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amyx4

No contact with a parent...looking for advice

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So, I've had no contact with my parents for about 8 years. Two year ago, my father passed. Dh and I and the kids attended the funeral. As we were leaving, my mother hissed a few unkind things into dh ear.  Other than that, there was no "scene" at the funeral.

My sister has lived out of state since she was eighteen. She now has a 4 year old. My sister has initiated contact and visited my home for an afternoon for the last two summers with the child but not her dh. (I'm not sure how often her dh is in this state)   I believe that my sister and mother visit each other tons. 

My sister send a txt about her next visit with her dh and child.   The txt reads, "We're doing cake and lunch for my dh's bday at mom's on XXX at 0:00pm  if you guys can make it. I'm also doing an itinerary if any of you can make it to join us for any of it." She then adds a list of gocarts, museums, waterparks etc. for each day.

I want to txt back, "Did you fall and hit your head?!"  Honestly, it was good to see her for an afternoon once a year. Now, she's moved to expensive events, near my mother, and very likely my mother will be at all of these events and perhaps some of my mother's relatives that have taken my mother's side.  Ugh., ugh, ugh.

I'm leaning towards telling her that 1. my teens aren't interested in those events. 2. with teens' work schedules it's had to get them all together at the same time. 3. dh is not off from work that week. 4. all of the those events are outside our budget. 5. I'm NOT going anywhere near my mother without a million licensed therapist.   Suggestions?

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I'd keep it simple.

"Hi sis, glad to know you will be in town. We're not able to make the events you listed but if you and dh and child would like to stop by for a visit we could make that work on (date) or (date).

Love ya!"

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Something like “Happy Bday DH! We can’t join you for your festivities, but next time you’re  visiting at our house bring along DH and we can have another bday cake him then!”

Edited by Pen
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Keep it simple. No need to list out all the reasons. Also, try not to hold it against her that she invited you to your mom’s. She can’t possibly know all that you’ve been through and probably thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask. 

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2 minutes ago, maize said:

I'd keep it simple.

"Hi sis, glad to know you will be in town. We're not able to make the events you listed but if you and dh and child would like to stop by for a visit we could make that work on (date) or (date).

Love ya!"

Perfect.

I'm in a very similar scenario and all my RSVPs sound like this. There is no way I'm letting anyone back me into a corner as to why (or attempt to scrounge ammunition for gossip), so I never give reasons. Just "Can't make it, but hope to see you when you're in town." 

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I am coming at this from the other side, but I do think you might be overreacting.  Does your sister have teenagers? I don’t, and I wouldn’t think about their schedules.  We didn’t work jobs or have many outside activities as teens, I only have little kids, and it likely wouldn’t occur to me at all.

Why would you be upset or offended about the activities? She’s clearly doing these things with her child and inviting you along in case you want to come. There’s no need to be rude about it; just say we aren’t available.

My estranged sister does not live close by, but if she did it would be difficult when it comes to birthday parties and such.  My kids are very close to my parents and I would never not invite them.  Also, my parents’ house is twice the size of mine and I have most of my kids’ birthdays and such there.  It’s just much larger and better set up.  I don’t know what I would do; I would still invite my sister and her family out of kindness and because I don’t want to exclude them.  I’d understand they wouldn’t come, but I wouldn’t want her to get upset over the invitation either.  I think it sounds like your sister genuinely wants contact and was inviting you to lunch and the activities out of kindness and wanting to see you.  

Edited by Medicmom2.0
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Is it possible that your sister genuinely wants to include you and your family in these activities, and perhaps even hopes that fun events like these will eventually help heal the rift between you and others in the family?

You're still definitely within your rights to decline, and if that's what you choose, the simple, no-excuses responses suggested above are perfect. But I don't think it sounds like your sister has nefarious motives here. I think she's hoping that your family will come and be a part of the celebration.

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37 minutes ago, maize said:

I'd keep it simple.

"Hi sis, glad to know you will be in town. We're not able to make the events you listed but if you and dh and child would like to stop by for a visit we could make that work on (date) or (date).

Love ya!"

I would definitely do this!!!  The older I get (I am 52), the less inclined I am to feel the need to give excuses, etc. for my decisions.  They are going to think what they want anyway :-).  Just keep it simple, decline nicely, and let it leave your mind.  You know the situation and that is all that matters (whether they get it or not).  Don't let worry over how to respond or what their intentions are (or aren't) rob you of your joy.  

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I didn't pick up anything in the OP about doubting sis's good intentions. It's a little baffling that she's acting unaware of the rift with mom, but it didn't seem to me that the OP thought she was bad or wrong for just wanting to spend time together as a family. 

I thought the issue was how to avoid the "big happy family" thing without cutting off sis when they would both like a relationship.

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I understand that you are estranged from your mother, obviously there are some things going on there.  But if your sister has visited you and you have enjoyed the visits it sounds like you do not have the same sorts of issues with your sister.  And if there aren’t, then I don’t see a reason to get upset or respond with something, to me at least, seems borderline snarky.  I think if you don’t have the same issues with your sister that you do with your mother, you should try to keep those issues separate from your sister.  

So, just tell your sister you can’t make it.  If you have to have a reason, “can’t get time off” is a perfectly reasonable reason

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My sister is very aware of the rift because my mom filled everyone that would listen in on the details. After the rift, I was suddenly not invited to weddings, baby showers, birthdays etc., No one on my mother's side called and asked my anything.  I was just suddenly left off the list.  Someone threw my sister a baby shower in this state and I wasn't invited.

At my dad's funeral, my brother's girlfriend says, "ohhh...so you're Susie..." It was so obvious that I had been talked about. 

For many, many years my sister avoided me. She's only started to see me because she wants her kid to meet my kids. 

I want to thank everyone for all the suggestions. I really do read and think about everything that's said.

 

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46 minutes ago, Medicmom2.0 said:

I am coming at this from the other side, but I do think you might be overreacting.  Does your sister have teenagers? I don’t, and I wouldn’t think about their schedules.  We didn’t work jobs or have many outside activities as teens, I only have little kids, and it likely wouldn’t occur to me at all.

Her dh has 20somethings from his first marriage and a grandkid. Sis & dh got married when the kids were six and eight. They had joint custody. So, they have had teens in their household.

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1 hour ago, Lang Syne Boardie said:

Perfect.

I'm in a very similar scenario and all my RSVPs sound like this. There is no way I'm letting anyone back me into a corner as to why (or attempt to scrounge ammunition for gossip), so I never give reasons. Just "Can't make it, but hope to see you when you're in town." 

This is one of those life lessons I wish I'd learned decades ago, but unfortunately didn't until hanging out here. Along with "No," as a complete sentence and passing the beandip. 

OP, I don't blame you for not wanting to risk a run in with your Mom. I wouldn't either. Sorry for what you're going through. 

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1 hour ago, Medicmom2.0 said:

Why would you be upset or offended about the activities? She’s clearly doing these things with her child and inviting you along in case you want to come. There’s no need to be rude about it; just say we aren’t 

The area is a HCOL vacation destination. The cheapest event on that list is $40pp.

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We just ran into this last month with DH. He has had to be minimal/no contact with his dad for years. His half sister got married a couple of weeks ago. Wedding was at dad's house. DH wanted to get into all of the reasons we weren't going to attend and I finally convinced him to keep it simple and just write something like: "Congratulations and thank you so much for the invitation but unfortunately we will be unable to make it." His half sister replied with a very non-personality disordered response, like "Totally understand, thanks for letting me know and thanks for the best wishes!" Meanwhile his dad blew up his phone until DH finally had to block him. 

Non-personality disordered people do not need the lengthy replies and will just take what you say at face value. 🙂

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I would tell her I'm so excited that she's coming and suggest a different get-together that you can do with her, that doesn't conflict with any of hers.  Even just coffee at her hotel some evening.

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I'm so sorry, I  won't be able to do group events.   I really enjoyed our visits in the past.

And maybe another option.

I hate spell check. 

Edited by gardenmom5
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I have no contact with my parents and my sister chooses to have no contact with me despite attempts on my part to have a relationship with her and her kids. It is what it is. I don't have time or emotional well being to waste on any of it. I can't change them, I can only choose how I react to them. If they contacted me, I would cautiously give them the benefit of the doubt but the first time I sensed foul play or mind games, I would be gone in the blink of an eye.

It honestly sounds to me like your sister means no harm and just wants to include you and your family. I seriously doubt she is oblivious to the fact that you and your family have be left out of family get-togethers in the past. Perhaps she is just avoiding the elephant in the room that is your relationship, or lack thereof, with your mother in an effort to bring the family back together and honestly believes she is doing a good thing. Who knows, it doesn't sound like you have straight forwardly asked her what her intentions are so any attempt to figure out her intentions is just a guess. If you really want to know ask her straight up what her intentions are. My personal belief is that in person or over the phone would be better than text (where body language and tone are often indiscernible) for this conversation . If you don't want to open that can of worms, politely decline and move on, it's not worth stewing over.

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Say that you are very busy and cannot make it. I am in similar situation and is the target of well-meaning female relatives trying to setup meetings between all family members at birthday parties, wedding receptions and other venues. I have even been invited to go to lunch with one person only to find 13 other people (who I do not want to eat with) sitting at the table in a restaurant. These things are manipulative even though they are well intentioned. I neither want to feel awkward nor feel controlled and manipulated. I have even been told to "take the high road" and go to these events and sit there for the benefit of others and endure anything said because appealing to my good nature and sentimentality always used to work. My family is argumentative - even if I said that we had a sports event to attend for the kids, they will start asking when the event starts and start planning around that event etc. So, I just say that I can not make it this time and that I would try to be there another time.

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I have to contradictory suggestions depending on your feeling about the whole thing:

If you think your sister was well-intentioned about the whole thing, I'd reply with something like "I'd love to see you more often, and have the kids meet up too, but I can't make that outing. Let's meet up next month. I can do $DATE, $DATE, $DATE at my house. Do any of those work for you?"

As you said, she knows the deal between you and your mom. You don't need to spell it out again. I don't know what's going through her head, but people can be weird about faaaaaaaamily.

If, however, you think there's a chance that she's being manipulated by your mother so that your mother can get you there and do a Big Public Reconciliation, or berate you, or make a Big Public Fuss that you didn't show up - bring it into the open. "You know I'd love to see you more often, and I love having the kids meet their cousins more, but c'mon sis. Mom and I don't get along, and if we both go to this party it's going to be super awkward and uncomfortable for everybody. Instead, how about you and I do something a little less fancy later?"

What you really want to do in this case is make sure your feelings are known so that you KNOW how to take it if your sister ever attempts to have you and mom "accidentally" meet up.

I don't know the full details, so I don't even know if it applies, but I would suggest avoiding overly emotional words like "abuse", or trying to lay blame on one party or the other. That never helps the conversation, even when you're obviously in the right. Perhaps especially when you're obviously in the right. If the conversation looks like it's moving into the direction of who's at fault, or how your mom feels, or whether or not you should be "bitter" about whatever happened - don't let it go there. Dig in and say "Listen, it's been a long time and I don't want to rehash this with you. This is between me and Mom." and then keep up with "This is between us, I don't want to ask you to take sides or drag you into the middle" until she stops or you decide it's best to hang up.

Edited by Tanaqui
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3 hours ago, amyx4 said:

The area is a HCOL vacation destination. The cheapest event on that list is $40pp.

 

That’s irrelevant because you don’t want to meet with your mother and her supporters. Not even if it were free best I understand you.

if all was otherwise good for you to go you could suggest something less expensive.  

But you don’t —

so just give a polite “no”. Acknowledge the bday .  Move on.

nothing your sister can do would be a perfect option because of the underlying problem. 

If you want to see her, her dh, her kids, specify some option that would work without conflict with her existing plans.  If you don’t, just say no with no without suggestion of get together 

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6 hours ago, AmandaVT said:

Non-personality disordered people do not need the lengthy replies and will just take what you say at face value. 🙂

 

Agreed. No reason to throw logs on the fire either. Some people just take lengthy explanations and dig in.

If you're looking for a resource on handling this sort of thing, Bill Eddy is great: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/5-types-people-who-can-ruin-your-life/201809/biff-4-ways-respond-hostile-comments.

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4 hours ago, mathnerd said:

Say that you are very busy and cannot make it. I am in similar situation and is the target of well-meaning female relatives trying to setup meetings between all family members at birthday parties, wedding receptions and other venues. I have even been invited to go to lunch with one person only to find 13 other people (who I do not want to eat with) sitting at the table in a restaurant. These things are manipulative even though they are well intentioned. I neither want to feel awkward nor feel controlled and manipulated. I have even been told to "take the high road" and go to these events and sit there for the benefit of others and endure anything said because appealing to my good nature and sentimentality always used to work. My family is argumentative - even if I said that we had a sports event to attend for the kids, they will start asking when the event starts and start planning around that event etc. So, I just say that I can not make it this time and that I would try to be there another time.

 

I’ve been put in that position of realizing too late that the invitation is actually someone’s attempt at trying to force a relationship to be restored. Sadly, it resulted in having to decline all future relationships from the do-gooder.

It’s a hard place to be - if I would go to the extent of describing *why* the relationship is fractured, I’d feel like I were gossiping, kwim? But for other people to behave in a way that assumes the original offense was inconsequential, well, that’s not right, either. 

OP, keep it to a simple decline as advised above. Who knows what your sister’s motives are. But you have successfully met individually with her in the past, just be open to doing that again, on your terms.  

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Yes, I've been ambushed too!  I think maize's message is perfect. Cheery and less is more.

I have a similar situation with my sister and mother. My sister and I keep a good but somewhat distant relationship, I have been estranged from our mother while she is close to her. It's... awkward and I do feel bad for my sister as our mother puts her in the middle (I absolutely do not). She doesn't have kids yet though, and it's going to be very interesting if/when they do.

My sister got married last year and it was the first time that I had to be in the same place as my mother and her family. My aunts were surprisingly happy to see me and very kind. My mother very obviously and rudely blanked me! Probably the least painful option. We didn't stay for the reception and my sister, while sad, understood.

 

 

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