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Ask Rene: My Sister And I Are At Odds Over Her Abuser Boyfriend!

3d Concept diagram wordcloud illustration of domestic violence

Ask Rene:
My Sister And I Are At Odds Over Her Abuser Boyfriend!

I have two daughters who are 6 and 8. They like to spend time at my sister’s house with their cousins who are around the same age. About a year ago, my sister’s boyfriend—who is also her kids’ father—beat her up pretty badly. I thought that was the end of the relationship, but they are back together. I don’t think my girls are in any sort of physical danger, but you never know. I put a stop to them going over to her house without me. Now my sister is mad at me. She says that her boyfriend would never hurt a child and that I’m overreacting. I’m not exactly confident about that and I don’t want my daughters to be a test case. Is there anything I can do to smooth things over?

Feeling confused

Dear Feeling confused:

Believe it or not this question (or at least a variation of it) has come across the desk of Good Enough Mother before. In my mind, there are not a whole lot of shades of gray here; I am firmly in your corner. So here’s what I would do if I were you.


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Your job is to prepare your kids for the world outside their front door. It’s also to protect them until they are capable of doing that for themselves. At 6 and 8 they are not, which means that duty falls squarely on you. You have to put their safety, mental and physical, ahead of your sister and her feelings. She’s grown woman.. if she wants to stay with a loser who doesn’t respect her enough to keep his hands off her, that’s her decision. But you need to protect your kids from that. End of story.


  1. Jacki Marie

    April 16, 2014 at 8:22 am

    People stay in abusive relationships for many many reasons. I think the sister pointing out the truth by not allowing the kids to go there because this dude is ABUSIVE (not intense, not mean, not stressed, not whatever other euphemism we use to justify his behavior) will/may help the sister come to the truth as well. BUT bottom line for this mom is her children’s well being comes FIRST! Great response, Rene.

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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