My ex-husband’s sister — his only close relative — lives 500 miles away, and her family is as dysfunctional as any family you’d see on “Shameless” and TV shows like that.
This sister and her husband don’t love each other anymore and they’ve had massive parenting failures. Although their 8-year-old daughter is doing all right, their older daughter, who’s in her early 20s, can’t even get into a hairdressing academy because she dropped out of high school after a brutal sexual attack, then flatly refused therapy and now just parties all the time. And their teenage son? He has been placed in a special school for teens with anger issues. I eventually had to report the parents to Child Protective Services, but CPS wouldn’t intervene without more evidence.
I’m glad that I’m cutting my ties with these parents, because my sister-in-law seldom speaks to me unless she’s drunk, and her husband is uncomfortable with me because I grew up in a different country, follow a different religion and am “posh.” Even their children are distant with me, although I was married to their uncle for nearly 20 years and have known them for most, if not all, of their lives.
When I call them, they pass the phone as if it is a hot potato. They don’t answer my texts; they ignore me on Facebook; they say that Skype is too hard to use, and they don’t like my postcards because I go to interesting places and they don’t. They don’t even tell me if one of them has been in an accident or spent the night in the hospital, although my ex sometimes keeps me in the loop.
They do send brief messages for my birthday and for Christmas, but they seldom thank me for the presents I send. I stopped sending money after a bad incident a few years ago, and we stopped taking the children on annual weeklong vacations after my nephew got mad and punched me.
I’m about to move out West, and I want to keep these children in my life because I love them, because they’re not getting a fair deal and because they’re not as awful as their parents — at least, not yet.
I really care about these kids. But how do I make them care about me?