Dear B. Scott,
My older sister had a baby three years ago and he’s the cutest little thing ever. I love when he comes to visit and play with his auntie, but there are some things that bother me when he does. He’s always hungry, his clothes are never clean, and he never has what he needs. I end up having to buy him something new almost every time I see him whether its socks, a shirt, pants or whatever. The baby’s father isn’t around and I know things might be hard, but there’s no excuse for not handling her business when it comes to being a mother.
I just don’t think my sister’s taking care of him the way she should. I feel like I should say something to my sister or even my mother. What do I do?
Dear Love Muffin,
Let me just start off by commending you for being a good auntie to that little boy. It takes a village to raise a child, and it seems like where his mother is weak that you are very strong.
With that said, some things should indeed be covered by his mother — mainly food, educational supplies, clothing — the basics. It’s not fair for that burden to be placed on you.
Often times when people get used to certain behaviors, for example: you making sure he’s fed, providing him new clothes, etc., they rely on that consistency.
What starts off as “Did you eat?” turns into “Just wait, I’m sure you’ll eat at Auntie’s house”
Your sister may not even be aware of the fact that you take issue with you doing these things for your nephew. I’m not sure how long it’s been going on, but it could be purely habitual at this point.
Even so, the first thing I would do would be to have a little heart-to-heart with her. It’s important that when you’re talking to her that you’re mindful of your tone and body language. Let her know that you love and adore your nephew and that you’d do anything for him, but there are just some things that need adjusting prior to him being put in your care.
Instead of just making it about your issues with her, take the opportunity to dig a little deeper and find out if there’s a larger issue at hand — whether it be financial or emotional. Maybe that will help put things into context and you two can work together to help strengthen your nephew’s ‘village’.
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