Dear Annie: I come from a large family. Between birthdays, religious holidays and graduations, there are lots of family events. My family and I always make an effort to attend these milestones, sometimes traveling six hours or more.
The problem is, when I host similar events for my two children, my relatives feel their attendance is optional. If one of their kids has a soccer game, they don’t bother to come. My kids are just as busy as theirs, but we make it a priority to celebrate major occasions such as a high school graduation. We feel it is important to get to know one’s extended family, including grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Three siblings and most of my nieces and nephews didn’t attend my daughter’s high school graduation because of minor sporting activities. My 26-year-old niece told me she couldn’t take time off from work, yet a week later, managed to take two days off to visit her uncle’s vacation home.
I have had only two major events for my kids in the past 18 years, but it seems my family members come only if nothing better is going on. I am hurt by this, but my siblings say I am too sensitive. Should I be teaching my children that a weekend soccer game is more important than celebrating our family members’ special times? – Last Resort Sibling
Dear Sibling: Relatives consider some events more important than others – a high school graduation might strike them as meaningful only to the parents, but they wouldn’t dream of skipping your child’s wedding. And in a large family, it is difficult to attend everything. We think it’s wonderful that you show up for all these events, but it is unrealistic to expect your siblings to do the same. Please let it go.