A letter to my family who isn’t interested in our son:
Today I sent you pictures and recapped our fun-filled, toddler adventures over the last few weeks. I raved about silly milestones and beamed with pride as I left you a voicemail that our son said “Hi” on in his own words.
You did not call us back.
You did not respond to our pictures.
You did not ask how he was doing.
This went on for months. And now that I’m thinking about it, it’s been happening since I knew we were expecting. And, dear family, you ruined a special time for us by not caring.
Do you forget how hard it is to have a newborn? I bet! Aunts and uncles and grandparents just forget the tiring nights, and hey, there’s grace for that. It was a lifetime ago. You’ve put kids through college, married them off, and have a different life, so you can’t relate to ours at the moment.
But when your family doesn’t ask, or even so much as respond to your outreach about pregnancy, childbirth, and life with a new baby, it’s time to stop giving grace. You aren’t just busy or unaware of what goes on with a baby. You’re self-absorbed, thoughtless, and detached.
I have forced, time and time again, family to care about our son. Begged them to come over and see him and play with him and make some memories. Typical excuses: busy with work, not a good time, you name it. Some send cards and gifts in lieu of visits and phone calls.
My son doesn’t need gifts. He’s one.
He needs to establish connections and have memories with you.
He needs to form these connections early on, so years later he isn’t left unsure at a family function who Uncle John is tickling him or how to talk to Aunt Betsey since he doesn’t know her.
Let’s set our kids up for success. Let’s build unshakable bonds rooted in love and dependability. Let’s not share a lesson that family is fairweather and comes and goes out of our lives. Let’s not make children feel unimportant.
I’m embarrassed you don’t know our son, anything he likes, dislikes, what size he wears, or even how old he is right now. I’m also sad for my son, so very sad, it fills my eyes with tears wondering how can it be? How can you not want to make that effort? He’s a total joy and so personable and tender-hearted.
But I’m sad for you too, you know?
You’re missing out on the most forgiving, purest form of love in the world—the love of your grandson, cousin, and nephew. I’m sad you are not getting tight, warm, 1-year-old hugs and that you don’t hear “grandpa” on the phone as your grandson emits a grin seeing you on FaceTime. I’m sad you’ll miss taking him to theme parks, his kindergarten graduation, piano concerts, soccer games, all of it. I’m sad you think these memories and times aren’t worth the drive to visit or a quick phone call, and I’m sad this is the life my son is getting, this is the family we gave him.
I felt responsible at first, thinking how can this be the life WE gave him. But it’s not. We give him all of us. Love, stability, and an open heart and open ears. We radiate togetherness and dependability.
It’s taken me two years and having a baby of my own to realize the truth behind “it’s their loss, not yours.” I’m done being jealous of social media’s portrayal of perfect families proudly showing off their newest member, and I’m done staying up Googling how to have more involved family members.
I love you, family. Please do better.
Our son will remember how you made him feel, and he deserves to feel loved by you.
Dealing with toxic family members can be challenging and heartbreaking. We love the encouragement and advice found in When to Walk Away. Don’t have time to sit and read? You can listen here, on Audible.
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