Am I Too Protective?? Should My Son Go to Amusement Park with Rude Cousin?

Updated on July 10, 2011
H.L. asks from San Marcos, CA
36 answers

I have a nephew who is one year older than my son. He lives in another state so we only see him once, sometimes twice a year. My nephew is an only child, and my son is very childlike and loving and adores his cousin. My nephew is an okay kid, and I am impressed that he seems nice considering I am not so fond of his parents. But in the past he has done things to show my son that he doesn't care about him.
Case in point, the last time they were out here we invited my nephew to spend the night and the following day we met his parents and went to a play area. My son and nephew seemed to be having a great time (my son was!).
A few days later my sister-in-law invited us to go to an amusement park with them. About two hours into the park my sister-in-law walks up to my husband (it is his sister) and says that her son is sick of my son and doesn't want to hang around with us anymore, so they went off to enjoy the amusement park by themselves and said "bye" to us. ?!?#?%!!! She is SO lucky I wasn't there to hear that. She could have been a lot more tactful for one thing.

It has been about six months and my nephew and sister-in-law are back in town. My son is so excited to see his cousin again (I am not). My sister-in-law emailed me and invited us to go to the amusement park again. I told my husband that is the LAST thing I want to do wiith them.

Am I overreacting? I know my son would really like to be with his cousin and have fun, but I am so concerned about my nephew breaking his heart. My son is at an age now (7) where family is so important to him and he believes family will always be supportive and there for you. He was confused when we broke off from my nephew at that last outing and I tried to tell him the truth without it seeming so harsh. My husband says if it bothers me that much I should just tell my sister-in-law we are busy, but all I want to do is what is best for my son.

What is best? Go to the amusement park with my nephew, or bow out?

ps. I just want to mention that my nephew and son have never had any fight/disagreement (yet). They get along very well. That is what makes my nephew's behaviour confusing for my son and me.

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So What Happened?

I was so impressed by ALL of the responses! It is awesome to be able to hear another perspective when I am mired down in the problem. I was able to see my nephew in a better light. He is an older cousin who is an only child, so his reactions would be normal for his age and situation. My sister-in-law has no tact and will never teach my nephew proper social skills, so we just need to learn to cope.
My son _really_ wanted to spend time with his cousin, so I invited my nephew over for a sleepover/campout in our backyard. My son was thrilled and the two boys had a wonderful time. They slept together in the little two-person tent in my backyard all night and giggled with their flashlights. This made it easier because my sister-in-law and husband weren't around and I didn't meddle in their interactions. My sister-in-law still requested we go to the amusement park with them on Friday. I agreed and later sat down with my son and reminded him about the last time at the amusement park when my nephew left us early. We chatted about how that could happen again and that we shouldn't take it personally, my nephew just might be overwhelmed and need some time alone. My son seemed to take it okay.
Now I sit here late on Thursday night as my children are sleeping and excited because they know they are going to the amusement park in the morning - and my sister-in-law's husband has emailed me to say my nephew was sick yesterday and though he is feeling better has decided not to go to the amusement park tomorrow and to tell my son sorry. Ha!
Life with in-laws is so fun!
Knowing my son was specifically excited to go with my nephew to the amusement park I'll have to see if he wants to still go as just a family.
Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and feedback. It helped me see another view!

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answers from Boca Raton on

I would go, but plan to make it a fun day with my son, and if the cousin hang-out works - great - but if not my son and I still had fun.

It sounds like cousin's mom is the problem - not cousin. In that scenario I would try to make it work. If the relationship with cousin devolves, then I would distance my family from their family (but not until then).

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answers from Dallas on

I completely understand why you wouldn't want to, but I would go. The boys get along. That's what matters. I would just warn my son beforehand that if Johnny wants to go ride some rides alone with his mom, that's okay. I always try to give my kids a heads up if I think there is even a remote chance that something may not go exactly the way they are hoping. If you want to discuss what happened last time, just say something like, last time our son was really disappointed when we separated. Then see what she says. Maybe you could plan on being together for a few hours, separate, and then meet up again.

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answers from Springfield on

First, don't take what your SIL said to heart. She might have been using her son as an excuse. Or maybe after a sleepover he really was ready for some time with just his parents. They wanted to go off by themselves for whatever reason. Don't worry about it.

Second, even if what she said was exactly what her son was feeling, why on earth would you repeat it to your son?!? There was no reason for that. Just let him know that they weren't in the mood to hang out any longer and that you'd see them later. There's not need to lie to him, but there's no benefit to repeating what she said. They are going to do something together as a family, and you'll see them later.

Go and have fun. Hang out with the family, and if you sense things are going in a negative direction very nicely let them know that your family is ready to do your own thing.

I know you mean well, but I do think you're making too much of this. Just go and have fun!

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answers from Honolulu on

I tend to like "contrived surprises" - ie. I know what is going on but my kids don't. I would plan on a trip to the amusement park and just "fortuitously" happen upon the cousin and auntie. They can hang together for a while and you and kiddo go your separate way and leave SIL and cousin still wanting more when you leave. If they BEG to be together, well, you weren't going to leave the park just yet anyway so you can extend A LITTLE. But since you weren't "supposed" to be spending the day with cousin anyway, going off by yourself will not be that much of a downer.
I like what the other posters said about talking to the auntie and giving here a bit of a manners reality check, but I would still keep the control OUT of her hands.

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answers from Las Vegas on

I would tell her that last time your son was confused and hurt by what happened and they are welcome to come to the house to visit, but you won't be going to the amusement park again. Constant rejection will take its toll, they are kids but it was more the way the mom reacted that makes me think it probably hasn't changed in the past 6 months. Of course they haven't fought, the nephew ditches him when he gets "sick" of him. Your sister in law was very rude for how she handled it, she should teach her son how to handle the situations (you can't just ditch people) and I'm sure your son is awesome.
Like I said, I would invite her over for a few hours of play, but make it clear that what happened last time was not acceptable and you won't be going this time. Maybe the next time you all can go to the amusement park and it will be clear that you aren't going to tolerate your son being mistreated like that.

Kids will be kids, but you do have to pick and choose your situations because too much of that behavior can chip your son's self-esteem quite a bit. And I agree with another mom maybe it should wait until they are more mature.

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answers from San Francisco on

They are both still little boys and cousins. Kids are bound to fight related or not and usually make up as fast as they got into it.

Go to the amusement park with the family, as long as you and dad are there it will be OK. Not sure what your husband's sister will do, but the kids will probably have fun. If by chance your husband's sister does a repeat performance, just tell her goodbye and continue to have fun with your husband and son.


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answers from Dallas on

Sounds like your SIL is the problem.

The fact that your nephew is an only child has no impact on this issue... GEES You can find plenty of kids with siblings who are brats

If the boys do get along, go... if you decide to go with them then you separate them for a bit if you want so you can go on some rides with your son.

You can't keep children under a rock and expect them to be perfect adults when they grow up. THey have to have learning experiences, good and bad.

Again..........SIL is the problem, you know she knows you don't like her and the only child aspect is just where you bought into labeling a child.

Get to know your nephew, he might not be a bad kid, you'll probably realize being an only child might make him more mature.

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answers from Washington DC on

The problem isn't so much with your son and his cousin as it is with you and your SIL.

You don't like her.
You don't approve of her.

While she handled the amusement park in a poor manner - you are holding the past against her. Will she change? Most likely not. Can you change how you handle her? DEFINITELY!!!

Go to the park...however, you can state (you can choose to be like her) and state since Johnny was bored with Sam last time - why don't we just pick a time to meet up for lunch? OR you can say - SURE - let's go have a good time. let your son enjoy time with his cousin...prepare him that it's possible they may want to go off on their own - but YOU can still have fun...

WHY ON EARTH would you let HER and her childish antics hold you back from having fun with your son?

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answers from New York on

My vote is NO to the amusement park or anything else that is an all day event. Suggest an event that will only be for a few hours.

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answers from Nashville on

the first thing I would do is have your husband say to her, "last time you said your son got sick of our son, we wouldn't want that to happen again" and see what she says. The next thing I would do is to take your son, don't let him go alone with them if that was an option, then explain to him how last time the nephew wasn't so nice. Explain that children aren't always nice, sometimes they say mean things....explain to him that you don't want him to get his feelings hurt if his cousin says that again....My son is 8 and he would understand what I was telling him. I have been telling him for a few years that kids are mean and to be strong about it b/c he is such a nice boy, etc I think you and he should go, it is his cousin, brat or not. :o)

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answers from Redding on

At their ages, kids change a lot in 6 months so Id go and make the best of it. Might turn out to be a great time. Maybe your son has matured a bit more and the cousin is at a stand still and they will be on more equal ground and get along fine. If it goes the same way as last time then chalk it up to a unsuitable play mate. Maybe wait till they are older before you give in and try to get cousins to be buddies again.

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answers from Hartford on

Considering what happened last time and they pretty much ditched your son, I would be very hesitant too. And very protective. I would make sure that if you decide to allow your son to go, that either you or your husband are there again this time so that if your nephew "gets sick of" hanging out with anyone but himself your son won't be completely abandoned.

I don't believe this is about your nephew, by the way. I think this is about your sister-in-law being a rude idgit and not your nephew being rude. I think she blamed her wants on her kid and it had nothing to do with her kid. She scapegoated her son so that you wouldn't be upset with her and it's supposedly difficult to be upset with a child and a mother wanting to accommodate her child.

Just my gut reaction, of course. But it would explain why this is confusing behavior on the part of your nephew regarding the relationship between him and your son. Especially since it was your SIL who came over and made excuses without your nephew to back it up and say it himself.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I would have a heart to heart with you sister-in-law about how her words were hurtful for you and your family. If you get a negative non-apologetic response, or a lame excuse, tell her that you are not interested in going to the amusement park with them.
As for your son, he does not need to know about this potential event or what came of it. He'll have plenty of time to learn about rude people later on in life.

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answers from Detroit on

Why not just ask your SIL, "Are you sure you want to do the amusement park together again? Because I remember last time your son didn't seem to be having much fun with us."

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answers from San Francisco on

Older cousins sometimes ditch their little cousins. Anyone who comes from a large family gets that.
The little cousins (like your son) are usually WAY more forgiving than the parents, they get over it in like two seconds. If he is not bothered by what happened last time then by all means go and have fun! If he gets ditched again there is no reason why YOU can't make the best of it and stay and enjoy the park with your son :)

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answers from Los Angeles on

Since she was up front and honest with you then do the same for her and ask her to explain (to you and your husband) why she up and left last time. Tell her how it made you feel. Then decide from her answer if it's worth your time and energy to do it again??

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answers from San Francisco on

You are right to be careful of this one. I wouldn't go. Your experience was only 6mos ago! That isn't that long ago--so I would say no. Tell her you have plans----anyone who is rude like that wouldn't have any business being around my kids. If your son really wants to see him, do a compromise and meet them at a park for an hour. GL


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answers from Kansas City on

first off i think it's less an issue of the cousin being an only child, and more an issue of the mom only having one kid - as a mom of 1 i can tell you it's easy to conversate with an only and look at them somewhat as a companion/equal more than a kid, and it sounds like as soon as he started getting whiny and voiced, "i'm sick of playing with him" or whatever, she took it to heart and immediately went to fix the problem. (or maybe she's a rude hateful hag too lol) instead she should have realized, like someone else said, the kid was tired, or hungry, or suddenly felt self conscious playing with a "little" kid (that one year is important to them). no she didn't handle it well, but imo, hey, now you know what to look for. you're prepared. go in expecting her to pull something like that again, and since you're prepared, you can, instead of being shocked and offended when she does it, be happy because now it's YOUR family time in the park. people will do what they will - it's about your expectations and reactions. good luck. i say go, have fun, let it slide off your back.

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answers from Honolulu on

Relatives or not, this happens.
Some people are just rude and cold and selfish.
Even in school, kids can be like that.
So, it is a real lesson in life.
At 7 years old, he can learn this.
My daughter is 8, and since she was in Kindergarten, I have explained people and intentions to her. I don't keep her in a bubble.
She is, very socially wise for her age.
She has a cousin, that is like your Nephew. Oh well. My daughter KNOWS, that his is how her cousin is. She even said, she doesn't like that cousin, so she just does her own thing. She doesn't take it personally.

"Family"... is NOT always so nice and warm and fuzzy and supportive. When my daughter asks about her selfish/rude relatives and observes this as well, herself... I say "Yes, even relatives can be rude and not very thoughtful. Just because they are 'family' it does not mean, they are all loving. Just like friends. There are all kinds of people. So YOU have to be wise and know yourself." Which she does.

I also tell her that just because some people are like that, it is not the way 'we' are as a family. She knows, the difference.

You guide and teach your child... about people.

Sure, maybe your son and the nephew get along. But, he and his Mom (your Husband's Sister) is ALSO, very self-serving. You do know that.
So it is no surprise.
I mean, what kind of ADULT, waltzes up to another Parent and says "My son is sick of your son and doesn't want to hang out with you anymore, so we're leaving..." ???

So, you teach your son, about these things. He is 7.
So that, he has his own, sense of Self.
Not controlled by other rude people.

all the best,

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answers from Washington DC on

bear in mind that it was the SIL who said her son was 'sick' of your son and went off alone. it may well be that the boy wasn't quite so mean. she sounds like a piece of work, but that doesn't mean the kids can't have a relationship.
it's a tough call when one child has had enough of another (and i've been on both ends.) obviously one wants to raise kind children, but forcing a kid to hang out with a younger child when they're done is a situation that can backfire too. within reason and with courtesy being emphasized, kids should be able to make decisions about whom they are spending time with.
i'd let your son go, maybe with a brief (brief! don't over-emphasize it!) talk beforehand about how sometimes older kids have limited patience with younger ones and to blow it off if the cousin takes off.
the other option is to limit the outing to an hour or two, but that's expensive when it comes to amusement parks.

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answers from Dallas on

Maybe she worded it wrong- Since the cousin is older maybe he wanted wanted to rider roller coasters/or more grown up rides and your son wasn't up to it. When I go to amusement parks w/family we ususally divide up in grps as to whom wants to ride what. I would for sure go!

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answers from Los Angeles on

I can totally understand why you were hurt and confused last time. But, I don't necessarily think that the nephew was being rude. Kids say what's on their mind sometimes without really thinking about how it sounds or how it might affect other people. He may have been tired or hungry, or he might have wanted his mom's attention all to himself without having to share her with your family. That doesn't make it right, but I honestly think your SIL was more in the wrong, both for allowing him to get his way and for saying it to you the way she did.

If I was in your situation, I would go to the amusement park and I would not bring up the past. Go with an open mind and plan to have fun. If she tries to pull something like that again, that's when you can be honest and tell her how much it hurt you and your son last time, and that it is important to your son that you all stay together. Bringing it up beforehand will only make things tense and awkward between you and your SIL.

One last thing to keep in mind is that the boys are still pretty young and are at an age where it is very hard to maintain a relationship with someone you rarely see or talk to. So to spend all day with someone you barely know, and to be expected to be friendly the whole day, can be tough. However, since they are family and will always be in each other's lives, it's important to foster the relationship as much as you can. Just be understanding and aware of the fact that the boys don't really know each other well and it can be difficult for them to act as close as you would like.

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answers from San Francisco on

Your son wants to go. YOU are the one with the problem. Let your son go. If your nephew gets pissy again halfway through, your son will be fine. All your son has to be told is: Joey wants to go off by himself with just his mother. He has a right to do that, and your son can still have fun at the park with you.

Personally, I think your SIL is the one with a problem. That was a pretty rude and unnecessary and hurtful way to put it. She could have made up an excuse to make everyone feel good.

Go. Don't put your issues on your son.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I wouldn't go to the amusement park, you have no reason to think the trip will go any different than the last one. Suggest to your husband you all get together for a trip to a children's museum or some place your son and nephew can have fun and you can all keep an eye on the boys together. Like you said, you want to do what's best for your son.

I'm curious, what did your husband tell her when she told him her son was sick of yours? If this is his sister why doesn't he take the initiative and say something to her, like, "Oh, now he wants to play with him?" Even if this isn't his sister and she's your SIL on your side of the family, it was him she told, and he should let her know her comments 6 months ago aren't going unaccountable.

Sorry, I think she's the one with the problem, not her son, which is unfortunate as cousins should be close.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Yes, your SIL handled that without any tact, that is unfortunate. But if you see the boys getting along so well to be the norm, I may try to shrug it off as lack of social skills on her part. I think I would say to them, my son would really love to see his cousin, but we're not up for the amusement park again. Invite them over for a BBQ or offer to meet at a playground or swimming pool, or restaurant, or any other venue that there are fewer attractions to disagree over. An amusement park, festival, or zoo or something big is often a challenge to please everyone, people just have different interests, and tired small kids have short fuses. This time I would also make it a shorter time frame, not an all day hang out. Hopefully what happened last time was an isolated incident. Good luck!

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answers from Oklahoma City on

My grand daughter and her best friend are the wame way. For instance, when her BFF's family was moving. I kept her friend for several days.

The first day they were best buds, did everything together. Second day worst enemies, F and K were fighting all day. I snuck up to see what was happening due to strange noises coming from the bathroom. F pulled K off the toilet, stepped on her, and sat down, K got up pulled F off, stepped on her, sat down. I was laughing so hard that it was hard to sound mad. They just loved each other the next day.

I think in the previous situation the kids had been together too much. The other boy is an only child and is used to having his parents undivided attention and not having someone around his age all the time.

From now on, keep their contact shortened to just a few hours at a time then a break, such as over night, then let then do stuff together for a few more hours. It's also okay for your two families to decide to spen some of the time at the park together alone and then meet up after a bit to do things together again.

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answers from Dallas on

Hmmm...that's a hard one. I would feel similar to you. I wouldn't want my son around someone else if they aren't going to respect him and his little feelings. But I would probably go so he could have fun, and let him know that we might not be with them the whole time. That like last time, we might have to separate and then we'll have our own family time. But that we might not - we might get to be together the whole time...just so that he is prepared in case it happens again. But I agree the probledm seems to be with SIL. I would be more inclined to stay away from HER. :-) She sounds rude. But I would try going. In the end, it's not reason enough (IMO) to not hang out with them anymore.

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answers from San Diego on

Other people might have said this.. but maybe it was the SIL that was 'sick of your son' [or maybe something else entirely], and just used your nephew as the excuse. Sounds like the nephew was not at all mean to your son while they were hanging out... so it's more up to YOU if you want to go.

if you want the boys to hang out together - go for it. just have an exit plan and prep your son for it. 'we are going to the amusement park with your cousin! how fun! but at some point he might want to go off with just his family, so if that happens, we'll say bye to them and we can still have fun until it's time to go home.'

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answers from Los Angeles on

Boys of 8 say things that are not the most tactful or sensitive. That is why It's their parents job to manage them, and teach them the impact of their words and the importance of caring for other people's feelings. Your sister in law sounds oblivious. Simply because her son stated his feelings at the moment (which could have been due to his being tired, or hungry, or suddenly self-concious that he was playing with a "younger" boy) was no reason why she should have repeated them to you. She could have informed her son that if he felt like leaving, he needed to express it in a way that wasn't hurtful or mean. And she should have handled their departure in a way that was polite and sensitive to your sons feelings and to yours

They have a right to leave after two hours, but she has an obligation to do it in a way that is civil -- and to teach her son to be mindful of others feelings.

I would have your husband tell her how her actions made you all feel. And ask her to to please have a talk with her son in advance so that you don't have a repeat performance. Tell her that you want to have an agreement beforehand that people's feelings will be respected during your get-togethers. Let her know that insensitive behavior will not tolerated. If she agrees that those are the expectations and the rules -- then make another plan and see if she can keep up her end of the bargain.

Your son has a cousin his same age -- and that's a great thing for both children. You should try to keep the bridge between the families open for the sake of the kids. Of course if he's consistently hurtful in his actions (which is possible -- just look at the mother he has!) then you can revisit this issue.

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answers from Provo on

Ummm . . .The pure fact that she has no tact or common sense about talking to people, I would NOT be going, nor would my son. Stick to your guns on this one.
From you p.s. if sounds like she is the one who couldn't stand your son and was blaming her son.

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answers from Kansas City on

I wouldn't go to the amusement park with them. I'd have an outing at the park. Why not invite a friend of your son's to go to the amusement park instead, that way your son would have a full day of fun without getting dumped by his cousin.

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answers from Cleveland on

i'm pretty over protective too and don't have a high tolerance for people who have messed up their lives ( maybe i'm reading into why you don't like SIL)
It sounds like for the most part the boys do get along. So if going to the amusement park would be something you, hubby and son would do and enjoy together anyways, then i would go and give it another chance.

Last time might have been a problem with too much togetherness over an entire longweekend span. Or could it have been a problem with your son not being tall enough to ride certain rides??? Or maybe it was all SIL and she is just a piece of work. It also makes me think, well better to separate than to have the older boy actually get into a fight or be mean to your son's face. But again i could be reading into it.

So i would go, i would be prepared for stupidness from SIL and i would watch everything like a hawk because this would probably be the last chance for a few years until your son has more life experience to deal with this meanie mom.

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answers from Williamsport on

You could take the high road and ignore the past and go be a bigger person.
Tell the sister in law your son is sick of her kid and you and your family go without them.
Go, but ignore the nasty sister in law, and if her kid pulls any false moves, call them on it and don't feel bad to just bail and split ways or whatever you want.



answers from Peoria on

UH NO, I would definitly tell her that while you appreciate the invitation, as a reminder, the last time she invited your family, during the trip, she said her son was tired of your son & they said 'bye' & went off to enjoy the park w/o your family. Tell her that you did NOT appreciate that nor does your husband & she never apologized (you didn't say whether she did...according to your post) nor offered an explaination as to 'why' her son didn't want to hang w/your son & family at the park any longer so this time, you're politely declining...Maybe she'll get the message & maybe offer an explaination as to why they did that to you last time. Hope this helps but you can always take your son to the park another time but I think you should stand your ground on this, that was NOT a poite or courteous thing to do, especially since they invited y'all. As for explaining to your son, just remind him that the last time he went w/them to the park they left y'all during your visit & that is just not polite & is bad manners so to avoid it happening again, perhaps you can offer to take him yourselves another day. Good luck!


answers from Dayton on

:( I could have almost written your post...we have a similar situation, though the child is really the problem in our family. (Though yes, the child is the result of her upbringing.)

Others have given you good advice, all I can say is: I would not commit to something that is an all day affair like this.

Best wishes.



answers from Los Angeles on

I agree 100% with Jessica. I would be overprotective with my son, and I think the issue is your SIL, not your nephew.

Hope it works out!

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