- 4 years ago
- Wedding: August 2016
This title probably sounds bad, but I didn’t know how else to word it. Sorry this is long; I need help and I know you bees will have good advice!
My older sister is mom to my two nieces, who are 10 (we’ll call her Anna) and 3 years old (we’ll call her Jane). Ever since Jane, the 3 year old was born, it became apparent pretty quickly that my sister seemed to favor her and began treating Anna rather harshly (constant helicoptering, constantly yelling at her for every small thing, micromanaging her interactions/conversations with family as if she can’t communicate on her own, etc.) Anna’s harsh treatment seems especially harsh because she’s a sweet, highly intelligent kid; she gets good grades and is well behaved and articulate. Anna is also a very sensitive child; unfortunately she’s significantly overweight, very tall, and her body has developed early for her age so some of the kids at school are quite mean to her and even adults often mistake her for a teenager. She came home crying not long ago because none of the girls at school want to be friends with her. It breaks me and my husband’s hearts to think of this adorable, clever child being ostracized at school and then for her own mom to also treat her meanly.
Baby Jane, on the other hand, is a bit of a brat but I’ve always brushed it off as the “terrible twos.” But the older Jane gets (she’s turning 4 next month), the worse her behavior she gets (horrible tantrums, violent outbursts, not following directions), and the NICER my sister treats her. She’s constantly gushing about Jane all over social media and sending numerous mass texts of pics of her…while Anna is never mentioned…like…ever. It has made my mom really upset in the past and she has criticized my sister for her parenting style out of concern for Anna’s emotional health. My sister does NOT take criticism well, my mother doesn’t give criticism well, and the two of them were at odds for a while over this confrontation.
My mom has complained to me ad infinum over the past 3 years about my sister and her parenting but I am a live and let live person and I don’t believe in telling other people how to raise their children, especially since I don’t have any, so I told my mother I wanted to stay out of it. However, over the past few months or so, Anna has been reaching out to me quite often to spend time and one night she told me she “wishes I were her mom” because her mom is “crazy.”
I don’t have a ton of experience with children so I figured all kids probably feel this way about their parents at one time or another. I certainly did sometimes growing up. But today, I had a conversation with my sister that really bothered me but I didn’t know how to handle it. She was on another one of her many praise sessions about how awesome baby Jane is. When she finished I asked, “and how is Anna doing?” My sister then exploded into a tirade about how utterly incorrigible Anna is and how lazy she is with her homework, how she’s an annoying know-it-all and how she told Anna she’s “not that smart” and called her a “heifer” twice in the past month. She went on to say “I’m giving up, I’m not helping her with her homework anymore, I don’t care if her grades slip. If she thinks she’s so smart, she’s gonna have to do it on her own, I’m washing my hands of her. The teachers can deal with it” and then the worst: “I seriously just want to call the police for them to come and get her sometimes…she needs to just GET OUT OF MY HOUSE.” And then she laughed.
May I remind you, we’re talking about a 10 year old child. I was speechless and rushed her off the phone because I was so stunned and appalled. I love my sister and we are close but she is very stubborn, hypersensitive and we had one bad fight many years ago where I told her my honest feelings about something she did and we didn’t speak for almost a year…what do I do? I really want to help my niece but also mind my own business. What would YOU do?!?