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|Written by Miss Smartypants|
|Monday, 23 November 2009 00:00|
Dear Miss Smartypants,
My sister and brother-in-law have four sons: three from his previous marriage and one with my sister. I refer to all of them as my nephews. The oldest and their shared son live with them, the other two live with the ex. I don't know much about the whole situation, just that things are often strained and my sister and BIL would like to have full custody of all the children. Recently, based on their poor reactions at their birthday party earlier this year, my sister told me to stop giving the middle boys presents. I wasn't there, and this message was relayed to me through my mom. I was hoping that whatever it was would have blown over by Christmas. No luck. I've received gift ideas for the oldest and the youngest. It was reiterated that the other two are not to be given gifts. These are kids that I only see two, maybe three times a year, they don't call me aunt or anything like that, but we always have fun and get along when we are together. I can understand my sister trying to make a point or teach a lesson, but I really don't want to be part of it. Do I have to go along with her plan for a two-tiered relationship with my nephews? Should I get gifts anyway and let the chips fall where they may?
Tangled Up in Ribbon
Dear This is Why People Hate Christmas,
Christmas, by all rights, should be happy celebration. Too often, it brings out underlying problems and seething resentments in families. Even if we assume that your sister is right to want to punish the kids for whatever it is they did to your birthday gifts (set them on fire?), I get the feeling that this plan will come back around to bite her on the ass. Won't it look obvious when there are two fewer presents beneath the tree? How can she be sure that the message the kids will get isn't "Aunt Ribbon doesn't like me anymore"? What's missing here, though, is the part where you talked this over with your sister. Did you tell her that this makes you uncomfortable? Call her up for yourself to see why she came up with this plan and if there is any wiggle room. Explain that you don't want to get in the way of her parenting plan, but you aren't sure that this is the way to go about it. After you get the full story, you can decide if you think your sister is making the right decision and if you want to follow her edict. If you do decide that you are going to give gifts no matter what, do warn your sister instead of blindsiding her.