My sister and brother-in-law have two beautiful children that I adore spending time with. However, my sister and her husband don’t always work and can’t manage their money. In the past they have used seeing the children as a weapon to get more money out of my family. My parents decided not to play that game anymore, and so we haven’t seen the kids for almost two years. I happened to run into my sister last week and she invited us over, so we went and had a wonderful time with the kids (who are about 10 and 13 years old now). I wanted to explain to the kids why I haven’t been around, (I have no idea what my sister is telling them) but was unsure what to say. Any ideas? I know this won’t last long – I’m sure they’re just trying to work their way back in for some money, but I’ll take any time I can get with those children.
Dear Confused Aunt,
Wow, I feel for your family and those children. First of all, I hope that your sister and brother-in-law have had a change of heart and are willing to make positive changes in their lives. Then again, give this couple’s history, I understand your doubt and apprehension. You’re in a tough spot because you don’t want to badmouth the children’s parents, and yet you want to explain your absence. Maybe you could simply say, “I was so happy your Mom invited me to come over because I missed not seeing you. I love spending time with you both, and I hope she has me over again soon.” That way, you’re letting them know how you feel while still respecting their feelings toward their parents. They’re lucky to have you in their lives.