When it comes to having family members around your children, the general rule is usually “the more the merrier”. After all, that’s just more people to love them, right? But, what happens when certain family members are toxic?
Not everyone will find themselves in this situation. If you happen to be one of the lucky ones, that’s great! But, if you’re anything like me there are a few select members of your family that you’d prefer not be around your child. And guess what? That’s okay.
This can happen for an array of reasons. Maybe they’re just vulgar and inappropriate every time they’re around your kids, no matter how many times you’ve asked them to stop. Or, like the situation I’ve found myself in, perhaps you feel they’re a danger to your child. Either way, as your child’s parent you do not HAVE to allow anyone to be a presence in your child’s life.
Here in the south, where I come from, a tight-knit family is a big deal. We have more than the occasional Sunday potluck, summer barbeques and huge family get-togethers during the holidays. So, obviously, cutting a family member out of our lives what not a decision that was made lightly. I argued with myself. I argued with my husband. I attempted multiple conversations with them, trying to air my grievances and come to a resolution. I didn’t want to feel as though I was ripping my family apart. However, when that day finally came, and this family member made me question the safety of my children while in their presence, my decision was made. Like it or not, I was cutting them out.
This meant no more get-togethers with them. No more holidays and birthday parties. Thanksgiving and Christmas passed and we never spoke. Did I feel the occasional pang of guilt? Of course I did. I hated the thought of taking this person away from my child, and taking my child away from this person. However, every time I would think of reconciling I’d remember why I cut them off in the first place. Sparing someone’s feelings would never be worth risking my child’s safety. I had tried to work things out with them, and given them ample warning of the outcome if things didn’t change. This was THEIR decision.
Often times, as parents, we feel like we’re obligated to allow certain people a place in our child’s life. Who would cut off a grandparent, right?! Well, I would.
If I feel as though you’re a negative influence on my child’s life, or spending time with you is a risk to their health and safety, you’re out. And I’m not sorry. As my child’s mother, I’m responsible for her well-being. Her health, safety and happiness rest in my hands. You don’t get the right to compromise those things simply because of your relationship to her.
Now, this is not to say that you should go cutting people off left and right just because you don’t “like” them. Believe me; I have several family members that certainly can’t count me as their biggest fan. You can’t get along with everyone. But if you’ve exhausted all your options, you’ve talked, you’ve pleaded and you’ve warned, and this person still makes your guts twist every time they’re around your child, go with your instincts and do what’s best for YOUR kid. Cut. Them. Out. You’re they’re parent. You gave birth to them, or stood beside your partner while she did. You reserve the right to dictate what and who they’re exposed to. And, yes, this includes family members.
At no point are you obligated to allow Uncle Johnny to swear and make inappropriate jokes in front of your kids. Nor are you required to take your child to drunk Grandma Kathy’s Christmas dinner. If it’s not a safe and healthy environment, you have every right to say so. I had to learn the hard way, spared feeling ARE NOT worth your child’s health and safety.
In the end, we have enough to worry about as parents. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty if you’ve been faced with this decision. All we can do is our best. If that means someone doesn’t get an invite to Christmas dinner, then so be it. When it comes down to it, it’s quality over quantity. I’d much rather myself and my child be surrounded with a few wonderful people rather than several that cause my stomach to twist just because I feel like I “have to”.