Children of family you have modified contact with

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DoingthebestIcan456

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Children of family you have modified contact with
« on: April 09, 2016, 03:40:43 PM »
I'm not sure if I put this on the correct board but something I can't seem to resolve, and figure I cannot be the only one who decides to modify the contact between your family, and then wonder how to go about handling the children of the family members.

I never wanted to feel as if the children were being "punished" for their parents actions, but it's honestly getting to a point where I am buying gifts for children I don't know, to sisters who don't even speak to me.

I'm working on putting myself first and making decisions based on my happiness but this one catches me up, And I'm not sure how to go about navigating holidays with the children.

Any advice from others who have gone through different levels of contact with family with young children involved I would appreciate any feedback or personal experience.

:)

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closure_with_clarity

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Re: Children of family you have modified contact with
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2016, 05:07:55 PM »
I did the whole gift and card thing until recently. In my case and with my deeply dysfunctional family, I would have "liked" to have a relationship w/ my nieces and nephews. But, now feel I was pipe dreaming to think it would ever happen. In hindsight, I pretty much had a snowballs chance in heck, since their parents habor such ill feelings toward me (family SG), and were very verbal about it to their kids.

The kids have heard mostly "smears and gossip" about us for years. And, I looked at it in terms that they would have to "defy" their parents by contacting me too.

I dropped the rope and have stopped sending gifts and cards just this past Christmas. One set of niece and nephew are now in the mid twenties and are no longer kids so to speak. For over a decade I sent them b-day, Christmas, and special occasion gifts and money. They didn't call  even once to thank me all those years, nor did they text or FB private message me to acknowledge it. I haven't ever received as much as a Christmas card from these now grown children. Nor have their toxic parents ever acknowledged my now grown kids with so much as a b-day card all those years.

Sadly, I concluded the kids have grown to be pretty much like their parents with a gross sense of entitlement. I recently helped the eldest with my professional services for an upcoming life event. The only time I hear from them is if they "want/need" something ( a huge red flag). But, I committed my services and goods free of charge and did so w/ an open heart and mind. I set to spending 40 hours and $500 worth of wholesale goods to make them things. Only to find out they cancelled  the occassion nearly 2 months ago, yet didn't inform me.

Had I been a vendor they were paying $1000 for goods and services, you can rest assured I'd have been one of the 1st calls they made to get their $$ back and not lose deposits. I wouldn't even of known about the cancelling the event, if it hadn't been for me texting them photos of the finished product of which I was about to ground freight. And, getting a "oh didn't you know we cancelled" response :aaauuugh:

It really depends upon how dysfunctional your FOO is and how fractured the relationships are. I like to "hope" some relationships may be salvageable when the kids come of age and form their lives and autonomy (start thinking and experiencing life for themselves). But, that wasn't the case with my messed up clan. 

And, the writing had been on the wall for quite some time...over a decade, yet I refused to see it. I'm actually at peace w/ my decision and not even angry or hurt. It just is what it is and I've learned to move on by focusing on my FOC and people in my life that truly value and respect me.

A healthy bi-directional relationship needs to be reciprocal, and not a one way street.






« Last Edit: April 09, 2016, 05:26:15 PM by closure_with_clarity »
Let go of the people that dull your shine. Poison your spirit. And bring you drama. Cancel your subscription to their issues.  :)

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Bloomie

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Re: Children of family you have modified contact with
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2016, 06:48:47 PM »
DoingthebestIcan - I had the same question here not too long ago around the holidays. I had continued sending gifts and cards to nieces and nephews who I never see and who didn't acknowledge these gifts. The wise folks here made a few really important points that helped me.

First, there is something kind of odd and uncomfortable about receiving gifts from someone you never see and don't know. So, there's that I needed to consider.

And Secondly, it could potentially be building into a sense of entitlement in these children, which Closure_with_Clarity's response illustrates exceptionally well. I could've unwittingly been reinforcing that they are entitled to receive money and gifts from me/my family without any relationship whatsoever. Gestures I meant as loving and as keeping some kind of connection with these children could be creating more unhealthy thinking and expectations.

I was concerned that somehow I was being unkind or hurtful toward these kids if I didn't continue to send gifts. For me, I had to recognize this was wrong thinking. I didn't cause the fractures in the relationships with the parents and I couldn't cure them or somehow smooth over them or somehow minimize the effects the distance that is between us has on everyone, including children who are innocent in all of it.

I chose not to send gifts and it was incredibly freeing for me. I trusted who I am and my heart and intentions and let go of thinking and choices that was keeping me tied to a lot of hurt and pain.

This is just my .02 and experience. Whatever you decide to do, I don't think there is a right/wrong here - only what is best and right for YOU. :hug:

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Artsy

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Re: Children of family you have modified contact with
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2016, 01:51:01 AM »
Bloomie,

I'm dealing with this, too. The comments here are helpful. I'm thinking I need to just be done with 'family' I'm connected to through obligation and not real relationship. My attitude is that if I'm no contact with their parents, I'm putting them in an awkward position anyway. My son has been approached by a niece he has no relationship with and being manipulated into something that (I'm sure) is about hurting me. But he's 18 and all I can do is try to keep communication open and respect him if he bites on that bait. I wish my niece would just stay out of it and leave my kid out of it, but it's all a big chess game, and she's being used by her mother. To reach out to my nieces and nephews when the relationships are so shallow and to continue shallow connections that passed as real relationships seems counter to my goal to be real and to accept only real, respectful relationships (no more games). My nieces and nephews know where I am. To gradually back away from gifts seems appropriate if I really want no contact with siblings. My one problem is my oldest niece who has children, and who has always been very good about thank you notes and acknowledgements. Her brother has been absolutely terrible, not even acknowledging or letting me know things got there. I was already thinking about stopping the sending to him. With the no contact with their mother, it looks too odd to change it up, so I'll probably just stop all the gifts this next year for everybody.

To me this is the worst part of it all, but these kids are likely poisoned and twisted having PD parents, they can be played like chess pieces too easily and I can't trust it. I really need to feel safe and that's what I'm trying to do. If these guys really need me, they can find me, and I'll never turn them away, unless I feel hostility or brainwashing. Then I just have to let them go.

Just my thoughts. Hope you can find your way.
"I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone." Robin Williams.

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FinallyPeace

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Re: Children of family you have modified contact with
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2016, 04:35:10 PM »
Thank you for this post!!

I keep in contact with one niece who has a baby.  I see the baby and have been invited to things for the baby and my niece/her husband.  I can tell that my niece feels conflicted, at times, but would never speak to me about it (dare her mother hear about it) and vice versa.

I have reached out to the other siblings in the past, but am done on that front, too.  They are all adults and can make up their own minds.

I have a clear conscience.  I KNOW I have been a good, loving, supportive sister and aunt my entire life.  I won't go out of my way anymore because it's ridiculous.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2016, 04:50:29 PM by FinallyPeace »
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all4peace

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Re: Children of family you have modified contact with
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2016, 04:45:18 PM »
What a great and sad topic. We have hugely modified contact with H's family this past year. Unfortunately, the poison has spread to one of his sister's and is clearly being taught to her children. It is terribly sad and I don't know what to do about it. For now I continue to send gifts to the kids, even though it is rarely reciprocated. My SIL is teaching her kids the same envy, comparisons, favoritism, exclusionism and other ugliness that her mother has inflicted on her family and taught as a virtue in H's family.

The SIL we live next door to is the GC and gets most of the family resources. However, I do respect that she hasn't involved her children and our kids still have a good (but infrequent contact) relationship. I appreciate that, as I think it's a special kind of evil to teach hate to one's children.

Since I don't want to model the favoritism that is rampant in H's family, I try to treat all the nieces and nephews the same. However, it's simply a fact that we don't spend time with the most hateful sister. She hasn't initiated it, and I got weary of pushing for it and being rejected. And so we do spend time with some of the children, but not the others. It wasn't our choice. I have no control over how it is portrayed to the children. When we see this SIL's children at "obligatory" family events, I am warm and interested in them as I am to all the children. I do this because it's the only behavior I can live with, and I have no hope or belief that someday we will be close to them.

I do not reach out to the hateful SIL's children privately. That would feel like a boundary crossing for me. I simply engage them in public family gatherings, send them gifts, and that's it.

This has been going on for generations. It's just painful to see it unfolding in our generation.

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FinallyPeace

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Re: Children of family you have modified contact with
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2016, 04:55:38 PM »
as I think it's a special kind of evil to teach hate to one's children.

AMEN!!  ^^^

My child is very close with one of my PD sister's children.  I always raised my child to KNOW that stuff that was being said "over there" wasn't always the truth and that my child could eventually be hearing bad things about ME, his mother, from them (this didn't become full horrible and toxic until the children were teenagers).  My child and her child went to school together, drove and spent time together at both houses. 

Everyone is adults now.  It's up to them to cultivate their own friendships outside of the family confines.  My child knows the truth and sees the "crazy" over there.  I think my sister's child knows, too, but it's FOO, a very sensitive person, so I'm sure they can't figure a way out either.   :sadno:
"Behind the smile, a hidden knife!"
― Ancient Chinese saying describing passive-aggressive behavior
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"Red flags aren't party favors.  Don't collect them."
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alonenow

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Re: Children of family you have modified contact with
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2016, 11:04:25 PM »
I do not think that my sisters children will ever get Out of the FOG. They are going to be the next generation because getting Out of the FOG and facing the truth is WORK which is something my siblings avoided like the plague. it is so sad that they never had a chance growing up in the world of lies addiction and general crazy.
I am not sure what I might ever say to them if they reached out to contact me as adults. 

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FinallyPeace

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Re: Children of family you have modified contact with
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2016, 06:06:08 PM »
I do not think that my sisters children will ever get Out of the FOG. They are going to be the next generation because getting Out of the FOG and facing the truth is WORK which is something my siblings avoided like the plague. it is so sad that they never had a chance growing up in the world of lies addiction and general crazy.
I am not sure what I might ever say to them if they reached out to contact me as adults.
I agree with my family, too. 
Oh well, it's my job to protect MYSELF.  No more worrying about them.   :sadno:
"Behind the smile, a hidden knife!"
― Ancient Chinese saying describing passive-aggressive behavior
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"Red flags aren't party favors.  Don't collect them."
--Unknown

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movingforward2

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Re: Children of family you have modified contact with
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2016, 03:45:48 PM »
You've gotten some really, really great advice.  I particularly can relate to the entitlement that getting gifts from one whom you don't have contact with can create.  My NMIL showered my DD5 with gifts when we reached out to her after 3 years of NC...we then went NC again and the only thing my DD5 remembers about her grandmother is the gifts.  In fact...a few days ago she said that she'd like to see grandma again to get some cool toys.  It makes me sad because that's not what r/s are about.

It's hard because so often kids are caught up in the adult issues.  When we went NC with NMIL...it was like a messy divorce in many ways, where she wanted visitation with our kids and it doesn't work that way. 

I've had issues with my sister and it was around the holidays.  She was going to just send over the gifts she got my DD's and I said nope...you can come over and give them to the DD's.  I didn't want my DD's to get gifts from someone in that fashion.  We worked things out and she came over and gave my DD their gifts. 

So..I think it's perfectly fine for you to stop sending gifts.  It might actually create more problems for your nieces and nephews in the long run.

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sandpiper

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Re: Children of family you have modified contact with
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2016, 07:07:36 AM »
It's a bind. My experience is that the kids get brainwashed & they don't know anything else, so the behaviour just gets passed down the line.
I made a point of staying in LC with siblings & sending gifts to their kids, just so that they'd know who we are, & to show that we were thinking of them, but in retrospect I wonder if it was wise.
I was probably compensating because of how lonely I was when I was a child, at being isolated from so many loving family members.
I guess my reasoning is that I wished that I'd had more of my family around me, but the world has changed & I wonder if this generation of young ones just have so much going on & so many relationships open to them, particularly with social media, that they aren't likely to feel they're missing out on much.
I really don't know.
I guess we all just have to do what feels right for us, and accept that there isn't a right or a wrong way to do it.
There's just what's right for each of us, at the time, and sometimes things will work out & sometimes they don't.
I'm glad that I tried, even if it was a mistake. I can say 'Oh well, I tried.'
And that was something that I needed to do for my own sense of who I am & how I want to go through the world.
I think if it's making things harder for the kids, that's the point when it's time to take a big step back.

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Candywarhol

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Re: Children of family you have modified contact with
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2016, 02:15:45 PM »
This really is a tough one. I'm struggling with it at the moment too.
I send gifts, cards, money to my nieces and nephews and receive cursory thanks via SMS in response.
I haven't seen any of them in a year - I do live in another country, but in the past, any time I was home I'd go to see them.
I also got weary of suggesting visits, meet-ups etc. so now I don't see them and wonder if I'm just holding on and hurting myself
by sending stuff 2-3 times per year.
I'd love to have a relationship with my nieces, as used to be very close to them but now I'm wondering if it's time to let
go. I'm only 50% of the relationship and if the other half isn't forthcoming, then maybe it's just self-respect to let go. Plus as Sandpiper said ,
"the kids get brainwashed & they don't know anything else, so the behaviour just gets passed down the line."
I have no clue to what extent the kids are being influenced, but there is no doubt there is some amount of negative influence.
It's so sad.
I hope you all find a way to deal with this one that gives you inner peace  :)

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bunnie

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Re: Children of family you have modified contact with
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2016, 12:43:01 PM »
Lately my sister has been oh so nice during holidays and birthdays, but is back to raging afterwards.  That is totally unacceptable and this year I started sending Birthday cards.  No gifts as long as she's "not comfortable with the kids spending time with you."  Really?  But it's perfectly okay during holidays and birthdays?  No way!

It is really painful but I've got to keep some dignity.

And the kids are completely confused and upset by the breach in our relationship.  I just hope and pray they remember what type of Aunt I have been to them and the close bond that we shared before their mother lost her damn mind.
To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize - Voltaire

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all4peace

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Re: Children of family you have modified contact with
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2016, 12:49:53 PM »
It really stinks.

One SIL is particularly bad. We were used for childcare shamelessly for many years while the rest of the family would go to events together. Then suddenly her kids weren't allowed to be with ours at all. When I inquired to her and ILs as to why, there was no response. Then suddenly we were needed for childcare again.

Her kids birthdays we are not invited to at all, quite obviously. She only occasionally gives my kids gifts for their bdays and won't publicly acknowledge them at all (while going overboard with the love and congratulations to the other nieces and nephews).

But, guess who's inviting us to her kids' bdays this year? And bulldozed right over the top of me when I said work wouldn't allow it. And has her sister strong arming us also? The hypocrisy of it really gets to me. I really don't even know how to respond to the cognitive dissonance of dealing with these dynamics. I started a thread called Silent Gaslighting about trying to make sense of it all.

With kids involved, we all really want to do the right thing, and I just don't know how to figure out what the right thing is. I hate being coerced into a command performance, even if it is for kids' bdays, when that same regard is glaringly missing for our own kids. But if we don't celebrate the kids' bdays, are we not as unkind and uncaring as she has been?

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bunnie

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Re: Children of family you have modified contact with
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2016, 08:23:57 PM »
What I've been doing is making my decision based on what is best for the kids at the time. 

I want the kids to learn two very important lessons.  One is that bad behavior and abuse should not be tolerated.  So if Nsis, BIL, Nmom are acting out, we take our leave.  This teaches the kids that they can stand up for themselves, leave the abusive situation and survive (as evidenced when they see us again. We are perfectly fine)

The other lesson I want them to learn is that we have not abandoned them.  And, as always they have a safe place to come to when they are able.  Now since their births, when my sister has been abusive, I've called her out and she calms down.  But I know (from the kids' mouths) that she is always saying or doing something to hurt their feelings.  It's the nature of the NPD. So I've taught them (as much as possible based on their age) how to handle things to keep her off their back.  But it is a VERY difficult disorder to deal with.

I also never miss a chance to give them a quick  2 minutes lesson on how to treat others.  Because my sister and mom have to abuse someone at any given time, it's actually a relief on the kids and BIL when she's raging at me.  They get a break.  Sad isn't it? 
« Last Edit: May 04, 2016, 08:27:38 PM by bunnie »
To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize - Voltaire