Sister-In-Law Sent a Truly Hate-Filled Email

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Background information.

I have two brothers that married later in life and each has one child.
One brother(at 50 years of age)along with his wife grasp the responsibility of being a parent.

The other brother (at 55 years of age) and his wife (50 years old) haven’t the foggiest clue on how to set boundaries for their child (almost 4 years old).

They allow the child to wander around unsupervised and sometimes even run out of sight! He does not respond to verbal commands. While visiting they also allow him to open drawers and dump the contents out on the floor. Occurs at anyone’s house.

Had a family gathering at my house last weekend.
Plenty of outdoor activities for all ages to participate in.
Good food, great company, good times until this occurred.

The boy entered one of my guest rooms, somewhat trashed it and brought some items downstairs. When the mother was asked to return the items to the room, she was flabbergasted at being asked (by the room’s guest) to return the items to the room. She also stated that couldn’t entertain her own child.

After that the mother became belligerent and stated that she had every right to be in that room.

After that the mother complained rather loudly and rudely to the hostess (my wife) and other guests that she had been asked to leave the disheveled guest room. The mother was not happy at this point and left.

Later on that evening I received one of the most rambling and vitriolic emails from the mother. I read it, was shocked and dismayed at her personal attacks on my guests, my wife and my home.

My first reaction is that she is one very unhappy person.
I did not reply to the email.

Confused in Alaska

A: From what you have said here, I would agree. Sometimes we work toward resolving issues with others, and other times we work on limiting their impact. I would advocate for the second of these two choices.

In 12 step programs, there is a concept called “detaching with love” — here’s a link to an explanation about this concept.

Rather than put yourself in a constant struggle, I would move towards protecting your serenity by limiting contact while having as much compassion as you can for her situation. It may sound trite, but being able to detach from the craziness of others has real value in our lives and hopefully theirs.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Mar 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). Sister-In-Law Sent a Truly Hate-Filled Email. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/27/sister-in-law-sent-a-truly-hate-filled-email/