From My Inbox:

Hi Monica,

Hope you are doing well and had a nice holiday. I am an off-and-on reader of your blog for many years now and have sent a few things for consideration by the tribe. I’ve always found their feedback helpful. So here is the latest that I’m struggling with. If you’d like to post it, please do.

My sister-in-law has been with my brother for over 10 years, but only married for a few years. They have two young children. She has always been nice and a part of the family. That is, until she had kids. Once she had kids she became controlling, overbearing and often downright bitchy. She is overprotective and could be the poster child for helicopter parents.

How she raises her kids is her business, but the fact that none of their aunts, uncles or grandparents were able to bond with them because we could never get near them, that’s where the problem comes in.

As I’m writing this I am already hearing people’s reaction that it is her business how she raises her children, but it hurts. These are years in their lives that we will never get back.

Another part of it is that my own kids are slightly older, and she acts like her kids need protecting from mine. Of course you need to protect your baby, but trust me when I tell you my 3-year-old is just playing, not trying to hurt your son. She said that when kids come over to her house to play, there are rules. She won’t tell me what the rules are though. Chances are, my kids will break them. And I can’t help but wonder, if they come to play at my house, is it my rules then? Or still hers?

In my opinion when other kids and parents are around you be respectful of how they do things, and you use common sense. Share, be polite, don’t break things, clean up after yourself, those kinds of things.

I avoid being around her if possible and walk on eggshells when I am. I’d love my kids to grow up knowing their cousins, but I’m struggling to get past this. She has, in the past, disciplined my kids for things that she felt they were doing wrong, but that I was okay with. In fact, everyone except her was okay with it. My son grabbed a toy from her son. Her son went about his business and picked up another toy. This happened a few times and when I didn’t step in, she did.

If it had been something serious, potentially harmful or dangerous, of course I would have stepped in. My approach is to let kids play and work these things out themselves.

I guess I am looking for others’ experiences and advice on how to deal with this. She is family so she isn’t going anywhere.

Thanks so much!