Ok, so as the title says, I have what I feel is a rather large family issue leaving me conflicted.
To give a bit of background, my sister is married and pregnant, this is the first grandchild for our parents. Our father has been out of the picture for quite some time due to other issues (namely he technically a sociopath, which is important for later on). Now my sister and I have always had issues with our parents over the years, as many children do, though I will admit some of our issues could be unique. We weren't abused just we had parents who hated each other and caused us much anxiety and grief over the years up to their Divorce (which didn't happen until my sister and I were well into our twenties).
Ok now for more recent events, my sister in what I can only describe in a sheer act of malice requested to have our mother not present at her baby shower, and refused to attend any others. When it came to how she went about it, she manipulated friends and her husband into "making the choice" and acting on it, and made it appear she was entirely unaware. She admitted to me last night she requested it, though quickly tried to cover her tracks when I reacted to the comment. She refuses to see her actions as anything more than the right choice for the betterment of her, and also refuses to see the way her actions have effected others, I have been thrown into the middle of this, partially out of choice, and partially out of a need and partially out of necessity. So in an attempt to get her to see the results of her actions I attempted to have a conversation with her about it, and the awkward situation that I was in, in a hopes that it might get her to view further outside of her bubble towards how others might be feeling. And the moment I mentioned anything but being supported of her decision I was told how she had nothing to be sorry for, did nothing wrong, and it is only between her and our mother and everyone else should keep their nose out. And that I am wrong for putting any responsibility for the awkward position that I landed in on her, when in truth all of us have some kind of hand in it, such as her inability to see that by only staying in contact with me she has placed me in that position without "requesting it". My hope of her seeing how she could be effecting others with her choice through the position I was placed in failed miserably, and her actions and words reflected our father. A person who was very destructive to our family in the past due to his sociopathic tendencies, she is acting in the same manor refusing to show empathy, and even consider that any action she could take could have any fault to it.
So I am left feeling conflicted, I was becoming an uncle, my sister and brother-in-law parents, our mother a grandmother, roles were changing in ways that I original could only describe as wonderful (the grin on my face when they told me she was pregnant wouldn't leave my face for days). But in order to remain in the life of the soon to be born nephew, I have to be able to turn my back to their actions, which I feel is condoning their actions when deep down I am appalled they could act in such a manor. My heart is heavy with the thought that I have to distance myself from them because I can't justify their action, or be party to it. And to stay in their lives she has made it clear that at the very least I would have to accept her actions as necessary. I don't know what to do, my moral compass tells me what they did was unjustified and wrong, but I hate the thought of having to remove myself from the life of my soon to be born nephew, of whom I was looking forward to seeing grow up into a man, to keep firm with my morals I would be removing myself from even seeing that.
As an additional note, other actions my sister has taken over the years, even before the pregnancy has been leading up to this, but she had never done anything this extreme. I thought that her actions were purely a phase due to her still trying to find her place in the world, and find herself. In truth now I see it as, she got so lost in herself she has lost sight of everyone else.
Should I stick hard to my morals and likely lose that part of the family dynamic, or should I step out of it and turn the blind eye to it all in hopes she might come to her senses? Or am I over reacting to her actions?
My grandfather survived some of the most grizzly combat in the South Pacific in WW2. He'd married my 17 year old grandmother right before he left for 3 years. They did the best they could, but raised my mother and uncle in a highly dysfunctional manner. My grandmother was extremely emotionally abusive and domineering. By the time I came along, she had changed but the damage was done between my mother and her. Grandma was an angel to me, and I often thought my mother was unreasonably judgmental towards her, and sometimes outright cruel. My mother - quite admirably - didn't tell me a lot of things about how she and her brother grew up until after both my grandparents were dead.
All that to say that I've spent a lot of time in the middle of dysfunctional relationships, and against that backdrop I offer this advice:
You're within your rights and perhaps obligated as a brother to speak your mind to your sister. But be careful not to triangulate and try to control the relationship. Remain close to both, call them out when they make a foul play, but don't run messages or send signals between the two. Keep their confidence. Let them vent, but at the same time let them know the relationship issue is between them, and you're not going to get involved beyond giving your opinion.
Try to stay close to both.
Good luck, bud.
Thanks for your input, and it is good to hear from someone who also came from a dysfunctional family life (though I am sorry you had to go through it as well). I am not so worried about control the relationship as is trying to determine how I should handle my own feelings on the matter and my now changed view on my sister. I have made multiple attempts to validate her actions and even made an attempt to ignore it when I went out with them once, even took them out to dinner at a local pub. To say even sitting in the same booth with them felt horribly awkward was putting it mildly, I couldn't even look at them the same way as I used to. I was hoping that by empathizing I might at least get enough of an understanding to accept it, but have been unable to.
I had this discussion with my mother as well, seeing as she had a hand in it too, had the discussion a few weeks ago. She immediately said she was sorry, though I told her that part wasn't necessary I was just wanting to get it off my chest and hope that by expressing my view point I might get some more closure and understanding, since the built up stress actually was causing me to feel so sick that i had to go to the doctor. She at least empathized with my position in it, took responsibility for her part in it all as well, and hoped that things would get better. Which is what I was hopping my sister would do as well, though saying sorry wasn't necessary, but to at least show empathy as to how her actions have effected others. Instead I got verbally attacked for saying that her actions could effect anyone else other than her and our mother, and any awkward feelings on my part are completely my own fault, and couldn't possibly be the result of any actions of hers. I tried to initially be light about it, even chuckling when I said "you gotta realize what kind of awkward position I am in". After her verbal attack I lost it, I had been attempting for months to try and at least empathize with her and understand why she chose to act in such a way, and in an instant she had no issue in discrediting my feelings about the situation I was in, as situation I was in partially due to the very actions I was trying to understand and accept. The baby shower has passed, but the results still linger, and she accuses of anyone of being anything other than accepting to be trying to "manipulate her". When it couldn't be that her actions actually I don't know... saddened us?
It's hard to see past the judgments to the data, but it looks like the data is:
* Your sister wouldn't allow your mother to be invited to her shower
* ... would not attend other showers, possibly for fear mother might be present
* ... would not tell you she was wrong to do it
* And you believe she was.
You may be right (I don't know), but it's her choice, and it is clear she is committed to it. It is possible that as time goes by, she may ease up on her bar of mother's presence. It won't be because you pushed.
I'd say you absolutely should stay out of it. The objective effect on you is minor: you likely didn't attend the shower, being a man, and if you did, your mother's absence is not crushing; you can see your mother at other events. Letting people make their own decisions on whom to associate with is not compromising your morals. It's letting others have their own, without your oversight.
Full disclosure: I completely cut my own mother out of my life for about a decade. She was dangerous to me. I needed to develop the strength to not let her have an effect on me. Later I relaxed the rule, when I no longer needed it. My father told me that if I wouldn't talk to her and accept gifts from her then he would no longer be a backup for me financially (I was in grad school). I thought about it half an hour, called him back and said, "It's not worth it. Keep your money." He changed his mind, but I didn't: the strings on it were clear, and I would have done anything to keep her out of my life. My point in this paragraph is that it's possible that she needs to do this. It's also possible that she doesn't, and is making an unnecessary decision. She's the one that knows which it is.
Thank you for your input, I will take it into consideration, but her past and present actions make it mildly difficult to turn a blind eye without having to distance myself from many others.
OK; she's got her difficulties, but so do you. It may be hard for you to be present with her. Good on you for recognizing that as your difficulty, for you to manage. (Sounds familiar, doesn't it -- having difficulty because of the actions of another, including past actions!)
So because of the issues you're having with your sister you'd loose whatever relationship you would have with your niece or nephew? Would that be fair to her/him? You can agree to disagree with your sister but still remain in the life of her child.
As to her issues with your mother, did you ever think that there may be something that happened that made her feel the way she feels? Not that it has to be abuse but her anger at her mother came from somewhere; and it may be something as simple as your mothers relationship with your father and how your sister felt your mother treated your father. Either way or any way it is not for you to judge her feelings as right or wrong because they are her feelings and are just as valid as your feelings.
Well to be straight forward of with the first set of questions, because they will actively prevent me from being in the child's life. They have made it very straight forward that if they have issues with the person they won't let them around him. They made similar active threats towards our mother in that regard.
To be honest I have looked deeper into it, and when initially told by my brother-in-law about their actions (he came to me to tell me, within minutes of the action), I probed deeper to see if I could find some kind of justification for what I was seeing as a rather morally corrupt act. He kept telling me he was writing down examples to tell me, but never told me a single one over the course of the 2 hour long conversation. And when discussed with my sister all she would state is expectations of "future actions" that they felt our mother would do. Though with no grounded information to justify the accusing, since I asked for details as to why they felt she would but only could restate that it was "just cause they knew". I won't say that her feelings are wrong, but her actions based on those feels I can see as morally wrong. I have attempted on more than one account to empathize with her and try to sort out her reasoning, but the only justification she could ever give was because 'it is what she wanted, and what she wants she should get". I was just hopping to find the cause at at least see what kind of chance there was that things could eventually work out, but if there is another reason she refuses to mention it or even hint at it.
As for our father, as much as him and I have a poor relationship, between my sister and him it is even worse, I actively know she disowned him as a father years ago and has broken all contact with him. So as for how our mother treated our father, I highly doubt that as a reason, though I can see why you would suggest it based on what information I gave.
I am not saying they always have to get along, I am just saying that she should recognize that her actions have had a larger effect than she anticipated and that there could have been a better solution. That in trying to distance herself from one person she hurt others. Accept responsibility for her actions, she doesn't even have to say sorry, if she feels she is right, all she needs to do is accept responsibility. But she refuses to do that, and someone who sees their actions as truely justified shouldn't have an issue standing by their decision and accepting responsibility for it. Instead she manipulated others to take the actions that she herself should have done, and when she admitted it to being her idea all along. The actions she is worried others would do, she was doing.
I don't know the full story here and probably never will. But from your first paragraph it sounds as if your sister is saying any issues and you'll be out on your ear. If that's true then maybe you should just let her go. However, it is not your place to be your sister's moral monitor, so you should stay out of the relationship, or lack thereof, between her and your mother; it's really none of your business even though she's family.
What "morals" are you jeopardizing? That doesn't make any sense to me.
The moral issue for me is to stand there and do nothing while I see someone being actively attacked in character and emotion, with no evidence (when even actively sought) to show justification for the attack.
To quote "The greatest evil is when good men do nothing". I don't necessarily feel I have to resolve their issues, but I do feel I have to make a choice as to how I will personally handle her changed view in my eyes, namely her destructive behavior to others. She has also come after me a few times, attacking my character when not doing exactly what she wanted. I left it out because I determined my best course of action in those cases was to tell her as it was that I made my choice, and I accept the consequences of my actions but I deemed them necessary and gave valid reasons. It dealt with the timing of a last minute holiday plans and my inability to attend to the full amount due to working at 5am the next day and also being on call. I choose that as much as I enjoy the holidays I would leave on the earlier side to ensure I didn't risk my job. She felt that what I did was horrible to her since I would stay there and party with her and my bother in law longer. Even though her decision to even do anything that day was made not even a full week before.
Ah, ok. Gotcha. This isn't about her attacking your mother. It's about her attacking you. That makes sense.