Dear Savvy Auntie,

My little brother made it to almost the age of 30, without getting anyone pregnant. Then, he ended up getting a long-term friend pregnant, purely accidentally. They got drunk and irresponsible.

This friend of his had feelings for him for a very long time. But he made it clear from the beginning that they were just friends, and that he didn't love her in that way. That was enough for her, apparently. This friendship proceeded as such for about eight years. She would make jokes in front of me and my friends about wanting his baby, which always made me feel comfortable. Because they weren't together, just friends with benefits, which she always told him she was completely cool with.

Then she gets pregnant, and demands that they be together, so when she was four months alone, he made her his girlfriend. They lived together for about four months, but broke up because she had completely changed. The sense of power she gained from finally getting what she had wanted for so long had made her feel confident enough to show her true, evil and vindictive colors. She is incensed at the idea of my brother not loving her.

My brother filed for custody three weeks after the baby was born, which only seemed to enrage her further. My brother got partial custody, but his baby's mother tries to interfere with that at every opportunity. She'll often say the baby is sick as an excuse. She stalks the house during his visits. She has even gone so far as to call child protective services on him and file a false claim. He couldn't see his baby for seven whole weeks because of that, waiting for it to be cleared up. She speaks to our mother with extreme disrespect. She stalks the house during my brother's visits.

I tried to reach out to her with kindness through a text and the response I received was pure venom. She absolutely hates my entire family. And the only reason I can think of that that would be, is that my brother didn't suddenly love her the moment of conception. He was always honest with her. She thought that having his baby would finally make him hers.

It makes me sad to know that this will make bonding with my niece difficult. She is still a baby (14 months), but when she's old enough to understand, I'm sure that her ears will be filled with lies about my family. I guess the only thing I can do now is simply enjoy the limited amount of time that I have with my niece, during my brother's partial custody visits.

Is there any hope in a situation like this, involving such a severely bitter, vindictive, hateful woman? I love my niece so much, and I'm terrified that our relationship will be affected by her mother's hatred of my niece's father and his family. I have no children of my own, and this is the only niece I have that lives close enough for me to see regularly. How should I proceed from here in the best interest of the baby?

Difficulty with Her Mother

Dear Difficulty with Her Mother,

You can beef up your relationship with your niece's mom by staying separate from your brother's drama and extending your friendship to her. After her response to your first attempt, this will be difficult, but not impossible. Keep trying. Stay in touch, bring little gifts, offer to help when you visit, and maintain a pleasant demeanor.

Maximizing your relationship with your niece is much easier. Keep contact by Face Time, establishing "special " activities and repetitive games. Read the same books to her each time you visit, sing the same songs, and play the same games. Babies and toddlers love repetition!

I suggest you read the chapters in my book The Sense Connection that talk about dominant senses and babies. Determine yours, and your niece's, and cater to hers. This creates a very strong bond and will result in her feeling close to you.

In addition, I advise you to read a book that outlines early childhood development, such as Touchpoints - Birth to Three by T. Berry Brazelton so you become deeply aware of what is going on for her.

I wish you much luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield

Photo: Goodluz ,

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