My Son Excluded My Sister From His Wedding—What Should I Do?

Dear Newsweek, my son didn't invite his aunt—who is also my sister and his godmother—to his wedding. I have had issues with her for over two decades. I know I am not perfect by any means, but she has done so many horrible things to me while other family members have watched and not stood up for me.

My children have seen these things happen, seen the effects, and she hasn't been there for my kids at all. Her husband is also an alcoholic, and she sweeps that under the rug and acts like nothing is wrong.

I had many talks with our son and asked him numerous times to just invite her because not inviting her would make matters worse, but he said no each time. I'm now paying for this months later because she is ignoring me, and family members are taking her side as well as blaming me. Am I wrong in thinking that he should only have the people at his wedding who love and support him?

Son Didn't Invite Aunt To Wedding
Stock image shows a mother arguing with son, and inset is a couple walking down the aisle. A Newsweek reader has asked for advice after her son refused to invite his aunt to his wedding, widening a family rift. Liubomyr Vorona / ASphotowed/Getty Images

I have told my sister that, instead of blaming me, she should ask herself why she wasn't included. Having the family continue to take her side has taken a toll on my health and I cannot help but wonder why her side is taken and no one is there for me.

What should I do?

Shari, Unknown

Newsweek's "What Should I Do?" offers expert advice to readers. If you have a personal dilemma, let us know via We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work and your story could be featured on WSID at Newsweek.

You Shouldn't Expect Your Son To Fix The Relationship By Inviting Your Sister

Dr. Lisa Pion-Berlin is the president and CEO of Parents Anonymous Inc, an organization focusing on strengthening family relations and communities. She is also pivotal in overseeing the California Parent and Youth Helpline, and National Parent Helpline, providing emotional support to those in need.

It is understandable that you are hurt by the lack of support from your family, but blaming your son seems misdirected. You already acknowledged that your relationship with your sister is strained and lacked any good interactions for over 20 years. That's a long time.

He can invite whomever he wants to his wedding, whatever the consequences. You need to figure out a way to set healthy boundaries with your sister. Expecting your son to fix your relationship with her by inviting her to his wedding is unrealistic.

You said your children experienced problems with this aunt and are choosing to not engage with her. Your role as their mom is not to make them do something that could be detrimental to them because you think this will control her reaction. First of all, family members who are on your sister's side need to be dealt with by you. Either they want to hear you out or they are just criticizing you. Do not expect that a wedding invitation will take care of years of problems with your sister.

Your health is your first priority. If you are suffering, end all communication with her and the other family members who are mad at you. Healthy relationships begin with love and support, not continuous detrimental interactions. You need to seek support from others who listen to you and understand how you are feeling.

Trying to reason with your sister. Telling her to focus on why your son did not invite her may be totally unrealistic. If she does not accept responsibility for her actions, why would she start now? Seems that her motivation is to turn others against you, which is not very healthy.

Focus on the positives in your life. Make sure you practice self-care by maintaining healthy relationships, going outside to enjoy nature, breathe when you feel overwhelmed, double the number of breaths out to the number you take in, try meditating to soothing music and eating healthy. Remember this is your life and you have to take care of yourself first.

Family Rifts Often Go Back To Childhood

Ruth Freeman is the founder and president of Peace Ay Home Parenting Solutions, delivering classes to encourage better communication. She is also a psychotherapist who has worked with families in crisis to offer parenting education to a variety of situations.

If you want to move toward repairing the rupture in your family, there are several possibilities. You can talk with your kids and ask how the rift between yourself and your sister is affecting them. As the mom, your job is to listen with care and look for what emotions and thoughts they are having. As you listen, you should reflect these back and make sure you understand exactly how they are feeling and seeing the situation.

You can see a counselor or a therapist to understand the powerful emotions you are feeling toward your sister and perhaps put them into perspective. You need to really take the time you need to reach some calm within yourself. You don't need to rush the process—it is best accomplished with a lot of compassion toward yourself before you can demonstrate that authentically to anyone else in the family, especially your sister. Often these kinds of rifts go back to childhood and complicated relationships with parents.

When you are ready, you might ask your sister to talk or consider doing that with a trusted third party—or even with a counselor or therapist. And finally, one very well-researched strategy is called "Expressive Writing." You simply sit down every day for 10 to 15 minutes and write about all your thoughts and feelings, especially those that are causing you distress, and even those you might not tell anyone. It works to use a timer and as soon as it goes off, you tear up the paper. This process has been found to reduce anxiety and I suspect it might help you to release a lot of those intense emotions you feel about your sister. My experience with it is that it really helps with psychological flexibility—that is releasing negative thoughts with greater ease as soon as you notice them.