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Old 07-27-2010, 02:19 PM   #1
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Default I feel like I'm being mean... am I?

This might be kind of long, so I will apologize in advance.

My recently divorced SIL just moved to a neighborhood very close to mine. We are close with my husband's family and help each other out when we can. While going through her divorce, my SIL lived with my in-laws and they supported her financially and by watching her preschool aged daughter while she worked. She is now living with her new boyfriend. Her daughter and my son are both starting Kindergarten at the same school this fall. SIL sent me a text today asking me if I could watch her daughter after school on Wednesdays. This would mean getting her off the bus and having her at my house until about 7 or 7:30 in the evening. I don't want to do this and my DH doesn't want us to either, so when I received the text, I talked to him and we decided to offer to watch her for one month (until other arrangements could be made) because we were unsure of what our schedule would be like after school. She said she'd figure something out and thanks anyway.

I feel like I am being sort of mean for not just saying that I'd do it. I have a hard time saying no- especially when I could do something to help and especially when it's family. I feel like family is who you should turn to when you need help, but I also feel like she has been getting a lot of help lately and it might be time for her to stand on her own feet. Also, her daughter is a handful and a half and I worry about her spending that much time at my house. She is rude and disrespectful and my son (who is not an angel, but pretty well behaved most of the time) acts out much more after being around her. She has been raised having very little structure and has a different set of values than we do. Basically, I can only take her in very small doses.

I worry about what this situation would cost us as a family. In addition to what I mentioned above, I would like for my son to be able to be involved in after school activities and worry that it would be too difficult to take her along (due to her behavior as well as the logistics of me getting three children ready and out the door on time). I don't know how our evenings will be once school starts. I have never had a child in school before, so I don't know what to expect as far as homework and evening committments.

On the other hand, it is just one day a week and maybe we could be a good influence on her and give her some stability and structure that has been missing from her life so far.

I feel like it will cause some friction in the extended family if I don't do it, but that it will cause friction in my immediate family if I do. What would you do? Have I handled this in an acceptable way so far? Is it mean not to help out a family member when you could, but really don't want to? Please help!

Thanks for reading this crazy long saga!

Marla
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Old 07-27-2010, 02:53 PM   #2
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Your first and most important commitment is to your IMMEDIATE family. If you and DH have discussed it and decided this is not something you're willing to do, then your SIL will have to deal with it. She's a big girl, she needs to make her own child care arrangements. Good for you....stick to your guns! The more you enable her, the less she will learn to stand on her own two feet. JMHO
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Old 07-27-2010, 03:05 PM   #3
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Marla,

While I was reading your "saga" the first thing that popped into my mind was "what if her son wants to get involved in after-school activities?" If you have to be responsible for your niece, your son probably won't be able to participate. I know someone out there is going to say "you could take your niece with you." I have a 4 year old and for the most part is pretty well behaved, but I know how much work it is when we go just to the store.

If your son had to miss out because you had to watch your niece, I think THAT would be incredibly unfair. I teach (first grade) and I know how important this time is for your son. It sets up much of his attitude towards school. If he sees you are involved and are taking an interest (not just with his after-school activities, but Back-to-School night and other opportunities to volunteer) he will be much more excited about school.
I work in a private school, so parent involvement is a big part of our community. But I can tell you first hand the children are not only proud but excited when they know their parents help at school.

If the guilt eats at you too much, once the school year starts maybe you can offer to help out. I think it is easier to change your mind from "no" to "yes" later than vice versa.

The other thing to consider, if you can only take her in very small doses being around her for any period of time is going to work your nerves. That would also be unfair to your son. Eventually, no matter how hard you try not to- you will slip and take it out on him.

I'm also a firm believer of "if your gut says not to, don't." I'm sure there are others who will disagree with me and say "family first." But I'm sure they haven't been taken advantage of by family. It is a very fine line and I don't envy you. Having your husband's support is half the battle, dealing with the guilt is the other. Try not to feel guilty, you know what is best for your home.

I hope this helps.
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Old 07-27-2010, 03:08 PM   #4
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No...don't do it. She needs to be responsible and hire outside help or get her ex to watch the kids. Trust me on this, it never turns out for the good of all in my experience. Your family is first and foremost. If your first impulse is no, then stick with it.
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Old 07-27-2010, 03:16 PM   #5
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You are in no way being mean. Your first priority should always be your husband and children. I think it's a little tacky for her to text you and ask for such a thing. Seems like she's been taken care of enough, and the new boyfriend should realize that she and her child are a package deal, and should take responsibility, as should the ex.
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Old 07-27-2010, 05:56 PM   #6
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Ditto what everyone else has said. Every word of your post justifies why you SHOULDN'T do it. Don't compromise what's right for you and your son and husband. And DON'T feel guilty about it. Ever.

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Old 07-27-2010, 06:05 PM   #7
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You have to do what works best for you. Part of me says its only 1 day a week- be nice and help her out. The other part reads all your excuses and agrees it would be hard. Me being the sucker I am would probably say yes- I enjoy kids and the kids always love playing together. Sounds like you would have to set some rules and hopefully the other kids behaves better. I dont see it being a big deal to have your son in other activites, just bring her along. I know, not as easy, but set the rules.
Your sil sounds fine if you dont do it, so say no if thats what you want. It might turn out better than you think.
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Old 07-28-2010, 02:18 AM   #8
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Thank you all for your replies! They really have helped me feel better about my situation. I will see her tomorrow, so that will give me a good idea of how she is really feeling about everything. I'm sure she is a little upset because she definitely assumed that I would do it and it would be no big deal and now she has to really look and try to figure something out. I used to do a lot of babysitting and gave it all up a little over a year ago because it got to be too much. I know that it will be harder on everyone if I start doing it and then decide after a while that it is not working out.

Thanks again for reading my post and taking the time to respond. I really appreciate it!

Marla
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Old 07-28-2010, 06:10 AM   #9
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From a "been there" "done that" basis I say don't do it.

I have a daycare child that I agreed to keep on evenings mom had to work until 8:00PM

This might be as much as twice a week or sometimes just a couple of days a month.

I have no children at home and usually no commitments that cannot take place on a different night.

Last week I had to take her to 2 different places with me and ended up keeping her until after 9:00PM.

That was it!

She is starting school next week but if she was staying here I had already made up my mind that I would not do it anymore.
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Old 07-28-2010, 07:12 AM   #10
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Perhaps you can be her "on call" person if sitting falls through or someone is sick? I don't know if she's the type that would abuse that, but it might be a happy middle ground - you wouldn't feel guilty and you'd be helping her out if/when an emergency arises.

As a single mom I can tell you that it is hard to find good help. The people who have said to me that they'd take my kids in an emergency are life-savers - just knowing that I have a couple of friends who will do that takes such a load off of my shoulders.

It really does take a village.....
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Old 07-28-2010, 08:05 AM   #11
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You did exceptionally well in saying no with the one month help. You are just feeling guilty. You say both you and your husband did not want to do this. If you did keep the child, you would only resent it. You have done well. Pat yourself on the back and forget about it.
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Old 07-28-2010, 09:38 AM   #12
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[QUOTE=Granny Hawkins;17079323]From a "been there" "done that" basis I say don't do it.

I'm like Granny, been there done that and it always ends up later than they say and getting out of hand. Stick with your no and don't feel guilty for being a woman who puts her child and husband first. Good for you.
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Old 07-28-2010, 12:10 PM   #13
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I am the odd-ball out on this one .... for sure...Glad to not be a member of your extended family. Your niece and son are the exact same age starting school together this year and it is only 1 day a week after school-thru dinner-into early evening...I was happy that you at least said you are willing to do it for 1 month while she finds someone else.

I think what saddens me is that your family- isn't family suppose to help family a little. I am not confortable having my Son with anyone but family because I know all the ins and out of my family. I have never used a babysitter except for family and extended family. I can only trust people I truly know to watch my child and Yes he is a handful (He was recently Dx officially with Autism)- and I am lucky as a SAHM that we only ask family members appox 3-4 times a year to babysit for a few hours. I fear strangers or non-family member might hurt him due to his behavioral issues. I can't imagine my family ever saying "no" if they were able to do this. Also in my family all ex in-laws are still considered a full part of our family, they are always welcome at every-ones home at all holidays, which can be strange your first holiday or 2 when you have a new husband/wife and your Ex is sitting right next to ya...but in my family, family is forever, not till one gets a bug up their *** and decide they would rather divorce and be single. I am forever grateful to have come from an ethically strong Italian family. I have 1 niece that is also Autistic and she is finally 20 years old- graduated this past year from HS. I would have rathered put up with her antics for a couple hours a week to prevent her from going to a strangers home where someone might have knocked the crap out of her due to her behavior. JMHO...

I am the odd ball out on this one... I feel I should now call my close family members and express my complete gratitude on their willingness to babysit for me even though I know my Son is difficult and just plain hard to handle most of the time.
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Old 07-28-2010, 12:52 PM   #14
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Marla....

You are not a bad person or a bad family member for saying no.

No one and I repeat no one has the right to make you feel guilty or in any way responsible for your niece's well being if she has to be cared for by someone outside of the family.

It does not make you less caring or less a member of a tight loving family unit.

You offered to keep her until help could be found and you might offer to keep her in an emergency situation.

I applaud you for that.
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Old 07-28-2010, 01:27 PM   #15
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I would only be the on call person.. like if the child was sick and couldnt go to daycare, or daycare closed due to bad weather (it happens here during snowy months)
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Old 07-29-2010, 04:08 AM   #16
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Just wanted to add one point that I think is worth mentioning... my SIL owns her own beauty/tanning salon. She sets her own schedule. She could easily work eack day from 9-3 without working fewer hours per week and be able to be there to put her daughter on the school bus and get her off the bus. I feel like she needs to do this. After the rough year they have had, I think my niece needs to be with her mom and know that she is there for her 100%. I guess it just sort of bothers me that SIL is unwilling to have her life disrupted at all now that her daughter is starting school, but she doesn't mind if my family's life is disrupted, KWIM?

Thanks again for all the replies! I wanted honest opinions, so all are welcome to post their thoughts.

Marla
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Old 07-29-2010, 06:10 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarlaR View Post
Just wanted to add one point that I think is worth mentioning... my SIL owns her own beauty/tanning salon. She sets her own schedule. She could easily work eack day from 9-3 without working fewer hours per week and be able to be there to put her daughter on the school bus and get her off the bus. I feel like she needs to do this. After the rough year they have had, I think my niece needs to be with her mom and know that she is there for her 100%. I guess it just sort of bothers me that SIL is unwilling to have her life disrupted at all now that her daughter is starting school, but she doesn't mind if my family's life is disrupted, KWIM?

Thanks again for all the replies! I wanted honest opinions, so all are welcome to post their thoughts.

Marla
To me, this makes it even more important for you to stick to your guns! Don't cave on this.
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Old 07-29-2010, 06:47 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarlaR View Post
Just wanted to add one point that I think is worth mentioning... my SIL owns her own beauty/tanning salon. She sets her own schedule. She could easily work eack day from 9-3 without working fewer hours per week and be able to be there to put her daughter on the school bus and get her off the bus. I feel like she needs to do this. After the rough year they have had, I think my niece needs to be with her mom and know that she is there for her 100%. I guess it just sort of bothers me that SIL is unwilling to have her life disrupted at all now that her daughter is starting school, but she doesn't mind if my family's life is disrupted, KWIM?

Thanks again for all the replies! I wanted honest opinions, so all are welcome to post their thoughts.

Marla
Well that sort-of makes me changed the way I feel.
If she can change her hours and still get the same amount of hours per week...A mother should be willing to this for her child. I can not imagine wanting someone to watch my child - when I can change my hours of work and take care of them myself. I can't imagine not doing something to allow yourself more time with your own child. Very Sad... My Son is my World!!

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Old 07-29-2010, 08:37 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Well that sort-of makes me changed the way I feel.
If she can change her hours and still get the same amount of hours per week...A mother should be willing to this for her child. I can not imagine wanting someone to watch my child - when I can change my hours of work and take care of them myself. I can't imagine not doing something to allow yourself more time with your own child. Very Sad... My Son is my World!!

Sheena
Sheena, you sound like such a sweetheart. Your first reply was so from the heart and you are fortunate to have family, it sounds like you also never took advantage of thier generosity.
It was your second reply that made me think of how sweet you must be. First, you were willing to take a second look and second you just expressed so much love for your own child.
I just want to encourage you one mom to another. Although mine are raised and have families of thier own. I still have a moms heart.
My son-in-law has been battleing cancer for the last nine months so I get to have my grand kids alot and when I don't I miss them terriblely. I have a daughter that always expresses her thankfulness. Although I don't expect it, it is nice.
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Old 07-30-2010, 06:50 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheena74 View Post
Well that sort-of makes me changed the way I feel.
If she can change her hours and still get the same amount of hours per week...A mother should be willing to this for her child. I can not imagine wanting someone to watch my child - when I can change my hours of work and take care of them myself. I can't imagine not doing something to allow yourself more time with your own child. Very Sad... My Son is my World!!

Sheena
Thanks for this Sheena! I think that you are a very devoted and caring mother and I applaud your dedication to your son! He is blessed to have you!
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Old 07-30-2010, 06:55 AM   #21
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I spoke to SIL yesterday and she said that she may change her hours so that she is home every evening (except Friday when MIL and FIL will keep her daughter overnight). I'm really glad that I didn't say "yes" right from the start because I don't think she would have considered this option. It would have been very easy for her to keep her schedule the same and have her daughter come to my house. While this would have been a fine solution for my niece, I think that any time a child can be with a parent, that is the best thing for the child.

I guess sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is say "no". Not to mention that sometimes it's the best for you, too.

Feeling really good about this outcome! Thanks for all the advice and encouragement! SCS ladies are the best!

Marla
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Old 07-30-2010, 10:06 AM   #22
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Sheena, you sound like such a sweetheart. Your first reply was so from the heart and you are fortunate to have family, it sounds like you also never took advantage of thier generosity.
It was your second reply that made me think of how sweet you must be. First, you were willing to take a second look and second you just expressed so much love for your own child.
I just want to encourage you one mom to another. Although mine are raised and have families of thier own. I still have a moms heart.
My son-in-law has been battleing cancer for the last nine months so I get to have my grand kids alot and when I don't I miss them terriblely. I have a daughter that always expresses her thankfulness. Although I don't expect it, it is nice.
Lois
Thanks for the sweet comment, I would do anything for my Son- I waited 35 years to adopt even though my Son has been in my home his entire life- I was lucky to get him straight from the hospital- even if it took 23 months to complete the adoption of him. My family is great about watching him on extreme rare occasions when something comes up- they are the only ones I can trust to never harm my Son. I remember my Ex-SIL stating when he was a baby and difficult to comfort- she looked me straight in the eyes and said I am so glad he is not mine because I would hurt him, I started crying... She was even a Mother of 2 children herself- that was when I knew I could never leave him with friends or a random neighbor- and definitely never with her. Now 2 years later she is an Ex-SIL and lost custody and even visitation with her own darling children. On my Sons most difficult day, I just tell myself- if I am feeling frustrated with my Son because of his behavior, How must he feel? - He wants to please me so bad but just can't communicate or follow simple instructions, its a reality check.. My son must feel so overwhelmed and frustrated himself. I have never loved anything or anyone like I love him... I will always be grateful to be his Mother....

Sheena

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Old 07-30-2010, 10:14 AM   #23
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Sheena, God Bless you and your son.
Marla, that is so neat how it is working out. You must be so happy that you did the right thing.
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Old 07-30-2010, 10:15 AM   #24
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Thanks for this Sheena! I think that you are a very devoted and caring mother and I applaud your dedication to your son! He is blessed to have you!
Thank you... I feel blessed to have him as my Son. I am glad she is willing to change some of her hours to spend more time with her daughter. We only have a short 18 years to raise our children- why someone wouldn't want to spend as much time as possible with them is beyond me. When I say 18 years to raise our children, I know this isn't always the case, you never know when God will call your child home. I have a brother that lost a child at 36 days old to SIDS and I know he would give up anything to have just 1 more day even hour with her. That was the defining moment in my life- even though it was 14 years ago... I will spend every moment possible with my Son, because I never know when it might be his last. I Love being a Mother and I have an awesome Son, difficult Yes, but worth every bit of it...

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Old 08-13-2010, 06:25 PM   #25
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Just curious ... why did she need someone to watch her daughter if she can change her schedule? I don't get it.
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Old 08-25-2010, 07:22 AM   #26
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Don't feel guilty. Yes family is family and I too come from a big family. But there are times that you do need to say no. As hard as it is, saying no can help the person stand on their own two feet. We were a military family and there were many times we just didn't do. If we couldn't do it ourselves - we hired someone for the kids. Even when we lived in the same area as family, never asked family to babysit.

IMHO although it maybe rough for your SIL, she will figure it out. Sometimes the hardest things to do is to say no.
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