Hostile relative

This has little to do with MS and everything to do with families. I’ve written a bit before about my uncle. He’s done some wonderful things for me as far as handyman work and adaptations to my house, but he’s also very outspoken and demanding.

He’s my late father’s youngest brother, and I’d had very little contact with Dad for the last 30 years of his life because of his toxic treatment of me and my kids. A side effect of that was that we just didn’t have any contact with anyone on that side of the family. Well, my uncle and I reconnected last summer, and I’ve enjoyed having that connection again. My aunt is the sweetest person around.

However, Uncle Bob is becoming so offensive and opinionated that he’s begun stressing me out. My kids have stopped coming around when he’s here, which means that I have to leave my aunt and uncle out of holiday celebrations and hold separate get-togethers with just them. My mum is a big help on these days, but she and Bob wind up having loud arguments because he is very political and just turns every conversation into a disagreement.

When he sees my adult kids, he can’t just say “Hi! How’ve you been”. It’s “Did you get a job yet? I mean a REAL job, not that one that you currently have.” And then he’ll start telling them that they HAVE to get rid of their friends, move to a new house, etc., and if the kids just walk away, Bob then turns to the rest of us and goes on about how WE have to FORCE them to do things his way. This is every single time he’s around. If the kids bring their friends, he does the same things to them.

Making matters worse is that he calls me several times a week to continue this train of thought. One of his favorites is telling me that he doesn’t believe there’s no cure for MS and that if I’d just see more doctors, take more tests, and get more exercise then all my problems would go away. If he’s not on that subject, then he’s trashing my kids.

My son moved back home last summer because of very similar problems to mine, and he’s regularly seen and tested by a variety of specialists. They’ve already identified a number of issues (IBS, liver failure, vitamin deficiencies due to malabsorption issues, possible Lupus, extreme sleep apnea) and are still looking for more. Uncle Bob has begun yelling at me on the phone that my son is lying to me about all of these things, that he’s just lazy and needs psychiatric help.

The icing on the cake was when Son skipped a small gathering of out-of-state cousins the other day when Bob was present. Bob called me the next day and was positively SHOUTING over the phone that this anti-social behavior was proof that my (very gentle, non-violent) son was unstable and was going to hurt me someday and that I need to kick him out immediately and put him on psychiatric medication. He was so extreme that I thought he was going to have a stroke. I have been in bed for 2 days now with aches and pains I haven’t had in months. I’m having nightmares. My blood pressure’s up. My limbs aren’t working right. I haven’t told the kids any of this because they already dealt with similar issues with my dad, and this just brings it all back.

I don’t want to take the step of telling Bob that I’m cutting him out of my life, but I can’t continue this way. I don’t know how to get it through his head that he’s insulting, rude, argumentative, and mean, and that I can’t deal with his hostility. Any suggestions for dealing with someone like this? He’s 76, didn’t marry until 32, and has never had children.

He’s an ornery old cuss, isn’t he? Maybe he’s losing his marbles or maybe he’s just getting more so with age. Either way, this won’t do. It can be instructive to ask yourself what you would advise a good friend in that situation. Your advice would likely be good, and you should think about taking it.


Hi NorasMom,

This sounds really tough, there will be implications whichever way you proceed. I can not offer suggestions or advice as I do not know the people involved and have not had to deal with anything like this in my life.
I will happily share an opinion based solely on my life and what you have written. (sorry if I have misunderstood anything) [I also agree with Alison]

I think you will be worse off if you spoil the relationship with your children. There may be benefits in having reestablished contact with Bob but the costs sound far too high to me.
You have enough on your plate without dealing other peoples negativity.

I will shut up and let you ponder how you would advise a close friend in a similar situation.

Sending virtual hugs and my very best wishes, hoping you can go forward without too much grief.

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Pretty! What’s the little bird? Are those whole peanuts in the feeder?

I know I’m going to have to shut him down, but I’m dreading it. I was so happy to have them back in my life, but I can’t let him do this to any of us. It’s even stressing out my mother.

I should also probably clarify that neither of my kids has ever been a problem child. They were decent students, active in Scouts for many years, and both went to college and then lived and worked in our nearest city for several years before moving back to our hometown. There’s no logical basis for my uncle’s constant accusations against them.

I think the little cutie might be a juvenile great tit but I am not 100%. They are whole peanuts but the birds can only nibble bits through the gauze.

It sounds as if Bob has issues that he needs to get sorted, if it is causing you, your kids and your mum grief, no one needs this. Good luck with sorting this out, maybe have a good friend with you if you can.

Hello NM

I’m sorry I can’t add to Alison and Micks words. I suspect you already know what you need to do. I’m sure your priority is your children.

I hope you can resolve matters in a way that means you are less stressed. As you know, stress and MS don’t make good bedfellows.