Dear Annie: I’m the youngest of 10 siblings. Most of my brothers and sisters are much older, and I was raised primarily with “Sara and Tina,” who often bullied and hit me. Consequently, my mother would not leave me alone with them, and my sisters grew to resent the closeness I had with Mom.
I have always loved my nieces and nephews and have been attentive to their birthdays and celebrations. But when my 4-year-old daughter died, neither Tina nor Sara called to see how we were or offered to take my young son for some time away from his depressed parents. When I asked them why, they became defensive and said I always make them feel inferior. My older siblings agree that Sara and Tina are jealous of me, but they made no effort to intervene and simply told me to ignore them. So I did.
Sara, Tina and I live in the same city. Four years ago, I had another baby, and they never came to see us. At that point, I cut them off altogether.
Yesterday, I received an invitation to a family reunion. I don’t want to go. I don’t consider these people my family any longer, and it will only hurt to see that I’ve always been the outsider. My son is 12 and my daughter is 7, and they don’t know any of my siblings. What do you think? – Thought I Was Part of a Large Family
Dear Thought: When there is a large age gap between siblings, it can be difficult to form a close bond. And because you seem to have focused all of your efforts solely on Tina and Sara, you believe that none of your siblings has any interest in you. While you are not obligated to attend a family reunion, this is a lot of family to ignore.
We suggest you attend, but give Tina and Sara only a brief acknowledgment, and then try to spend time getting to know your other siblings and their children.