My cousin married a nice guy she’d dated since high school in their same small town. Athletic, he enjoyed his position as a gym teacher, and the friendship of people he’d known all his life.
Everyone in their community was happy to be included in their summer barbecues and other get-togethers.
Tragically, he died in a car accident at 39, leaving my cousin with two children to raise alone. She needed to immediately get a job to sustain all the bills for household and children’s needs.
Three years later, she met a man from another part of the country, who’d moved to her town. He’s ten years older than her, and a self-made businessman. His family was poor when they first moved from their home country, but raised their son to be ambitious and work hard.
He loves my cousin and her children, showing them sincere caring, helping with homework, always gentle. He bought bikes for the whole family to enjoy “adventure rides” on weekends.
Despite their happiness, most of my cousin’s former friends have distanced from this man. They’re also seeing much less of my cousin by being “too busy.”
I’ve witnessed this rejection at a couple of local gatherings. Her new husband introduces himself to another man, who soon walks away.
I’ve tried to figure it out: He’s comfortable financially due to his own hard work building a company from the bottom up. But he’s not showy or a braggart.
His people immigrated here, so his childhood background is “different.” He’s also got two university degrees because his parents scrimped on their own needs, believing “education is key to success.”
My cousin loves this man but is very hurt by the coldness to him which has also affected her children’s friendships.
How can I help my cousin change this situation?
People who distance themselves from “the other” - whether based on their race/religion/politics or all of these - don’t change easily.
Also, there’s the economic factor. The “new guy” came along, is very successful and can afford to be generous. But the locals are used to commonalities in everyone’s social level in their tight friendship circle.
Mostly, like this man’s family, newcomers do everything possible for their children to be able to adapt successfully. It’s often the first-generation born in the new country, who get involved in the community... e.g., the school board, an environmental issue, hospital charity drives, etc. He could show interest in participating this way.
But if nothing works to thaw this cold reception affecting even the children, the family should weigh the benefits/losses of moving.
FEEDBACK Regarding a mother’s “hidden truths” (July 25):
Reader- “Many of us who grew up in US or Canada have absolutely no knowledge what hardships our parents and grandparents faced growing up.
“The most likely simple fact is that the letter-writer’s mother wanted the best life possible for her children. Whether it was right or wrong, denying her own heritage may be what she honestly felt was best. (Ellie - and, she likely hoped, what would be safest for her children).
“I believe this daughter should not proceed forward with blaming her mother for her silence on the family’s history, but proceed instead toward understanding the background reasons.
‘It’s very likely that some of the “new relatives” the daughter discovered may be able to help her and her siblings to finally understand their family history.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman unloved by her father (July 16):
Reader- “Protect yourself. Walk away. Otherwise, you’ll affect the good relationships with your close family.
“You’re addicted to “the fight” over feeling wronged. But your father, step-mother and others, can’t/won’t change.
“Realize that you’re fighting a losing battle, then go on with your own life. I’ve endured many troubles when my father was unsupportive. It took many decades for me to get that he doesn’t love me the way I thought fathers should love their children.
‘He considered my sister and me as our mother’s children, and didn’t care in an emotional or supportive way.
“Finally, I left the drama behind. It was difficult for a week. Then, my world unexpectedly opened up to enjoy/appreciate everything.
“My anger and hurt faded more each day better. Fifteen years later, I’m grateful for having walked away. Happiness replaced drama.
“Don’t deny your entitlement to happiness.”
Tip of the day:
Small-minded people do their community and its children a disservice through mean, petty, and ignorant prejudices against race, religion and wrongly-assumed politics of immigrant “outsiders.”