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Cousins

Discussion in 'Parents & Siblings' started by blindpup10, Sep 16, 2020.

  1. blindpup10

    blindpup10 Finest Post Winner

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    People here know that I have a big family from my mother's side.
    My mother is not an easy person- not just my words.

    Given these 2 facts. My sister and I never had good relationships with our cousins. Mainly cause my mom didn't have a good relationship with her sisters and brother.

    My parnets- ego, attitude and whatever things that they decided to F up relationships. I and my sister aren't part of or even know about it.
    As children, my parent also followed the policy of keeping us in the dark of family politics.
    As adults, my sister and I are clueless about what the deal is.. coz any question that is asked to my mom we get an answer "Your grandparents told me to do so" or " I did what I thought was right back then".
    That's a bit of background


    At present-
    I don't really encourage my mother to talk or listen to her when she wants to gossip or tell me about her sister or cousins. Coz most of this gossip is my mother telling me repeatedly how she is the victim. Which I don't think she is and she just makes all situations into it.

    Anyhow--- I brush it off things my mother wants to tell. I really don't need to know these things. I strongly want to have a relationship with my cousins with no hidden layers or open secret but not open to "Me and my sister". I guess I need to accept its too late for this kind of relationship of the damage from my mother and father.


    Incident 1-I have already put my foot in my mouth with 1 cousin Lets call her A- asking her if she was pregnant after seeing a pic of hers posted by her father. Honestly, I realize that I shouldn't have asked her- IF she wanted to share with me she would let me know. But I was sooo excited and was carried away with so much of my own excitement and a bit upset she didn't tell me.
    It all turned out she wasn't pregnant at all and there I had the BIG SLAP on my face. Not only did I offend her. I felt like our relationship will never be the same again.:facepalm:

    Incident 2- Where my foot is STILL IN MY MOUTH- Cousins A's brother is getting engaged. Let's call him cousin B

    My mother mentioned to me that she has been invited and so did my other cousin. Let's call her Cousin C...Usually, children in our family don't get technically invited. If the parents are told it kinda means that the family is invited and moreover my sister and I are in a different country so... don't really know"THE RULES"



    Cousin C
    and I were talking about what attire she will wear. Being in a different country and not able to attend these ceremonies. I went ahead congratulated Cousin B.

    I told my sister also to do the same....but then she reminded me that there are so many open secrets and rules and she isn't sure we are yet to congratulate him on the engagement.
    I confirmed with my mom today morning IF was I supposed to congratulate him. She said I wasn't supposed to. :facepalm:

    I don't know what I should do now.
    Seriously why was my mom invited for the engagement which is in 2 weeks and not expect congratulations from me or my family?
    Or
    Am I the only one who is excluded from this news or ceremonies?
    Or
    should I change my perception of the relationship with Cousin A &B or the rest of my extended family?
    OR
    AM I OVER STEPPING the BOUNDARY?



    Seriously my day started with this new and I feel like Here I go again!
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
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  2. MalStrom

    MalStrom IL Hall of Fame

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    The pregnancy mistake is one that many of us have made once, and then never again. Don’t beat yourself up too much.
    You are also now old enough to have relationships with your cousins independent of your parents. To some extent they will be colored by underlying family dynamics, but you certainly be cordial. A quick congrats for an engagement shouldn’t need parental permission.
    In my family we have several WhatsApp groups where the widest circle encompasses everyone, and then increasingly narrower ones depending on the individual relationships. It’s a great way to convey news and keep in touch, and then talk privately in more depth where appropriate.
     
    blindpup10 likes this.
  3. Rihana

    Rihana IL Hall of Fame

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    This would be a good practice if you were not interested in building and maintaining a relationship with your cousins. As you want that relationship, it helps to be "somewhat" in touch with the latest family gossip. This "somewhat" requires a little skill and tact. Listen to your mother talk about that stuff but don't actively respond. Over time you'll figure out how to use the conversations with mom to get the gossip but not get drawn into taking sides or agreeing/disagreeing with your mother.

    It's nice that you want to have a connection with your cousins. Often, once we are past the newly married, new in career, kids very small stages, we find the time and desire to reconnect with old friends and siblings and relatives. You are in that stage now perhaps. Don't brood on the past and don't worry about your parents' impact on this. Identify what you want, take small steps towards it, learn from any small mistakes that happen in the process, and keep going.

    - Don't give too much importance to when good news such as pregnancies, engagements etc were shared with you. Similarly, who responded after how much time your whatsapp/text... try to not sweat this small stuff.
    - Stop checking with mom about your interactions with your cousins.
    - Create and maintain a certain tone, intensity and frequency in contact with cousins. Match this to your comfort level, don't do something if it doesn't come naturally to you.
    - You and your sister are individuals. Don't become a "pair" when it comes to your interactions with your cousins. Let her decide when and whether to wish them for anything. As your relationship with your sister also is still evolving, try to minimize discussions about cousins with her.
    - Your cousins are also individuals. Expect that even cousins who are siblings themselves will behave differently with you.
    - Be careful with what you put in writing in whatsapp/text. Forwards are the biggest source of avoidable heartaches in relationships with extended family.

    This last suggestion, it might work or not depending on the overall dynamics. My parents were not nice to one sibling on each side. Just the standard property/ancestral house related discord. They said some really nasty things over the years to their sibling(s) and some of these were about my cousins. Such as, "Oh what has your child accomplished in life..." Sigh. I found that acknowledging my parents' "mistakes' (?) with the impacted cousin/aunt/uncle helped a little. But this has to be done carefully so if one's own mother hears you are going around acknowledging some of her past "wrongful" acts/words, we don't have an angry/irate mother to deal with. : )

    This is all from experience. I now have an ok relationship with cousins. I set the tone, and I am careful not to overdo it. After a longish back and forth on whatsapp, I give a break of few weeks or 2 months, for example.
     
    Anisu and blindpup10 like this.
  4. SGBV

    SGBV Finest Post Winner

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    Let me share my share of experiences with regards to my cousins.

    We have always been very close with our maternal side of the families, and lived in the same locality as them. But we were kept in the dark about our paternal side of the families. Until I was around 12 or 13, I didn't know my dad had any siblings and family. His parents were no more, and the aunts and uncles from his side were non-existent for us.

    When I was around 13, my mom moved to Canada to take care of grandma who was very sick that time. We were left at home with dad for nearly 6 months, and that's when dad took us to all of his siblings' homes.

    To our surprise, there were 15 cousins, and all of them were in our age group. We were so excited to start a fresh relationship with all of them then.

    In fact, we always hated our maternal relatives as they were very cunning and dominating. They were older than us, and we had nothing to be connected with them. Rather these relationships were forced on us.

    Nevertheless, upon mom's return we had to cut ties all over again, and this time mom would tell us all the one sided stories of the past. We could not relate to her stories and the faces/characters of those aunts and uncles as they seems too innocent and good hearted people. But like any children of that age, we followed our mom and stood away from them. For our surprise dad didn't defend his family, but nodded for everything mom chose to say.

    Fast forward to today....
    We are all married, settled in lives and are professionals. More importantly, we are connected through social media & revived our relationships through that platform.
    We don't discuss the old issues, no talks about our parents & family politics.
    We have more to discuss as friends about our profession, general matters, jokes, kids and what not. We have a group and I am an active member and most sought after cousin in that group.

    My advice to you is..... start afresh everything by leaving the baggage behind.
    If you feel like talking, please go ahead and talk. Talk whatever you feel like without thinking too much about open secret and family politics.
    Treat them like new friends, and initiate everything at there.
    If they are in the same wavelength as you are, they will show interest in mingling with you. If not, the relationship will slowly die.
    Whatever it is, it is worth starting now than feeling sorry later.
     
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  5. Caughtinbetween

    Caughtinbetween Gold IL'ite

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    My experience so far :

    My mothers side siblings were never too close . we were the only one in the north india and all my mothers siblings were in the south very close to each other. So it was always only us who would visit them and never them even if we were to request/plead them to come visit us (all expense paid) as my mother in the later part of life and sick would long to be with them. Even those who were physically fit , financially capable, free of responsibilities , love traveling and would often travel to other siblings home would resist to make this long trip on account of not being able to speak hindi. My father would often request them to come , offer to provide pickup/drop etc. My fathers behavior towards them was 100 times better than my mothers behavior towards fathers siblings. no one ever came and would talk all sugar coated words to my mother over the phone. this created a rift and to this day me and my brother have no contact with my mothers siblings/cousins. today i do think/agree that they may have had their fair reasons/apprehensions of a long travel etc.

    my fathers side all the siblings are very closely attached to each other. all the siblings were very very well to do except my father. my mother had usual property distribution issues with my grandparents/fathers siblings . even today at any slightest of the family problems/ill health/death anything all the siblings come together and support each other even though each has their own issues with the others . closeness is only limited to the siblings. all my bua's during my grandparents lifetime created hell in the life of my mother and chachi's for various reasons which are not forgotten but they still talk nicely on the surface. all bua's kids are closer to each other compared to brothers kids aka us. my bua's complaint that all the bahus never let their kids mingle with them hence they are not close.
    today both my brother and i realize that our mother was also not 100% right and just. and my bua's / chacha's/grandparents were also not fair to my mom. towards the end of my mothers life however it was my fathers siblings who helped us that we can never forget.

    we cousins from my fathers side have a whatsapp group which is very active , its just fun group as all my cousins are younger or same age as me with no particular expectations or any serious discussions.

    me and my brother often joke about this that my father has been really lucky . he and his siblings always stand together through any big or small problems . we envy and feel happy for him about this one. both of us can only hope to be like them.
    such a bonding is no where to be seen in us cousins . maybe bond between siblings is different than with cousins. all of us cousins lead an independent life free of any direct issues (could have been indirectly influenced though) and whenever we meet we have fun , go to watch movies , outings , career etc nothing about parents.

    I would say dont expect your cousins to tell you about family gossip , sharing good/bad news etc. be absolutely mindful of your boundaries in the beginning atleast by always taking a step back and only talk fun and general stuff.
     
    blindpup10 likes this.
  6. 1Sandhya

    1Sandhya Platinum IL'ite

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    Yeah, this is a tough one. For now I would suggest walk away. Keep things pleasant and formal. Find friends in other places - the planet is teeming with people.

    Thing is, in my family dynamic I would have been your cousin a, b and c. And let me tell no matter what you do or don’t do, nothing you do will overcome the very long shadow, the very long history going back 40-50 years and innumerable fights right down to their childhood between the warring siblings. And capacity for digging can be limitless. So don’t go getting mixed up in it. You’ll only get hurt. Neither side (both gens incl) will even clearly hear what the other says because the parent’s shadow looms so large. And it will continue as long as the siblings are alive. If they take the initiative to reconcile its a different matter but not otherwise.

    In my case a reconciliation of sorts has become possible after both the siblings passed. Yes then all the stuff about speaking for yourself, approaching them, acknowledging mistakes will have an effect. But not till then. Your mom’s authority to speak for herself will supersede your words during her lifetime.
    It so happened that we cousins all live in the same city now so we meet at least once a year. And interestingly enough the next generation, our children, kept far from the drama and completely unaware of it, are the best of friends now.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020
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  7. Sreevidyaa

    Sreevidyaa Bronze IL'ite

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    It’s a formality to invite, if I am right. It usually follows how the relationship between parents are to decide the closeness with cousins. For reasons unknown relationship take different turns and once that happens it doesn’t always reverse the course.

    Personally speaking I am not close to cousins except few. I find after marriage all have drifted away mostly because of different places of migrations. Distance had caused the drifting to be complete.

    So don’t be so open and even if you want to be open and avoid secrets, you cannot expect same from your cousins. They might not have the same way of thinking or even want to be close enough. If they decide that they want you to be close to their lives they would be ones who actively continue to make contact and encourage the relationship. If on the other hand there is just a casual contact made by them, then the relationship will not be that open nor flourish long time. So take time to find at what level they are with you before being so open.
     
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