04-09-2021 07:52 PM
Hi everyone.This is a long post so I'm grateful to anyone who reads it. I am looking for some advice about my sister-in-law and her daughter.
To put it simply their constant aggression is having a huge impact on my wife who is struggling with her mental health right now. It is also influencing my son's behaviour which I'm very concerned about.
To give you an idea about the relationship my wife has with her sister, my wife is the eldest of the 2 and has basically helped her sister all her life whether it be seeking professional help when her sister was an alcoholic (she's been sober for 9 years now), being present at the birth of her daughter and subsequently picking up the pieces when the father disappeared off the scene before the child's 1st birthday to generally managing her day to day life whilst constantly running around for her because she can't drive herself.
But then we had our own child 4 years ago and my wife naturally couldn't be around to help her sister as much and I think it's put a strain on their relationship. She still goes above and beyond for both of them but it's almost as if her sister resents her for having a 'normal' life with a husband and a job etc and nothing my wife does is enough.
Her sister can get aggressive very quickly and has a habit of falling out with her friends. She's fell out with my wife numerous times where she would storm out of our house or out of my wife's car over the smallest of disagreements. A couple of years ago it got really bad when I had to work away and her sister offered to stay in our house to support my wife who was having some anxiety problems. My wife face timed me and showed me cuts on her face and neck saying her sister just attacked her and stormed out with her daughter in tow who was hysterical. This always happens in front of her daughter and I think these outbursts have turned her into an angry child.
Her daughter is 6 and is quite difficult and awkward to be around a lot of the time. She is very aggressive when she plays, has random screaming outbursts, hisses or makes animal noises at people and has been known to bully our son when they are together. Our house is generally very loud and chaotic when they are there compared to when other friends or family are around. But weirdly she's a lot more calm and well behaved when she's not with her mother as if she knows she can't get away with most things that she usually would with her mother there.
I've never taken sides when they've fallen out even though I should have before now but after the most recent altercation I feel like I need to intervene and tell my sister in law exactly how I feel about it all because she has gone too far.
A few days ago I came home and the four of them were watching tv. I soon went out to grab some food for tea whilst my wife set the table. I get home 10 minutes later and my wife is in tears telling me that her sister has just stormed out after she lost her mind over the plates my wife had set for the kids. Because they weren't matching plates my son had a bit of a cry (as 4 year olds do sometimes) about him not having the same plate as his cousin so my wife simply replaced both plates with a matching pair whilst in the middle of a conversation and thought noting of it. Her sister immediately accused my wife of 'punishing' her daughter by swapping both plates and got pretty aggressive very quickly. This over reaction then encourages her daughter to start screaming at the top of her lungs and throw a toy at my wife. Within seconds they were both storming out of the house whilst my wife was being called all sorts of insults and was punched by her niece before they left. My wife looked completely shell shocked when I got home and said her ears were ringing from her niece's screaming. This all happened in front of my son too.
She then gets a text off her sister saying her daughter said she never wants to see my wife again and that she has been horrible to her daughter for years. She even accused my wife of being the one that physically attacked her during the time I was working away. For me this is totally unfair because all I have seen over the years is my wife being the only one who takes care of both of them whenever they've needed anything whilst the rest of her family do nothing.
What makes it worse is that this has happened whilst my wife has been going through some serious mental health problems. She was diagnosed with acute health anxiety about 6 years ago due to the suppressed grief of losing of her mother 21 years ago. She has been coping well but had a relapse after catching covid. She's been gradually getting back to herself but this altercation has set her back a bit.
It's also affecting my son's behaviour. We try our best to bring him up to be a kind and caring boy but it's hard when he sees so much anger and aggression from the sibling he spends the most time with. He has worryingly become more aggressive lately and has started hissing at people the way his cousin does.
So what do I do? I've already told my wife that her sister isn't welcome in our house again unless she apologises. Do I tell her sister exactly what I think of her treatment of my wife and about her daughters aggression. She will probably not respond to it well and it could create more damage for my wife.
I just want to make sure that my wife gets better and that she isn't constantly put under this emotional stress by her sister.
Thanks you for any advice.
04-09-2021 10:43 PM
Hello @thomaswomas , I am sorry to hear about what you and your family have been going through lately. It sounds like things between your wife and her sister have been difficult for a while and I can't imagine how hard it must have been for your family. I can understand the concerns that you have around your sister-in-law and her daughters aggressive behaviour. Sounds like you are a very caring partner and parent as you are concerned about the impacts this behaviour has been having on your son and your wife.
You raised a good point around potentially not bringing this up with your sister-in-law as it might make the situation tougher for your wife. If you think this is a possibility, it might be worthwhile keeping the conversation between yourself and your wife for now. I would also encourage you to reach out to telephone counselling services in your country to talk to a counsellor to gather some specific advice on your situation. Speaking to a parenting counselling service would be helpful as you could talk to the counsellor about the concerns that you hold about your niece and her behaviour. Unfortunately, as we are a service based in Australia, I am not able to provide specific services but would encourage you to research those available in your country.
You mentioned that your wife was once attacked by her sister and that this happens in front of her daughter, which is concerning. I also encourage you to raise this with a telephone counsellor as they can provide you with specific advice around how you can support your niece in the best way. If you do find that your sister-in-law acts aggressively towards your wife in the future, please don't hesitate to contact your local police to ensure that everyone is safe. Hopefully some other parents might be able to jump in and offer support soon.