Cut­ting ties be­cause of a prob­lem­atic wife

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - An­nie Lane

Sadly, my brother isn’t speak­ing to me. He is mar­ried with two chil­dren, 17 and 15. I have been part of their life, al­though it has been dif­fi­cult. His wife is from a dif­fer­ent coun­try. Her fam­ily is all back there. She sab­o­tages all ef­forts I make to see her chil­dren and has told me that my chil­dren and I are dead to her. They didn’t come to my daugh­ter’s wed­ding and did not al­low the chil­dren to come.

We have never done any­thing to up­set them; how­ever, I have been told I am not a good sis­terin-law be­cause I didn’t live up to what she felt I should do. I worked full time, went to school and raised my girls while her chil­dren were young. She said she ex­pected me to baby-sit and spend a lot of time with them. I have tried to con­tact the kids, but my brother says to not con­tact them. He has cut ties with ev­ery­one in our fam­ily, in­clud­ing his other sib­lings. My mother had se­ri­ous health is­sues, and he does not al­low his kids to see her. I think that his wife has men­tal health is­sues and that it is calmer when he does not have to deal with fam­ily. Any sug­ges­tions on keep­ing their chil­dren in our lives, or do we wait un­til they are older? — Hurt­ing Aunt If your sis­ter-in­law’s con­cern re­ally were that you didn’t spend enough time with her chil­dren, then why would she ban you from their lives? It sounds as if she in­deed has se­vere anger or anx­i­ety is­sues and would set­tle on any­thing to re­sent; for now, that’s you and your re­la­tion­ship with her chil­dren, but if it weren’t that, it would be some­thing else. It’s dis­ap­point­ing that your brother has al­lowed his wife’s men­tal ill­ness to dic­tate their en­tire lives. He’s in deep.

Your niece and nephew are prob­a­bly aware that their grand­mother isn’t well, be­cause peo­ple that high-strung fill whole house­holds with ten­sion. It would be good for the chil­dren to have health­ier fam­ily mem­bers in their lives, and you should make an ef­fort to give them that. But wait un­til they are 18. If you reached out to them now, it would only make your brother and his wife an­gry, and your niece and nephew are stuck liv­ing with that stress.

As the North­ern English say, you got the “wrong end of the stick” on your ad­vice to “Crack­berry Wife,” whose hus­band is con­stantly on his phone work­ing. I lived a crack­berry life be­fore I had chil­dren, and I was able to learn how to let go of my ad­dic­tion to work and ac­tu­ally be present for the child I chose to have. Mr. Crack­berry can make the same choice, and he is choos­ing not to, as his wife en­ables him.

Your ad­vice that he is of­fer­ing a strong work model to the kids is com­pletely wrong. He is teach­ing his kids that men can ig­nore you and can’t be in­ter­rupted, whereas good ol’ Mommy is ap­par­ently al­ways avail­able to be in­ter­rupted. Fur­ther, why would you ad­vise her to be happy that her hus­band spends 30 to 60 min­utes a day with his chil­dren? That isn’t par­ent­ing.

Emo­tional con­nec­tions are dif­fi­cult and hard work. He can­not be a good fa­ther un­til he learns pa­tience and how to lis­ten well. He needs bound­aries. He needs to tell his kids and wife when he is work­ing, and he needs to tell them that he will make time for them dur­ing which he will not an­swer work calls. If he is not will­ing to do that, he is not will­ing to par­ent or be a spouse and he is a neg­a­tive in­flu­ence for the whole fam­ily. — Lisa N.

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