My cousin, 22, recently had a baby. She’s bi-polar, has sought mental health help, and is taking her medication.
My aunt, who’s currently going through a divorce, another legal battle, and must sell her home, is obsessed with controlling my cousin’s life - whether she breastfeeds, what diapers she buys, etc.
She’s overbearing and demanding with everyone.
My cousin and her infant daughter were initially living with her mother.
My aunt felt she should be focusing on school (though the baby was only a month old), but my cousin entered into a relationship with the baby’s “father.”
Her mother says my cousin just chases guys, is a sex addict, and doesn’t really love him.
She tells everyone that he may not be the father. However, her boyfriend believes he’s the baby’s father and wishes to be in her life.
My cousin spent two nights with the baby’s father (they have a crib and other necessities).
My aunt called his mother and told her everything wrong that my cousin has ever done (drugs, running away, etc.).
She then called Children’s Services seeking an order that my cousin and her baby stay with her due to mental health issues.
Instead, Children’s Services approved her to live with my parents. My cousin and the baby moved in with them.
My cousin offered to spend several days a week at her mother’s house to work on their relationship and then return to my parents.
My aunt refused this.
She also refuses to get mental health help for herself.
All this has divided our family, with everyone avoiding my aunt except my grandmother.
She’s suggesting she sell her own home so she and my aunt can buy a home together. They’ve lived together before and it never works out.
My grandmother’s having major surgery soon and I’m worried about the strain this situation puts on her health. I’m also worried about the strain on my parents.
How should my family and I deal with my aunt? How do we talk my grandmother out of a bad living arrangement? What should my cousin do toward having a healthy relationship with her mother?
Unhealthy Family Ties
There’s no one package of right answers to resolve all these complicated issues. But there are some helpful approaches.
Everyone involved must recognize that the new baby is the most vulnerable person of all, and that the most important issue is her well being and safety.
Since your cousin accepts your parents’ supervision, and is sticking with her treatment and medication, she’s on the right path and needs as much family support as possible.
Your parents need to be clear and consistent in their role.
And, also be prepared to step in to get her to therapy and back on meds if she falters.
Your aunt should not be their focus, or her daughter’s at this time. It’s important to keep her from interfering and messing up what’s working.
This aunt is herself a woman living with chaos and creating more of it when she can. At some point, she may realize she needs therapy herself, or be forced by circumstances to get her own mental health help.
Meanwhile, your parents (and you through phone contact) can try to use your grandmother’s surgery as the reason she mustn’t make any stressful moves.
If your cousin proves successful at looking after herself and her child, she may develop the confidence to have a relationship with her mother, with boundaries.
We met online, had two dates, and started having sex. I do all the planning and texting about getting together because he works two jobs and is very busy.
He doesn’t always text back and mostly just lets me know when he’s free after work. It’s always late so he just comes over. We have sex and he stays awhile.
He told me he’s not interested in a serious relationship at this time. I think he dates others. I’m late-20s and really like him.
He keeps coming back, which makes me think he may change his mind about a relationship.
What’s Your Take?
I’m not getting a picture of romantic progress from this account.
He’s treating you like a booty call. And you’re doing all the work of trying to keep up contact.
Be unavailable for a while. If he comes after you, stay cool and suggest real dates. You hardly know each other out of bed.
Tip of the day:
Chaotic family relationships are unsafe for those who need support and protection.