Etiquette Question for my son's birthday

Carrie - posted on 06/06/2012 ( 11 moms have responded )

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I am new to the group and was hoping someone out there may have dealt with a similar issue. My son's birthday is coming up and I would like to not invite my sister-in-law and her family. Let me give you a little background so you understand the situation. I have 2 boys. my oldest will be ten and my youngest is six. my sister-in-law's kids are 4 not yet 2 and she is due with her third in a couple weeks. When my oldest son was born I was a working mom still so he was watched by my mother-in-law for two years until I became a stay at home mom. As a result my mother-in-law and oldest son have a VERY close relationship. he often spends long weekends at her house. my SIL through comments and actions does not like the close relationship they have. She used to direct her subtle comments to her mother or me but as my son has become older she has begun to treat him differently and single him out. Example: we were at their house for my nephews birthday. she told all the kids they could go downstairs, get one toy and come back...except for my oldest son because he was too busy playing with grandma. My son was so confused as to why he couldn't do the same that he and I took a walk around the block to get his mind off it. Ever since she got married my SIL has also began to isolate herself from our family. We used to invite them to everything...birthday parties, summer BBQ's, just to come down and have dinner so the kids could play. After a few years and the invitation was NEVER reciprocated we stopped inviting them to everything except the birthday parties. We literally see them 3 times a year (they haven't come to my oldest sons birthday for three years). The straw that broke the camels back was last summer. my husband's father had a heart attack. (my husband's parents are divorced) At the time of the heart attack my FIL lived about 4 hours away from us and 5 hours away from my SIL. When the heart attack happened my FIL was in the middle of a move to be closer to all his grand kids. My husband immediately cancelled two camping trips and a family vacation to be able to help his dad move. My kids and I attended a lot of family events alone because my husband was hours away. It took every weekend from the middle of June until the end of September to get him moved. My SIL and her husband helped twice because their kids had summer activities that they weren't willing to rearrange. Too late to make long story short but I am at my wit's end. My MIL is telling me I need to invite them no matter what to keep the tension in the family down because if there is a blowup between my husband and his sister she feels she'll be caught in the middle and pay the price for it. In all actuality she probably would...my SIL is petty enough to keep her kids from seeing my MIL because she's angry at us. I especially don't want her there with the way she has begun to treat my oldest son...it is after all his birthday. Has anyone had to deal with a similar situation and if so what did you do? I am a pretty blunt person and really don't care at this point if I offend someone who I see 3 - 4 times a year but i really don't want to upset my MIL. Any advice would be appreciated

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Atasha - posted on 06/06/2012

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I am sorry to hear about your situation. It seems your SIL is being very selfish. I can't imagine someone being so wrapped up in themselves that they are willing to hurt a child. I also understand that you don't want to put your MIL in the middle of a petty family argument. If I were you, I would invite her but you also have the right to tell her to leave if she begins to be rude or make comments against your son. In such a case as well, if she does decide to be as selfish as she sounds at your son's birthday party your have the right to stop inviting her to any of your family functions. I know this may cause an upset to the rest of the family, but your child should be your first priority. If he is being hurt by his aunt (verbally), then you are NOT required to keep the peace. If your SIL decides to keep her children away from your MIL that is her problem. I am not trying to be mean, but your SIL sounds like she could use a reality check. Just because your son has a strong bond with grandma there is no reason to be cruel and hold it against her. Maybe someday she will see the error of her ways, but it is not your fault if your son and MIL have strong ties. Your SIL will be her own downfall against the family. Don't let her walk all over you or your son. I hope this helps. :)

Michelle - posted on 06/08/2012

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I would invite her, if she says something that isnt acceptable politely ask her to leave or be nice, let her know when she does or if she does it on the day that it is unacceptable and like I said she has to be nice or she is welcome to leave. at least that way you have made the bigger move and been the bigger person and when she has been horrible you have let her know that it is unacceptable and given the option to get her act into gear or leave, if she chooses to leave you then have the option of not inviting her to anything else as she was the one that chose to leave. If she leaves and you want you can continue to invite the husband and kids and just leave her invite out, so specifically write just their names, this way they are not being punished for their mothers actions.

Kelina - posted on 06/08/2012

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have you asked your son if he wants you to invite his aunt and cousins? if he doesn't then don't. Maybe have a kids party and then have grandma over for a birthday dinner another night. However, if he does, then just stay as far away from her as possible. If he really likes his cousins why should the kids be punished cause mom is acting childish? It sounds like your SIL isn't much of a family person.

Sally - posted on 06/08/2012

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Just don't invite her. Tell your MIL that you're sorry for the pain it will cause her, but good parents don't knowingly expose their children to people who abuse them.
I have a toxic SIL too. My husband's brother and his family live far enough away to avoid her completely, but we live within walking distance. For years, my MIL would watch her daughter bait her brother to try to make him say or do something "wrong", she would twist what he said or take it out of context or even lie about him. MIL would watch this happen at every family gathering and when SIL would whine "He's so mean to me." she would ask my husband "Why can't you be nicer to your sister?". When I told MIL I didn't want to hear it anymore, SIL started trying to get our kids to say or do something she could use against their dad and when they were too smart to play along made stuff up. Again, the whole family was watching and again MIL took her little girl's side. When SIL made our daughter cry at her birthday party, my husband finally told his mom he wasn't going allow his family around his sister any more. It was bad enough he'd had to grow up with that abuse; he was not allowing it to happen to his kids. Every holiday, MIL makes a huge fuss about how she has to have two family celebrations because my husband can't get along with his sister. Every holiday, we remind her that his sister caused the problem and that if she only wants to host one party, we would be content to stay home or even invite MIL and SFIL over to our house for festivities.
Sadly,, I my husband's in laws are even worse than mine. My father has spent his entire life abusing in every way possible every living thing he thought would let him get away with it. As soon as we had children, we stopped attending family gatherings. Everyone knows why we don't come. My grandma cries at every holiday and tells us every year that all she wants for Christmas is to see us. My aunts all pester me about possible compromises. The uncles and cousins who care are on our side, but can't admit it in front of their wives or mothers. Our children's safety is more important than my family's feelings.
You can't control your SIL's toxicity, but you can control how you let it affect you.
Good luck

Bethany - posted on 06/07/2012

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I think...you can invite them and keep your mouth shut for a couple of hours, or not invite them and keep it shut for the next 10 years.

She might not even come, but at least you've been the grown-up and invited them in a civil manner. Ignorance is bliss as a kid, so making a kid's party a 'thing' is selfish and taking away from his day.

that, or let him just have a 'friends' party, and any family who want to celebrate with him can arrange to visit for a meal another time. If they even remember it's his birthday, that's up to them.

I can speak from my experience of my very very broken and odd family. Keep it about the kid.

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Tanya - posted on 06/12/2012

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I'm having a birthday party for my daughter this week and only certain family members are invited. She's 8 so we didn't invite any teen cousins. The party is for her and who she wants to see and play w/. Just because they are family doesn't mean you have to endure their rudeness.

Jamie - posted on 06/09/2012

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don't invite her! especially if she hasn't come the last three years anyway! my FIL hasn't come to a birthday party in nine years. we just stopped inviting him. he knows when the birthdays are. if your SIL wants to wish your son a happy birthday she knows when it is!

Sherri - posted on 06/08/2012

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I would invite her. It will be much easier to control the situation at your house. If she says anything you can just jump in or have your son tell you and handle it.

Erin - posted on 06/08/2012

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I say if you don't like her don't invite her if she asks why tell she isn't welcome. I don't think there's really any nicer way of doing it. I've been in that situation before.

Stifler's - posted on 06/07/2012

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In a few weeks after the party there will be no need to keep anyones mouth shut there will be other stuff going on and if any memories come up just say you had people over for dinner and had a cake for so and so's birthday. I did this with one of my friends who no one else liked (my husband didn't want to invite them either) just don't mention the party and say we had people over for dinner that weekend.

Stifler's - posted on 06/06/2012

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Don't invite any family at all? Just invite friends and have a good time .Neglect to mention the party to your MIL or SIL ever.

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