Forcing human love

QUESTION: Masters I have three nieces and two nephews from my husband’s side of the family. I wish I could say I love them but I do not. I only like them a little bit of the time and I feel guilty about it. I feel like the children are indifferent towards me, there is no genuine affection. They only seem to care about the gifts we can buy. Sometimes I feel like their parents and their grandmother stands between me and the children, that way preventing us to bond. Is that a true fact? Can you please clarify the situation? I would love to have a caring and loving relationship with them as I see so many aunts saying they absolutely love their nieces and nephews. ~LíVia, Brazil

ANSWER: Why do you think you have to love them? Just because you have heard others love their relatives? You have no obligations toward them, nor they to you. Do you love every person that you have knowledge of in the world? Marriage does not convey love for relatives with the ceremony. It is a contract between the two spouses only.

Children of their age reflect what they are being told at home. Your husband’s family think you are not good enough for him and have nothing to contribute to the family. Therefore, they have instilled in the children that you are just something associated with their uncle, much like his work associates. Things will not change unless the children decide on their own that you are someone with whom they choose to share their lives.

You should not consider the actions of these people as any reflection on who you are as a person. Send them love and find someone else who needs your personal touch in their lives. Honor the fact that this branch of your extended family does not share your desires for connection and let them be.

If you crave having a close connection with more people, do volunteer work with needy people, seniors, sick and abused children, and those praying for human compassion. A person doesn’t have to be societally connected to you to become “family.”