Christmas Coming--family feuds

I could use some advice. I have two grown children with families of their own (including my grand babies). One deeply offended the other. There was a rift. The younger clearly in the wrong. Now the older won’t be around the younger. We have made it clear that the younger is in the wrong and must make amends. So far, no one has budged so we walk on egg shells trying not to upset either. The problem is this: my mother (their grand mother) found out what the issue is and has taken sides. She in turn relayed the information to the rest of my extended family, some of whom take the same position as she does. While she happily visits with both on the side, when it comes to family functions, she excludes the younger and so does everyone else. She does this out of loyalty to the older who she believes won’t come if his sister is there. Her reasoning: it’s his sister’s fault. We normally gather with all of the extended family, but I feel shunning one because the other might not come, is wrong. I don’t want to go. I want to take a stand on the issue if for nothing else, my grandchildren. But the truth is if I do, not only will I incur the wrath of my mother and siblings, but likely hurt my son’s feelings in the process. I don’t want to alienate either of my kids, or family for that matter. But most of all I am afraid I will end up sitting at home Christmas alone, the consequences of my action. This is tearing my heart out. Any ideas?:smack:

Go on a Christmas cruise. That’s what we do.

What the heck, I’m bored and could use a good story - what did the younger do to offend the older?

Here’s my advice: it is not your job to make decisions for other members of your family, or to keep the peace between them. You don’t have the ability to control who your mother invites to a gathering at her house. So you need to decide based only on what you want to do, and what you have control over. If you want to go to your mother’s house (and it sounds like you do), then go. If you want to stay home, stay home (but remember that you are not going to change her mind by doing so). Whether you go or stay home, you can certainly plan a special get together of some kind with your younger child, to let her know that she is still loved and included.

Your other option is to host a gathering at your house, invite everyone, and let each of them decide whether they want to come.

What is most important to you? I’m guessing it’s maybe to see your kids and grandkids at Christmas time. If that’s the case, I would contact both kids separately and say “hey, I’d love to see you and the grandkids around the holidays - what works for you?” and then if they are interested you can figure out what works. If those plans don’t conflict with the extended family get-together then you could do that too.

Sounds like your daughter did a great job alienating herself from the rest of the family. It’s all on her, and you should make that clear to her in regards to extended family gatherings hosted by other members who don’t like whatever she did. This is not on you or anyone else. This is squarely on her.

You might need to make a separate holiday gathering with just her and her family, if the rest of the extended family doesn’t want her around, that’s their prerogative in their homes and the home of the host.

Do something like Christmas Eve with her if the main family gathering is on Christmas Day. As I’m not one for open family drama at times when things are supposed to be happy and seeing people I don’t see all the time, I don’t think the holidays are a time to try to force a resolution. Dealing with her separately will take a lot of stress off you. Also to stress the same point again, this is not your problem, this is something your daughter did to herself.

Maybe, maybe not. Some families like having a scapegoat.

As if you were the first family to have dramas like this.
Sadly, no easy answer.
In most cases, things pretty much remain the same and some wounds never heal.

You might try inviting one family for Christmas Eve, and the other Christmas Day…that way, each gets to have private time with you, and you get to celebrate twice! Win-win!

This. Or travel for Christmas. Don’t involve yourself in that catfight for any reason at all.

The cruise idea sounds perfect, but isn’t feasible this year anyway. I’m not sure I would want to be away from the babies at this time of year. I also feel avoiding the issue by just ignoring it, is only prolonging it. When I can’t share the offence publicly, well you know it was serious. I just felt very conflicted about where I should stand in all of this. There are other extended family functions during the year and I worry that it is setting in motion something that can never be reversed. With grand babies growing up so they understand the alienation troubles me. I hoped I could tell my mother forget it. If everyone isn’t invited than we won’t go. Then I was going to celebrate with both kids separately (my son in the actual day). And maybe down the road it will be like that. I decided to speak openly to my son (the offended) and see how he feels. He told me that he feels that the offence is serious enough that the family needs to take his feelings into consideration. He couldn’t be there under the circumstances if she was there. He noted that she had made no effort to reconcile. He said it would come down to him being punished for something she did, and that it’s seriousness leaves no doubt about who is in the wrong and how he feels. He also said that if she tried to reconcile, even if he chose never to be around her again, he would call the others and say, go ahead and invite her. She did what she can do to make it right. Then it would be up to him whether he wanted to attend. I still struggle with the idea of the family playing judge and jury when it was between the two kids, and I am extremely angry that my mother marched around telling everyone so that it is no longer an issue just between the two if them. But, you are right, I can’t control anything in this situation. If I could I would drag my daughter by the arm to make her do the right thing. He will forgive her (and I believe he already has) but until she makes amends it still causes too much hurt to be in her company. So he would then be isolated. I really felt that I understood where he’s coming from and that he is right. I guess its unfortunate but the people that truly suffer from this is us, the parents. So, I guess in the end I bite the bullet for his sake and do the best to enjoy the day.

QUESTION: Should we have been/be more insisting that the younger make amends? Should it stand in the way of our relationship with her until she does the right thing? Is this the right way to go, or in the end do we just let it be and go about our lives trying to make the best of it? I am sure it is hard for her to go to him, and gets harder every day, but it is one of those things that can’t be overlooked really. It will always be there. But in the end, can you ever, parents or not make anyone take responsibility that refuses to? Families!..maybe we should have been satisfied with our dog 30 years ago and left it at that. :confused:

Keep the comments coming, it helps to hear objective views.

P.S. Why do I feel so angry with my mother instead of my daughter?

Because your mom is, in essence, playing favorites and she’s basically forcing you to choose between the entire rest of your family and your daughter. And that’s a really shitty thing to do. It’s also a really shitty thing to broadcast someone else’s quarrel throughout the family, especially when it’s not such a serious offense that you’re cutting ties with one of the quarrelers.

I can’t say this with certainty without knowing what your daughter did, but it rather sounds to me like your son is being a giant titty-baby about the whole “inviting his sister” issue. “Well, if so-and-so is invited, I’m not coming” is not, by and large, the statement of someone behaving maturely and reasonably. I mean, you might very well decline an invitation if you have so much animosity toward someone that you can’t behave civilly toward them for a few hours, but it’s quite simply not okay to use your attendance as a bargaining chip to dictate to your host whom he can’t/shouldn’t invite. Especially when you’re on the same level of relationship to the host as the someone in question.

Also, while your son has a point that people should be considerate of his feelings, he should be at least a little bit considerate of other people’s feelings. Namely, yours. Because this whole “everyone shun Sis because she’s a poopy-head” business is obviously tearing you apart. I would think he could suck it up for a few hours to make you happy.

You, your son, your daughter, your mother, and most everyone else in this drama are adults. Of course your grandchildren aren’t but their parents are between them and you. I think the separate Christmases with your children is probably the only way to go for now. The adults need to interact with each other in their own ways. Don’t let yourself get caught in the middle as somehow it becomes your problem and fault. You may need to set outside the family circle at times, such as avoiding ‘problem’ events, or maintain a complete neutral stance.

Of course if your daughter decides to reconcile with your son, you could be there as an intermediary - but NOT as the peace maker.

My father’s family had a major split many decades ago. When I was about 5 year old, one of my uncles sort of disappeared to other family members even though he lived only about 4 miles away. He didn’t even attend his mother’s funeral. I never did find out what happened, but it must have been bad. While I wonder about my cousins, I doubt that it’s really made any difference in my life.

Spend Christmas with one and New Year with the other.

Because you rank family harmony above any bad thing that she could have done. In your mind (which works very similarly to my own mother’s mind), the heirarchy of importance goes:

Family getting along and spending time together
Murder
Rape
Theft
Adultery
etc., etc.

You say that you’re upset with your daughter because of the bad thing she did. But you’re actually more upset with her because she’s disrupted family harmony. And you’re even more upset with your mother, because her actions are disrupting family harmony even more.

Even though you think your daughter was in the wrong, you are more angry about the break in the family than you are about whatever it was that she did.

Without knowing what she did, it’s impossible to determine whether your attitude is reasonable or not. But it’s worth it for you to approach the situation from this perspective, and especially for you to recognize that the other members of your family don’t share your attitude. Clearly both your mother and your son think that your daughter’s actions were worse than any disruption to the family, and there is nothing you can do to convince them otherwise.

This makes sense to someone who sees the heirarchy of importance the same way the OP does. But to someone who thinks that “Sis killed my dog” (to give a counter-example to being a poopy-head) trumps family values or a few hours of togetherness, it is offensive and wrong.

Have you all tried keeping your mouths shut about the past, everyones poor decisions and the part each person played in the mess and instead enjoying the here and now with each other?

Or is it more fun picking sides, taking absurd stands and dealing with the same drama and trauma over and over again, never getting anywhere except more torn apart?

Unless one family member raped and murdered another (or something equally horrific), most family drama is manufactured thrill seeking by petty drama queens or kings.

Decide if you want a family that loves each other and can come together and celebrate, or if you want to be miserable people who can’t get past anything or move forward with your lives.

This is what the OP would like. Sadly, she cannot decide for her family that they will get past things. She can decide that she will unilaterally not be a party to the drama, but there is no way for her to just make the rest of her family do the same. This is the source of her current frustration.

It’s also offensive and wrong to automatically assume that I rank family togetherness above EVERYTHING because I think a grown man "will forgive her (and maybe already has) might ought to pull up his big boy pants and be civil to his sister for a few hours on Christmas.

There’s unforgivable stuff, stuff that ruins multiple family relationships–like when my husband’s skank-ass junkie cousin burglarized their grandmother’s house and then engaged in a campaign of harassment toward Granny and my mil. It breaks Granny’s heart at holidays that SAJC can’t be there because that’s still her grandchild, but even without the restraining orders nobody else would come to Thanksgiving or Christmas if SAJC was there.

Then there’s forgivable, or at least move-past-able stuff–like the cousin who, left to myself, I wouldn’t piss on if she were on fire. (I might piss on her if she weren’t, though.) She hasn’t done anything remotely so bad as SAJC, she’s just a passive-aggressive bitch who likes to target family members she thinks are vulnerable for some reason. Nobody likes her, but we all put up with her for a few hours a few times a year for the old lady’s sake.

Which situation is the OP more analogous to? I don’t know because she won’t tell us what actually happened. But it was apparently something that the son intends to forgive his sister for when she’s apologized for her sins, so it seems unlikely to be that bloody damn awful.

I didn’t make that assumption; I apologize if you read it that way. My example was of something that might be considered unforgivable (killing a dog), and that in that particular instance, it would trump family togetherness. I agree that there are offenses that would be forgiveable – we just don’t where this particular offense falls.

I think that’s the OP’s interpretation. The OP says

Sounds to me like he’s not planning to forgive her, at least to the point of being willing to attend a function with her. As I’ve been saying, I think the OP wants this to be one happy family, and she can’t get past the fact that something has happened to destroy her vision.

Yes, I am an idealist. I believe that my children who I have raised with the best of morals, values and family ties, cherishing the years where they held hands, kissed each other and played together should above all else commit to loving one another, forgiving and if nothing else tolerating each other when things get really messy.

I wish that the one who was nothing short of a bottom of the barrel, angry, malicious, liar, (but in fairness was dealing with mega problems in an even messier life of her own and has since pulled her life together to an amazing extent) while she has fessed up and come clean about the truth…well, I guess, no I wish (dream) that she would take full responsibility and ask forgiveness. Her anger and jeolousy did her in, but (and I tread close to the line of making excuses), I get, how in the terrible mess of her life, she could make an even bigger mess. No Capitol crime, but so very wrong indeed.

I also get how my son wants to stay as far away from her as he can and that he’d rather gouge out his eyes, than look at her.

And I totally get the fact that I, the one who has the most to lose, is in fact the loser in this. I wish because of their love for me, they would put me first and put my happiness first. Yes, I am an idealist.

I grieve over my “broken” family, I blame myself, get angry with my daughter and my mother and anyone else that takes sides. And I guess, I wonder – does time heal all wounds? What do you think?:frowning:

I think that if your happiness is dependent on having that ideal family you’re describing, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. I think time does have the power to heal, but not by making everyone miraculously love each other again. “Grieving” is an appropriate description of your feelings, and as you know, time can lessen grief, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to bring back what you’ve lost.

I also know that a mother whose happiness is dependent on her adult children behaving the way she wants, who asks her children to put aside their own very real feelings and attitudes to serve her needs, is only going to alienate them further. It is hard to give advice when we still don’t know the nature of the offense that your daughter committed, but even so, you cannot tell her or your son how to feel, even for your sake or the sake of family harmony.