Author Topic: Boundaries with Toxic Sister  (Read 4704 times)

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photochick

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Boundaries with Toxic Sister
« on: August 31, 2011, 07:00:31 PM »
So I am 95% sure I'm doing the right thing, it's just that my mother is nagging and it makes me doubt and wonder if I'm doing the right thing.

BG: My children and I live with my parents. A few weeks ago my sister came to stay with us for a visit. I have always had problems with my sister (she was a bully to me as a child) and when we grew up things got better but only cause I didn't have to spend extended periods of time (My motto: she's a great person in small doses). When she comes home since I've moved back there have always been issues. It's childhood home vs. I live here now. She is very good at pushing peoples buttons. She pushes and pushes until the person explodes. On the phone I just hang up but in person its a lot harder to walk away when the kids are there. Last visit I cursed at her (I front of my kids, which I've never done before or after that). This time I threw my phone at her. (Yes, I know I shouldn't have done that). During that visit she also told my parents I threatened to kill her and had a nice long conversation with my parents that  I overhead about why she has issues with me/how I am spoiled.
END BG

So after the fight and the overheard conversation I decided I was done with my sister. I will have nothing to do with my sister and by extension neither will my children. I don't plan on going out of my way to help her see/talk to them but I also don't care to go out of my way to prevent her from seeing them. When she extended her trip to see my children after I sent them away, I allowed her to visit with the children with my father present (though I wasn't really happy about it) I will be moving out before she comes home again. My parents regularly babysit my kids and I will bring them over as planned and if she's there too that's fine. And I have no problem coming over for christmas dinner or something like that. But I will not allow her at my house and I will not answer her phone calls.

So I think that's reasonable, right?

My sister called a bit ago, my mother answered and asked to talk to my children. As my mother was about to hand the phone to my daughter I asked who was calling (yes, I was pretty sure it was her) and when she said it was my sister I told her I didn't want the children talking to my sister. My mother then tried to put it on speaker and I again told her not to do it.

So my mother hung up the phone with my sister and my mother and I had a bit of an argument about it. She thinks I'm using the children in the argument with my sister (though I'm not sure what she thinks I'm trying to get out of it) vs. I just think she's toxic and I don't want to have anything to do with her.

Am I being unreasonable?

Also during the argument with my mother I said she's watching the kids all weekend (she and my dad are watching the kids for free thursday-monday so I can travel for work) and that they could talk to her then.

Sharnita

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Re: Boundaries with Toxic Sister
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2011, 07:08:19 PM »
I think you are being illogical if not unreasonable.  If the kids are not to be around your sister or talk to her then they are not to be around her or talk to her.  It doesn't make a lot of sense to refuse permission for them to talk on the phone but to allow them to see her and talk to her when grandma is watching them.

bah12

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Re: Boundaries with Toxic Sister
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2011, 07:16:51 PM »
I do think that you should try to separate your relationship with your sister from your children's relationship with thier aunt.

I understand that once you move out, you will not be allowing your sister over to your home to visit them...because of the nature of how you interact with her.  And it's reasonable to say that when they are with their grandmother, your sister can visit.   Really, until your sister does something specifically to your kids, or tries to turn your kids against you, not allowing them to even talk on the phone is a bit much.

It doesn't sound like you are too worried about your kids' safety around her, so I think the best option is to decouple the relationships.  Your relationship with her is not tied to her relationship with your children.  Sure, you all won't be spending time together, but if she wants to talk to them on the phone, or visit them when you aren't around, then it should be ok.

I do think it's a bit much to deny the phone call, since it's something that could have happened without you being involved.  I understand it's an emotionally charged situation and it's hard, but I believe that the right thing to do is to allow her to be involved in thier lives as much as she's willing to.

weeblewobble

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Re: Boundaries with Toxic Sister
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2011, 07:19:23 PM »
Actually, it does make sense, particularly if the phone is not on speaker, because you don't know what sister is saying on the other end.

Sharnita

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Re: Boundaries with Toxic Sister
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2011, 07:26:17 PM »
Actually, it does make sense, particularly if the phone is not on speaker, because you don't know what sister is saying on the other end.

OP wouldn't know that when the kids see her sister at mom's either.  In fact, she wouldn't even be there to hear their side of the conversation.  SHe seems willing to accept that interaction so forbidding the restis where the logic falls down for me.

weeblewobble

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Re: Boundaries with Toxic Sister
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2011, 07:32:34 PM »
Actually, it does make sense, particularly if the phone is not on speaker, because you don't know what sister is saying on the other end.

OP wouldn't know that when the kids see her sister at mom's either.  In fact, she wouldn't even be there to hear their side of the conversation.  SHe seems willing to accept that interaction so forbidding the restis where the logic falls down for me.

I see your point, but my assumption would be that with Mom present the conversation would be more civil and controlled. (on sister's part.)

Ginya

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Re: Boundaries with Toxic Sister
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2011, 07:52:36 PM »
Hm, I won't touch right or wrong in cutting ties with your sister the history between you is not something we'll be able to accurately gauge.  I will say your children either need to have it one way or another, either they have conversations, visits ect. from their aunt or you take it full cut and they aren't allowed to have any contact at all. Chaperoned visits aren't going to be better than just being alone with her and this you can do 'this' but not 'that' along with the animosity I'm sure they sense must be awfully confusing for them.

apple

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Re: Boundaries with Toxic Sister
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2011, 08:08:01 PM »
You're entitled to set whatever boundaries or rules you wish concerning your sister, but I think you've been a bit inconsistent.

Your daughter wasn't allowed to talk on the phone with your sister, but the kids can talk on the phone with her over the weekend?  That doesn't make sense to me.

I don't know what your sister's relationship with your kids has been, whether it has been positive or not. If she gets along well with them and they enjoy having her as an aunt, then limited contact (family holiday celebrations and the occasional phone call) seems reasonable.

I just think you need to do some thinking about what the rules will be, and once you set them, stick to those (unless or until you think your sister has changed).


kherbert05

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Re: Boundaries with Toxic Sister
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2011, 08:16:29 PM »
Ask yourself this - If non family adult acted this way with you and your children would you allow this person to have contact with your children? That is the same answer for your sister.

I've mentioned Dad did this with some of my maternal uncles and paternal cousins. In their cases addiction was the root of the problem. My parents had a serious conversation with us at ages 6 and 9 that they thought they wouldn't have to have with us until JH or HS. My Uncle tried to force me to ride in his jeep when he was drunk as a skunk. I jumped out at the the light and ran "home" to Nanna's.

With all the Uncles and Cousins - we were told to be nominally polite in our tone and conversations. We were not to obey anything they told us to do, and were forbidden to drive with them period. It was in a way a modified direct cut. The Uncles are now sober and we have a great relationships. The cousins died. My parents' firm stance made me feel safe - and enabled me to stand up for myself in other situations.
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photochick

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Re: Boundaries with Toxic Sister
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2011, 09:17:16 PM »
Ok you all have given me a lot to think about. A bunch of people have said I need to separate the relationship and I'm trying but she probably the only person who makes me feel this way so its hard to separate my feelings.

I think a lot of the thing today was because I don't want to hear my sister voice. Our argument was less than a month ago so its still fresh. And yes normally my sister is on speaker phone so I monitor what she is saying (as is almost everyone my children talk to on the phone). I think my mother didn't have it on speaker so I would have to hear my sister.

I think if she wasn't my sister, it probably wouldn't be direct cut worthy I would just see them around and be polite.

So I'm thinking these are the rules (I would be telling my mother, not my sister):
1. Until I move out, if my sister calls and wants to talk to my children, my mother (or father) can take the phone in the other room and my children can talk to my sister on speaker phone.
2. After I move out: My sister is free to talk to my kids when they are at my parents, must be on speaker phone with an adult in the room.
3. If my children are at my parents house and my sister is there, one of my parent must be in the room.

What do we think e-hell?

Also someone asked what the relationship was between my kids and my sister. Basically she loves them and is generally  very wonderful. I don't think she would ever say anything bad to them but I want my parents there as a safeguard until my children really get old enough to be able to tell me way happened themselves. I know my parents would never let my sister say anything mean to my children or anything bad about me.

TootsNYC

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Re: Boundaries with Toxic Sister
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2011, 09:28:05 PM »
Hm, I won't touch right or wrong in cutting ties with your sister the history between you is not something we'll be able to accurately gauge.  I will say your children either need to have it one way or another, either they have conversations, visits ect. from their aunt or you take it full cut and they aren't allowed to have any contact at all. Chaperoned visits aren't going to be better than just being alone with her and this you can do 'this' but not 'that' along with the animosity I'm sure they sense must be awfully confusing for them.

Yeah, I think this is hard on your kids.

I think you need to decide whether you think your sister will do to your kids what she does to you (push buttons, be rude, etc.)

And I do NOT think you should assume that your parents will always be in the same room w/ your kids and their aunt. That's just not going to happen. Grandma has to go potty; or wants to go weed the garden.

Will your sister "harm" your children (emotionally, intellectually, whatever), by what she says to them? Complaining about you, or badmouthing you? Or pushing THEIR buttons, or belittling them?

That's what you need to decide.

Sharnita

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Re: Boundaries with Toxic Sister
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2011, 09:39:40 PM »
what if your parens won' abide by those rules?  If that isn' a problem you are good. I am not certain how far ou would/could go o enforce that. It sounds like your parents provide child care - if they won't abide by your rules can/will you find other child care?  Will you cut off other visits?  I don't know if these will become issues but I think you need to know ahead of time how you will deal with them.

sevenday

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Re: Boundaries with Toxic Sister
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2011, 10:20:00 PM »
You don't say how old your kids are.  My answer is a little age-centered.  If they are age 9 or older, I think they're old enough for a sit down talk to them, to explain that your sister's actions are hurtful to you and that she has a long history of saying/doing mean things to you.  Tell them that you are concerned that she will do the same to them.  Tell them that she can talk to them, but if they are ever uncomfortable by something she says, to inform you.  You can then take steps to make a more complete cut. 

If your children are younger, then by all means insist on having an adult present, whether it's speakerphone or in person.  If your parents ask why, explain that while there are two sides to every coin (i.e. your sister's explanation of her relationship with you is different from how you perceive it) you do not feel comfortable allowing your sister to speak to your children unsupervised, lest she say injurious things.  Below age 7 or so, your kids should be under the watchful eye of a guardian ANYWAY.  It only takes a second for something to go awry, even if your sister's not involved at all.  (A towel on the stove, running with scissors, etc)

bah12

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Re: Boundaries with Toxic Sister
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2011, 10:50:25 AM »
Ok you all have given me a lot to think about. A bunch of people have said I need to separate the relationship and I'm trying but she probably the only person who makes me feel this way so its hard to separate my feelings.

I think a lot of the thing today was because I don't want to hear my sister voice. Our argument was less than a month ago so its still fresh. And yes normally my sister is on speaker phone so I monitor what she is saying (as is almost everyone my children talk to on the phone). I think my mother didn't have it on speaker so I would have to hear my sister.

I think if she wasn't my sister, it probably wouldn't be direct cut worthy I would just see them around and be polite.

So I'm thinking these are the rules (I would be telling my mother, not my sister):
1. Until I move out, if my sister calls and wants to talk to my children, my mother (or father) can take the phone in the other room and my children can talk to my sister on speaker phone.
2. After I move out: My sister is free to talk to my kids when they are at my parents, must be on speaker phone with an adult in the room.
3. If my children are at my parents house and my sister is there, one of my parent must be in the room.

What do we think e-hell?

Also someone asked what the relationship was between my kids and my sister. Basically she loves them and is generally  very wonderful. I don't think she would ever say anything bad to them but I want my parents there as a safeguard until my children really get old enough to be able to tell me way happened themselves. I know my parents would never let my sister say anything mean to my children or anything bad about me.

I think this is a bit much to put on your parents.  Does your mom understand why you don't want to talk to your sister?  Or is she hoping that her daughters will one day learn to get along?  You can't guarantee that they will be in the room all the time, and asking them to chaparone visits and phone calls is asking a lot, IMO. 

Either you trust your sister not to emotionally harm your children, or you don't.  If she's so toxic that you think she will hurt them the same way that she hurt you, or will badmouth you to them, and so devious that she will only do this when your parents aren't around to hear it, then I wouldn't blame you if you cut off contact completely...to include your kids. 

I agree with others that the decision needs to be that her relationship with your children is a healthy aunt-like relationship, or she isn't someone that you trust around your kids.  If you decide the former, then just allow them to talk to her and visit with her as long as you don't have to interact with her.  If it's the latter, then cut off contact completely.  And be prepared that you might need to get other child care if you don't think your parents will respect that.

Giggity

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Re: Boundaries with Toxic Sister
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2011, 10:58:43 AM »
I will have nothing to do with my sister and by extension neither will my children.

I don't plan on going out of my way to help her see/talk to them but I also don't care to go out of my way to prevent her from seeing them.

So I think that's reasonable, right?

The second sentence contradicts the first. How can you and your kids have nothing to do with your sister if you're not gonna prevent her from seeing them?
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