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Seeking group advice

Hi All, I am writing, to seek your advice on a family matter which to me used to seem simple, but now is getting complicated and has given my three sisters and my mother a lot of grief.

 

I am 42 years old, the first son of my mother, and have three sisters 39, 34 and 32 years old respectively.

My father has an older son from his first marriage, and as I was told, after divorce, married to my mother. About seventeen years ago we came across a rather shocking news, realized that my father has had affair with his ex-wife for some years, and they have a seven years old girl and a five years old boy. Obviously this news made my mother and us very upset, and at that time we felt life would never be the same again. I personally was so angry at my father, that I felt never forgive him for this betrayal… Over years though, the anger in me turned to grief and gradually was washed away by tides of time. I should note that we never met the other children of my father.

 

During the past ten years I am leaving overseas and my three sisters also live overseas in different countries. We occasionally exchange email and talk on the phone for special occasions.

 

A few months ago, in a trip back to my home town, incidentally I met my younger step sister, now a handsome, confident young woman, indeed a respectable person. We talked for many hours, feeling pity about the lost years. Anyway, a few days later I had to return home, and we promised to keep in touch. And I added her to my Facebook….

 

A few days later my mother called me on the phone and without any introduction started insulting me and then said I must never call her mother again and hang up on me. I tried a few times to call her back to find out what was wrong, and she hang up on me again and again after repeating the same stuff, which didn’t make any sense for me. I also received hate emails from my sisters, accusing me of betraying them, congratulating me with sarcasm on finding my “lost step sister”, and saying they wouldn’t want to have any relationship with me anymore. With all surprise they blocked me, my wife and my children from their Facebook accounts.

 

I was so puzzled with their reaction that couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I tried to reason with them, and I asked them if they know their step sister or ever met her and they said they don’t care, and they hate her regardless, to respect their mother’s wish.

 

I love my mother and my three sisters, and am willing to talk with them about their emotions if they let me. The thing is that, I do not believe continuing a “broken heart story” which was ended many years ago would do any good for them.

 

Do you think I have to take side with my mother and sisters? Or continue doing whatever I think is the right thing to do?

Do you think sharing this post and group wisdom, with my family would help to find a resolution with them?

Re: Seeking group advice

Hey there, 

 

To be completely straight with you, I think your mother and sisters are acting extremely immaturely, although I do understand the human tendency to want to hold a grudge. However, while it would make sense for you family to hold that grudge against your father who had an affair, I think it's completely unreasonable to spread that animosity to the step-daughter who has done absolutely nothing wong with regards to this whole situations. She didn't choose to get born as a result of your father's affair, and I think it would be beneficial if your family were made to see that, so perhaps that's one thing you could try to talk with them about. 

 

I agree that it probably seems a bit unecessary to continue holding onto this "broken heart story" (as you put it) which all took place seventeen years ago, but clearly your mother and sisters still haven't let it go, regardless of how many years its been. So maybe it would be beneficial to talk it through with them (if they are willing), because sometimes the talking is what's needed for them to move on and let go of that grudge. 

 

At th end of the day, I think you need to consider what's more important to you: is losing contact with your mother and sisters worth the development of what could be a rewarding relationship with your step-sister? 

Re: Seeking group advice

Hi Mr F,

 

I agree with graphiqual. What do you feel would be best for you and where you want your life/relationships to head? I definitely think it would be worth trying to talk with your mother and sisters about this and explain where you're approaching the situation from - if they're not receptive to phone calls or Facebook, maybe sending a letter would be an option? That way, they can read it on their own terms, without feeling like they need to immediately respond, and they can take some time to process what you have to say before they reply. 

 

It's a hard situation. My extended family has a similar problem - my mother has five siblings who all turned on one of their sisters due to a whole heap of issues, but my mother continued to have contact with her which was a really contentious issue among the siblings for a long time. The other siblings haven't yet forgiven their sister or reinstated contact with her, but eventually they decided to hear my mum out and let her make her own decisions about whether or not she wanted to have contact with her sister - which she did. I think as adults, you, your mother and your siblings are perfectly capable of making your own choices about who you want to pursue relationships with. It's not your step sisters fault that she was born into this situation, and she shouldn't have to bear the disagreements of her/your parents - neither should you. It's your life and your choices.

 

I definitely think you should try to express your perspective to your family. You might be interested in checking out these factsheets on tips for communication and family conflict - they're skewed towards a younger audience, but the core points are still there.

 

Good luck Smiley Happy

Re: Seeking group advice

Thanks all for sharing your opinion.

 

I think my dillemma is not simply choosing the "new step-sister" over my family, although I agree that my step sister didn't have any role in the story that my family are referring to.

I feel disappointed about my family because it seems they are pushing to drag me into their hatred by ganging up against me without hearing me first, which I beleive is very immature and unfair. More importantly I believe we cannot be in peace with ourselves, if we do not let the hatred go. Life is too short to get involved with such childish games. Hence I am trying to reason with them first, or should I let time solve the problem? 

 

I am hoping to receive many replies on this post to share them with my family later. So please share your thoughts, even it is the echo of other posts.

Re: Seeking group advice

Well it sounds to me like letting "time" solve the problem hasn't worked for seventeen years, so I think trying to reason with them and talk it out would be a good idea.

I completely agree that life is too short to hold onto hatred for so long. Perhaps try to find out what's driving them to keep holding onto this grudge, they must be getting something out of it (or trying to) because from experience, it's exhausting for both parties to have so much hatred between them for a long period of time. It could be to feed their own sense of self-righteousness, it could be revenge, it could be that they expect an apology that hasn't been given yet... I don't know, but I think talking through it would be beneficial.

Re: Seeking group advice

Hey Mr F

 

Thanks for checking back with us.

 

Family could be so frustrating! I only recently found out that families could be the biggest gossipers!

By the sound of things, your mum and sisters are blowing their tops because they found out about your connection to your step-sister. It is obvious that they've jumped to conclusions with limited knowledge of what you and your step-sister did. Could you send them a snail mail? I reckon a hand written letter in the 21st century proves how much effort you've put into communicating that message. I wonder how your family found out that you made contact with your step side of the family. That informant needs to be confronted Smiley Happy

 

Also, I know how hard it is to talk a person when they don't want to hear YOU out. Could you get another family member to speak with your mother and sisters? I know my mum won't listen to me when I pointed out her short-comings, but if her friend pointed it out, she would at least hear her friend out.

 

Hope things improve soon Smiley Happy

 

Doris

Re: Seeking group advice

Hey Mr F, it sounds like a complicated situation involving a lot of emotion and hurt over past wrongs.

 

I think it's important to place the blame where it belongs. Your half-sister is completely innocent when it comes to her conception and your father's indiscretions. I imagine it wouldn't have been easy for her and her brother growing up in that situation and wondering why their Dad couldn't be around full time. And in the same manner, you and your sisters had no influence over your fathers actions either. There is no betrayal taking place by you keeping in touch with your half-sister, especially when you live in different countries and can only communicate over Facebook. You are being punished for your father's behaviour over an emotionally guided sense of loyalty. Would there be a problem if you wanted to get in touch with the oldest son from your father's first marriage, when their relationship was 'above board'?

 

Nobody wants to see their parents suffer, and I completely understand why your sisters would want to support your mum. However it seems petty to delete the rest of your family from their social media networks when their issue was with you. Your daughter shouldn't be punished for your actions (however justified) so it's a bit of a vicious circle.

 

Is there a way you can all get together for some counselling as a family? Since you all live far apart, you could ask a therapist if they are willing to conduct the session over the internet or using Skype. Sometimes it's good to have an independent third party to lead the discussion.

 

I wish you the best of luck and hope that your family can heal.

Re: Seeking group advice

I don't think you've done anything wrong in this situation.
There is nothing your sister has done to betray your mother and other sisters, so you have no reason to have to side with them.

There has been a slightly similar family dispute concerning my mother. Most of my mothers siblings, most prominently the one she is closest to, are mad and feel betrayed by a couple of the other siblings for a choice they made regarding their mother.
For a long time my mum sided with the majority, really only because she was expected to. A couple of years ago one of them made contact with my mum and the two of them are on good terms, they see each other often. My mum is much happier now, I like it a lot better and the only person losing out in the situation are those who refuse to move on and accept what happened happened.

Your mother has every right to feel hurt and anger towards your father. It is fair of her to feel jealous, annoyed and/or upset by the reality of the family.
It's understandable for her to have ill-feelings towards your other siblings, who to her are the products of your fathers betrayal or love.
It makes sense for your sisters to want to support their mum, and not want to upset her.
In the end though, they're bringing more unnecessary pain upon themselves.
They have no right to bring you into their anger and unhappiness.

From the sounds of it you're not really close to your sisters and mother, are they closer to each other? If so, there may be something in the situation which you're not aware of. Regardless of the details though, I think it's fine for you to continue your relationship with your sister.
It also sounds like there is potential for you two to become closer than you are with the rest of your family.

Maybe you should give your sisters and mum a little bit of time to calm down or digest the news, not too long, just how long you think it will take for them to accept that you're not going to choose them over her. Because you shouldn't, you shouldn't have to make a choice like this at all and you especially shouldn't be forced in to it.

Imagine if these people weren't your family, they were just friends. If the friends you had known for ages decided that you weren't worthy of being their friend unless you agreed to cut all ties and hate your new friend as much as they did, would you?

Re: Seeking group advice

Dear All, Once again thank you for sharing your opinions on this matter with me.

 

After pondering on this matter for a while... I believe at the end of the day, it is up to us to choose the way we leave, the way we look at life and the way we treat other human beings.

I believe what I seek from a relationship is a pleasant, healthy experience to help me grow spiritually and support me when I am in trouble. I think after  this particular incident I feel that I am being treated unfairly. This is something in my family relationship which requires urgent attention. Hence seeking group wisdom on this matter.

 

As you all suggested, I am going to talk with them first. Although I do not intend to change their mind and instantly turn a life time of hatred to love. But firstly I would like to establish a common ground based on mutual respect and understanding. This way it would be easier to discuss emotion and logic with them. 

 

I opened a dialogue through email with my younger sister and she proposed to have an online family voice-chat so they can empty their chests. I am a bit reserved on talking with all family members at the same time at this stage as from experience their intention likely is gathering to knock the guilty one down Smiley Happy that wouldn't be constructive. Instead I suggested to talk to her alone, before having a family meeting.

 

What would you tell to your sister if you felt she treated (or rejected) you harshly with no reason?

 

Re: Seeking group advice

Thinking back I realized it must be one of my sisters igniting my mother. As my mother is not an internet savvy. Sadly, my sister could have managed the situation a lot better. Smiley Sad