My wife’s father partnered with his brothers to start a family business years ago. Their kids had after-school jobs there, then worked at full-time positions after finishing their education.
My wife took great pride in being part of a successful family business. She was always learning more about their competitive market.
We were grateful for her good salary (higher than my income), but she earned every dollar she was paid.
So, she was shocked when called into the Human Resources department one day, informed that her position had been merged into another person’s responsibilities, and offered a severance package.
Not one relative had had the nerve to tell her in person about the “re-structuring” decision that was made without including her in discussions.
Two years later, she’s still feeling wounded.
It took months before she could retrieve her self-confidence to go job-hunting. Fortunately, she found a decent fit with an acceptable salary. We’re managing fine within our immediate household.
But she hasn’t been able to be more than coolly polite with relatives (not including her parents who’d retired before this event).
I understand but feel badly (as does she) that our children are no longer growing up as close to their cousins as she’d been and enjoyed, for years.
Should we reach out to her family for the kids’ sakes?
Broken Family Bond
It speaks of remarkable decency on both your parts if you two could/would make the choice to revive the family connection (with appropriate social distance).
You’re both likely more aware of how and why the family business re-structuring led to her being shut out.
One common answer is that personnel expenses needed to be pared, and your wife’s position was deemed more dispensable than\that of other executives and managers.
Or, it was a power grab by one person. This latter is much harder to forgive in a relative.
Yet, children shouldn’t be tainted by a parent’s self-interest, nor lose family relationships if they can be revived.
Enough time has passed to test reaching out… initially through virtual means.
Your wife could email those relatives with whom she was closest, and raise the idea of getting the younger-generation cousins to make contact on Zoom or other online means.
Present it as their gently getting re-acquainted - not a return, given today’s cautions, to huge family gatherings at someone’s home nor a crowd-sized barbecue party.
Be positive about your wish for the children to be comfortable with each other again, and not be constrained by family history from developing their relationships.
My “friend” gets persistently nosy and invasive when anything negative happens to me.
When my father was fighting a severe illness, she offered to lend me her best black skirt “for his funeral.”
When I got my job promotion, she asked my new salary. I stupidly told her the truth, and heard her say to her then-partner, “It’s not enough to pay for a week in a three-star hotel!”
When I separated, she phoned my ex(!) asking what ended our marriage. She’d already asked me and I’d said it was too painful to discuss.
What drives a so-called friend to want to know the most hurtful details of your personal life? Should I end contact?
There are different drives towards being nosy and negative, including: Boredom, Envy, Maliciousness.
You’re correct that she’s toxic, not a true “friend.”
Avoid personal topics, refuse to answer her questions and distance from her.
Reader’s Commentary Some thoughts from one reader’s positive-thinking response to being self-isolated during COVID-19:
Reader – “When I wake up, I realize I breathe and therefore have life.
“I hear birds singing in full chorus from my open window.
“I have "extra time" to do all the projects that there was "never time for."
“I am healthy, able to walk, and do my daily tasks.
“Money I may’ve previously spent during mindless shopping can now be forwarded to those in need.
“I have lots of time to check in with family and friends to see how they’re doing or if they need anything.
“Questions like "what really are the essentials for living?" come to mind.
“There is still life ahead, and hope for the future.”
Ellie – Thanks for these beautiful thoughts, which can hopefully sustain many of us through Covid stresses. Now, we all need determination to stay the course of social distancing to assure fewer infections and losses.
Tip of the day:
When you rise above family rifts, you’re teaching children decency and generosity of spirit.