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Carolyn Hax: Tell brothers to be adults or leave

Carolyn Hax Washington Post

Dear Carolyn: My brother “Gabe” is gay. My other brother, “Steve,” is straight (and very socially conservative). When Gabe came out 10 years ago, Steve went through a whole dramatic “You are dead to me” thing and since then has not wasted an opportunity to embarrass/antagonize Gabe at family events, including my wedding. (When pushed hard enough, Gabe is no angel either.)

I remain close to both brothers and really hate that they lower themselves to this behavior. I think they will really regret it if they never make peace.

Big question: As apparently the only sane sibling, do I stand a chance at helping them fix this?

Small question: I’m throwing a big party for my kid’s fifth birthday (a big-deal birthday because she overcame leukemia and wasn’t expected to live to see it). She loves both of her uncles, but they have already proved they won’t curb bad behavior for special occasions. Who gets the invite? – Big Question, Small Question

While you make a point of saying Gabe is no angel (despite your choice of pseudonym?), the real antagonist here, by your account, is Steve. That means any time you have to choose between the brothers/uncles, Steve is out. Easy one.

However, whether you indeed have to choose between uncles in this case is not an easy one at all. Your kid is 5 years old, innocent, loves them both, and also happens to be a one-person affirmation of life. As such, she is the ideal means by which to slap both uncles upside the head, figuratively speaking:

So you invite them both. You explain that if either one of them uses this occasion to advance his grudge so much as a millimeter, then the offending uncle will officially be dead to you with respect to future invitations. Then back it up: They act like adults or suffer the consequences. Taking a principled stand on the small questions will collectively answer the big.

Chat with Carolyn online at 9 a.m. Pacific time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.
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