Family Relations/cousins

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hello David,

I feel really stuck as a parent. I have two sons aged 10 and 17. They are both bright , sweet and kind kids with hearts of gold.
On my husband's side, there are many boys who fall into the same age bracket of 10 yrs old so my son often enjoys going to visit at family occasions, like Christmas which just passed.  
For the most part, things go ok when he is there, except when it comes to my sister in laws' 2 sons who are 13 and 10.
They make fun of him , treat him poorly, leave him out of plans and make him feel really badly about himself and he feels very out of place.
We've spoken to my sister in Law about this several times. We've even sat down with the boys often and tried to sort this out with them as well and no matter how much we try, nothing seems to work out.
It has gotten so bad this year we cancelled our xmas plans to visit them to avoid our son having to feel badly or be treated badly by them.
We all met at a neutral place this year where the group was monitored when they were around our son but since then we found out the moment we left the boys were again speaking poorly of our son.
My nephews are challenging. Very spoiled , act out all the time and never get punished but they really seem to enjoy making my son feel bad the most.
I have had endless fights and discussions with my husband about this, asked him to help find a solution but we don't know what else to do. This has essentially placed a huge wedge in family get togethers as nothing is ever done about their behaviour.
We've tried to reach out often. Tried to invite them here for play dates, pool time.. anything we could and no matter what they are rude to us, to our son.
I don't know what to do anymore. I am so frustrated with them and I am so torn up over my poor son feeling bad all the time.
Can you help?

Answer
Leslie,
Instead of trying to change people you have no influence over, why not use your influence and change the things around you. This would mean teaching your son to be a bit tougher. You will not always be around to protect him so he is going to need to learn how to handle adversity sooner or later. This is an opportunity to teach him some life lessons while you are around and he is still teachable. I also think that you limit time with this family. If they are not willing to influence their sons in a more positive way then it's probably a family you shouldn't interact with much. Simply leaving when your son has a hard time teaches your son to not stand for himself and teaches him to rely only on you when things are tough. This is a pattern you don't want him to get stuck in as he becomes older. So if you are with these people and bad behavior happens then confront it in front of everyone and then see what happens. It may make people uncomfortable, but your son will see confrontation can be done.
David
www.help4life.net

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Dr. David Simonsen

Expertise

I am a licensed Marriage & Family therapist with a Ph.D. in Psychology. I work primarily with teens and families on a weekly basis. You will get the straight truth. I will not pull punches.

Experience

I have been working daily with teens and families for the last 10 years.

Organizations
AAMFT; AACC; WAMFT

Education/Credentials
M.S. in Marriage & Family Therapy; Ph.D. Psychology

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