I grew up in a close knit family filled with love. My father and his siblings were very close and by extension, their children were close too.
At the demise of my father’s older brother in the mid 90’s, there was a strain in the relationship between the family he left behind and my father and we his children.
My father was close to his late brother, they were each other’s confidants. My father literally imposed himself on all the activities leading to his brother’s funeral. He rather consulted his kinsmen than consult his late brother’s wife and his children who were in their mid and late teens, a behavior my late Uncle’s wife and her children didn’t find funny at all.
My father apparently had a business deal with his older brother that was not written and neither of their wives nor other siblings were aware of this deal between them. My father took a loan from his brother at the time, so, he leased out one of his property to his brother on the condition he will get his property back once he’s able to repay the loan. My uncle put the property to use fully. Neither of them told their wives nor children about this deal between them.
Many months down the line, my uncle died abruptly. With my father’s body language during my Uncle’s funeral and the subsequent announcement of returning the loan he took from his brother and taking back his property, all hell was let loose.
This singular action put so much strain on our relationship as an extended family. There was so much suspicion and withdrawal. As kids in their early and mid teens, we didn’t understand what was happening but we felt it that all wasn’t well because even our cousins were acting weird towards us. But who wouldn’t if found in their shoes?
It was few years later that the picture became clear to us after our father explained to us what transpired between him and his late older brother’s family. While we understood him, we also blamed him for not been tactful in his decisions at that time. Two years ago, my father lost his immediate younger brother. We know how loving and passionate my father can be and it often comes off as controlling or imposing himself. We allowed him scream and cry as much as he could but we needed to speak to him as his children. We scheduled a family meeting immediately and the agenda was telling my father the do’s and dont’s going forward.
The bottom line of everything we told him was that if anything happens to him or our mother, none of his siblings has any control whatsoever except what we decide as their children. They can only suggest to us but don’t have any right to impose their will on us because we are not only your children but adults.
We said: “We need you to follow your late brother’s wife and their children with same mindset. Their children are grown and should decide how and what they want at their father’s funeral. Be there as a father figure, let them consult you if need be. If there is anything they are not doing right, call their attention to it and suggest possible ways out and allow them take final decisions. Furthermore, call all your siblings to order. They should be supportive and avoid any form of imposition or tug of war”.
We didn’t want a repeat of what happened over 20 years ago that we are still trying to mend that relationship, hence our advice. My father listened to us and did exactly like we suggested and everyone went home happy. There was no bad blood what so ever from anyone. Not his late brother’s wife nor his children felt threatened before and after my uncle’s funeral. To put it clearly, we became stronger and more closer as cousins and they trust my father to a very large extent.
Gone are the days children simply inherit their parents wars without asking questions or logical reasoning. Many adults today shamelessly still watch and even support their parents who choose to remain at loggerheads with their late Uncle/brother’s spouse and children due to some unnecessary impositions or wanting to dispossess them of their properties. It is in your place to call your parents or siblings to order when they are meddling in extended family member’s affairs. “What an elder sees sitting down . . . is not an adage applicable in all life situations, to a large extent this saying has been more of a blackmail which has further entrenched the culture of ‘no reasoning’ which is an ancient error.
Your parents cannot be making enemies on your behalf while you foolishly inherit them. We must all wake up to the realities of today, once a man is married with or without children and anything happens to him, his wife and his children must first be protected. They should be consulted and carried along on every decisions that will be taken before and after his funeral.
It doesn’t matter if they depend on your financial assistance. Except they delegate certain functions to you, you have no right to impose yourself or your wish on them. You can only make suggestions. Learn to know the boundaries you shouldn’t cross in your brothers/sisters/uncles immediate families.