I feel compelled to make a list of things I've done or will do to help the victims of Katrina. But, then, I am ashamed of that impulse. It seems designed just to strategically place some fig leaves over my own guilt -- selfish. So, instead, I will just add a prayer for forgiveness to my prayers for the victims, and move on to other topics.
In my current state of mind, however, I don't feel up to the funny side of my crazy family vacation stories. Once again, o wise internet dwellers, I would love your opinion on something.
My cousin and his wife have two children. The boy (C1) is 10, and the girl (C2) is 2. C1 was born before his parents were married. While neither pregnancy was planned or particularly welcome, C1 was undoubtedly less planned and less welcome. It shows even more now that his sister is on the scene. (Perhaps relevant, perhaps not: my cousin's childhood was far from ideal. His alcoholic, violent father divorced my aunt when my cousin was very young. My aunt was always very bitter, and it showed in the way she raised my cousin. His marriage and his relationship with C1 very clearly show this same pattern.)
These are both good kids, and both act as expected for their age. C1, however, can do nothing right in his parents' eyes, and C2 can do nothing wrong. C1 also bears all the responsibility for his sister and younger cousins -- his parents punish him for every rule they break.
C1 rarely attracts any positive attention from either parent. There are too many illustrative stories to share, so I will just relate the most recent. On Thursday, C1 was supposed to start 5th grade. Supposed to, but his parents didn't know that it was the first day until they happened to drive by the school, where they saw the other kids on the playground. Did he go on Friday? No, he already had a doctor's appointment on that day, so they didn't send him at all.
This is not his first year in this school.
My question is, what's my responsibility here? When the extended family is together, everyone makes an effort to encourage this boy. We all see the inequity. But we are only together once every couple of months. How do we combat the daily negative input of his parents?
**Updated to note that I have turned on the word-verification feature for comments. I got my first spam today, and I am crabby. Let me know if it's too annoying. Thanks!**