I am having a struggle with my sister as my almost 4 year old niece is the only child that I cannot seem to connect with. As understood my sister is very protective and defensive about her and I can imagine that it is inappropriate to say anything about her child. However...my niece, in all niceness, is acting like a real brat! My sister treats her as if she is this incredibly delicate flower and does not step in when my niece ignores our parents and is just flat out being a brat. My sister and I exchanged words after one of her episodes and my sister is placing the blame on my approach towards her daughter...but some of the accountability is on her and her daughter..this is starting to stress our relationship and discouraging me to want to spend time at their house as it is very difficult to be around her.
Does your neice have a father in the picture? Sometimes four year olds are just brats and mothers can get overwhelmed, especially when trying to visit with other family and relax, to get up and discipline them all the time. I myself am guilty for that! Maybe try talking man to man with the girls dad about how it's affecting the other family members and see if he can take responsibility during family get togethers. If you don't have children of your own, try to understand that 1) children go through stages, 2) parents are very sensitive when told they are not parenting well, 3) sisters don't like to be criticized by brothers! :) As for not connecting with your neice, give her your time and love and maybe you will connect or maybe not. She may grow up to have a personality that is hard for you to love but try to accept her. Your family! Hope this helps.