A cousin with whom I do not have a relationship has asked me to be a bridesmaid.
There’s a serious family issue in our mutual background, which is affecting my feelings about her request.
She asked me in a Facebook message directly, while I was living overseas. But she did not inquire about how I am, or express how she is.
I haven’t seen her in two-to-three years. The last several times we were together, she buried herself in her phone and couldn’t carry on a conversation with me besides a few nods.
We’re the same age, grew up in the same area, and went to the same high school. But we haven’t had a relationship since we were young kids. I have felt badly about this in the past, but no longer do.
I was surprised to be asked to participate in her wedding as a bridesmaid. I don't feel comfortable with it, for these reasons:
My cousin had dated a man for years who didn’t treat her very well.
She and her brother both worked for this man's family for many years. Eleven years ago, she introduced my sister to her then-boyfriend's brother and they then dated for several months.
The brother impregnated my sister, and she decided to keep my now 10-year-old nephew.
My sister's boyfriend was unsupportive, already having another child (my sister did as well), and wanted her to get an abortion.
My cousin sided with her boyfriend and his brother. She sent text messages to my sister that it was her fault for getting pregnant and that she shouldn’t keep the baby.
She also supported the decision not to tell her boyfriend's parents about the pregnancy.
To this day my cousin, her brother, and my aunt and uncle have kept the secret from these parents that they have a grandson, despite years of having a relationship with this family.
After years of maltreatment and an on-off relationship with the boyfriend, my cousin met someone else and moved on.
Less than a year later, she became engaged (I haven’t met her fiancé), and she acts like nothing happened before.
I feel she wasn’t loyal to our family and I don't feel like standing up beside her in the wedding.
I've already responded that I’d do it, but don't feel good about this decision. My parents think I should be the bigger person and just do it, but it doesn't feel right.
Two opinions matter: Your own, and to some degree, your sister’s.
This cousin is not your friend. She may be trying in this way to make amends with your family. Or, she asked you because she needs one more in the wedding party.
Your sister may resent you for standing up for her. Is she invited to attend? This may colour your decision, since she and her son were most affected by this cousin’s behaviour.
But it’s your own conscience that’s at play here.
Your parents may see you as the link to better family relations, yet you’re the one who has to feel decent about taking on that role despite this bad history.
Unfortunately, by having accepted beforehand, changing that decision now becomes a strong statement.
You need to be certain that you don’t care what this cousin thinks, that you want her to know she let your family down, that she does not have your respect or friendship.
Think it through. Then do what feels morally right for you.
FEEDBACK Regarding the slight Grade 9 boy forced by a tormentor to undress in secluded areas (Oct. 14):
Reader – “This falls into sexual assault. The school may do nothing and he should go to the police.”
Reader #2 – “My son was bullied many years ago because of his size. When we learned about it, we constantly talked to the teacher and finally the principal, until it was resolved.
“My son’s in university now aiming to become a doctor.
“To the boy: Please talk immediately to your teacher and your parents or any supportive adult. It’s the school’s responsibility to keep children safe. The world needs kind, strong, and level-headed teens like you. Don't let anyone, let alone a bully, come in your way of achieving your dreams. Be strong, speak up.”
Ellie – This young teen must speak up with help of parents/a trusted adult, school principal, police, the school board - all obligated to stop bullying.
Tip of the day:
When a decision carries moral implications, be sure that you feel comfortable with it.