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My son's birthday dinner has turned into a fiasco

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Old 07-16-2008, 05:57 PM   #1
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Default My son's birthday dinner has turned into a fiasco

So what would you do?

My son is turning 11 next Monday and he wants to go to a restuarant to celebrate. I invited my mother and her husband to attend.
She asked if I was going to ask my brother and his wife and I initially said no, because I didn't want to pay for his. So, she offered to pay for theirs.
So, I called my brother and asked him to come and as I was talking, my son asked me who I was talking to and he said "NO, I don't want hime to come". Now, I don't know what to do.
I feel like he hurt my brother's feelings, but I really only invited them because of my mom and I didn't want to hurt her feelings. Now, I wish I hadn't invited anybody!!
I also feel like my son's a little brat for acting that way. I know I'm over thinking/obsessing.
Oh well, life goes on.....
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Old 07-16-2008, 06:05 PM   #2
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Your son is turning 11. I don't know what his problem is with his Uncle - however, I'd personally give a lesson on respect and courtesy and be done with it.
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Old 07-16-2008, 06:10 PM   #3
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i would explore why your son doesn't want his uncle there and if his reasons are valid then follow his wishes, if not then explain family, duty and responsibility to him
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Old 07-16-2008, 06:36 PM   #4
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Thanks for your replies.

They had a little incident a year or so ago where my son said something mean to my brother and then my brother (40 yrs old) hit him on the head with a metal spoon, and so now my son is still mad at him. I've been through the whole thing (then and now) about how he's your only uncle, you might need him someday, you should not hurt other people's feelings, etc., but he's stubborn (gets that from his dad-LOL!). I just don't like isolating our immediate family from the rest of the family because someone can't get along. Come to think of it, there's always somebody mad at someone else over something trivial. I guess that's just part of family life. It sucks though.
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Old 07-16-2008, 06:55 PM   #5
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Thanks for your replies.

They had a little incident a year or so ago where my son said something mean to my brother and then my brother (40 yrs old) hit him on the head with a metal spoon, and so now my son is still mad at him. I've been through the whole thing (then and now) about how he's your only uncle, you might need him someday, you should not hurt other people's feelings, etc., but he's stubborn (gets that from his dad-LOL!). I just don't like isolating our immediate family from the rest of the family because someone can't get along. Come to think of it, there's always somebody mad at someone else over something trivial. I guess that's just part of family life. It sucks though.
Sounds like a great chance to teach your son that now--finally, after a year--he is old enough and mature enough to practice the art of forgiveness.

That you know it will be hard for him to tolerate his uncle's presence at the party, but adults are often put in situations where they're around people they don't like or even respect.

And as an older, more mature boy than he was last year, it is time to practice the art of forgiveness and attempt to stretch toward adulthood just a little bit.



That's what I'd try, anyway.

Sorry you're feeling stress about what should be a happy event! Hope you ALL get past it with lots of love and grace!
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Old 07-16-2008, 08:21 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ddc View Post
They had a little incident a year or so ago where my son said something mean to my brother and then my brother (40 yrs old) hit him on the head with a metal spoon, and so now my son is still mad at him. I've been through the whole thing (then and now) about how he's your only uncle, you might need him someday, you should not hurt other people's feelings, etc., but he's stubborn (gets that from his dad-LOL!). I just don't like isolating our immediate family from the rest of the family because someone can't get along. Come to think of it, there's always somebody mad at someone else over something trivial. I guess that's just part of family life. It sucks though.
Personally, I wouldn't let anyone (especially an adult!) around my child if they reacted with physical violence as a response to words, UNTIL the issue had been properly resolved with BOTH of them, and a mutually respectful arrangement was reached.

In my experience, a small, healthy, functional family is better than a dysfunctional but larger one. Been there, done that!

Best of luck.
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Old 07-16-2008, 08:34 PM   #7
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Oh the drama of "hurt feelings" in family situations! At age 11 I think your son is old enough to write his uncle a note and say he was not being mean, but he still feels hurt about the spoon incident. A talk about forgiveness is something you probably did already, but at under age 10 when the incident occurred your guy was probably shocked and felt betrayed so hanging onto the resentment is pretty understandable. The note gets it out in a mature way, and then it is up to the adult to act like an adult. Let it be your brother's choice if he wants to come or not. Just my 2 cents. Good luck. I feel for you on the tension this creates.
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Old 07-16-2008, 08:35 PM   #8
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I think the uncle owes you and him an apology. Maybe you could sit and talk about it together.
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Old 07-16-2008, 11:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoulBliss View Post
Personally, I wouldn't let anyone (especially an adult!) around my child if they reacted with physical violence as a response to words, UNTIL the issue had been properly resolved with BOTH of them, and a mutually respectful arrangement was reached.

In my experience, a small, healthy, functional family is better than a dysfunctional but larger one. Been there, done that!

Best of luck.

Agree 100%. And I would not want anyone to come to my birthday if they had hit me with anything.
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Old 07-16-2008, 11:29 PM   #10
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God, me too - your brother is 40 years old. Smacking a 10 year old over the head with a metal spoon is NOT an appropriate response to frustration, even if the kid said something "mean". I'm with the kid on this one - why the heck would he want to spend his birthday pretending to be friends with the man who hit him? (And that's not just about the physical pain - that's also about the humiliation he felt and the feeling of powerlessness and vulnerability when a fully grown man smacked him in the head.)

His birthday is supposed to be a fun day for him, not a trial where he's supposed to suck it up and feel bitter and humiliated and put-upon.

Sure, your son should be polite to adults. Yes.

BUT HE WAS TEN. Your brother's response was WAY out of line. If his feelings can be hurt by a ten year old, he maybe shouldn't be around ten year olds.

When kids hurt your feelings, you're supposed to be the adult, and TELL them that they've hurt your feelings, and make them feel bad about it - "I still love you, but what you just said really upset me. Maybe you weren't trying to hurt me then, but you made me feel bad. I really hope I've never hurt your feelings the way you just hurt mine - if I did, then I'm sorry about that. We're still friends, but I don't think I want to be around you just now." Calmly, and in a disappointed voice. That kind of thing - emotional blackmail ROCKS for breaking them much more effectively than intimidation. They don't really understand that you're regular vulnerable people yet - and it's our job as adults to socialise the little buggers by showing them the RIGHT way to deal with hurt feelings.

Your brother is teaching your son that violence is an appropriate response to frustration. Violence towards a smaller, weaker, more vulnerable person. Do you want your son to punch a KG kid who's rude to him at school? I'm guessing no. But if you imply that your brother's behaviour was okay, then that's exactly what you're teaching him - that you approve of that kind of behaviour.

...sorry, I know I'm sounding very soapboxy here, but I'm a teacher. I spend 8 hours a day surrounded by 8 year olds, and I feel pretty strongly about modelling appropriate conflict-resolution stuff for them. (And when they hurt my feelings, I tell them so, and let them see that they made me feel bad. And because our relationship is not based on intimidation, but rather on courtesy, fairness and mutual respect, they don't WANT to make me feel bad, and it doesn't become some big fight thing. There is never any question who's in charge, mind you - I absolutely am, and I don't take any crap. But I also don't try to hurt or humiliate them in order to prove my authority. And I'm quick to give them another chance to prove themselves, and to get their dignity and self-respect back, if they've been told off.)

Um. Sorry, none of that is terribly practical.

Since you seem to have talked yourself into a bit of a corner here, you could maybe sit down and talk to your son about it. Explain your problem, and ask him to help you solve it (because he's getting to be a grown up now himself), emphasizing that it's HIS birthday, and your main priority is giving him a special day (within your limits of budget and practicality), but that you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. His most of all, but you also want to find a win-win solution, where nobody goes away feeling bruised.

Acknowledge his feelings about your brother, and that he's got a right to feel that way - but that you're trying to help him keep a door open in that relationship rather than burning bridges. (And if he decides later on in life that he wants to burn that bridge, then he's got the right to do that - but for now, you'd like him to try not to take that step - because you're not always going to be there, and you want to know that he's got a network of supportive adults out there who can help him if that should ever be needful.)

Figure out what he'd most like to do, and with whom - because this isn't about your mom, or your brother. It should be about your boy, and your relationship with HIM. Does he want to go out for dinner? Or would he rather go bowling, or to a movie, or go do something with his best friend? Make a list of options with him - dinner with you, dinner with you and your mum, dinner with you and mum and uncle, dinner with you and his best friend, Kung Fu Panda with you and his best friend - whatever. And weigh up the pros and cons of each.

This can actually become a good thing, I think - you can turn this into a way of making him feel respected as a young man, and give him some power here, but also give him an awareness of consequences - so if he opts for 'tell Uncle he's not invited', then okay - but he needs to help you to minimise the fallout, so he's going to need to suck it up and maybe write a polite note apologising for hurting his uncle's feelings when he was younger, and explaining that what his uncle did really upset him, but hoping that they can get past this and get to be better friends as he grows older - maybe even set some kind of alternative date in a few months for another family event. Something like that.

Good luck, whatever you choose!
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Old 07-16-2008, 11:31 PM   #11
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NO WAY would I ever think abuse is OK...but maybe...could it have been... just a little knock on the head that was a little too hard...by accident by a knucklehead uncle?
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Old 07-17-2008, 12:12 AM   #12
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I agree with the last several posters (especially Broadabroad!).

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NO WAY would I ever think abuse is OK...but maybe...could it have been... just a little knock on the head that was a little too hard...by accident by a knucklehead uncle?
An accident, like getting hurt while playing around, roughhousing in a fun way, is *way* different than an angry, immature and inappropriate response like hitting a child with a metal object...The worst part is, his *then* not dealing with it appropriately afterwards and that only ads insult to injury.
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Old 07-17-2008, 12:53 AM   #13
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OK...don't want to debate abuse here, this thread isn't about that....but ddc said it was a little incident...a reaction by an adult to something mean said by a 10 year old boy.

I pictured an uncle sitting there next to his nephew eating dinner...the boy says something mean and the uncle, without thinking, pops the boy on the head with a spoon....I am not picturing a guy beating a boy down with a spoon here...less than the smacks I got across the back of my legs, from my mom with her flip-flops, when my 10 yr. old mouth flared up

I agree it wasn't too smart...but I just don't see it as abuse.

There may be more to the story but ddc didn't say that, unless I missed it anyway.
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Old 07-17-2008, 12:59 AM   #14
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OK...don't want to debate abuse here, this thread isn't about that....but ddc said it was a little incident...a reaction by an adult to something mean said by a 10 year old boy.

I pictured an uncle sitting there next to his nephew eating dinner...the boy says something mean and the uncle, without thinking, pops the boy on the head with a spoon....I am not picturing a guy beating a boy down with a spoon here...less than the smacks I got across the back of my legs, from my mom with her flip-flops, when my 10 yr. old mouth flared up

I agree it wasn't too smart...but I just don't see it as abuse.

There may be more to the story but ddc didn't say that, unless I missed it anyway.
I'm thinking like a mandated reporter. "Violence" and "abuse" involve striking with an object (especially when out of anger) and/or leaving a mark.

At any rate, the underlying message is the same, be it a hanger, a hand, a belt or, yes, even a spoon. It represents an inappropriate response and an imbalance of and abuse of power. The fact that there are still hurt and unresolved feelings a year later, shows that the uncle didn't talk it out and make amends (as Boradabroad outlined) AND/OR that the child still has unresolved feelings about it that need to be addressed and his feelings need to be respected.
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Old 07-17-2008, 01:24 AM   #15
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I'm not really going to get into the defining line of abuse, but I think there's alot more going on here than one single incident. Kids are usually more forgiving of an adult's bad behavior, if the relationship is fairly positive. One incident, especially as described, doesn't usually traumatize them to the point they don't ever want to see the adult again. Something more is going on here. Either the adult has a pattern of humiliating and hurting the child
or there was a much more severe incident that the child or you haven't shared (and I'm not asking you to, here).

It's just in my own family, and the many families I worked with when I worked in social work, I've learned that it takes a LOT for a child to want an adult out of their life, if there's been any positive aspects to the relationship at all. Even when kids are horrendously abused, if they've had a handful of GOOD memories with the adult, they tend to want the person in their life and will even work pretty hard to maintain the relationship.

I'm not saying that there's some hideous abuse going on, but the relationship between your son and your brother has been damaged significantly, and I doubt that it's just because of being whacked with a spoon once. Even if the outburst scared the heck out of your son, if he had very positive experiences with your brother, he wouldn't still be holding a grudge a year later (unless holding grudges is what your family does, then he's just practicing what he's learned).

I had an uncle who was an alcoholic. He was never overtly mean, but at family gatherings, when he drank too much, he would spill beer on me. To me, it seemed intentional, though even now I'm not completely sure. I hated it so much, and he seemed to get such a kick out of seeing the fuss I would throw. I mean it literally was traumatic - I still can't stand the smell of beer to the point that I often feel like vomiting if the stench of beer is too overwhelming. I remember having to leave a college party (outdoors) because someone had knocked over a keg and beer was flowing down the sidewalk and it got on my shoes - I had to go back to the dorm and I actually threw away the shoes. That's a pretty extreme reaction, and I wouldn't have asked my parents to keep him away from family gatherings, because he was fun to be around when he wasn't drinking.

I'd have a long talk with your son to find out ALL of the reasons he doesn't want his uncle there, because I really don't think it's being wacked with a spoon once (unless it drew blood and he had to go to the emergency room for stitches, or some other reason the incident was more traumatic than it generally would be to a ten year old boy).
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