Hi all -sorry this is LONG-
I have a sibling that has exhibited signs of bipolar & more so, narcissistic behavior for many, many years, though sadly, does not recognize it in herself and cannot seem to "hear" or accept overtures made for her to help herself. The long and short of interaction with her is limited to holidays & brief gatherings spent walking on eggshells. Even a few days per year leaves a year's worth+ of frustration for everyone she comes into contact with. As a newlywed in my 30s, my husband and I are starting to think about having a family very soon, and after more of the same at Christmas this year, we're trying to figure out how we can protect our future children from her behavior and influence while still exposing them to the family we love (my parents, her husband and two remarkably well-adjusted young children we both adore).
Holidays gatherings are marked by tension and eventually are controlled around her moods or lack of time management. I could go on and on with anecdotal evidence of the affronts she wages, insulting condescension she makes, and deluded manipulation of situations she causes over insignificant matters. Her husband is a very sweet man, but completely passive and it's difficult to tell if he is snowed by her lies or just a husk of a man too tired to deal with it anymore. I'd like to ask him what he thinks can be done to help her for the sake of her kids, but I wouldn't want it to get back to her if he is seriously still buying into the BS. Her young kids are what make the family gatherings meaningful and probably what keeps them going in the first place.
I have heard it's best to cut off siblings or relatives that create constant drama - as in zero contact - but that could mean losing contact with her kids, which would be devastating to my parents, my husband and myself, and unfair to future kids who should know their cousins. I worry for her kids, growing up around a person that behaves like a child herself (frequent pouting, tearful outbursts over silly things like where her old toys are in my parents basement, berating her kids for things like "bunny ears" or silly faces in pictures, comparing the values of Christmas gifts, making up lies about how our parents basically marginalize her in deluded ways that cannot be true, etc)... my husband is adamant that he does not want our future kids to be around that sort of thing, but that could be at the cost of not seeing family we do love and care about.
What can we do? I'd like to see about an intervention to help her get well, but I think that's difficult with mental illnesses.
Has anyone had any experience balancing these fragile relationships or at least a safe one from a healthy distance so my kids can know their grandparents and cousins. Definitely need help, advice, anything. Thank you so much.