Reader’s Commentary Regarding a Bullying Brother (Feb. 21):
“I only recently became aware of the original question which could easily have been written by my ten-years-younger brother.
“My wife, me, and my two adult children believe that it’s he who’s been rude/aggressive to me over many years.
“He’s repeatedly challenged or criticized me publicly whenever the opportunity arises.
“We live quite different lives and have very different political views, etc. His disagreements with me were unfortunate, but didn’t disrupt my life.
“That’s changed significantly recently.
“Periodically, I’m asked by other family members to perform a “public duty” for the family. (I do “public speaking” in my professional work).
“After our father passed away several years ago, I was asked to give the Eulogy at his funeral. Immediately after I’d finished, my brother stormed up to me and said loud enough that others could hear, that I “was speaking for myself,” and didn’t reflect his feelings.
“Actually, my remarks were entirely positive and laudatory. Also, he could’ve ascended to the podium and spoken about our father, too.
“Then, on our mother’s 91st birthday with many other non-family members present, I was asked again to make a public “toast” to our mom.
“Throughout it, he muttered loudly enough so others could hear, how “ridiculous and tedious” my remarks were.
“Last fall, after our sister contacted both of us via three-way texting, seeking help in a family matter relating to our mother, I responded with positive, supportive advice.
“My brother responded viciously, accusing me of untrue ugly motivations.
“When my wife tried to mediate the dispute via email, he responded to her in a similarly aggressive way. Going after my wife for only trying to help, is unacceptable!
“This has now negatively affected my relationship with my sister and mother whom I’d asked for help. They’ve said it’s between me and my brother, they don’t want to get involved.
“I’d accept their view, if the issues I raise were consequence of my conversations only with my brother. But since they asked me to do something publicly on behalf of the “family,” I feel “family” should intervene.
“Instead, I haven’t received their support.
“Now, I’m most angry at my brother because he won’t apologize to my wife.
“I’m disappointed in our sister and mother because they know the facts and do nothing.
“But my response to this sad situation is to withdraw completely, or as you said in your original column response, I’ll “disengage” from all of the “toxic” personalities, and “reduce” contact as much as possible.”
Not the Bully
Ellie - You’ve presented your case, and nothing’s changed. Your younger brother’s resentment of you has clearly existed for years.
Maybe the ten-year gap prevented a natural sibling relationship. There are huge differences in young people’s influences and expectations within a particular decade. You two were apparently never close in spirit and perspective.
Meanwhile, there were opportunities to include him by asking him directly to also express his thoughts on his father’s life, which isn’t uncommon at eulogies.
Your sister and mother repeated this neglect by having only you speak about your mom - someone should’ve connected the dots.
Your wife’s outreach was, unwittingly, like a match to a flame, since everyone knows how he reacts.
I agree with your decision to withdraw from the possibility of ongoing future conflict. But there’s a sad family story here with no total innocents, since everyone knew the problem long ago.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding respecting the “young adult” child who’s “non-binary” (April 4):
“We also have a grandchild who identifies as non-binary. They live far away. Our love for them was strong and non-prejudiced. After the two-year Covid absence we were met with a hostile, angry, arrogant soul who demanded we call them “grandchild” and use only their chosen pronouns.
“We were shocked/hurt at the treatment (we’re in our 80’s) and how certain they were of throwing us away without discussion, tolerance or any trust that we wouldn’t react negatively.
“We were also called nasty names and thrown into several negative categories.
“Being loving grandparents we researched countless hours to learn/understand what "non-binary" meant. We’re now working on family healing.
“My advice to the letter-writer: Find the balance that’s comfortable for you and your teen. Find a brief statement that you both agree on, and that’s true, without need for further embellishment.”
Tip of the day:
Adult sibling resentments/bullying are rarely a surprise to the family. Empathy, discussion, counselling, health assessment, all may be helpful, IF they’re tried.