Dear Ann Cannon • I have a family of siblings who live out-of-state. Most are single with no children. I have taken it on (willingly!) to organize a family reunion each summer. My husband and I have a home in a vacation spot, which we have opened up to everybody in the past. As the family has expanded with nieces and nephews and even grandchildren, it has become necessary to find additional housing. Meanwhile, we like our children and their children to stay with us in our vacation home.
The problem arises with one sibling. She is single and has a small dog who can fly on the airplane with her. She is devoted to this dog (and its predecessors). It’s her life’s companion. I get that — I truly do —and her dogs have always been welcome in our home. Now that we have to find places to rent, however, the dog is not so welcome.
She has a new dog this year — young and healthy and able to stay home, in my opinion. When I told my sister that the place where she will be staying does not accept dogs, she requested to stay in our place. I told her that all of our immediate family was coming this year so that would not be an option. She got very angry and nasty, as is her way. She threatened me with, “Well, I won’t be able to come then” and “You’ve made it impossible for me to spend time with our family.”
I really want to tell her she can choose to come or not. It will get ugly, though, and I will end up being the bad guy. Any suggestions about how to handle this?
— Sick of Sibling Drama
Dear Sick of Sibling Drama • Actually, what with this pandemic thing going on, your problem might solve itself this year. I’m not sure any of us will be getting together for family reunions in the near future.
But whatever! For the record, I think your sister is being unreasonable, even though I truly do understand her attachment to her dog. Perhaps you could put the responsibility back on her shoulders and gently suggest she herself find accommodations that will work for her situation. And if that doesn’t work, you’re certainly within your rights to tell her (as kindly as possible) that while you’d love for her to join in the family’s reindeer games, she can choose to come. Or not. It’s up to her. She’s a grownup, even if she isn’t acting like one.
She may see you as the bad guy, it’s true, and you may have to live with the discomfort that will cause you. But keep this in mind — just because she sees you as the bad guy, that doesn’t mean you are the bad guy.
I hope this helps in the future when we’ll be gathering together in groups again!
Dear Ann Cannon • I have a close friend in whom I have confided all kinds of things. Lately, I have become aware that she hasn’t been particularly good about honoring my confidences. I’m both disappointed and hurt. I’m also a little angry. Should I confront her?
— Feeling Betrayed
Dear Betrayed • This is hard and I’m so sorry. Betrayal stings.
You certainly could bring up the subject with your friend if you want to. It might clear the air to hear her side of things. After all, it’s possible she didn’t realize she was sharing confidential information. A conversation would also give you a chance to set expectations so that she’ll know where you stand when it comes to keeping confidences. You might also wish to reassess how much you want to share with this friend in the future. Some people, no matter how wonderful they are, just can’t keep things to themselves.