Messed Up with a Familial Relationship

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lonewolf

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Messed Up with a Familial Relationship
« on: April 07, 2015, 07:43:48 AM »
I am trying to figure out how the heck to have a relationship with my niece (sister's daughter). She doesn't want me to talk about the negative stuff in my family but wants to have a relationship? Not sure how to do this. I love her and she is an innocent in all of this. Advice?
« Last Edit: April 07, 2015, 03:52:36 PM by lonewolf »

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keepfighting

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Re: Messed Up with a Familial Relationship
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2015, 12:05:08 PM »
Need some background information:

- How old is your niece and does she still live at home/is financially dependant on m/f?
- How is your relationship with niece's parents (LC/NC, for how long)?
- How and why did your niece initiate contact? Do you know?

Generally speaking:

- A child, even an adult child, has the right to love and respect his/her parents, even though those same parents might not actually deserve their children's love and respect. It's never wise to try and interfere in a parent/child relationship (not saying that you are!) - even in a toxic one - since it will push the child into an impossible situation between loyalties. That is still true even for adult children - just recall how many years and how many steps it took you to admit to yourself and others that all was not well in your FOO...

- I understand that you love your niece and want a relationship with her. The most important part is to keep the communication lines open and MC (Medium Chill) is probably the safest way to go about it for now. That includes choosing only neutral subjects of conversation. (Tough one when you need and deserve validation for your pain and acknowledgment of the fact you're speaking your truth and have a right to do so without being ostracised)

It would be lovely for you to have at least one confidante within the FOO and you totally deserve it - but it might be too much to ask of your niece right now. I can't be the judge of that but you know the situation well enough to be.

Toxic family systems are often so poisoned by smear campaigns and triangulation that it's hard to maintain a relationship with even the strongest and healthiest members of the FOO.

Best wishes to you and your niece.  :hug:

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lonewolf

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Re: Messed Up with a Familial Relationship
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2015, 03:52:19 PM »
Thanks for responding keepfighting.

My niece is 27 with two children of her own and a partner. Her mom (my sister) lives with all of them. She is pretty good with boundaries (for herself) which I am happy to see. She doesn't want to hear anything bad about her mom. I'm fine with that as I'm not inclined to say bad things about my older sister as she too suffers from the effects of living with an abusive/alcoholic/narcissistic mother.

However, my concern is that she won't trust the boundaries that I need toI've set with her, which is not to discuss me or anything we talk about with my mother (her grandma), which might also mean not discussing it with her mom (as my mom likes to suck information about me from everyone). I've explained that my mom is still abusive to me and that she uses information given to her as ammunition.

I'm okay not discussing family or history with her, but I'm afraid that she won't respect my need for privacy and my no contact policy with my grandma or siblings. It seems too complicated!

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keepfighting

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Re: Messed Up with a Familial Relationship
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2015, 05:15:51 PM »
However, my concern is that she won't trust the boundaries that I need toI've set with her, which is not to discuss me or anything we talk about with my mother (her grandma), which might also mean not discussing it with her mom (as my mom likes to suck information about me from everyone). I've explained that my mom is still abusive to me and that she uses information given to her as ammunition.

I'm okay not discussing family or history with her, but I'm afraid that she won't respect my need for privacy and my no contact policy with my grandma or siblings. It seems too complicated!

OMG, I'm almost in an identical situation with my youngest sis (34  with h and 2 kids of her own). I have to watch every single word - even something as innocuous as what I bought in the supemarket gets passed on. It's crazy making and I can only maintain contact with my sis by using a combination of MC and LC - and sometimes I very much doubt it's worth it.

Your niece wants a relationship with you on certain terms - but she is not the only one in this relationship who can set terms and conditions. Asking for complete privacy - inculding towards her m (your sis) - seems the minimum you have to ask in order to try and protect your personal space. The big question is whether you can trust her - seeing as her m lives in the same place, your sis is bound to ask lots of questions each time after you and your niece have met - and one of them is bound to pass tidbits of information on to either your m directly or to some other member of your FOO who will then pass it on to your m........... (I know this sounds paranoid but that's the extent the triangulation in my FOO takes - you cannot possibly close all the possible leaks...  :stars:).

It's all very well that your niece wants a relationship with you, but the more important question is what do you want? Do you want a relationship with your niece knowing what the reality of it will be like? Which terms and conditions would you like to have in place before you go any further?

It will never be an easy relationship and only you can determine how much you are willing to invest in it and what you're hoping to get out of it...

Sending you a hug!  :hug: