Ask Amy: Does family equal love?

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • July 6, 2013 - 2:00 PM

Dear Amy: I have often heard that we must love our family — no matter what.

Love to me means (at the minimum) mutual respect, compassion, kindness, joy and truth.

If there is someone in your family who does not have these attributes, do you have to “love” them?

I have a very large family and there are some that I can truly say I do not love. Some of them I don’t even like.

With the family members I am close to, I can meet up with them and it feels like not a second has gone by since our last meeting. We enjoy crushing embraces and long, wonderful talks. With the family members I am not close to, our relationship is strained. When we are together, I always engage with them because I do care, even if I don’t like them very much.

I am interested to find out if other families have this same situation and struggle with the concept of love — or if they just shrug it off to keep the family peace. What do you think?

Amy says: No, you don’t have to love — or like — every member of your family. What you do have to do, occasionally, is tolerate them. The situation you describe is common to just about every family I know, including my own.

Families are like any group of people — some people are awesome, some are troublesome and some can make you feel like every family gathering is Satan’s cocktail party. This beautiful and challenging complication is what keeps therapists (and advice-givers) in business.

Stop the baby talk

Dear Amy: I am fairly happy with my boyfriend. The problem is he often speaks in baby talk. He always talks to my Labrador retriever using this tone of voice — and the problem is that occasionally he talks to me that way, too!

I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but I really do want to let him know how much this bothers me. Can you help?

Amy says: As a person who talks to all animals using a squeaky chew-toy voice, I must advocate for this eccentricity — but only when directed toward animals (and human babies). You should feel comfortable enough to raise this issue with your boyfriend — but only as it pertains to you (not your dog).

You say, “Can I tell you about a habit you have that bothers me?” Keep it simple and ask him if he could be more aware of it. He then gets to tell you about a habit you have that bothers him. If you two are able to communicate and make small adjustments on the other person’s behalf, it bodes well for your future.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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