- 8 years ago
- Wedding: August 2010
okay…this is something i’ve been debating for like, at least 2 years…and i don’t know what to do, so i thought maybe the bees would have a good answer! or maybe i’ll just vent 😉
i have really close relationships with my parents, who are my biggest role models and who also rely on me a great deal for emotional support, and my brother and sil, who are my close friends as well as family. however, my parents and brother/sil have a pretty strained relationship. it’s not like they outwardly fight or are unpleasant to each other–it’s just the opposite. they’re really nonconfrontational–my parents are actually kind of terrified of conflict and do everything to avoid it.
the main problem is that in setting boundaries to create their own individual family (which is a completely understandable thing to do), my brother (and sil) have been really hurtful to my parents, over and over again, for years. during their wedding planning, during my sil’s pregnancy, and now during my niece’s first year. they moved crosscountry to the same town my parents live in for graduate school, so before the communication issues seemed to stem from distance, but now it’s like they try to maintain their independence by avoiding my parents (even though they’re financially dependent on them–which is probably related but is a kind of it’s own can of worms!). i don’t think they mean to hurt my parents’ feelings, but i don’t think they consider their perspective when they make decisions. and my parents aren’t being oversensitive–it’s things like, last thanksgiving my brother and sil decided to do thanksgiving alone at a vacation house without discussing it with me or my parents, or even telling my parents (seriously: i told my parents, they didn’t mention it to them until a week before the holiday). and now, what brought this up is that my parents are thinking about taking all of us on a big family vacation for their 40th anniversary, and they started planning it around my bro/sil’s schedule, and all the sudden my bro/sil are saying they are too busy to take a vacation until 2012 (which isn’t really true…). those are only the big things–there’s a ton of small things too.
part of the problem is that my sil isn’t close to her family, and she’s kinda high maintenance, so i think my brother spends a lot of time catering to her needs; so, if she doesn’t see the need to work on having a relationship with my parents, my brother doesn’t really try.
also, one clarification: my parents are actually very “cool” parents. and i’m not just saying that–my parents are professors and are like, famous in their field for being mentors. their graduate students and junior colleagues love them, and my parents completely get what it’s like being in your 20s/30s.
so anyway, what’s happened is that the relationship is really one-sided: my parents bend over backwards trying to help them and get them to “like” them. they never mention feeling hurt, because they’re afraid that if they say something my bro/sil will just stay away more and they won’t see their granddaughter. which is basically their greatest fear. my parents talk to me about it, because they need to vent and i’m so much closer to them. i’ve been telling them for years that they need to discuss these issues with my brother, but it’s never a good time (ie wedding planning, baby, school, etc). they know it’ll never get better until they talk to him, but they’re afraid to. they did try before, about specific issues, but it’s never delved into the larger problems.
and finally, here’s my question: do i keep just listening to my parents frustrations about this, and keep encouraging them to talk to my brother, or should i say something to my brother myself? i don’t want to get in the middle and make things worse, but i sort of already AM in the middle since my parents talk to me about it….