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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My sister, brother and I all had boys within two months of each other - they are now all about to turn 13. I am very close with my sister and for the first few years, our boys played all the time. However, at some point the two other cousins started teaming up and actively excluding my child. My brother's son told me that my sisters's son had made a point of telling him to to shut out my son. When my son and my sisters son play together one on one, they get on fine. However instead of getting better as they get older in some ways it has gotten worse and my son recently said his cousin (my sister's son) hates him. My husband and I have recently made plans to go away on a long weekend biking trip, and also to do more tramping. We decided one trip would suit one cousin (to take along as a buddy) and the other trip would suit the other. On that note, I asked my sister if her son could come with us for the long weekend, and she said: "Oh, that's his birthday weekend, so he can't go." So I thought, oh well, we will invite the other cousin then. I just asked them, and he can't come either - because he is going to my sister's son's birthday party that weekend. In other words, my sister's son has invited my brother's son to his party, but my boy has not had an invite. Here we are a very close family growing up and my child is being excluded. I also just found out they spent most of the school holidays together (when I went to ask one if they wanted to stay and he was unavailable. Guess why). I find this a heartbreaking situation. They are all the same age, but my boy is not included. We recently found out my son has a disorder which makes it harder for him to pick up social cues (not ADD). He is very bright but just cut from a different cloth. I am gutted my sister allows this to happen and that my son has been blamed for being the problem, rather than efforts made to include him. I'm just so sad about it. I wondered if anyone else had experience of this among cousins. It's very hard to get away from when it's family. It has effected my desire to be at family gatherings for years, because I can't stand to see my son being excluded and then blamed for it as well. BTW my child is a lot of fun and quite lovable, he has a great set of friends at school.
 

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It's really common for kids who have been friends of convenience (eg. they live next door, are in the same class at school or their parents are close friends) to grow apart and into different interests and social circles around this age. It can be really hard if one of the kids is being drawn away more fully or sooner than the other. With luck they all just gradually drift into new groups at the same time, but that doesn't always happen.

In your case it's complicated by the fact that two of the boys are so far remaining pretty tight, and also (especially) by the fact that they're cousins. I understand that this is really hard for both you and your ds. But I think it's important to accept that being related does not create an obligation to maintain social ties outside of family gatherings. In other words I think it is unrealistic to assume that your ds will continue to be invited to his cousins' parties and hangouts simply because he's their cousin.

I know it must seem like a slap in the face that the other two cousins are thus far remaining close and are maintaining a social relationship that extends beyond family gatherings. But that's their choice, and so long as they're not being rude and exclusionary in the context of family gatherings, I think you need to come to terms with that and encourage your ds to do the same, to seek out his own friends in other circles.

In my case it is my middle two kids who experienced a bit of this. They're close in age and attended a tiny high school where they were in the same classes and shared a peer group for years. When dd and a couple of her (male) friends started doing things that excluded ds, he was hurt at first. But they were simply becoming different people with different interests and different peer groups. Because they were siblings, they had to maintain civility and live together without feeling resentful of each other. It is no big deal now; they are 17 and 19 and get along really well, enjoying each others' company as siblings, but without the expectation that they'll always be included in each others' social lives. But when they were age 14/15 there were some growing pains as they began to tease apart their sibling relationships from their social relationships.

It might be worth discussing with your siblings that your ds is having a hard time with this shift in social relationships, and asking that where appropriate they encourage their sons to be sensitive to that struggle. Whether that would be helpful depends on whether you think you can communicate that message to them without blame, and on how charitably you think they would deal with hearing it.

Good luck!

Miranda
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
There has always been exclusion going on at family events.

I think it is not at all comparable to friends/neighbours growing apart - that is to be expected, and I have observed that kind of thing in the past with an older son and my best friend's son and we didn't force it to be any different.

I see this as a lack of kindness and a lost opportunity on my sister's part to teach her son about kindness and the value of extending yourself beyond your own ego sometimes - it would not have been allowed to happen at my house, and I have taught my boys to back up their friends if they see them being cut out. I know there are limits to how far kids can go with this, but they should at least try. My 20yo has grown into a highly compassionate young man and it makes him a better person I think.

I'm surprised my sister has let it get to this as we were not bought up that way. I think she has not known how to handle it and has taken a hands off approach but I don't think that has been the right thing to do.

As teenagers it would be different. But they are still young enough for the adults to have some say in the situation, and it's not a new development, it's the last straw. They don't all have to play together and be on all the playdates, but a birthday party is a specific event to which a choice has been made to give one cousin an invite and the other cousin not. So it's virtually a formal exclusion as opposed to a casual one.

If one of the cousins was excluded because they were autistic would you still think it was OK? Because I think generally we as adults don't think it's acceptable for adults to stand back and let the kids play it out their own way when a vulnerable child is being excluded.

In this case, it's not autism but there is an element of different wiring that has formed the basis of exclusion from an early age when my nephew didn't know any different.

It's allowed an awkward situation to develop that earlier good management could have at least mitigated. My husband often tells me when I am being too sensitive about a social situation but he was actually shocked when I told him about this, probably because it was a special age milestone they all share but one has not been included in the celebration.

It would be like me inviting only one of my 3 sisters to my birthday celebration. All three of us know that would be a slap in the face and it would never happen. We don't all get on equally well, but it would be cruel of me to only invite the sister I have historically got on best with.

TBH I get sick of my son being constantly blamed for being differently wired, and for being unable to conform to the norm. It's a subtle enough difference that people think he is just not behaving properly and should try harder. When it happens in my family it does feel like a form of betrayal. At least we know what is causing my son to be different from the other kids now.

Compassion is a very important value to me and something I would be feeling (as opposed to judgment) if the shoe was on the other foot.

For the record, I have not even told my son this is happening, and he is at this point unaware of it.

I have also discussed this with my sister in the past, after my brother's son told me he could only play with my son when the other cousin wasn't there because my sister's son had told him not to play with him because "he's a baddun". I kept an open mind as to the veracity of this, but it did raise a red flag.

Right now I can't say anything because with this new development, it's too raw.
 
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You don't have to be close with your cousins. It isn't a "written in stone" part of childhood.

Drop it. If you try to force it at this point, you will make it worse for everyone involved. The boys should behave reasonably to each other when they occasionally meet at holidays and then let it go.

Find some other friend avenues for your son.
 

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It does sound like a very difficult situation and one that clearly causes you a lot of distress.

It might be helpful if you shared a little more about your son and how he is wired differently to help us understand. If for example, he has difficulty with self-control, becomes aggressive, interprets other's intentions wrongly and lashes out, and then his parents (you) defend him, it might have made for very difficult play times in the past, and the cousins might just not enjoy being with him, even if you find him enjoyable. If for example, he overintellectualizes or talks about irrelevant subjects, and hasn't learned to be interested in others, so that they do not find him reciprocating in the relationship, then it would be awkward and/or unpleasant to spend time with him. If as parents you take a defensive stance and don't teach him these skills (or have someone else teaching him these skills) but instead ask everyone to deal with it, then everyone might just be so uncomfortable as to just want to avoid the situation. Regardless of blood ties. Especially if the parents are not being clear about what his diagnosis IS with the family.

Family is quirky. I've found that there are no rules for this sort of thing and people do what they feel is best for their family.

Perhaps you might invite them to share with you directly what their thoughts are. Or you could just let it be. People do what they WANT to do and we generally can't control their behavior. We are faced just with responding to it in the best way we see fit.
 

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Sounds like

you are going to have to drop it. If they aren't interested in even coming to things you are hosting then you will have to let it go (I'm surprised that you didn't know it was your nephews bday?). My son only has 1 actual cousin who is vastly different than him in age (about 10 years apart) and the mom has a sister she lives down the road from, whom she is extremely close to, I anticipate they'll end up spending most family times together. We are also culturally different, so there are always differences to overcome every single time we get together, even though the dad is my husbands brother and they grew up under the same roof with the same parents. It does make me a bit sad. I had, for all intents and purposes, no cousins growing up. The ones I might have been close to were in another country, the others were a minimum of 10-20 years apart from me and did everything in synch, including having their own kids. Things may also change with time. My cousins have helped at unexpected times of my life, even though we don't know each other very well.
 

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There has always been exclusion going on at family events.

I think it is not at all comparable to friends/neighbours growing apart - that is to be expected, and I have observed that kind of thing in the past with an older son and my best friend's son and we didn't force it to be any different.

I see this as a lack of kindness and a lost opportunity on my sister's part to teach her son about kindness and the value of extending yourself beyond your own ego sometimes - it would not have been allowed to happen at my house, and I have taught my boys to back up their friends if they see them being cut out. I know there are limits to how far kids can go with this, but they should at least try. My 20yo has grown into a highly compassionate young man and it makes him a better person I think.

I'm surprised my sister has let it get to this as we were not bought up that way. I think she has not known how to handle it and has taken a hands off approach but I don't think that has been the right thing to do.

As teenagers it would be different. But they are still young enough for the adults to have some say in the situation, and it's not a new development, it's the last straw. They don't all have to play together and be on all the playdates, but a birthday party is a specific event to which a choice has been made to give one cousin an invite and the other cousin not. So it's virtually a formal exclusion as opposed to a casual one.

If one of the cousins was excluded because they were autistic would you still think it was OK? Because I think generally we as adults don't think it's acceptable for adults to stand back and let the kids play it out their own way when a vulnerable child is being excluded.

In this case, it's not autism but there is an element of different wiring that has formed the basis of exclusion from an early age when my nephew didn't know any different.

It's allowed an awkward situation to develop that earlier good management could have at least mitigated. My husband often tells me when I am being too sensitive about a social situation but he was actually shocked when I told him about this, probably because it was a special age milestone they all share but one has not been included in the celebration.

It would be like me inviting only one of my 3 sisters to my birthday celebration. All three of us know that would be a slap in the face and it would never happen. We don't all get on equally well, but it would be cruel of me to only invite the sister I have historically got on best with.

TBH I get sick of my son being constantly blamed for being differently wired, and for being unable to conform to the norm. It's a subtle enough difference that people think he is just not behaving properly and should try harder. When it happens in my family it does feel like a form of betrayal. At least we know what is causing my son to be different from the other kids now.

Compassion is a very important value to me and something I would be feeling (as opposed to judgment) if the shoe was on the other foot.

For the record, I have not even told my son this is happening, and he is at this point unaware of it.

I have also discussed this with my sister in the past, after my brother's son told me he could only play with my son when the other cousin wasn't there because my sister's son had told him not to play with him because "he's a baddun". I kept an open mind as to the veracity of this, but it did raise a red flag.

Right now I can't say anything because with this new development, it's too raw.
Well, I think they're being horrible, and I understand your being upset.

If a little boy told another child to exclude someone, that's bullying.

If I, as a parent (like your brother) found out this had happened I would say, "Whoa, hold on a minute! We don't go along with that! You invite Jonathan, too."

So I think it's a parenting and compassion failure on both their parts.

However, there isn't much you can do about these things. My husbands's sister taught her sons that their other interests were more important than things like family Thanksgivings. Now they're selfish adults, not very nice, and boring. My own sister spent years trying to create family occasions between her daughter and her older stepdaughter. My neice suffered terribly, waiting for her sister to take an interest. But the older girl didn't, because she didn't like being anything but the only princess in the room. Now she sells dope in Colorado.

Fortunately for my neice, she enjoys seeing us, and has lots of friends at home. Fortunately for my kids, the other branches of the family (and the sister of the boring boys) are charming people. The cousin my SIL always criticized and tried to exclude? We were at his wedding last month. What a fine young man.

So my take is, "they're being horrible, let's go to the movies." You can't generally talk people out of being nasty, but they usually reap what they sow.

I'm sorry your family has disappointed you. They'd probably still donate bone marrow, if you needed it.
 

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This is sad, but I don't see how you have any power to do anything. Your sister is the one.

Your sister may be clueless about what her son has said, but she couldn't possibly be clueless about the birthday invite. That's sad to hear, and my initial reaction was, "Oh, what a lost opportunity to teach empathy." On re-reading your original post, I noticed that you mentioned that the boys still play together. Is your sister committed to making occasional interactions happen, or do you have to pull teeth? It started me wondering what I would do if one of my kids had someone in their life with whom they were obligated to have a relationship, but whom they really didn't enjoy (they have no cousins close in age, but this did come up with a neighbor girl). How hard would I push them? I'd have to figure a line. On the "you must do this" side of the line would be that they would have to stop any nasty verbal stuff, like what your sister's son has been saying to your brother's son. On the "you don't have to do that" side of the line would be having a relationship that mirrors the relationship they have with someone they naturally click with better. It's your sister's role to set that line in regards to things like birthday parties.

If you have the type of relationship where your sister would be open to hearing it, and you think she doesn't already know, I would tell her what her son has been saying about your son. But I would not put any pressure on her about how to take it from there, or to include your son in gatherings where her son only wants people he feels close to. I also would not get my hopes up. She's already shown by her actions most of where she is putting that line for him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, I think they're being horrible, and I understand your being upset.

If a little boy told another child to exclude someone, that's bullying.

......

I'm sorry your family has disappointed you. They'd probably still donate bone marrow, if you needed it.
Haha - you are so right. They would still be there to donate bone marrow if need be. At the moment all I need is a little bit of understanding and non judgment from my own flesh and blood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It might be helpful if you shared a little more about your son and how he is wired differently to help us understand. If for example, he has difficulty with self-control, becomes aggressive, interprets other's intentions wrongly and lashes out, and then his parents (you) defend him, it might have made for very difficult play times in the past, and the cousins might just not enjoy being with him, even if you find him enjoyable. If for example, he overintellectualizes or talks about irrelevant subjects, and hasn't learned to be interested in others, so that they do not find him reciprocating in the relationship, then it would be awkward and/or unpleasant to spend time with him. If as parents you take a defensive stance and don't teach him these skills (or have someone else teaching him these skills) but instead ask everyone to deal with it, then everyone might just be so uncomfortable as to just want to avoid the situation. .
No nothing like this. But if I had an autistic child with very few social skills I would expect my family to compensate, just as I would expect the same of myself if any of my siblings had a child with social challenges. But then I am interested in and care about children like this. I have worked in a professional situation with adults who were colleagues on the spectrum and found them a challenge on a day to day basis (ie shaking the desk all the time when you are trying to meet oppressive deadlines) but I did love them and include them socially, even if they annoyed me at work.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This is sad, but I don't see how you have any power to do anything. Your sister is the one.

Your sister may be clueless about what her son has said, but she couldn't possibly be clueless about the birthday invite. That's sad to hear, and my initial reaction was, "Oh, what a lost opportunity to teach empathy." On re-reading your original post, I noticed that you mentioned that the boys still play together. Is your sister committed to making occasional interactions happen, or do you have to pull teeth?.
Neither of us particularly want to push their friendship if they don't want that at the moment. It's the idea of a birthday and three boys who are virtually triplets and one (my son) not being invited. They have grown up very close together. It's not about friends and friends being excluded, it's about three very close cousins, and one being excluded as if no one would notice.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Thank you all so much for your replies. It really makes a difference when people post something that goes some way to understanding and caring.

I think people don't post the kind of thing I did expecting to get more judgment, they are looking for something to ease the pain. So thank you to anyone who acknowledged my pain before dismissing it. :smile:

I am doing much better now, after several days to process it - I didn't post this lightheartedly as just another small drama in my life - it was the culmination of a lot of pain around my son and our famiy being constantly judged and criticised because he is different - aka diagnosed with an SPD.

He's not autistic, but why anyone would stick the boot into an autistic child for not being able to keep so called normal kids happy is way beyond my comprehension.

In any case as my little sister has not been much of an angel to me in this situation I don't feel like I need to baby her either. So I'm letting her sweat it out.

I would appreciate any more constructive perspectives on this. After all we can't actually cut family out of our lives when they are cruel, intentionally or otherwise.
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Drop it. If you try to force it at this point, you will make it worse for everyone involved. .
..

Wasn't trying to force it, and it's not about him needing other friends. He has plenty of friends.
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
My cousins have helped at unexpected times of my life, even though we don't know each other very well.
I'm sorry you never got to know the pleasure of close cousins because it's like an extension of siblings, they are that important in your life. I'm glad despite that they have been there for you at unexpected times and I wish you all the best.
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Family is quirky. I've found that there are no rules for this sort of thing and people do what they feel is best for their family.
People do what they WANT to do and we generally can't control their behavior. We are faced just with responding to it in the best way we see fit.
Yep.
 
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I'm sorry you never got to know the pleasure of close cousins because it's like an extension of siblings, they are that important in your life. I'm glad despite that they have been there for you at unexpected times and I wish you all the best.
I relate to what you're saying. I have fond memories of bonds with my many cousins. I think fondly of my parents and theirs, who made the effort to create opportunities for us to get to know each other. With my own children, I regret that we are so far from their cousins, and they are all older, that that same connection doesnt exist. But between cousins of similar ages, you bet there are bonds.

I cant think of advice to give you, but in my family, the situation you are describing wouldn't fly. I would be on my siblings case in an eyeblink if one of my children was being excluded. I know my siblings would be sympathetic and want to get to the root of the problem. Even if the cousins themselves simply had no chemistry or whatever other reason, I would look into it myself if I were the parent, and would expect the same from any one of my 4 siblings.

The predominent culture of this website, values nuclear family over extended family. This is clear from the responses you are getting. People are having fewer children, and people live from from one another. Cousins are more a thing of the past in many children lives.

I think your children are lucky to have cousins, and I hope this issue can be sorted out. I understand how you feel, even if I cant offer much advice.

It might depend on the relationship you have with your sibling more than anything. I find it hard to fathom that they let it pass without thinking of your child. In our family, inclusion has been an overriding principle. Otherwise, whats the point?

Good luck in getting to the bottom of this.
 

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The predominent culture of this website, values nuclear family over extended family. This is clear from the responses you are getting. People are having fewer children, and people live from from one another. Cousins are more a thing of the past in many children lives.

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I don't think anyone has expressed that there isn't a value to cousins. It's just that we can't control what other people choose to do. If you have found a way to control the behavior of others, please let us know your secret! :flowersforyou
 

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Thank you all so much for your replies. It really makes a difference when people post something that goes some way to understanding and caring.



I would appreciate any more constructive perspectives on this. After all we can't actually cut family out of our lives when they are cruel, intentionally or otherwise.
You know, interestingly, people can cut family out of their lives. My children have been deprived entirely of a relationship with a whole family of cousins. My sister and her family made a conscious decision to cut our family out of their lives. It is due to factors that have no basis in a shared reality--things like politics and religion and misperception. Our parents have died so there is no natural reason to come together. It is very painful for me and very painful for my children to say 'tell me about the cousins (and aunt and uncle) that we never see, who refuse to be in touch with us.' I have tried in 100 ways to woo them back, to mend the rift, even to apologize for things that I didn't do. They refuse to budge. It has to do with their religious and political beliefs.

There is nothing I can do about it at this point (it has been 10 years). It is deeply saddening. And there is nothing I can do about it, outside the spiritual realm. So it can happen, it does happen. I didn't cause it.
 

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You know, interestingly, people can cut family out of their lives. My children have been deprived entirely of a relationship with a whole family of cousins. My sister and her family made a conscious decision to cut our family out of their lives. It is due to factors that have no basis in a shared reality--things like politics and religion and misperception. Our parents have died so there is no natural reason to come together. It is very painful for me and very painful for my children to say 'tell me about the cousins (and aunt and uncle) that we never see, who refuse to be in touch with us.' I have tried in 100 ways to woo them back, to mend the rift, even to apologize for things that I didn't do. They refuse to budge. It has to do with their religious and political beliefs.

There is nothing I can do about it at this point (it has been 10 years). It is deeply saddening. And there is nothing I can do about it, outside the spiritual realm. So it can happen, it does happen. I didn't cause it.
I'm sorry, I know that must be hard.

I just want to say...people do sometimes rethink these things. My father was a complete waste of space as a relative, for YEARS, but he managed, in his old age, to understand limits and become a pretty decent grandparent towards the end. He missed most of my young adulthood, and the infancy of three of the four grandchildren he lived to see, but some is better than none.

And I have a neice who is just lovely, and keeps her generation in contact, even though her mother wasn't interested in that sort of thing.

There are other times in life than the visit the circus themed birthday parties, and I hope you may someday be pleasantly surprised.
 

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I wasn't trying to hijack the thread, and I appreciate your words. :smile: My point though was that family members can and do cut people out of their lives all the time. It is most common after the parents/grandparents have passed away and the offspring no longer feel they have to please them. I used to think that people did not do this, that family was family and would always connect no matter what. I have now met dozens, if not hundreds of people who have been cut off by siblings for one reason or another and haven't spoken in years and years.

I guess it is just a caveat and these are my humble opinions only: cherish what you have, as imperfect as it is, and allow siblings to be who they are without expecting change. Don't nurse grievances. Accept that you cannot change others. Know that they could walk away from the relationship and leave you powerless to do anything about it. Always hope.
 
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