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Old 04-18-2007, 11:03 AM   #1  
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Default Any input/advice on a family dispute...

So I've talked to family and friends on this and each one have drawn a blank on advice so I thought I'd try here...

So I have one brother that is married and lives in California. They had a baby last summer and were coming home to Ireland last Christmas to have it baptised. They rang me up last November and were chatting away and my brother suddenly said how do you fancy being Godmother? It caught me on the hop and I replied in a joking way '**** no, sure I have two godchildren already'.

This really really pissed them off and they hung up on me...followed by several emails about how desperately hurt they were, how I ruined their plans, how it made them cry, how terribly inconsiderate I was...etc, etc, anyways, they came home for three weeks and never spoke a word to me for two weeks, the final week my brother relented a little bit and would make some small talk (only after I tried to talk to him about how stupid it was to not speak to me...we all stayed in the one house for most of the time). This included them spending Christmas day in my parents house where I cooked and they ate Christmas dinner...without thanks. Christmas presents to my brother and to his baby, also without thanks. (as a side note, I didn't want to be Godmother for various reasons one being I have two already, they live in a different country, its their first kid and expect cards and presents for each birthday, sniffle and sneeze. And I did actually attend the Baptism ceremony and got ignored.)

So after Christmas they went back to the USA and no effort was made to contact me. I tried emails and various IM's but to no avail. So I decided to be the bigger person and two weeks ago I emailed my brother and basically said that I'm sorry they were hurt by my refusal but I didn't want to be Godmother to the baby, that I'd refused some of my other nieces/nephews too (I have 9 nieces/nephews) and my answer would still have been the same to this day. That obviously there had been hurt on both sides and I would like to get past it...That I'd like to obviously forgive and forget with him and his wife but if not her then just him would do fine. The reply I got back was still the same, how hurt they were and how terrible I was for refusing, how that we used to have such a close bond and he wanted me to have that with his kid but I shot that get the picture and that I'd have to talk to his wife directly.

I sent him a mail back saying the object of this was to forgive and forget, I wanted a truce not to rake over it again. That I didn't need to be Godmother to have a bond with a child and that I was hurt too..that obviously we were not that close if he was prepared to cut me off like he did for a 15minute ceremony. I also send one to his wife, basically saying that I'd like to be friends but if she wanted to keep it to courtesies at Christmas and visits then there is nothing I can do to change that....

That was send on the 6th of April and I've gotten no reply since. I don't really want to leave it as its been 4 months already but I don't know what to do. He won't answer the phone to me, won't return any kind of general emails. I could decide to leave it, call it his loss and say the ball is in his court but he is part of my family and it hurts that its broken now. My family are not involved in the row but they obviously know the story and they can't understand how unreasonable they are being....I need some advice, some help, something...I dunno...its really bugging me and I need some closure but how to get it, I've no idea. Anyone else got ideas?
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Old 04-18-2007, 11:15 AM   #2  
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Oh Finn!

No advice really but look out of the window (guessing it's the same lovely day with you a few miles west of here) and know that you are right to try to be the bigger person.
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Old 04-18-2007, 11:29 AM   #3  
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Wow. My sister and brother are god parents to my daughter and my friends are god parents to my son. Although they do send presents at birthday and Christmas, I've never EXPECTED them to do it. My god parents were my mom's brother and his wife and I can't remember them doing anything out of the ordinary for my birthday (just a card) and I never got any Christmas presents from them. Perhaps my family just doesn't see the need for that kind of representation in their god parents. I'm sorry to hear it had caused a rift in your family, but I agree that the ball is in your brother's court and it is up to him to take the next step. Good luck.
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Old 04-18-2007, 11:32 AM   #4  
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Thanks for your replies - the only thing I'm afraid off is that because they live in another country and we only see eachother once a year it will just go on and on and on for years if I wait for him to make the first move.

sorry I know that it was a long long post and I'm truely grateful for the feedback!
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Old 04-18-2007, 11:52 AM   #5  
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Ummmmm.... maybe it was the way you SAID 'NO'... ?????

It caught me on the hop and I replied in a joking way '**** no, sure I have two godchildren already'.
I'm not picking; just sayin'. I mean, even jokingly, that's a very rude way to reply to such an honorable request.

...But then, I don't know your family. Maybe you all joke at funerals & stuff (mine does... )

I hate to see families get torn apart by disagreements & the such. It's just SAD. After all, we only have so much time to be here at all... I just don't think it's worth it. I really hope you guys can work this out. Good luck.
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Old 04-18-2007, 12:03 PM   #6  
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My first thought was that they are over-reacting, but then I thought how much I hate when I'm accused of over-reacting, because it feels like the person is adding insult to injury, and how hard it is to forgive when the emotions are still raw and painful (whether they're "reasonable" emotions or not).

My thoughts are that the joke was the sharper cut than declining their request. In a century where parents aren't likely to both die while their children are young, the godparent thing is mostly honorary, but people still give it thought and sometimes think of it somewhat solemnly. Jokes during solemn occasions often go over very poorly.

It reminded me of a story of a friend of a friend (so it's probably urban legend, you know how that goes), but my husband's friend spoke of a friend's wedding where in the part of the ceremony that asks "if anyone present, has any reason why these two should not wed...." the best man and brother of the groom said in a stage whisper (loud enough for the first few pews to hear) something like "her face should be reason enough," or something like that. He supposedly was still a little tipsy from the bachelor party the night before, and thought he was being very funny. Well, try as he might to apologize, even after 10 or 15 years of marriage, the bride wouldn't forgive the brother-in-law for ruining her wedding.

It's hard to say whether time will calm things, or allow them to festure, but maybe mediation by a relative or if that fails, their pastor would help.
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Old 04-18-2007, 12:05 PM   #7  
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I think you hurt them far more then you realize. Yes, to you its a small thing, this disagreement. To them (especially since this is their first child) it was a huge insult. You effectively blew their kid off. Now, I know that wasn't your intent, but new first time parents tend to wear their hearts on their sleeve, and are very emotional.

I'm afraid to keep peace, you will have to eat some dirt as my grandpa would have said
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Old 04-18-2007, 12:19 PM   #8  
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They were doing you an honor by asking you to be godmother,and you replied in a very rude way. I think you have done all you can in trying to make amends. I suggest you stop trying to change their minds. Wait and see what happens.They may come around and maybe not. Consider this, words do hurt.
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Old 04-18-2007, 01:31 PM   #9  
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I'm sorry but I must agree. As the mother of two small children, it was a long thought out decision who would be our children's godparents -- ceremonial as being a godparent is, having them baptized was extremely important, as was the choice who would be the godparents. Maybe they assumed since you had done it before you would be open to doing it again. I expect no presents from the kid's godparents, but did select people I know are involved in their church. I would however leave the ball in his court, you've apologized and it's up to them now.

Last edited by shelby897; 04-18-2007 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 04-18-2007, 01:39 PM   #10  
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I don't think you were rude in your response at all. It's Irish humor at it's best. The point of a Godparent (why doesn't anyone capitalize the G in God anymore? That's just wrong, disrespectful and diminishes the importance of God) is to provide the child their religious education should anything happen to the parents. You living in Irlend and your brother living in the US would make this a very diffcult task on your end should you need to fulfill your Godparenting duties. While I do understand that they are hurt by your refusal - and yes, 1st time parents think that everyone is suppose to be ga-ga over their kid - I think they are being ridiculous in refusing to speak to you. They need to grow up. And they should stop making you feel so guilty. When someone asks you to do something they shouldn't assume you will say yes.

Tell them again that you are flattered by their asking you but that you would rather not. Yes, that is a good enough reason. Swallow a bit more pride and tell them that you're truly sorry for hurting their feelings. But also tell them that you are not going to change your mind and you resent them making you feel guilty. Let them know that the door will always be open on your end and let it be. They'll either come around or they won't. And being a child's Godmother doesn't guarentee a close relationship w/them. Good luck!

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Old 04-18-2007, 04:15 PM   #11  
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Well, it sucks that your brother and his wife are acting this way, but I don't think theres really anything you can do, its really on them to fix this. You've explained your side, apologized, and attempted to make amends, and were given the cold shoulder. It seems to me that they may just be trying to emotionally blackmail you so you will give in. Which would be pretty low. Your brothers 'talk to my wife' comment makes me think that this may be more of her problem and your brother is just giving you the cold shoulder to make her happy and not because he really wants to cut off contact. I could be reading too much into this though. Hopefully after some time passes they will realize how ridiculous this all is and make the effort to mend fences. You may enlist the help of someone else in the family to mediate if you think it might make a difference if they hear your side from someone else.
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Old 04-19-2007, 01:51 AM   #12  
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I don't know anything about the religious aspect of being a godparent, but I always thought that meant that if anything DID happen to the parents, the godparent would get the responsibility of being that child's guardian...

That being said, I think about if something were to happen, how horrible it would be to be a kid who lost both parents and then has to go live overseas with what basically would be strangers...

You responded the same way I would have... and it sucks but sometimes people just don't get over things. I think you've said what needs to be said and it will be up to them to make the decision whether or not to resume a relationship with you. Can't change people, only your reaction to them.
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Old 04-19-2007, 05:45 AM   #13  
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Thanks guys, definitely two points of views above.

To give a little of the background...I am the youngest of seven kids and an Auntie to 9 children - two of which are already my Godchildren.

I really do understand that the way I responded was hurtful to them but to be honest if I had expected to be asked then answer would still have been no...and I think that the outcome would have been the same too.

They may have thought long and hard about who to ask but at the end of the day I was asked a question, to which I understood I was free to answer yes or no too. I chose to answer no, I wasn't honoured to be asked and its not the first child I refused (others being because I was too young and to be honest didn't want the responsibility) - Why should I be responsible for how they took my answer? and why should I agree to do something when my heart wasn't in it?

But what you say is true, I guess though I didn't fully understand how people get when they have kids, in that it becomes their everything...I don't have any children so to me a new baby born into the family is great but not exactly a novelty anymore (2 more on the way this year too).

Caroline - You are correct in your analysis, I imagine too that most of it is coming from his wifes side. Shes told me before that she doesn't give second chances to anyone. ****, for three years she barely spoke to my Dad because my Dad gave out when they took his car for two days without asking...and things are still a bit chilly there. They are both in their mid-thirties and I am 25 btw.

I'm still at a bit of a loss, I think I've already made my reasons for saying no clear but in their eyes (as was said above) I brushed off their kid, so clarifing will do no use. I've done the emails, the phone calls, the IM's even face to face did no use. Maybe I need to write a letter to them and simply say that no matter how much time passes the door will be open for them.

Frustrating but I feel like there is a big weight on my shoulders, when I wrote the emails to them it lifted but coming back again as no simple answer I know...

Last edited by finn; 04-19-2007 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 04-19-2007, 07:09 AM   #14  
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Finn -- I originally posted as a "mother", but I have reread your responses and feel I need to apologize to you -- you are right that a question gives you the option of responding yes or no and it was unfair of them to be offended for your answer of no. Please try not to feel bad they are being unreasonable. You have done all you can do and it's up to them to be adults and move on. Try not to let this bother you too much. I have a sister I haven't talked to other than when "necessary" for almost 10 years. She has chosen not to move on and I have no control over that. Neither do you. I think it's easier for them to continue this grudge, being so far away from you. Seeing how much this affects you, I can tell you are a caring member of your family. They and their children will be the ones who suffer from the lack of a truly caring, thoughtful sister and aunt.
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Old 04-19-2007, 10:28 AM   #15  
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Family strife SUCKS, that's for sure. It seems that your off-the-cuff response was hurtful, and you know that, and you HAVE APOLOGIZED FOR IT. How much more can you do? The ball is in the other court. This sounds like there might be more to this than just the request, like this was just the "final straw" that has caused the rift. I don't know, I'm just speculating...
Anyways, other than apologizing and sending the appropriate emails and asking for reconciliation, I don't think there is much more that you can do EXCEPT write the letter. Get it out on the table - apologize for your off-hand remark. Acknowledge that you realize what an honor it was to be asked to be a godmother. State your reasons why you declined. Acknowledge that they were hurt by your decision but your decision stands as is. Say that you hope that you can still be a family and that you would love to be part of their lives. Perhaps don't put the onus on them for this relationship directly (i.e. my door is open to you always) as this WILL be seized on as "evidence" that you aren't taking this as YOUR fault (not that it is, but hey, why inflame things?). Just be apologetic, calm, and non-judgemental. Then WAIT. Don't involve the rest of the family in taking sides, and don't discuss it with others (just inflames the situation). It WILL be up to them. Give this some time!!!Hang in there!!! And, trust me, keep a copy of the letter (useful for the future).
p.s. I have a brother who, when he TOLD me (not asked if it was convenient) he was coming to visit me for my birthday and when I said that this wasn't going to work for me and not to come at that time, hasn't really spoken to me for three years. Seriously. Not much I can do about this... I can't figure some people out...
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