Ten years ago my brother had a child under less-than-ideal circumstances. He abandoned that woman and their child, met someone else, and right away had another baby with her. He has two children one year apart (his paternity was established in both) but has never met or done anything for his first child, my nephew. My nephew has been raised by his mother and her partner, a wonderful man who is my nephew’s true father in every sense. I’ve stayed in contact with my nephew’s mother for updates and had a chance to meet him a few years ago. I told my brother about that possibility out of respect, and he told me that he’d be very angry if I did meet the boy. I chose to do it anyway. It was very fulfilling and emotional, but I was sad I had to walk on eggshells just to be in my nephew’s life. My brother didn’t speak to me for months.
Recently I had another opportunity to see my nephew, and I took it, this time without telling my brother. It felt awful to have to keep a secret, but I’m a grown woman with every right to have a relationship with my own nephew. I don’t want to have to choose between them. I don’t mention my nephew to my brother. He’s part of my life, but my brother tries to dictate to me, saying if I continue to have a relationship with my nephew, he won’t speak to me. Do I continue in secrecy? Is it my brother’s right to know if I have a relationship with my nephew he does not parent? I bite my tongue so much with my brother because of his temper, and it’s stressful. I just want to love both my brother and my nephew without being cut off.