Tell Me About It: Sister blows off nephew's nups

Question: A couple of years ago, when my two nieces married, I organized my two sons and flew cross-country to attend their weddings.

This year, my son is getting married and my sister is blowing it off. She said she's too busy with her job as a teacher, but I note they've taken midyear golf vacations.

I am considering phoning her to say it's a family duty, but my son's fiancee said if they aren't enthusiastic, she doesn't want them there anyway.

Should I guilt my sister into coming, or realize our family isn't as tight as I thought?

Answer: When you offer up "guilt (someone) into (something)" as one of only two choices, then you make mine the easiest job ever.

This is not an either-or question, though. Families are too complicated. So are people, finances, travel, careers, and a few other relevant things.

For starters, while it's wonderful and important that you and your boys rallied for these weddings, and while I completely get your hurt feelings, it's not fair to unilaterally set "travel cross-country for weddings" as the bar your sister must clear to prove family devotion.

Then there's the fact that you can't fully know her circumstances. Maybe they're broke. Maybe she never expected you to rally for her girls' weddings. Maybe you and she have different ideas of how important wedding attendance is.

If it's so important to have your sister there, or if you found her "no" dismissive, call her to talk with, not lecture, her. Isn't it your "family duty" not to draw hasty conclusions, but instead to share your feelings (without blaming her for them!) and open your mind to hers?

My advice? Keep the door propped open. Family priorities have a way of shifting with time.


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Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.