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Moonhawk

Post Holiday Family drama, updated

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I was done at "I don't argue with children"...

He was acting like a child...I hope that you are feeling better about it now.  Your children come first, no matter what.  

 

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Take it easy on OP.  She was clearly blindsided by the whole thing.  She's trying to get packed up to leave, her kid is crying, her BIL is yelling, she has no idea what's going on... it's ok that she didn't handle it *just right* in the moment- she also didn't sacrifice her ds to BIL... she said honestly that she had no idea what was going on.  Once it was sorted out, she DID apologize to ds, and I'm sure as decisions are made, she will continue to talk with him about it.  

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BIL sounds unhinged.

I would leave it to your husband to decide what to do.  Personally I would not have a fight with a sibling over this, I would just stay away until he started to act like a normal human adult.  So, I guess there isn't much to lose by your dh sending that text.

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Hindsight is 20/20, and I can see why you didn't react in the way we all think would've been optimal. Honestly, hardly anybody would have!

However, I want to go back to how you feel now. You say you feel this is a small thing. If I'm understanding this timeline correctly, this man grabbed a toy out of your son's hands without asking, manhandled him, hurt him, and then pre-emptively told you that your son was a liar before your son could make his complaint. He then continued to assert that your son was lying, threw a tantrum, and got mad at you for trying to establish the facts rather than taking his word for it as an adult. And when he didn't make any headway with you, he went and tried to gaslight your husband about what happened as well.

Nothing about this is "small". If your husband considers this a dealbreaker, I think he's right. YOU aren't breaking up this family, neither is your husband. His BROTHER did that when he decided to bully your child.

Even if you and your husband ultimately decide to keep lines of communication open, I'd pull back dramatically and set up some serious, non-negotiable boundaries, such as: BIL is not allowed to correct your child or touch him unless it is a legitimate safety issue and you two cannot do it, your children are not to be left alone with BIL unless another trustworthy adult (preferably you or your husband) is there, your family will immediately leave any gathering if your BIL starts to throw a tantrum or starts insisting that your son is a liar (massive, massive red flag there), visits are strictly limited both in frequency and duration. If you suspect alcohol or drugs were involved in this incident then you might also decide that you'll leave when he becomes visibly intoxicated, whether or not he's gotten aggressive with anybody.

If you have a primary interest in keeping your son in touch with his cousins, and you live close enough, you could start inviting them and possibly their mom to meet up and do things but not their dad. The trick is to "organically" schedule all such outings on days when she's available but he's at work or otherwise occupied. (You might also talk about signing the kids up for shared extracurricular classes or school break camps, if you live close enough to do that. Voila, now the cousins can all interact and nobody has to worry about crazy Uncle Bully. Plus they learn how to swim/paint/fence/rock climb/whatever!)

Edit: To make this more clear, because I don't think I can possibly say this strongly enough, I think the fact that your brother-in-law followed your son into the kitchen to do damage control by questioning your son's honesty even before your son had said anything or you had reacted is extremely worrying and raises more red flags and alarm bells than I can count. Everything else is bad, but that's REALLY ALARMING. Just reading that makes me concerned for his own spouse and children, because there is absolutely no situation where this behavior is normal or acceptable. That right there is what makes me think that maintaining a relationship with this man may be impossible. This is the huge thing that overshadows everything else.

Edited by Tanaqui
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Thanks for the input everyone 🙂  To clear up and update, here's what's going to happen:

DH will handle the issue directly with his brother, no involvement from me, so I'm not sure exactly how he'll do it. He'll tell me about it but I've given all my input already.

There was no alcohol at the event, no prior run ins between any kid and BIL. We've never had a reason to have to police interactions before. Previous issues with BIL's behavior have been between him and DH, and obviously not of a type we were concerned with how he would treat kids; sometimes you just have annoying people in your family who aren't a threat. 

Going forward

1) BIL will never be alone with our kids. We can't be with every kid every moment (4 kids, 2 of us), so DH will stick to his brother at family events to make sure he's there for any and every interaction. This is not a happy prospect for DH, which leads to point #2:

2) We will probably limit family events to 1 or 2 a year, maybe Easter and Christmas. Or Thanksgiving and Christmas. Or just Easter. We will give kids option to not have to go, if they take this option I'll stay home with them. We'll be out of town or obligated somewhere else for other events. In the case of Mother's Day, birthdays, etc., DH will go alone if anyone goes. He's already told his mom this (since attendees at family events have already dropped to basically her, our family, and BIL's family) so hopefully there will be less pressure to schedule things. She'll still pressure, but DH can remind her of the reasons and that we are not really interested at this point.

2.5) Family events may not happen at all after DH talks with BIL. While I don't know exactly when/what will be said, DH has seemed pretty firm on the idea of an apology. Not to demean or humiliate his brother, but because he thinks that in relationships there are expected ways you treat others and apologizing when you hurt someone is one of them. Especially since the person hurt is a child. This was not modeled in their FOO at all, so he knows his brother won't take this well (in case you didn't get that from what happened in the first place, lol) but doesn't think this negates the need. He's trying to figure out how to do it without it coming across as a threat, but still making it necessary to resume any type of normal relations between the two families; maybe that's not possible, but his intention is to model functional relationships to DS, NOT to punish BIL. Also, DH thinks I should get an apology as well, though I told him I'm more concerned BIL realizes that badmouthing me to DH will not fly. DH said that both issues will be addressed. 

3) Events with just the kids/cousins are not really going to happen without BIL, so this move means little contact with cousins. That's just a cost of how this will happen and the current family dynamics.

4) As for the kid involved, when we told him to immediately find a parent in the future, he said that's exactly what he did and that I took care of it. Kid feels I stood up for him and he left mid-conversation because it was being handled. While I still think I could have done more (though perhaps not without starting a real drag-out fight), DS was happy with what I DID do and knows DH and I will stand up for him. 

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Thank you for the update — I’m glad you have a plan going forward, and I’m especially happy to hear that your ds felt that you stood up for him and that he knows he can count on you and your dh to protect him.

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I'm impressed with how your dh is handling his brother, and how you are both handling the whole issue. Gold stars! 

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Thanks for the update. I'm glad your DS has great parents who are willing to follow up to model good behavior.

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That’s a great update, especially the part about your son feeling confident that you had his back.  Awesome!

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