Mailbag #14

Anonymous asks:

How do I respond to my brother’s request that I forgive our toxic mother?

Something tells me he’s more interested in Kodak moments than forgiveness.

That is, I get the impression that your brother wants the entire family to gather together for birthdays, weddings, and holidays without tension. He wants to make lots of happy memories  and dreams of family pictures that include everyone.

The difference between his fantasy family and the one he actually has right now is stark. I’d explain your reasons for not wanting to spend ( more? any?) time with her one more time with him.  If you trust him, I’d offer to get together separately with him and any other siblings you two might have.

Sometimes people are so intent on preserving the image of their happy family that they are too quick to gloss over serious issues that can’t be swept underneath the rug.  You’ll be able to tell fairly soon if this is something he’s trying to do. Don’t assume it will happen, but do  think about what kind of relationship you’d want to have with him if he continues to press the issue. 

And go read Susan Forward’s Toxic Parents. Despite the title, this is a great book for successfully handling just about any type of relationship with manipulative, controlling, or abusive people.

 

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