Author Topic: Stop putting me in the middle!  (Read 8758 times)

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BarensMom

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Stop putting me in the middle!
« on: November 24, 2012, 12:57:21 AM »
Question first, background below.  How do I convince my sister to take me out of the middle of her relationship with her son and his wife?

Years ago, my sister and her DH left my then 17 year-old nephew behind in NE large city to make his own way in the world.  10 years and a few hard times later, he now has a decent job, a wife, and a home.  As his closest (distance and blood) relative, I more or less assumed the in loco parentis role.  As a result, I have a good relationship with nephew and wife.

With their history, my nephew bears some resentment towards his parents.  He also dislikes only hearing from my sister when she wants something, mostly computer advice and fixes.  As a result, he will often not return her call bombardment if he is at work or if it is inconvenient for him.

My sister has taken to repeatedly calling me when she is unable to reach nephew, in order for me to pass along messages or for me to badger him into calling her.  I feel this is putting me in the middle of their relationship and I don't like it.  I have bean-dipped and outright refused, but sister isn't getting the message.

As an example, yesterday she called me to ask me to tell nephew to give her a call to advise on which brand of TV to purchase.  I gave her my opinion and told her nephew would say the same.  In spite of that, she bombarded him and me throughout the day until he returned her call and told her the exact same thing I had told her earlier.  He then passed the phone to me.  Sister said, "Ask Nephew why he won't talk to me."  I replied, "No, it's none of my business, how was your bean dip?"  She didn't like it, but responded to the redirection and ended the call quickly.

Ginderette

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Re: Stop putting me in the middle!
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2012, 01:21:29 AM »
Evil Ginderette suggests there's a fee involved every time she wants you to be a messenger for her. Make sure to make the price right for you to discourage bombarding you with those annoying errands. After all, couriers get paid to relay messages and the like!  >:D

Another thing is - granted a bit snarky - is to ask, "Do I look like Nephew/conjoined twins with him? Quit asking me, ask him."

From a polite point-of-view, you're doing good. The only thing left is to point blank tell her only to call you when she wants to talk to you, not Nephew.
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cicero

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Re: Stop putting me in the middle!
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2012, 03:56:18 AM »
stop *being* in the middle.

Tell your sister ONCE - "sis, you are putting me in a bad place and I am not going to play any more. if your calls or messages have anything to do with nephew, i will hang up or not reply". and then follow through. next time your sister calls and says "tell my son to call me" say "I told you i won't. did you want anything else". the next time just hang up.

it works - you see for yourself that it worked when you redirected. you (and nephew) will have to continue doing this.

hugs to you and nephew - this is a sad situation but I am glad that nephew had/has you in his life when he needed you.

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Danika

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Re: Stop putting me in the middle!
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2012, 04:34:49 AM »
stop *being* in the middle.

Tell your sister ONCE - "sis, you are putting me in a bad place and I am not going to play any more. if your calls or messages have anything to do with nephew, i will hang up or not reply". and then follow through. next time your sister calls and says "tell my son to call me" say "I told you i won't. did you want anything else". the next time just hang up.

it works - you see for yourself that it worked when you redirected. you (and nephew) will have to continue doing this.

hugs to you and nephew - this is a sad situation but I am glad that nephew had/has you in his life when he needed you.

POD

And give your nephew a heads up that you're doing this, just so that he knows not to believe his parents if they're the types to exaggerate and say "BarensMom will call you to verify..." or "BarensMom said she would..."
« Last Edit: November 24, 2012, 04:36:29 AM by Danika »

Luci

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Re: Stop putting me in the middle!
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2012, 09:38:42 AM »
I see a lot of positives in this current situation, actually.

After the tragedy that the parents commited on a 17 year old, you were there when he needed you and helped the young man grow into a strong member of society. I didn't see any mention of drugs or other underworld activities the kid could have turned to. Kudos for his strength and you.

It seems there me a crack in the door with his parents at least trying some communication by reach out for advice from him. Maybe, just maybe, in the long run there will be a true reunion (that's not quite the word I'm looking for) and by your being the go-between for the time being, it may help. (I personally am not that forgiving, but I've seen it happen with better people than I am.)

The bombardment of messages is ridiculous. Do your devices chirp everytime you get a message. Ugh! I can scroll through messages, but the notifications would drive me nuts. I know you are tired of this and don't know how long it's been going on, but the comments above about how to talk to sis and nephew sound good. Others are wiser than I am.

The message of this post is just a reminder of how well you have done, sympathy, and offering a little hope for the future.


girlysprite

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Re: Stop putting me in the middle!
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2012, 10:06:27 AM »
stop *being* in the middle.

Tell your sister ONCE - "sis, you are putting me in a bad place and I am not going to play any more. if your calls or messages have anything to do with nephew, i will hang up or not reply". and then follow through. next time your sister calls and says "tell my son to call me" say "I told you i won't. did you want anything else". the next time just hang up.

it works - you see for yourself that it worked when you redirected. you (and nephew) will have to continue doing this.

hugs to you and nephew - this is a sad situation but I am glad that nephew had/has you in his life when he needed you.

This, pretty much. I have been in such a situation too, where I tried to resolve conflicts by acting as a sort of mediator, and the two other people kind of grew to expect this. The problem is that the emotions also got redirected towards me, and they would start to argue with me instead of each other. So in the end I just refused to fill that role anymore.

There are many valid reasons you could give for why you don't want to be in the middle. It is not very respectful towards nephew for example; he created a clear boundary, and you are being used to cross that boundary. But the question is; will giving all those reasons help? Likely not. Create a stock response (age old E-hell technique!) like 'I won't forward questions or issues, and I will not answer questions about nephew as it isn't my business; this is just between the two of you'. This should cover everything.

TootsNYC

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Re: Stop putting me in the middle!
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2012, 10:17:03 AM »
You'll have to be tough--if she mentions nephew, say, "Sorry, I don't carry messages. I'm hanging up now--goodbye!" Don't even ask if she wants anything else.

And never, ever say anything to nephew that is from your sister.

It'll take a while. And maybe it'll never change anything. But it'll stop spending your minutes *in* the middle.

Zilla

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Re: Stop putting me in the middle!
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2012, 10:59:01 AM »
Speaking for him doesn't help either. (ie Saying that is what nephew would tell her regarding the TV brands)
 
Simply say, "I don't know sis and I will not get involved.  He is your son and please leave me out of it completely."  And if she persists, say, "I have to go now.  Good bye" and hang up each and every time she tries to bring it back up if your one time bean dip doesn't work.  Don't explain again and don't justify.  She will get the message.  Plus you will be supporting your nephew in this as well by taking this tack. 

yokozbornak

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Re: Stop putting me in the middle!
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2012, 11:07:30 AM »
stop *being* in the middle.

Tell your sister ONCE - "sis, you are putting me in a bad place and I am not going to play any more. if your calls or messages have anything to do with nephew, i will hang up or not reply". and then follow through. next time your sister calls and says "tell my son to call me" say "I told you i won't. did you want anything else". the next time just hang up.

it works - you see for yourself that it worked when you redirected. you (and nephew) will have to continue doing this.

hugs to you and nephew - this is a sad situation but I am glad that nephew had/has you in his life when he needed you.

This is wise advice.  I have been in this role, and it's no fun.  I finally learned you can't be in the middle if you refuse to be put there.  My heart really goes out to your nephew.  I would remind your sister that nephew has a wonderful life in spite of her, not because of her and he truly owes her nothing at this point.  She needs to beg his forgiveness and then try to rebuild a relationship.  Playing mind games is only going to drive him further away.

SPuck

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Re: Stop putting me in the middle!
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2012, 11:14:03 AM »
Sorry, I don't carry messages. I'm hanging up now--goodbye!"

stop *being* in the middle.

Tell your sister ONCE - "sis, you are putting me in a bad place and I am not going to play any more. if your calls or messages have anything to do with nephew, i will hang up or not reply". and then follow through. next time your sister calls and says "tell my son to call me" say "I told you i won't. did you want anything else". the next time just hang up.

I would go for what Toots said if that is what your comfortable with followed Cicero's response. All the gentle nudges and bean dips in the world are not going to work with someone who doesn't get the hint or does not understand boundaries. When she comes after you with her incessant calling you need to respond with an impenetrable shield of "not my problem."

littlebird

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Re: Stop putting me in the middle!
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2012, 11:36:11 AM »
Speaking for him doesn't help either. (ie Saying that is what nephew would tell her regarding the TV brands)
 
Simply say, "I don't know sis and I will not get involved.  He is your son and please leave me out of it completely."  And if she persists, say, "I have to go now.  Good bye" and hang up each and every time she tries to bring it back up if your one time bean dip doesn't work.  Don't explain again and don't justify.  She will get the message.  Plus you will be supporting your nephew in this as well by taking this tack.

POD.

I was in the middle of my sister and my mom for years, and I finally told both of them I was tired of it and didn't want to hear them complain about each other any more. I still get some complaints (inevitable) but I no longer feel stuck in the middle. I think part of why I don't feel like that anymore is that, once I told them, I stopped feeling obligated to try and help mediate their disputes. If one complains about the other, I make mmm noises (or, if it's bad, I say "Don't put me in the middle"), but I've stopped feeling in any way responsible for their relationship. I have no idea if you feel somehow responsible, but that can help.

Good luck.

MrTango

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Re: Stop putting me in the middle!
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2012, 01:19:36 PM »
"I don't know what he'd say. Maybe you should check with him directly."

Be a broken record.

Deetee

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Re: Stop putting me in the middle!
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2012, 02:02:30 PM »
Question first, background below.  How do I convince my sister to take me out of the middle of her relationship with her son and his wife?


You don't convince her of anything. You simply never pass on any messages and never speak for him and take yourself out of the middle.

As an aside, I assume that there is a back story or more to it, but I don't see letting a 17 year fend for themselves as something dreadful to be shunned. 17 or 18 about the age most of my friends moved out on their own. I wasn't "supported" after I was 18, though I was always welcome home for holidays or whenever I wanted to visit.

yokozbornak

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Re: Stop putting me in the middle!
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2012, 02:09:46 PM »
Question first, background below.  How do I convince my sister to take me out of the middle of her relationship with her son and his wife?


You don't convince her of anything. You simply never pass on any messages and never speak for him and take yourself out of the middle.

As an aside, I assume that there is a back story or more to it, but I don't see letting a 17 year fend for themselves as something dreadful to be shunned. 17 or 18 about the age most of my friends moved out on their own. I wasn't "supported" after I was 18, though I was always welcome home for holidays or whenever I wanted to visit.

I am probably reading my own background into this, but it sounds to me like the nephew was left to his own devices without any parental support.  My parents pretty much did the same thing for me (but supported my sister on and off until she was 40), and I still hurt over it. 

gramma dishes

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Re: Stop putting me in the middle!
« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2012, 02:26:54 PM »

...    'I won't forward questions or issues, and I will not answer questions about nephew as it isn't my business; this is just between the two of you'. ...

Girlysprite has provided the perfect wording, I think.  It covers whatever the current situation might be as well as any other situations that are bound to come up in the future.