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Dr. Keane
Dr. Keane, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1768
Experience:  PHD LPC
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Dear Dr. Keane, I am an American single parent, living in

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Dear Dr. Keane,

I am an American single parent, living in the UK with my only child, a 14 year-old daughter. I had a particularly nasty divorce from her father, who now shares custody with me. Consequently, I get to spend little one-to-one time with her.

When my daughter and I last visited my mother in the States, My sister-in-law and her 13 year-old daughter also flew in for our visit without forewarning me. My daughter and I were expecting to have lunch with my mother, when they surprised us and asked my daughter if she wanted to go to Designer Shoe Warehouse with them. What fourteen year-old wouldn't?

Matters soon got worse. She brought my daughter back at least two hours later than she said she would, and then asked my daughter if she wanted to spend the night with them, without consulting me.

I can appreciate that my daughter wants to spend time with my cousin, but I find my sister-in-law's behavior inconsiderate and overbearing. What can I do?
Hi and welcome,

These are the times when you need to speak up for yourself. You sister in law did not consider your feelings or your mothers when she did this. In a situation like this you have every right to say thanks but we already have plans, or just No. How? You might want to call your sister in law and tell her that your daughter enjoyed the surprise however you had plans to spend the time with your mother and daughter. Let her know simply that she needs to consult with you before she asks your daughter to leave you and spend time with them. You were ambushed plain and simple. There wasn't any way to say no then without your daughter being disappointed, pretty manipulative on your sister in laws part. You could have insisted on joining them on the shopping trip and then said no when a sleep over was requested.
Make it clear to her that in the future should she want to spend time with your daughter she needs to let you know beforehand. No more surprises although she may have wanted to place you in a position so that your couldn't say no.
That is what you can and have a right to do. Speak up no matter how uncomfortable it is for you. If you find you have trouble talking to her send her an email. As long as she knows she can't do this again it doesn't matter what method it takes to get the point across.

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