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?

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to an extent yes, her attacking me at the end of trying to converse with her is what brought me to this point. How she is treating others is also part of it too. To be honest, its been a long time coming I guess.

If she is running down your mother in a conversation, you have a right not to listen, to be sure.  Anything from changing the subject to finding urgent business elsewhere to "I'm not comfortable hearing this."

This all seems to be one big boundary confusion.  There needs to be space for your sister to make her decision without your approval, and space for you to keep negativity out of your life.  You can set those boundaries:  staying out of her stuff, and keeping her out of yours.

true, but I think in at least when it comes to their actions when the situation first took place. They were looking for... validation? guessing that is the best way to put it.

They came to me right away, the moment I heard the conversation even took place which was via a text from a family member saying that my mother was just told not to go, my phone started ringing. I don't expect family members to pass things through me, and they don't need my permission for a damn thing, but when they come to me to tell me what they had done and can even quote him saying "I wanted to talk to you before you heard about it from anyone else", he was looking for validation. And when I said I didn't agree with the action after a short time of him explaining it, which consisted more of baseless accusation on what she would do, when he would say that she would do something, I would ask, "ok explain to me why you think she would do it?" but he could never give me a straight answer on it. And with what she told me last night, he was just a pawn in it, she made the choice, and had her friends convince him to reach out and do it. 

So there are some clear boundaries ("I don't expect family members to pass things through me, and they don't need my permission for a damn thing"), there are some that still seem fuzzy to me.  So suppose some comes to you to talk to you about a problem.  You interpret that he's looking for validation.  Maybe he is -- but you needn't give it, or deny it, or offer an opinion.  And he need not provide you with a satisfactory explanation, or any at all. 

It may also help to distinguish judgments from facts, and let the judgments be loose (since they're speculation anyway).  For example, if you project that someone wants validation from you you don't want to give, you can change that judgment to "he wanted to vent while someone listened.  He vented; I listened; I've done all I need to."  If that doesn't work, well, there may be some other judgment that works.  Or even better, you can withhold opinion, if having an opinion doesn't make you happy.

I claim validation because even after we ended the conversation he was still dead set on convincing me. He wanted to continue to conversation at a later date, if he wanted to just vent and inform, technically in that phone call he did, why press to take it further if you aren't looking for some kind of validation.

I'm willing to believe validation is the most likely motive.  But if you can not care what the motive is, I think you'll feel less involved.

For what it is worth based on my reading of your original query and the responses and reflections of others;

1) for whatever reason your sister purposefully wants your mother out of her world.  You can not change that.

2) Any attempt on your part to understand the dynamic/ask questions/try to mediate are resisted in a passive/aggressive to aggressive style.  Do not go that route. They have closed it.

3) As I read it...it sounds like your sister is being controlling/manipulative to you.  She asks you to back off.  That may be the price you pay to have nephew in your life.  

4) As long as she does not use your nephew to manipulate your relationship with your parents then you are faced with "You do your thing, I will do mine"

5) It sounds like she may try to manipulate you away from your parents (it sounds like you are trying to have the best connection possible under circumstances)...then she will always use her son to pull your chain.  Do you want to live with that control in your life?

6) You just may have to live with a detente-not at war but not at peace.  You do not have to actively endorse their decisions.  You just do not mention it.  If she asks you to endorse...again you have to think about possible long term manipulation.

I may come across overly harsh to your sister.  But, what I read is that she manipulated/denied these cutting off actions.  She was not forthright. She got others to do her work.  That is a red flag.  However, if I read all of that wrong I apologize.

Family dynamics can be mine fields....been there...trying to make a better path for my children. 

Your statements for the most part are fairly accurate, and judging by their past statements I would have to say as much as they tell me "We aren't asking you to choose a side" they do try to put in me in a position consistantly where I have to be accepting of their actions. I was hoping they might not, it was why I took them out to dinner in an attempt to see the interactions but it hung in the air really badly. Your point about the red flag is dead on, it is part of what made me go to the point of even posting on here, I am hopping some alternative view points might help me see other view points I likely missed.

Any chance that - you could agree to disagree - you don't try to convince her that she should be open to a relationship to her mother if you she doesn't discuss your mother in your presence?

To an extent I would be ok with it, her on the other hand I can't really say for sure. Her actions so far would suggest that no, she wouldn't. But it is definently a thought to suggest, but that is assuming she doesn't shut me out, which I am inclined to believe she will now.

Your family is likely not going to come back together by force.  It can happen that way, but it doesn't sound like you're personally situated to make it happen.  I assume your goal here is to bring this thing back toward functionality ... not to nuke it from orbit.


For whatever reason, your sister wants your mother cut-out at the moment.  That'll probably be something she lives to regret.  But, its between her and your mother, and it doesn't sound like your intervention would change that.  The fact that she's hormonal at the moment probably isn't helping matters.  That might explain why its come to this.  In my experience, women are not at their most reasonable in the throes of pregnancy.


My advice, narrow this thing down to the very specific decisions that are within your scope -- i.e. do I attend the shower, or do I not -- and make each decision individually, trying to remain a fairly neutral ally to both sides.  Explain to each that you're not getting in the middle of their fight, or fighting with the other on their behalf.  Then, don't.  Otherwise, you'll end up on one side or the other, and rendered unable to ever fix things.  Your sister will cut you out next.


In the meantime, try to work yourself into a position to mediate this nonsense.  You're not there yet.  They don't respect you enough to listen to you.  That's something worth changing, if possible.  Don't fight with them.  Speak your mind, and let it go.  Don't get between them ... let them fight their own battles until they trust you enough.  If they ask, try to give neutral advice with the agenda of making their life better, not self-serving advice that'll make them doubt your motives.


I have a feeling this is going to be a long haul.  But, you can only do what you can do.  Best of luck.


How well do y'all get along with the brother-in-law?  If he's a reasonable man, he may be able to talk more sense into your sister than you can.



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