Ex­tend­ing an olive branch

Cape Breton Post - - IN MEMORIAM/ADVICE - Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar An­nie’s Mail­box is writ­ten by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, long­time edi­tors of the Ann Lan­ders col­umn. Please email your ques­tions to an­nies­mail­box@cre­ators.com, or write to: An­nie’s Mail­box, c/o Cre­ators Syn­di­cate, 73

Dear An­nie: I come from a large fam­ily. We haven’t had any truly rough times, but our sis­terin-law is prov­ing to be a prob­lem for me.

“Jen­nifer” has never liked me. At her wed­ding, my other sib­lings were at­ten­dants, but not me. She of­ten in­vites my sib­lings for din­ner, but never me.

I could live with that, but I am both­ered by the way she treats my mother.

My brother has five chil­dren. For years, my mother has babysat for free. She at­tends all their events to show her sup­port. She in­vites the kids to fun ac­tiv­i­ties. Mom re­cently took on a full-time job and can no longer babysit.

Jen­nifer al­ways seemed a lit­tle jeal­ous of how close Mom is to the kids, and now she’s found a way to ex­clude her. Jen­nifer has stopped com­mu­ni­cat­ing with ei­ther of my par­ents. She de­clines in­vi­ta­tions to fam­ily events at my par­ents’ house, and won’t in­vite them any­where. She won’t tell them when the kids’ events are. Last week, Mom saw Jen­nifer at the gro­cery, and she wouldn’t look at her or say hello.

Jen­nifer’s at­ti­tude is hav­ing an ef­fect on my brother. He’s start­ing to be­have the same way. This is aw­ful for my mother and an in­jus­tice to the kids. Mom is too nice to say any­thing, and if I speak up, it will only make things worse.

My older sis­ter has told me that I will soon be ex­cluded from any fam­ily event in­volv­ing Jen­nifer if I don’t “change my ways.” I don’t un­der­stand what I have done wrong or how to fix it. Could you please give me some sug­ges­tions? — Frus­trated

Dear Frus­trated: We don’t know what you have “done wrong,” other than to re­spond to Jen­nifer in the same neg­a­tive way she re­sponds to you. But we can tell you that im­prov­ing the re­la­tion­ship will re­quire ma­jor ef­fort from you, since Jen­nifer is un­likely to bother.

Please talk to your older sis­ter and ask her to ex­plain what might help you get along bet­ter with Jen­nifer. Don’t crit­i­cize her. Be sin­cere. Do this for your mother’s sake, and see if any­thing works to get this sis­terin-law to be­have with more com­pas­sion. (And shame on your brother for per­mit­ting his wife to treat Mom this way.)

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