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?
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.
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.
We used to get along very well, for the longest time I considered him very level headed. But as of our last lengthy conversation I would be remiss to say that we are on the same terms we used to be. He spent 2 hours trying to convince me their actions were just without being able to provide and logic to it. He would say on one hand that he wouldn't expect me to choose sides, but at the same time was expecting me to accept the act as necessary. Which is in reality to then pick a side.
To be honest your last bit of advice was what I attempted initially, infact with the very conversation I am referencing with my Brother-In-Law, I tried to stay impartial but asking him to explain their reasoning to me. And after 2 hours of getting no where I ended the conversation before it got heated. And sadly last night's conversation with my sister wasn't even to give advice, I was just trying to find out how to get gifts to her, and when she reacted in the manor she did I took the opportunity to try and get her to realize the position I was in and how with her acting in that manor what it was doing to me. In hopes she would show some kind of empathy to someone other than herself. And her reaction was as I described. I have spent since the moment I found out (I was the 3rd person to find out, 1st person on our side of the family) helping, showing empathy towards their needs, and attempting to be understanding of her wishes, one of which was she was determined that our mother should be the last person to find out. Which I found rather odd, but I kept my mouth shut for months, which as to how excited I was for becoming an uncle and another life entering our world, was rather difficult. As I said, spent at least the first few days grinning from ear to ear.
Thank you very much for the suggestions JB, and you are right, I think the level of respect for what I am hopping to accomplish isn't there. Days like this I wish my grandfather was still around, he would have been able to guide me towards the right course of action.
I think the brother-in-law is your best bet at the moment.
He's probably still just as level-headed as before, he's just in a different situation than you. His job is to protect his volatile pregnant wife. He has to take sides, especially publicly. If my wife were having a fight with her family, I'd talk to her behind-the-scenes about how best to reconcile ... but, publicly, you'd never see me standing anywhere but next to her, even if I weren't going to literally fight on her behalf (unless it got out of hand, at which point I'll end it on her behalf).
That doesn't mean you two can't work toward the same end. He has the credibility with your sister that you currently lack. She knows he's on her side, and she respects his opinion. Get him on board with a reconciliation, and let him do what he can without you. He has to be smart about it ... but, it can be done.
Its times like these when patriarchs are made. Your grandfather wasn't born respected. What do you think he'd do?
Also, for what its worth, I wouldn't be having two-hour conversations about this stuff. At that point, you've probably descended into the drama rather than staying above it. You're not even the one she's mad at. What good comes from arguing with her about it for that long? Like I said ... speak your mind, and move on. Don't hold your tongue. But, keep it short, say what you want to say, and listen to her for a while. But, end it fairly quickly and move on to something else. She can choose to listen, or not.
The 2 hour long conversation was with my Brother-in-law, and it was when the initial act took place. To be honest, never got dramatic, though when he kept repeating himself without giving any clear answers I was getting annoyed. By that point it was obvious no progress could be made so we ended the conversation.
Thanks again for the advice JB, I will reach out to him and see if him and I are at least on the same ball field, and maybe can work together to bring a better resolution to this.
As for my grandfather, by the time I knew him he was already well respected. People listened to what he had to say, and valued his opinion. To be honest... I don't think this situation would have even gotten this far if he was still around.