Overcoming the parent-nonparent divide

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November 26, 2018 - 9:24 AM

Dear Carolyn: I’ve always had a warm and close relationship with my sister-in-law. Then, she had a baby, and everything changed. She seems to resent me if I talk about things I’m doing for fun. She’ll say things like, “It must be nice to have that much free time,” or ends conversations quickly if I mention a new hobby or somewhere cool I went. She’s also totally unwilling to socialize without bringing her now-toddler, despite having an involved husband and tons of available family to baby-sit. I’ve specifically asked her to do something one-on-one with me, only to have her show up with the toddler, which makes it basically impossible to talk.

She knows I’m happily child-free, but I try very hard to support her and be there for her however I can — baby-sitting, bringing meals when she was pregnant — and I try to be very affirming of her parenting choices, since I know it can be a hostile world out there for moms. I also try to keep our conversations focused more on her and how she’s doing.

But when she inevitably asks me what I’ve been up to, I feel like I can’t say anything without offending her. It just doesn’t seem like we have anything in common anymore. Will we ever be close again? Or is the child-free/child-having divide too much to overcome? — Missing Sister-in-Law

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