Wedding Woes

This is weird, and I feel for her real daughter.

Dear Prudence,

Eight years ago, my boyfriend and I found ourselves unexpectedly pregnant; his sister also became pregnant due to in vitro fertilization after trying to conceive for many years. The girls were born two weeks apart and are very different. I had a roly-poly baby who smiled and slept beautifully. My niece has always been underweight and shy, with a not-so-happy disposition. My sister-in-law has always been very loving—and even possessive—with my child. She makes comments like “She’s the baby I should have had,” “She’s the twin that I lost” (one of the implanted embryos didn’t make it), “A child after my own heart,” etc. It made me uncomfortable, but I let it slide for the sake of peace. Now the girls are in third grade and are in the same classroom. I pack my daughter’s lunch and sometimes leave notes or drawings for her in her lunch box. Lately she has been coming home with notes from her aunt in her bag. She keeps trying to use a nickname for my child that we don’t use and professes how much she loves her. I know it seems harmless, but it really bothers me to see this. My sister-in-law has three children of her own and is taking care of an additional two from her live-in boyfriend. It’s like she wants to parent my child, who has two very competent parents already. I need some perspective here. Am I crazy for letting this bother me? Can I tell her to not send notes?

—Already Has Two Parents

Re: This is weird, and I feel for her real daughter.

  • This is weird.   Is the cousin getting notes? 

    I would consider talking to a school psychologist about this.   To help the comparison I'd also see if they could be put in separate classes so at least their interaction would be limited.

    Beyond that I don't know how much she can do other than to really foster a great relationship with her niece. 
    short+sassyeileenrobcharlotte989875
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California
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    This sounds like a prelude to a kidnapping. It’s super weird and I feel for the aunt’s daughter. 


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    mrsconn23ahoywedding
  • I am really hoping the SIL's daughter is lavished with the same attention.  But that is not the impression I'm getting.  Especially this comment: “She’s the baby I should have had,”  I pray these are words that have never been said in either child's hearing.  It's time for a Come To Jesus talk with the SIL.

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    eileenrobmrsconn23charlotte989875
  • levioosa said:
    This sounds like a prelude to a kidnapping. It’s super weird and I feel for the aunt’s daughter. 
    Agreed, this is beyond just a little weird.  I'd be scared and talking to school administration at the very least. 
  • What do the kids say about this? 

    I can see both LW’s daughter and the niece feeling really bad and uncomfortable about this. Talk you your kid how she feels and then depending on what she says maybe the school psychologist. 

    But also what what does the husband/BF say about his sister? I think he should be the one to talk to her...
    mrsconn23
  • Ro041Ro041
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    I may be in the minority but I don't think that her leaving notes is weird (assuming she leaves notes for her own daughter as well). 

    What do the notes say?  If it's as simple as, "Smiley, I hope you have a great day.  You are so loved!  Love, Aunt" I wouldn't be concerned.  If they said, "Aunt Jr.  No one will ever love you as much as me.  Love, Aunt" then I might be concerned.

    LW doesn't get to tell other people not to have a nickname for her child.  That's ridiculous.  Unless the nickname is something disturbing, girl needs to let that go.

    I have no explanation for the comments Aunt made when the kids were babies.  

    charlotte989875short+sassyMesmrEwe
  • ShesSoColdShesSoCold bend over and I'll show ya
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    I wonder what the brother/father/boyfriend thinks about this. Some people are just really overly lovey but harmless. Some people are weird and kind of concerning. I feel like I need to know more. 

    Like, in my family, we never hugged or told each other we loved each other. I can tell you exactly when and where I was the last time I hugged either of my parents. I don't recall ever hugging my siblings or telling anyone in the family I love them. My MIL hugs and kisses constantly and tells me she loves me. It makes me so uncomfortable. But that's just a case of how I grew up vs. how she did. No one here is right or wrong, just different.

    LW words the letter like SIL is super weird, but she could just be like me and the SIL is like my MIL. 
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    charlotte989875short+sassy
  • LondonLisaLondonLisa London, UK
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    edited October 6
    Yeah, more people and family members to love a child is not a bad thing. The comparison comments are not OK, but notes saying how much she is loved by her aunt is sweet. I do agree that she is probably close to the line, but keep an eye on it. The nature of the notes is really key. I agree with @Ro041 -  "Hope you have a great day, poppet" or 'Your auntie loves you, cricket' is not a big deal. But anything comparing her to her daughter/ etc is not ok. 

    And the nickname is not a big deal (again, without details). I call my best friend's daughter 'peanut'. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who calls her that, but it was just a sweet pet name. 

    And keep an eye on your niece too. Make sure you try to shower her with love as well. I'd join in- make it a fun auntie-thing and send notes to your niece about how much you love her and how special she is, too. 
    Ro041
  • Is she saying "She's the child I should have had" in regards to the embryo that didn't make it, or in regards to her own daughter? Because I feel like knowing that from LW would make a world of difference. She could be working out her grief of having a hard time conceiving and losing one of the embryos by treating her niece like the one that could have been, especially with the two children being so close in age.  Or she could be rejected her own daughter in place of her niece. Very, very different scenarios.
    imageimage
  • I took the nickname comment to mean the sister was shortening the kid's name to something the parents don't want. My cousin has a son named Alexander, and she doesn't want anyone calling him Alex. He's only in kindergarten, and I think she'd be okay if he eventually wanted to shorten his name, but she asks other adults not to.

    The comments would creep me out, and I hope she's not saying them around the children. 
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
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    If all she says in the actual notes that's really offensive is to call the child a nickname her parents don't like, I probably wouldn't die on that hill. But if she's making comparative comments or playing favorites where the children can see or hear it, then that needs to be stopped.
    short+sassycharlotte989875
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