“My brothers and sisters turned their backs on me”

“My brothers and sisters turned their backs on me”

My brothers and sisters turned their backs on me

My mother has a strong character and my father, who died ten years ago, rarely spoke without being belittled. The eldest of their six children, aged 71, I married in the 1980s to a woman from a bourgeois background although I come from a more modest background. My wife did not please my mother, we gradually distanced ourselves in order to protect our relationship, and we isolated ourselves. My brothers and sisters chose their side, without trying to understand the reasons for my estrangement. How to renew the dialogue? Daniel

Marcel Rufo’s point of view

You write to us that your mother reprimanded your wife, which she could not stand. But your father tolerated this authoritarianism and perhaps you were disappointed that he did not defend his daughter-in-law. In any case, Daniel, you could not say to your brothers and sisters: “The fact that I have a conflict with mother does not require you to obey her and no longer see me.” Your mother is indestructible. Therefore, it is up to you to take the first step with great caution, knowing that your family does not feel comfortable with your wife from another background. Do not attack your mother, who is now very old. Instead, leave him this message: “I am sorry for this breakup which is causing me pain.” And ask your siblings about their children and themselves. Tell them you miss them and would like to see them again. For the moment, avoid discussing the circumstances and reasons for your dissension. This could revive it. It is above all important today to ease your suffering. Your brothers and sisters have chosen their side: your letter bears witness to a war that has wreaked havoc. Now, how can we get out of a war if not through negotiation? You need to negotiate, Daniel.

Readers’ responses

Create a family network – I am part of a family of seven children and the relationships between us have become strained: some, closer to our parents, see them often, others almost never. It was by creating a WhatsApp group of brothers and sisters and their children, at the initiative of my little sister, that we renewed regular links between us. Initially, thanks to the youngest, who were very active in sending photos. Damien

The first step – With age, we take pleasure in meeting our siblings. The children are raised, and retirement offers more freedom. I understand your sadness at this distance from your brothers and sisters. It seems to me that it is up to you to take the first step. Among your brothers and sisters, is there one with whom you have more confidence? Why not talk to him? And maybe, later, ask him to organize a family reunion. Married

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