Dear Ann Cannon • I have a close family, though we are spread out geographically and I cannot visit with my sisters more often than every few years. One of my brothers-in-law verbally and cruelly attacked President Obama and I have not been able to get over it. I stopped communicating with him altogether. Recently I saw a picture of my sister and her husband and was shocked to see how frail he has become. How should I respond? Should I stand on my principles? Or should I cave and visit them? I don’t want to have any regrets.
Dear Sister-in-Law • If you don’t want to have any regrets, then you should visit your sister and brother-in-law. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with his sentiments. In fact, I wouldn’t bring up politics at all, and if he tries to do so when you go for a visit, tell him kindly but firmly that you’d rather leave that particular discussion at the door.
In my humble opinion, reaching out to someone with whom you bitterly disagree isn’t the same thing as caving — especially in a situation like this. Not at all. If anything, it speaks to a certain maturity. Besides, I’m pretty sure your sister will very much appreciate the gesture.
Dear Ann Cannon • We recently held our first (and probably only) grandchild. How do I not become the annoying grandma who bores everyone with pictures of the cutest and most advanced baby ever born?
— Happy but Annoying
Dear Happy • First, congratulations! Second, who cares if you’re annoying? Having a grandchild is a totally wonderful thing. Feel free to share your pictures with the whole wide world is what I’m saying.
Dear Ann Cannon • I am a single woman who finds herself at an age where all of my friends are married and have kids except me. A friend of mine recently told me she’s pregnant, and I had a bit of a crisis about the fact that all my friends are at a different stage in their life than I am and feeling distant from them because of it. How do I bridge the gap and maintain relationships with my friends who are married moms?
— Single in Salt Lake City
Dear Single • Most of us have had a version of this experience — where relationships shift because personal circumstances change. And as you point out, it can be challenging to navigate this territory, particularly if those relationships have been especially meaningful to you and you’ve always relied on things to be a certain way between you and your friends.
Change is hard.
So, what can you do? Start from a place of acceptance. As much as you’d like to recreate the friendship you had before a spouse and kids arrived on the scene, things have changed. Suddenly the friend with whom you used to discuss music is now obsessed with finding the right baby stroller. As it turns out, babies take up a LOT of conversational oxygen. Frankly, you’re just not going to have as much in common with your friend as you used to. At least for a while.
Is it okay to feel bad about this? Sure. Go ahead and acknowledge to yourself that you’re going to miss the way things used to be. Grieve a little, even. Honor the friendships you had for what they were and what they meant to you, then … move on.
Continue to reach out to old friends while understanding that it’s probably going to be harder for you to get together. Make new friends whose interests and lifestyles more closely resemble yours. In the end, doing these things will make your world bigger and your life richer.