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Dear Louanne: Should I tell my brother about my concerns about his child?


Offering unsolicited advice is generally considered unwelcome PIC: STOCK IMAGE

Offering unsolicited advice is generally considered unwelcome PIC: STOCK IMAGE

Getty Images/Tetra images RF

Offering unsolicited advice is generally considered unwelcome PIC: STOCK IMAGE

I have noticed that my nephew isn’t hitting the same milestones as my children did. He’s still only three but his speech isn’t as advanced and neither is his co-ordination. I do understand that children develop at different rates, but I didn’t know whether to say anything to my brother. I wouldn’t want to offend him or his wife, or my nephew, who’s just gorgeous, but my parents are beginning to say things too. Is there any way I can help without making it seem like I’m butting my nose in?


D ear NH, 

Thank you for your very interesting letter. You raise many fascinating areas around different relationships, parenting, child development and sibling dynamics.

As you point out children are unique individuals with their own personalities, interests, needs and they will do what they are ready to do when they are ready to do it.

Parents are also unique individuals who will fulfil their role in their own way – trying to meet the needs of their different children at different times of their lives.

There are many views on different parenting approaches and not many that agree. What is in agreement is that parents provide children with a safe environment, where they feel loved and cherished for who they are, where they are supported, encouraged, protected, treated with kindness and that their needs are met willingly and without condition.

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A great gift a parent can give a child is the confidence to navigate life’s adventures in play, fun, work, love and intimacy.

It sounds as though your young nephew is a happy little boy surrounded by family who love and care about him.

You care about your nephew and wonder about offering some observations around your sense of him, when you compare him to your own children.

Giving unrequested feedback or offering unsolicited advice is generally considered unwelcome.

Knowing your brother as you do, how likely is he to be open to your input? Some people do appreciate unsolicited advice as an act of caring. Perhaps your brother is one of these people and understands that while you may give advice he is under no obligation to accept it or act on it.

You have included your parents in your letter as allies who think the same as you. I wonder do you and your parents often find yourselves in the role of agreeing what would be helpful for your brother.

It sounds as though your own children are older than your nephew, which might give you an idea of having more experience than your brother. It also sounds as though you have more children than your brother, which might also give you the feeling of having more understanding.

While you definitely do seem to have more experience and more understanding of being a parent, it is of being a parent to your children.

I don’t doubt that your interest and love for your nephew comes from a place of good intentions however you don’t really know what is happening for your brother’s family. Perhaps they notice that their son is living to a different beat and are seeking guidance from a health professional ongoing and are not ready to discuss something they don’t yet know for sure.

Perhaps they are happily dancing to the rhythm of their young son’s timing; loving and accepting him entirely as he is.

‘Why won’t my partner tell her ex about me?’

My girlfriend has a young daughter whose time is split between her mother and father. They have an amicable relationship but so far, my girlfriend hasn’t told either of them about me. We’ve been together about a year and I’m very devoted to her, but every time I ask when she’ll tell them about me, she changes the subject. At the beginning I understood to an extent, in case things didn’t work out, but it’s a year now and I really do care for her.


Dear DM,

Thank you for your letter. Meeting someone and starting a new relationship can be one of the most exciting times in our lives. When we start a relationship with someone with a child or children then there are more people to love and more people to consider.

Introducing a child to a new partner is something that your girlfriend is taking time with. There are different things for your girlfriend to consider, when is the right time, what role will you play in her daughter’s life, what impact will it have on her ex?

It’s a good idea to introduce a child to a new partner when the relationship is stable, happy and there is a sense that there is a future together. It can be unsettling for children to be introduced to partners that they become attached to who then leave. This can impact on them deeply affecting their own ability to form long lasting relationships.

You’ve been together with your girlfriend for about a year and it sounds as though you are happy and hopeful of a future as a couple and as a family.

It might be helpful for your girlfriend to talk to her ex first about her relationship with you before she tells her daughter. This is as a courtesy to her ex, she doesn’t ‘owe’ him an explanation. It’s an event in their daughter’s life rather than being something to do with you.

It is helpful that your girlfriend has an amicable relationship with her ex. It means the child is the centre of caring people who co-parent well together. That is great for everyone’s health and wellbeing and especially for the child.

Even though your girlfriend and her ex have an amicable co-parenting relationship knowing that she has moved on might cause a sting of emotions. He might worry that he will be replaced as a dad.

You don’t mention what age your girlfriends’ daughter is exactly but mention that she is ‘young’. Children need time to accept that their parents are no longer together and to grieve for the loss of their family. That is a lot for a child of any age to adapt to without having to accept something new, without having to worry about the impact of growing to care about you and does that mean she’s betraying her dad?

As your girlfriend has taken time and not rushed to introduce you this has given her daughter an opportunity to adapt and to feel securely loved by both her parents.

Perhaps the conversation with your girlfriend is not so much about her talking to her ex and her daughter about your relationship together but you both having the discussion about the relationship you have, your hopes for the future and deciding on the level of commitment you both want.

For more of Louanne's Parenting hints and tips in celebration of Parenting Week, visit https://www.relateni.org/relieve_the_pressure

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