Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Don't worry about extended family's lack of interest

Q: You gave a really thoughtful response a while back to a friend who felt like she was missing out on celebrations of her milestones ( wapo.st/1lVwmqt) because her same-age friends passed them a few years prior. I would love your take on how you would deal with this when it's family who's not reciprocating.

My husband is the youngest of five kids and our two children are the youngest grandkids of six: 18, 17, 15, 13, 5, 4. Our children's births and events aren't similarly acknowledged as were their older cousins'. I understand the grandparents' energy is much different at 75 than it was at 62 — and the aunts and uncles are now raising teenagers, who have completely different needs. Should I just not be comparing the treatment of those grandkids who came first? Do I just accept the fact that we're having a different experience?

Unequal

A: Yes, exactly. The world is a big place, and your kids' worlds are bigger than the limited world of their extended family. Where your husband's family isn't jumping in with the experiences you were hoping for, you can jump in to give your kids a different experience entirely.

Your extended family is right there and therefore seems like an option to join the gathering, which then sets you up for this disappointment you describe. If instead you see family as just a different form of unavailable, then I think you'll unlock more possibilities as well as pre-empt a lot of the hard feelings — and teach your kids the joy of flexibility versus fixed expectations.

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