Lifelines: Mother worries

I HAVE a bit of a situation with my older sister. She and my mum fell out a number of years ago, when she was going through a bad patch and was in with a bad crowd.

She was using drugs and stealing things from home to sell and generally wasn’t a very nice person – to herself or anyone else.

Our mum threw her out and has never mentioned her since. If I try to talk to about it she gets upset and walks away.

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I didn’t hear from my sister for several years, but she recently got in touch and I have met her a few times. She has got her act together, is off drugs, at university and has a wee girl. She asks about our mum and I think she would like to be in contact. I want to help but fear I could make things worse?

Family rows can get so entrenched and embedded within the fabric of life that any consideration of change seems remote. Your mum still gets upset at the rift in the family and maybe finds it all too distressing to look at what she’s lost. Your sister sounds curious to make contact and you are stuck in the middle – wanting to help but also recognising that you could end up causing a second fall-out.

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You must understand that both your mum and sister, even if they want to be in touch, will be scared and so will feel defensive, ready to protect against further hurt. So take things slowly and build their trust gradually. Have you told your mum you have been in touch with your sister? Tell her gently about what is happening in your sister’s life and about her granddaughter. Speak to your sister about your mum. Then see how they feel about getting together, allowing time for them to get used to the idea of being back together. Don’t expect an instant desire for reconciliation. If both would like to meet, ask them how they would like that to happen. Give them choice and keep doors and communication open. It’s a tough job healing family rifts; 
but the results could benefit you all.

I know this sounds petty but none of my three children ever gives me a Mother’s Day card. They did when they were little but as adults they never have. I know they love me but it still hurts. I mentioned it in passing last year to my middle child, who said, “You don’t need that, surely, it’s just a commercial thing.” I agree with that, but it still upsets me that they do nothing.

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Though you agree about the commercialisation of Mother’s Day and you know your children love you, a Mother’s Day card is about an outward show of that love.

Maybe your dilemma is how to tell them that being a mum and having it acknowledged is important for you. You could invite them round for a special meal and ask them to help you celebrate the special relationship between mothers and children.

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Twitter: @Relscot