Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Carolyn: In the middle of a heated argument with my brother, he said my 5-year-old son was really hard to get along with and that was some of the reason he didnt spend any time with him. My heart dropped to the floor.
The next day I told him how much that hurt me and he apologized, profusely, but Carolyn, I havent really seen any change in my brothers behavior.
I flat-out told him his apology means nothing when his actions havent changed, and his response was dismissive. I really feel like he is uninterested in developing a relationship with my child. He has a very cozy relationship with his partners nieces. What can I do? This hurts.
APOLOGY NOT ENOUGH
Of course it does. But, have you dropped your defenses enough to consider that maybe your son and your brother dont mix too well?
As hard as it can be to be objective about this, we all are better for being willing to detach our own feelings of pride, accomplishment and acceptance from other peoples opinions of our kids. Im sure youve come across children you dont like very much. Certainly you dont like every adult you meet, so why should kids be any different? They have personalities, too, all of which will rub at least somebody the wrong way.
So while your brother didnt handle this gracefully (at all), its time you stopped pushing him to be Uncle Awesome. Even consider apologizing for cornering him into saying what he did. You cant make anyone love anyone else, and it sounds like youve really laid on the pressure for him to do just that. Youve even dismissed his profuse apology and gone right back to applying pressure.
Maybe apologizing and calling a cease-guilt will encourage him to come around more. If not, try inviting your brother again when your sons a little older. In the meantime, seek extended-family warmth from others who are more receptive.
And if it helps, keep in mind that your heartbreak is not uncommon. For a lot of people, family only acts like Family in soup commercials.
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