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Dreading the holiday drama

What to do when family gatherings are more hostile than happy?

Our elder offers a simple solution for this mom and her son.

Dear EWC:

I have written before with family issues and it has really not gotten better.

My son does not want to come to my sister-in-law’s house for the holidays because my niece and nephew will be there. My niece was arrested by my job for fraud. My son never got over that. Also, my sister sends bad vibes when my son is around.

I really don’t think they understand why he doesn’t come around and I know if he does not show up for Christmas, I will be asked why he is not coming. I feel that if they want to know, they should ask him. I don’t feel it is my place to explain why my son doesn’t want to be around them.

I wish I could find the words to tell my son I want him around me during the Holiday Season and not to pay attention to my niece and nephew. Any ideas?

Nick replies:

What confuses me in your letter is that you write, “I wish I could find the words to tell my son I want him around me during the Holiday Season and not to pay attention to my niece and nephew.” Nothing you’ve written indicates that your son does not want to be around you during the Holiday season, just not around your niece and nephew. In other words, it sounds like he would like to be with you, simply not with them.
The choice seems simple: he respects your desire to visit with them, you respect his desire to have nothing further to do with them or your sister, and then, after stopping by to wish them a happy holiday, you make plans to spend the bulk of the time with your son.
If I were you I’d offer your son an invitation to visit with you, perhaps go out to dinner or a movie or whatever and give him the possibility of spending time with you in a way that respects his reasons for not wanting to make that time with them as well.

Family
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