Dear Savvy Auntie,

My brother is two years younger than I am and married later-in-life to a woman who is 13 years younger than he. They have one daughter, my niece Elizabeth, who was born in 2007. Her parents do not permit me to do the ordinary fun things with her, like a play date, sleepovers, movies, teach her how to sew, etc.

The last time I saw Elizabeth was December 26, 2016. At that time, I asked her whether she looked forward to getting the weekly envelope filled with funny comics and human-interest stories I send her. She said yes, very much so.

Since then, I’ve sent Elizabeth something that I’ve sewed for her, twice. I followed up a couple of weeks later with her parents via email and inquired whether my niece received the items. There was no response, whatsoever. I continued to send her the funny comics and uplifting human-interest stories. Finally, I received a school photo (with a receipt!) in the mail. I promptly sent the check.

My brother has always had anger issues and is embarrassed of our parents and me, his only sibling. I am heartbroken and I want to take the high road, but I’m not sure what to do.

Aunt Limitations

Dear Aunt Limitations,

The prohibition you are suffering is quite like an epidemic in Savvy Auntie world. It is so sad and infuriating!

Kudos to you for creating a way to stay in touch with Elizabeth...keep it up. Someday, there may come a time when she is on her own and she will be able to be more connected to you. In the meantime, have you contacted your brother and his wife and had a conversation about your desire for more of a relationship with Their Daughter? I emphasize this as you must start with the understanding that they seem to need to have this recognized.

At this point I encourage you to slightly increase your communication with your niece. Try email, Instagram, Facebook or text messages.

I think your wishing for play dates and sleepovers is too out of line with their view of the relationship...sadly.

I wish you patience and good luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield

Photo: Nosnibor137


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