is totally obvious that the mother of the LW is totally a manipulative person. That sort of emotional blackmail towards her daughter is utterly irresponsible and illogical. Come on. It is super bullshitty to demand, with that attitude, a trip to Disneyland with a toddler, a child, two crazy parents, a very sick person, and a woman who had recently given birth. If it is a one day travel and going back home the same day, i would totally understand that it could be a reasonable demand. But here we aren’t talking (I suppose) about a car travel to the next town. It is also hard nuts as hell to project that kind of responsibility to a child. The brother is a grown up, it shouldn’t project his will to live to a child. I mean, what kind of person should say to her sister, that she is taking away his reason to live? Also here we are talking about a pregnant mother, who is going to have a newborn in the date of the travel. Has anyone thought about the total income of stress related stuff, that such travel would put on LW’s shoulders? She is pregnant right now, shouldn’t be have this kind of drama right now. I understand the grief that the LW’s mother should be feeling. But she shouldn’t project those feelings to her daughter. It is absolutely unfair, and it doesn’t add up nice ingredients to an already sour mix concerning the brother’s unhealthy being.
I really think that the LW should have a dialogue with her mother and brother regarding the situation. They need to understand that can’t go to Disney with her almost newborn son, and her husband is unable to go because of work (even if it is not completely true), and she can’t let her daughter go without none of her parents. Probably they will complain, but you need to let them know that such travel is impossible right now. Negotiate. Tell them that you are willing to travel when your son is at least a year (and with your husband). It may be a spark that ignites your brother’s will to live till that time.
Skyblossom December 24, 2017, 11:02 am
@Sam One thing I think you should consider changing is that your spend most of your holidays with your parents because your brother has cancer. Your brother has already had cancer for five years and your family assumes that he will be healthy enough to travel to Disney in 8 months so he isn’t going downhill terribly fast and he sees your daughter at least three times a week. You don’t owe him every holiday for an indefinite number of years.
Your daughter and your son will need to see healthy family dynamics. They will be absorbing what they see around them as the way to treat other people. They need a healthy model to observe and incorporate into their own lives. If your husband has a much more normal family I think you should consider spending your holidays with them. It is easy enough to justify that your family sees your daughter and soon your son frequently. Multiple times per week should be enough. The other family sees them infrequently so consider taking your kids to the other family more often and especially for the holidays. That is assuming his family has a healthy family dynamic. If they don’t then consider spending your holidays in your own home with just the four of you for the day.
The bottom line is consider who you want as role models for your children because you want your children to be emotionally healthy adults. Who will be a good role model for that and who won’t be. The people your children spend time around teach them how to act. That’s why your brothers all use your mom’s emotional tactics. They learned it from her. Is that what you want your children to learn? Is that how you want them to live their adult lives?
Sam December 26, 2017, 5:17 pm
So I took a lot of your advice for Xmas. I basically decided to split the holiday. We did Xmas until 3:30 at my MILs, and then my husband was feeling very sick, flu like symptoms..so he went home and I went to my moms, from about 4-7:30. My oldest brother and mom were complaining that I was leaving early and I told them “staying later doesn’t work for me I am trying to have a good Xmas but we are going to go home at 7 because she hasn’t napped in 3 Days and I’m pregnant and exhausted. Pretty much the entire time I was there they were complaining that I would miss the cake/fireworks in backyard.
When I left I ended up staying late because I couldn’t find my mom anywhere in the house and eventually gave up on having my daughter say goodbye. (25 min of waiting and looking for her)
After I left I went back to the house because I forgot something (2 min after I left I was back to get it) and my mom miraculously was in the kitchen. I asked her “oh where were you??” And she snapped back that she was in the bathroom “what I can’t use the bathroom?!”… I tried.
Best part is that as soon as I left they posted videos of the cake and fireworks on Facebook so I know they could have done it earlier despite them saying “no we cannot do it earlier we are waiting until later”.
But I’m glad I followed advice and explained that staying later didn’t work for me esp bc as soon as I got home my daughter passed out on the couch lol.
Thanks so much everyone for your advice. I really am glad I stood up for myself for once instead of just making everyone else happy.
Skyblossom December 27, 2017, 7:05 am
Good for you. The first time you stick up for yourself is the hardest. Didn’t it feel great to make the decisions that were best for your family!
You saw how the things they did were designed to be manipulative. Your mom disappearing just to make you stay longer and serving cake later so that you would have to stay. Neither worked! Good for you. Each time you realize that something is a manipulation you can avoid it the next time. If your mom disappears when it is time to leave you don’t wait around, you say good-bye to those who are around and you leave. The same with cake and fireworks. Just do as you did and say the timing doesn’t work for you and you leave. Taking your daughter home so that she can sleep was a good thing to do! Letting your family spend time with the husband’s family was also a really good thing. Skipping them on holidays was in many ways saying that they were lesser family, not of as much value.
Once your family realizes that you are sticking up for yourself they will probably try harder and harder to get you back in line. You can handle that! Once you know that you can say no you are on the way to making your own decisions and guiding your own life, with your husband.
angelsiris11 January 3, 2018, 1:31 pm
Wow, I am late to the party, but so many heated comments!
Bittergaymark seems to have some impressions of what jobs are like and I just wanted to pipe in about the job and vacation situation. I will give an example of a non-shitty, trashy job that makes it really difficult to get off of work. My husband is a police officer in a large city. He gets the leave book at the end of January for the whole year. And because he was just promoted to sergeant, he is the junior officer on his shift, and by the time he gets the book, he will not be getting any holidays off, and it will be tough to get a chunk of leave (like two weeks) because only two people can be off on any day And you don’t forget, this includes the fact that he has to take off weekends as well. Throw in the fact that if he wants to attend something on a Saturday morning or say a Thursday evening, he probably has to take leave, so that eats away at a lot of vacation days. Plus, leave is cancelled for many holidays.
Which means for example, we were told my best friend was getting married in May 2018 in May 2017. My husband still doesn’t know if he can attend because he doesn’t have the book yet. And again, my husband is a police officer and has a college degree, so I wouldn’t put this in the “shitty” job category. At least not in the sense BGM meant!
MiraBelle May 30, 2018, 7:13 am
LW – so many comments on your post! I was married for 27 years to a man whose mother sounds much like yours. I tried to keep the peace and keep everyone happy, and I truly regret “caving” all the time to make the MIL happy. It’s not your job to make everyone happy. It’s your job to put your husband, your marriage, and your children first. Always. This is your family. Your mothers’ behavior is clearly an established thing. She still sees you as a child she can manipulate. Lose the guilt. Set firm boundaries. Put your family first. This is your job. You’re the mom. You’re the wife. Don’t inconvenience yourself, your children and your husband over her antics. “I’m sorry, that will not work for me” and “sorry you feel that way” and “I gotta run – have another commitment” really work well. Remove the emotion and be consistent.
Bittergaymark July 29, 2019, 9:33 pm
Where is the update to this letter? The one where the brother is now dead and the LW bitterly divorced?
jilliebean July 30, 2019, 9:57 am
Wow BGM – that’s pretty nasty.