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My nieces are 16, 14 and 5 years of age and their mother, my sister, has recently started dating this guy and she rarely pays attention to the girls. The girls feel neglected and the older one got into an argument with her mom and it was so bad that my niece told me and her grandmother that lives with them that she wants to move out and that she doesn't want to be around her mom anymore. Right now it's as if my sister's first priority is her new boyfriend. My niece cries to my other sister and myself and I don't know what to tell her sometimes. I want to be there for her but I also don't think that telling her more negative things about her mom is going to help like my other sister tells her. I want to sho my nieces that my husband and I are there for them but how do I do that without showing them more negativity about their mom. Also my sister is realy unfair with my mom and treats her like her maid and is very unappreciative. Should I mention something to her or leave it anlone?


Maureen Whitehouse Replied: Here's my personal philosophy; If you can't say something supportive and helpful to someone, it's best to day nothing at all. Instead, realize that just by being the example of what it is you'd like for them to become will impact the situation for the better. In this case, if you get clear with what you'd like for everyone to experience in this situation, all you really want for everyone is for them to feel peaceful, loved and respected. That's a very good intention, but getting into other people's business is often the least effective way to accomplish desired results. Instead, since what you focus on, you'll get more of… if you see your sister as "the insensitive culprit" don't be surprised if she exhibits behaviors that personify exactly that. Whereas, if you start by seeing everyone as doing the best they can at this time and then respect them for that, you'll approach the situation from an entirely different perspective - one that is typically more loving, less judgmental and one that can also have an impact for the better much more quickly. Obviously what your sister really wants is love and if the only place she feels like she can get that at the moment is from her boyfriend, well then of course she'll want to spend most of her time with him. Here's something powerful that you can share with your nieces. Maybe they don't approve of their mother's choices and decisions and yet feel that they are affected by them directly or indirectly. When that's the case, instead of feeling victim to the situation they can become victors over it by choosing to give what it is they most want to get… in this case it's the love and caring attention of their mother. But truly that brand of love - love that comes from someone else is never, ever reliable - and as you've so wonderfully illustrated with your question - not even from a mother! In this world filled with people living in separate bodies, driven by different likes, dislikes and intentions, we cannot expect for anyone else to truly make us "happy ever after" Situations and circumstances are always changing as are people evolving, growing and learning via the lives they live. We can't expect anyone to put their lives on hold for us - which is what so many mothers feel that they do for their children only to feel then that their children owe them something for that in return. They don't! If you choose to sacrifice anything for another person, be prepared to realize that that is never loving. We can only receive perfect and undying love from ourselves! And how do we know if we've actually succeeded in tapping that kind of love? We don't need others to do anything for us in order for us to love them… we just love them because that's what feels best to us! No matter how they are acting towards us, anyone else or themselves. Only that is true love. Would you rather have your nieces really master a lesson in true love early on and go on to be powerful, amazing self-reliant women in all of their relationship. Or make them victim to the judgments about their mother, which will only serve to disempower them and loose sight of the love that they innately know and feel for her. Show them real, true undying love now, by asking them to join with you in accepting their mom just as she is and allowing for her to make mistakes is she must and by-the-way, if she doesn't feel judged she'll walk through situations that aren't truly led by love, but fear much, much more quickly. For years, I worked with teens in the public school system, who came from "dysfunctional homes". How I saw that is that the members of these families were all craving love yet no one really understood how to remove the obstacles to love's presence. Instead they were all in grave denial that they could live without sharing the very thing they all wanted to experience most. From my own personal experience, I knew that only one person in a family is needed to be the one to change everything. How? By deciding to love everyone just the way they are. PS - that does not mean that you'll be stuck with a situation you don't like - that's the power of love - once you accept people/things just as they are - they can change!
Posted On 2008-07-17 18:06:33
Annie Fox, M. Ed. Replied: I'm wondering if your sister was a great mom and an appreciative daughter (to your mom) BEFORE she started dating this guy. If that's the case then it shouldn't be that difficult for you, your other sister and your mom to give her a wake-up call and tell her what you've witnessed, heard and felt coming from those who are living under her roof! If, on the other hand, your sister has not been attentive to her daughters and "fair" and "respectful" and "appreciative" to your mother for some time now (beginning prior to her new beau) then that is likely to be a trickier conversation. In either case, the conversation needs to happen. You aren't alone… use the shared support of your husband, your other sister, your mom. Do it calmly and directly. Call a family meeting and communicate your concerns for the well-being of these three girls. These children need your help. As for your mom's well-being, if she can't stand up for herself and demand better treatment, then you can do it for her and/or help by arranging another living situation for her. I hope this helps. In friendship, Annie
Posted On 2008-05-10 12:19:39
Elinor Robin, PhD Replied: Often the start of a new relationship brings this kind of abandonment. Your sister is "using" the high of her new relationship to ease the pain and struggle of life. Infatuation pumps three chemicals into our bodies: phenylethylamine (PEA); dopamine, which triggers a feeling of bliss; and norepinepherine, which stimulates adrenaline production. The chemical effect is similar to amphetamines - amazingly high energy levels, euphoria, a racing heart, and sweaty palms - just what new lovers need for marathon dates and intense connection. The effect of this chemical infatuation can last (typically) from 6 months to 3 years. (Then our bodies build up a tolerance.) In the meantime your sister may doing real damage to the conneciton she shares with her kids. But, there is nothing you can do about it. It sounds like the chemical reaction is so strong that she wont be able to hear your warnings. Let your niece know that romances may come and go but family is forever and you will always be there to support her. Also, let her know that we all make mistakes - especially when our hormones have control of us. Remind her to watch this fiasco and try to learn from it. Other then that stay out of the way and hope that your sister crashes soon. (And, when she does send her to a meeting of Co-dependents Annonymous ( All single parents need help parenting. Actually, in our busy society, all parents can use assistance at some time or other. No child can have too many people who love him (or her). Thank you for being there for your nieces. Best wishes, Dr Elinor Robin
Posted On 2008-05-08 20:42:11
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