My brother-in-law (let's call him Mark) has 3 kids but it turns out the mom (let's call her Alice) is not very "maternal".

She is clearly bothered by the kids and tries in every way to avoid her maternal duties. Up till now she managed by having her mom stay with them and take care of everything (even house chores). After 11 years grandma finally managed to get back to her home and Alice tries to dump the kids with whoever she can.

I picked them up from school a couple of times and can't forget the disappointment on their faces seeing the mom had ditched them once again.

The other day we were all together for dinner and Alice said, in front of the eldest, that she prefers going to work rather than stay home and look after them, because they are "tiring". At the shocked and sad look of the daughter she reiterated "Oh yes you are!". Mark was there and said nothing.

I'm really sorry for my nieces because I can see that they suffer for Alice's behavior and would like to talk to Mark and Alice. However the subject is a delicate one and Alice doesn't really accept people disagreeing with her.

How can I help my nieces?

  • How old are the kids?
    – user20343
    Jan 9, 2019 at 20:21
  • @SiXandSeven8ths 11, 8 and 2
    – algiogia
    Jan 10, 2019 at 11:51

2 Answers 2


Personally I would take care of teaching this kid how to deal with such a situation. You can't do anything regarding the mother's behavior, but you sure can help your niece by showing her you care about her. You know, family is an important thing but the most important people in our life are those who care about us. Just care about her and let her know you do so, at a point in her life she will understand what you did and she will be grateful...

Furthermore if you stay away and let her deal with this situation there might be a time when she'll try to get attention at the wrong place with the wrong people... Help her, love her.


I think you need to speak to Mark and point out what this is doing to his(?) children.

Maybe he doesn't see what is going on and needs a light shined on it for him.

Doesn't sound like anything can be done (by you) about Alice.

I would, if you can, take turns with each child individually. Show them that they mean something to you by picking them up individually and doing something. You don't have to spend money on them ($1 drink at McDonalds or something).

Listen to everything they say when you're with them - focus on them. They really need their parents, but you cannot give them that. You can give them your attention though.

  • If it is you husband's family, I would say that he should speak to Mark instead of you. Male to male would probably go better - in my male opinion. Jan 11, 2019 at 22:27

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