When kids go through traumatic events like the death of a parent, you certainly cannot expect them to handle the aftereffects of the trauma maturely. The least you can do, at this point, is, understand their viewpoint and respect their choices!
An internet user asked, “Am I a jerk for telling my brother I don’t agree with the lengths he’s going to while correcting his son?”. We need to hear your thoughts on the matter.
The Original Poster’s (OP’s) (30m) brother (40m) has four kids. His oldest son is Sam (15m). Sam’s from OP’s brother’s first marriage. When Sam was 6, his mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she died a year later.
What Does OP Say
“My brother met his second wife when Sam was 8 and married her when Sam was 9. They have three children together now, ages 5, 3 and 18 months.”, says OP.
Sam’s Supposedly Problematic Habit
Sam has always called his younger siblings his half siblings and this has always bothered OP’s brother and SIL. They have corrected him repeatedly, taken him to therapy, individual and family, and have continued therapy for almost 6 years.
It started while SIL was pregnant and Sam was saying the baby was a half-sibling, not just a sibling.
What Does OP Say
“They have changed therapists every few months when they don’t like the progress being made. While doing all this they continue to correct Sam every time and my brother has told Sam’s friends that Sam is wrong and he has siblings, not half-siblings.”, says OP.
Issues In The Last Year
For the last year, OP’s brother has had their parents and their sisters correct Sam every time they hear him say half-siblings or half-sister/half-brother. OP was told he should correct him too. But OP hasn’t.
“It has been a discussion, and I have said it does not feel right to gang up on him and try to harass him into submission on this topic. They tell me Sam clearly isn’t willing to work with a therapist to get to a point where the half doesn’t matter so there’s nothing wrong with nudging him along with correcting him when he ‘slips up’.”, says OP.
What’s Been Happening Lately?
OP’s brother has been on OP’s nerves for the last couple of months about his lack of effort to correct Sam. He has told OP that OP’s 5-year-old niece has started to question why her brother (Sam) is cold and why he always says they’re half-siblings.
He said she had already asked him if Sam loved her or if she had done something wrong. So why would OP not try to save her the heartache and get Sam on board with loving his siblings and dropping the half? OP told his brother he doesn’t agree with the lengths he’s going to go to.
OP’s Response To His Brother
“I said after nearly six years if nothing has changed, does he really want to break his son to get what he wants? I also asked him why it bothers him so much when his own best friend refers to his half-siblings as half, and he has never batted an eye at that.
I told him he might wish things were perfect and that Sam adapted to everything perfectly but he lives in this reality and not in that dream.”, says OP.
The Chaos Continues
OP’s brother ignored the rest of what OP said and called him out for not agreeing with the lengths. He said that as a parent, he has to go to whatever lengths it takes to protect his kids and to make sure they turn out to be good people.
He said Sam is turning into someone he doesn’t like and screw OP for judging him on his parenting. He added that OP has no right to say this to him and OP doesn’t understand the difficulty of trying to bring your kid with you after loss and he’s doing his best.
“My brother told our mom he’s disgusted with me and thinks I should reflect on my actions. Am I a jerk?”, asks OP.
Poor Boy Is Being Abused
“Not the jerk. The boy is correct and they’re bouncing him from therapist to therapist in an attempt to gaslight him into conformity with the parents’ labeling wishes.
The poor boy is being abused through therapy instead of trying to build a healthy, happy relationship with his half-siblings.”
Stand Your Ground
“Stand your ground. Your brother is actively abusing Sam and not respecting his valid feelings. Sam lost his mother and has been put into new relationships and this is how he feels comfortable addressing them.
Your brother saying he dislikes his own son over all of this is pathetic. Maybe mention that to your mother. It’ll give you an idea of where she stands for future reference. Sam will need you as his family support when he has no contact with his dad. It will happen if this dynamic continues.
You ain’t the jerk but your brother and his wife definitely are! Please give Sam extra hugs and support.”
You Sound Reasonable
“You sound reasonable and well-connected to what’s best for Sam, I’m sorry that your brother is unwilling to hear that.
Also, since I’m a therapist, I’d wager a guess that they keep switching therapists because therapy isn’t about changing someone’s language. If Sam is deeply affected by the loss of his mother and the abuse of his father, then he may well feel like he doesn’t fit in with his siblings and his new family unit.
Correcting the language will never make Sam feel safe and included, your brother is missing the point of why Sam calls them half siblings and it will ruin their relationship if your brother doesn’t stop.”
Sam Is Probably Doing That On Purpose
“Not the jerk. Sam is probably still using the half-sibling reference just because he resents his father trying to tell him how he should feel about things. My mom did that a lot.
I started lying to her about ‘being okay’ at an early age. I lied to her about all kinds of stuff over the years just to keep her from throwing a fit because I don’t feel the way she thinks I should feel about things. She’s 92 and she still doesn’t know I’m on medication for depression.”
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