When shared custody is multiplication rather than division: Or, how I became a mother of my brother’s child
My husband and I share custody with my brother and sister-in-law’s daughter. So how have two childless people adjusted to parenting an almost-tween?
The answer is: surprisingly well. And this is why…
My sister is amazing with people, confident and outgoing and extraordinarily empathetic. And me? Well, I was the best at logistics. I always had two sets of lunch money in case my sister forgot hers (which was often useful), and contingency plans for every situation. As we grew up and left home the relationship dynamic stayed the same. Then, last year, we had a family crisis, and I realized that the dynamic had shifted, and I needed to shift as well.
Family member in the middle: Being stuck between two family members who aren’t talking to each other
Every adult family relationship dynamic is different. For me, our difficulty is that my older brother, who I am very close to, will not talk to our dad. My brother knows I will not cut contact with our dad, even though he feels I should. He has respect for my desire for a relationship with my dad. Still, being trapped in the middle is difficult. Here’s how navigate this tricky “family member in the middle” situation…
Remember that post about how to maintaining a relationship with difficult family members? I’m about to drop some deep family secrets on this site today. My solution to maintaining relationships with difficult siblings is this: Fucking DON’T. I don’t know if I can offer the definitive advice on the topic of ditching difficult family members, but I can offer up a few insights from my own 30+ years of experience…
I’m engaged to marry the love of my life next year. We’ve been together for four years, and I’ve been a step-mother to his eleven-year-old for three-and-a-half of those four years. I really love this kid — I often feel like he could be my own child, and we have a special “just us” language we regularly use. My step-son has repeatedly told us that he doesn’t want us to have a child of our own. His dad and I do plan to have a child, and since we’re older it’ll probably be sooner than later.
It was never going to happen to me like it did with those parents who hit the one-year mark, watch their little baby toddle around and say, “Oh… I want another one!” After a terrible pregnancy that ended in an emergency C-section, I decided I was done for good. Or at the very least a good looooong time. I wrote myself letters throughout the pregnancy to remind myself that YES it was that bad, the same way I kept track of the (still ongoing) night wakings, issues with breastfeeding. Finances have been kept under strict supervision, and baby expenditures can be easily totalled.
My sister and I have emotionally abusive parents. They say that they want to be there for us now, but don’t know how to change. I don’t know how to explain to them how to start building proper parent-child relationships. I’d really appreciate some ideas on how to do this.
My little brother will be 23 this year he’s had issues with alcohol, drugs, and just general defiance since he was 12 or 13. He has said horrible things to me, to my husband, and to my mother on different occasions. He has shown up to holidays drunk and late and a bunch of other stuff too (I try not to keep track). No matter what he does he’s still my brother and I love him and I decided I’m not going to cut him out of my life. I’m going to give you my advice for dealing with a difficult sibling or family member you want to keep in your life.