Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: My sister is 17 years older. Growing up, she and her family lived with us due to financial reasons. Because of this I am very close to my niece and nephew. Even after I got married, the kids spent weekends at my house, and if there was a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary, I would offer to take the kids. Now her kids are older (17 and 21). I have two sons who are both 6. They love their aunt and talk about her all the time. They want to know if they can go to her house and sleep over. When they see her (which is not often), they ask her for sleepovers and hang-out time. She avoids them like the plague. She has even made plans with them several times only to break them later and never make it up to them. I have told her how it is not fair to promise something and then not deliver. It bothers me that she doesn't offer me the same support that I gave her for the past decade. I was fine with bottling up my feelings but now she is hurting my kids. How can I resolve this difficult situation? All I want is for my sons to feel loved and not rejected.Rejected Mom
DEAR MOM: If you don't want your sons to feel rejected, then don't set them up for rejection. Your kids should not ask their aunt directly for "sleepovers and hang-out time" without running this idea past you first.
It is distinctly possible that your sister is selfish and disinterested. She is definitely unreliable. It is also possible that like many parents of older offspring, she cannot fathom hosting young kids (and two 6-year-olds, no less). One child at a time might be easier for her to manage.
You sound like a wonderful aunt (and sister). The benefit of this is in the relationship you share with your sister's kids. Life, however, does not offer balanced quid pro quo, and understanding and accepting this is a life lesson to pass along to your sons, without focusing on the sting of rejection.