The problem: My two adult children were close at one time, but are now at odds over choices my son has made. His sister is so infuriated that she doesn’t want to spend any family time with him, and her husband probably feels the same way. She has two children whom I adore. My strategy has been to invite everyone to my occasional family meals/parties because I refuse to exclude anybody. If they don’t want to come, I guess I’ll just have to deal with it. How can I help them get along respectfully without having to hire a therapist for the whole darn family?
Low road: Cut the whole darn family out of your will.
High road: We expect that our kids will graduate from exhausting sibling rivalry once they hit adulthood, but that’s not always the case. Some sibs remain close and supportive; others drift away because of spouses, kids and jobs, but can pick up effortlessly at the holidays. And some grow apart due to long-simmering resentments.
Therapy’s a good idea, if you can get them all there, which, at the moment, sounds like a big if. I’m guessing your daughter is more protective as a mother than she was as a sister. Maybe your son’s antics, whatever they are, seemed funny once. Now she just thinks they’re dangerous. Staying away is her decision to make.
Your decision is right for you. If your son is a bit lost, he needs a solid champion to steer him back when he’s ready. Let them both know your house is a welcoming one. Siblings who once were close can be close again, perhaps as they age, watch you age and become less sure of everything. In the end, all we have is family.
Send questions about life’s little quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at startribune.com/highroad.