I'm not sure if this is the right place to put this, so mods feel free to move it if need be.
First, the whole set up. We live on family land. It is several acres, so we are more spread out than a regular neighborhood but not so far that anyone's house is out of walk distance or barred from view. The people who live here are my grandparents (who own the land), my young aunt and uncle (only a few years older than I am, aunt by marriage, she was one of my best friends in high school) with their 4 children who are about the same age as mine, older aunt and uncle (the problem is this aunt) who are childless, and my mother. We moved here a few years ago because dh got a job at the local newspaper; we moved into an old trailer that was on the property that pretty much everybody in the family had lived in at some point or another. After a few months in that trailer, at lots of encouragement from everyone else we bought a double wide (woo-hoo! moving on up) and put it in that same spot. We lived there for three years and then put it up for sale and moved about an hour away for dh to finish his degree. It didn't sell and we are back in the same spot; him with the same job only he gets paid a little more and we have a lot more debt. There is probably more info there than you need, but oh well.
Here is the problem. The older aunt (I'll use OA from here on out) dotes on my younger aunt's (YA) kids all the time. She takes them on trips, buys them presents, takes them for ice cream, and has promised to bring them to Disney World at some point. When it comes to my children, and particularly DS1 who is 7, she not only neglects him but is sometimes downright rude. For example, yesterday his two cousins (who are 8 and 6, both boys) were at OA's house. DS1 walked over to ask if he could visit too, or if they wanted to come play. She told him "I'm not a babysitter" and sent him on his way. This is not an isolated incident. I can count on one hand the number of times he has been allowed into her house, outside of big family parties where everyone is invited. I don't expect her to give him the same sort of favoritism that she gives the others, buying him presents every other week. My mother who lives here shows him plenty of attention and we have more junk than I care to admit. I just want her to treat him like a person with feelings and not be out and out rude to him. I understand it's her house and she can refuse entry to anybody she pleases; I just don't understand why she is this way with him. And I suppose I'm also asking how to deal with this with my son. How to handle it with grace when he comes home upset and disappointed that she's left him out again. I don't want to run her down to him, but I also don't want to make him feel like I'm not taking his feelings or the situation seriously.
I think I've covered everything, but dh is home with the kids now and my computer time is up - got to go be a mom again.
OA is not actually an old woman by the way, she is maybe 40.
That's kind of sad for your LO. Does she treat your other children badly? Is there some negative history? Do you think it you or your dh she has a problem with or is it your son? Or is it just that she is crazy about your YA's kids? If it were me, I think I would confront her, or at the very least try to get your mom (her sister?) to figure out what's going on. Do you think your YA could help?
Jayne, sewing up a storm mama to ds1 9/03, ds2 2/09, and 2 sweet furbabies.
I've wondered if she has had a problem with me before. I'm certain she doesn't like me, but I don't think she has any reason to be hostile. My other two kids are really too young for her to treat any one way or another. DD is 3, DS2 is 11 months. I do think she is particularly crazy about my YA's kids, but there are other kids in the family this same age who don't live on the property that she treats with much more dignity. I talked to my mom about it yesterday, briefly, and all she did was treat me like I was overreacting and then call my grandmother to chew her out about it. It's generally accepted that OA is a rude person, but "that's just how she is" or "she's not really rude; she's just really shy" both excuses I find to be total b.s.
I know I'll have to confront her eventually, but to be honest I'm afraid of her. She is a really intimidating person to begin with, even if I am agreeing with her about something so I'm really not looking forward to it. We're fb friends, so I thought about sending a message, but it seemed cowardly. I thought about writing a letter and mailing it, but it seems kind of weird (I am leaning toward that option right now, though, because it would keep us both from losing our tempers and saying or doing something we'd regret.) We aren't close enough that I have her phone number, and I can't remember the last time I was alone with her to have the conversation face to face, so I'd definitely have to go out of my way to pursue it and she'd know something was up. I just really want to make sure that when I do confront her that I do it in a mature way and don't lose my s*** on her. Which is what I really want to do.
Well...she doesn't need to treat them all equally. She is just an aunt and sometimes they are closer to one family than other. The way you are living just makes it more obvious. But to describe it as "neglect" suggests you are taking this really personally. I think you just have to let it go. It would be really great if she was less obvious about it, especially with an older child, but sadly, your kid is going to figure it out soon enough. I don't really think you can address is either, because it will likely lead to bad feelings on a shared property.
It might help to set some ground rules for visiting other people on the land, calling rather than showing up, etc.
I disagree with the pp. She does not have to treat them all equally. She can like and dislike whomever she wants. But she should not be rude and mean, and if she is, then calling her on it is a valid option.
Sounds like she is a bit of a nut, for whatever reason. And your family is used to her antics, so they accept it. And you confronting it is making waves, challenging the status quo, which families HATE. They often would rather live with unhappy, stressful, even downright miserable situations, rather than face it onward and change. Because if you force the change with your OA, it forces everyone else to change as well. Sometimes it can be done, btdt, but it gets worse before it gets better, and it takes the long view, and a lot of consistency.
I think however you confront her, you should get DH on board with you, and have you both do it together. People like that can get ugly and twist everything around. In that case, I would stick to some very, very simple points, and if she tries to change the subject or twist it around that you are too wimpy or sensitive or whatever, I would go right back to the point.
I think what would be most important would be to validate your sons feelings, openly and honestly, but without hostility. For example, you can say to him clearly that OA can be a very rude person, and that when she did X, it was very rude and mean and hurtful. This is the truth. YOu can also say that even though other people are rude, mean or hurtful, that we should always try our best to be kind in return. Maybe you could also tell him to ignore her. That she is going to be rude to him, so people like that it is best to just walk away from.
Thank you for your input. For the time being, I've decided to put on hold bringing any more attention to the situation than has already been done. Something must have changed because she let ds1 come over and visit with his cousins twice this week.
I really don't expect her to show him the same kind of favoritism that the others have gotten. I understand that sometimes you do have favorites, especially among nieces and nephews. I just would like for her to occasionally let him know that she loves him, too. But, like I said, something seems to have changed so I'll put it out of my mind for now.