My brother’s wife’s sister is hounding my wife, blaming her for “not supporting” our extended family.
The issue: The sister’s son’s university graduation ceremony is taking place out of town.
We weren’t forewarned until now, when it’s only three weeks away. I’ve already agreed to work that weekend (I can’t easily be replaced) and our young children have activities both those days.
Also, with the travel and hotel, there’s an expense involved.
My wife sent back a polite thank-you for the invitation, explaining that we can’t attend. We intend to send a gift. (We’ve told this to my brother’s wife, hoping she’ll pass that on to her sister).
But the sister – who’s been described as “difficult” over the years – is reportedly very upset and claims we’re showing disrespect for her whole family, including grandparents, siblings, etc.
It’s even making my brother seem uncomfortable with me.
But my wife’s bearing the brunt of the continued questioning and barbs about “why can’t he (that’s me) get someone else to work that weekend?”
She’s even said that we “don’t care about family ties” and their son’s achievement.
Are We Bad Relatives?
You’re busy, not bad. Like so many families today, you’re juggling jobs, activities, time, and finances, with lots of demands on all.
You have a relationship with your brother, but it seems his wife’s sister and family are on a different level of contact.
Otherwise, you’d have been more aware of her son’s upcoming graduation sooner, and perhaps planned a nice weekend getaway to be there for it with your wife and kids.
But now, there’s unexpected pressure to change other plans, including your work commitment, which may not even be possible.
Yet, it IS family. Some day you may feel just as desirous of having as many relatives as possible celebrating your children’s achievements, sports involvements, their weddings, etc.
So, even if you just cannot get there, apologize directly to this upset mother, send your graduation gift ahead of time, and comment enthusiastically about the photos posted from the event.
It’s the decent thing to do – a show of caring about the event and the family – which you’ll appreciate more when you’re the one wanting similar support.
I’m 65, my parents are in their 80’s. I’m an American who, when younger, avoided political discussions.
My deeper interest started with the birth of my children.
I’m now an outspoken Democrat. My parents are Republicans. My father has never brooked hearing the liberal opinions of me and two of my sisters.
We didn’t challenge him, then, because we chose to keep the peace.
Now, I’m seething at Republicans. My father sees this anger and wants to avoid it, after years of his browbeating us.
I haven’t seen my parents in two years.
I now read about issues from many sources and can debate politics with anyone, calmly. I want to do so with my father, but last time I tried, he stormed out of the house. Do I persist?
Politics vs. Parents
My answer is about the relationship: It’s an unwinnable battle.
With politics so divisive – not only in America but also in many parts of the world today – sides have often been drawn, like your father’s, years ago.
Previously, he dominated as the patriarch. In his 80s, your direct challenge could rupture the whole family’s relationships. You want to change his mind, not destroy him.
Direct your informed voice to larger political action, to affect votes, not to elderly parents who won’t listen.
FEEDBACK Regarding the Christian parents whose daughter’s in love with a Muslim (May 8):
Reader – “I won’t attempt to advise these concerned parents. As a convert to Islam and a practicing Muslim, I note that one of the highest dictates of Islam is “There is no compulsion in religion.”
“A person should read the Quran for themselves and, if they believe the teaching, that would be the time to either choose to join/accept the faith or not do so.
“While many (men and women) have converted because of a marriage interest, this isn’t the best conversion option (only Allah knows if one truly accepts the teachings).
“I believe (the problem) is more on the young man in this case. If having a practicing Muslim as a wife was his requirement for marriage, why was he dating outside his faith? A very long discussion of priorities is needed between he and the young woman.”
Tip of the day:
Family sometimes makes too many demands. But showing your interest/support in small ways can help.