Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Don't overreact to disappointment with family by severing ties

Q: I've always been the one in my family to give whenever possible. When I went to college I took on student loans so my sister wouldn't have to. A few years later, when her car died, I purchased a new one and gave her mine. When family needed help, I was always there.

Now I'm trying to purchase a house and no one seems the least bit interested in helping me. I swallowed my pride and asked for financial assistance, even if it was a "loan," and was told tough toenails.

Would it be wrong for me to cut my family out of my life? I feel as if I was the great son whenever I went out of my way to help, but now I'm just some annoyance.

Always the Giver

A: It would be wrong, because it's the family version of going nuclear in response to, technically, a first offense.

There is a qualifier for sure: For you to have been so giving in the past, and for you now to be receiving zero sympathy from your family, suggests this isn't a first offense so much as an awakening to the possibility you've been taken for granted for quite some time.

Nevertheless, your awakening — "Wow, my family isn't what I've always thought it was" — is resounding in its banality, except perhaps in degree. What young adult doesn't experience that first moment of seeing childhood assumptions through adult eyes and thinking, "Ouch"?

If everyone reacted to that pain by deciding to sever all ties to family, then we'd have to redefine family from "emotional core" to "food and shelter till the day we can bust out and not look back."

That's some bankrupt stuff, especially for a man with a generous heart.

So please look at your family with some of your signature generosity: Consider, say, that they'd have helped if they were able, but aren't right now. Maybe they didn't explain this out of shame. Maybe you didn't anticipate this because you've long been seeing the family you want to see, and not the one you have.

Or, maybe they always saw your sacrifices as thoughtful but ill-advised, and didn't try to stop you because they were letting you be you — something else you could have missed by seeing them as you wanted to see them.

Or, maybe they're exactly the takers you see them for now — but isn't it sad for them, in that case, to lack the emotional range to appreciate the beauty in giving?

No matter which revised view of your family is accurate, you can maintain your integrity without cutting ties by: expressing your disappointment and listening to their response; waiting to see what else you learn about your family with this new information in mind; remaining in touch but saving your generosity for people who appreciate and reciprocate it; and ...

Remaining generous knowing you can't expect the same of your family or anyone else.

Giving as a transaction isn't giving. The only return on true giving is to feel good, and if you don't feel good, then don't do it.

These people made you the giver you are. Consider letting this latest experience with them make you emotionally smarter about your gifts, instead of just angry and gone.

Comments

Tell Me About It: Addressing the party no-show epidemic

Q: My family recently celebrated our son’s birthday. We had a number of guests RSVP "yes" to our invitation who not only didn’t show, but also didn’t even have the decency to contact us to let us know. It’s been a week since the party.This left us wi...
Published: 04/24/18

Tell Me About It: Sister’s remark is a teaching opportunity

My husband’s sister, "Kate," is expecting her second child. They have a 3-year-old girl. My husband and I have two girls, 8 and 6. At our house this week, Kate talked extensively about her hopes that this next baby is a boy. Some of her reasons are c...
Published: 04/23/18

Tell Me About It: Mom fears she has discussed sex too soon

Q: This week I was in a discussion with a bunch of other third-grade parents about what our kids know about sex. The vast majority of these parents said their children were "clueless" and they wanted to maintain their kids’ innocence. I was one of th...
Published: 04/22/18
Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain talks breakup, reunion, getting sober and returning to St. Petersburg

Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain talks breakup, reunion, getting sober and returning to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — HGTV fanatic that he is, Spencer Chamberlain sees a metaphor for his band in the ever-evolving St. Petersburg skyline."When you go downtown and you look at the ONE, that used to be a dirt parking lot," said the singer, referring to a...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of April 23-29

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of April 23-29

St. Anthony’s Triathlon: World class athletes and Olympians race around St. Petersburg’s Vinoy Park on Sunday ($160-$180), while kids and novices race Saturday in the Meek and Mighty. A free kick-off celebration Friday has a concert by co...
Published: 04/23/18

Tell Me About It: Family reconsiders taking group trips

Q: Should there be expectations about taking vacations/trips with other family members? We have two issues:(1) We have three kids, including teenagers, and my brother and wife have two kids. The younger is 6. My wife and I find it hard to plan someth...
Published: 04/20/18
On its 20th anniversary, Disney's Animal Kingdom credits conservation with longevity

On its 20th anniversary, Disney's Animal Kingdom credits conservation with longevity

ORLANDO — When Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened 20 years ago, it was light on thrills and heavy on conservation. On April 22, 1998, Earth Day, the Orlando park had a single thrill ride, Countdown to Extinction, and a handful of shows like ...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18

Tell Me About It: How to deal with conversation dominators

Q: We have a few relatives, including a sibling, who we don’t see or hear from often, as we are busy or live far away. We meet over a meal or for an hour or so, or at family gatherings requiring a drive, and I am so frustrated that they dominate the ...
Published: 04/19/18
Huge concert week in Tampa: Foo Fighters, Kenny Chesney, 98 Rockfest, more

Huge concert week in Tampa: Foo Fighters, Kenny Chesney, 98 Rockfest, more

PURE NIRVANA: Foo FightersDave Grohl may be America’s last unquestioned rock god. He’s played with Kurt Cobain and Jimmy Page, Tom Petty and Trent Reznor and St. Vincent, and he also leads a pretty decent group — perhaps you’ve heard of them — called...
Published: 04/18/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Plan your weekend: Kenny Chesney, ‘The Producers’ in the park, Mainsail Art Fest, Sugar Sand Fest, Earth Day

Plan your weekend: Kenny Chesney, ‘The Producers’ in the park, Mainsail Art Fest, Sugar Sand Fest, Earth Day

The top things to do April 20 to 22 in Tampa, St. Petersburg and the whole Tampa Bay area.
Published: 04/18/18