Far-Away Family Insists On Yearly Visits
DEAR HARRIETTE: It is way too expensive to visit my family, but they get deeply offended if I don't. I live in New York, and my family lives in Hawaii. They never offer to buy my ticket, but they insist that I come and stay with them once or twice a year. I simply can't afford it. I have kids to travel with, limited time off and a demanding job. What should I do? -- Too Expensive
DEAR TOO EXPENSIVE: Evaluate how often you can afford to visit your family. You should include this in your budget. Establish a frequency that works for you. For example, maybe you can go every other year, and perhaps not everyone can make the trip. Figure out what you can do, and let your family know. Be clear. When they balk, counter with the truth: You cannot afford to visit annually, let alone more often than that. Outline what you can do, and stay firm.
Of course, the bottom line is that they miss you and want to spend time with you. Use technology to help with that. Suggest weekly video calls with your family so that you can see and talk to each other. Find ways to connect so that you can feel close even though you are far away. But do not stress yourself out by committing to spend more than you can afford.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My immediate family and I have been bickering lately. I don't think that anybody is right or wrong, but there has been constant sniping about trivial issues for the past two weeks. A distant relative is currently staying with us, and they keep butting into our arguments. Of course, they take my parents' side automatically, but I think they should just stay out of it. They are still staying with us. Should I tell them to butt out? -- Mind Your Business
DEAR MIND YOUR BUSINESS: It is hard for people to stay out of the swirl of controversy when they are in the midst of it. You are fighting a losing battle if you try to get them to back off, especially if they are siding with your parents. What you may want to do instead is ask your parents if you can contain the ongoing debate to the immediate family. Ask them if you can find ways to speak privately about whatever issues creep up between you without involving your relative.
If that doesn't work, consider disengaging from the debate. You said yourself that the issues are trivial. Why not drop it entirely? Stop fussing. Stop reacting to the triggers. Take a deep breath and say nothing, no matter who tries to light the fuse. Move on. If you don't engage, chances are, things will quiet down. By the way, if you address the issue and do your part to fix it, that is a more effective way of ending the chatter. As they say, actions speak louder than words.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)
Copyright 2022, Harriette Cole