Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Baby might not bring troubled siblings together

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My only brother and I have always had a difficult relationship. About two years ago, we stopped talking completely.

When my husband and I found out that we were expecting our first child, I reached out to my brother to share the news. He was overjoyed, and we had a long conversation in which he apologized for his past behavior and told me he wanted to be a large part of his niece's life

I delivered about two months early, and our daughter stayed in the NICU for almost a month and a half. My brother (who has never made a lot of money) generously gifted my daughter a beautiful set of linens for her crib.

In our month and half stay in the hospital with our critically ill daughter, we did not get around to sending out thank-you notes. When my brother visited the hospital, though, we thanked him profusely.

A week after we returned home from the hospital, my brother sent me an angry email claiming that we were unappreciative of his efforts to be a part of our daughter's life. As a result, he has refused to speak with me and is emailing my husband for updates on the child.

When I asked him what prompted these feelings, he said that we had never sent him a thank-you note for his gifts.

 

Was I insensitive to his efforts? My husband wants to try to make this right, because my brother is our daughter's only uncle. I do not think that this is a good idea, as my brother has proven to be unreasonable. How should I go about handling this?

-- New Mom

Dear Mom: It seems that your daughter's birth has not brought on a magical change in your life-long dynamic with your brother. And so, you'll have to do what most of us in challenging families do -- take this relationship one day and one episode at a time, and react proportionally. This is something your brother, unfortunately, seems unable (or unwilling) to do.

Your brother is going to have to figure out that if he really wants to have a relationship with his niece, he is going to have to make nice with the child's mother.

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