I’m 25, living in North America where I emigrated with my mother at age 12.
I was raised by my grandparents, the only child of one of their two daughters, so am still close with them and visit them every two years.
All the rest of my family – aunts, uncles, my re-married father and his wife, cousins, etc., remain in Eastern Europe.
My grandmother decided years ago that I was her favourite.
But her other daughter’s family believed they were better than ours – my uncle made more money, he and my aunt stayed together, and they felt their daughter was far more special than me.
I didn’t let it bother me much. My cousin’s four years older than me, taller, far more conservative.
I love my life here.
But I don’t love where my grandmother’s taken her favouritism. She’s angry that my cousin snubbed me and my mother at her wedding, which we travelled to attend.
My cousin’s now having difficulty conceiving a baby which she desperately wants.
My grandmother, whom I speak to weekly, has seriously suggested that I should get pregnant “to get back at (my cousin)!”
I’m shocked, and would never do anything like that to another person, or to a child.
How do I get it across to my grandmother that what she’s asking me to do is wrong? She believes that a grandchild follows what the elders say, no matter what.
Mind-boggling! Grandmother revenge on her own other granddaughter!
Worse, it’s a blow to be delivered through a baby conceived mainly for the sake of emotional harm to another person!
Fortunately, you’re mature and sensitive enough to know that your grandmother’s attitude, as well as her idea, is all wrong.
She wants to maintain the rift she herself created between cousins.
Even though your cousin hasn’t been as wise or kind as you’ve been to try to avoid this manipulated conflict, you can show some compassion for her now.
A long and difficult period of trying to conceive takes a heavy toll on a couple.
Tell your grandmother that while you love her, you won’t be following her suggestion because it’s wrong for you, your cousin, and any children you two may eventually have.
You want family, not enemies.
Reader’s Commentary On whether a narcissist can change (Nov. 28):
“I was the breadwinner, married to a narcissist for 22 years. The day I brought home our only child, he decided to go back to work.
“Our life was about his wants, his needs, e.g. "I want dinner on the table at 6:00 PM when I come home and it better be good.”
“Meanwhile, I was a working mother commuting and not realizing we were living off my income, while he was banking his.
“He hid it well. By the time we divorced, I just wanted peace in my life and let it go.
“He still justifies his behavior because I had a pension coming and he did not.
“He’s moved onto living with other women so he can bank his salary for his retirement.
“It’s taken ten years for him to have a “C+ relationship” with his daughter.
“Even while she’s nine months pregnant, he wants her to drive 80 km along busy highways to visit him instead of him making the effort to visit her.
“The couple counsellors told me to run for the hills. Get as far from him as you can. I did.
“He won't change and neither will the writer’s husband.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the frustrated mother whose daughter disobeys house rules, e.g. clearing the front hall of her shoes (November 10):
Reader – “You responded, “End the standoff of ‘my rules, or…’ Or what?”
“In our house, our children had “obligations,” not rules – obligations at school, at home, in our community, and to themselves. We threw that "rule" word right out.
“Your suggested idea of a shoe rack had me picturing a standing coat rack, a couple of wall hooks, and a stool in the corner of this girl’s room… tidy and neat, and not at the front door.”
Ellie – I’m with you. It’s about finding workable solutions instead of oppressive rules, which you have to keep monitoring.
My “or what” was a question of what this mother was trying to accomplish with an 18-year-old daughter who now had to adjust to her mother’s third relationship including living with Mom’s new partner.
Tip of the day:
The elders aren’t always right, particularly if they encourage mean-spirited rivalry in the family.