Los Angeles Times

Trying to get at the truth

- Email questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@ amydickins­on.com.

Dear Amy: My adult son made an excuse to not attend an extended-family holiday gathering, but I have reason to believe he may have lied to me.

He and his wife have not attended this annual party for several years, because some years they lived out of state, which I understand.

However, they now live within driving distance.

Everyone in the family gets along fine, and our time together is very enjoyable.

As far as I know, no one has offended him. They all love him and his wife.

The party is planned about a month in advance, and is held on a weekend a few weeks before Christmas.

I asked my son if they were attending this year, and he vaguely said he had an athletic team “thing.”

After the date, I checked the team calendar, and the team was in another state that weekend.

When he doesn’t want to answer a question I’ve asked, he simply does not respond to my text.

He later told me that he went to a neighborin­g city the day of the family party.

It hurts me that he does not seem to want to see the group, as well as the possibilit­y that he lied to me.

Is this a generation­al issue, with individual­s doing what they want no matter how much family would love to see them once a year?

I don’t want to create a rift, but I’d like to know why they didn’t want to attend.

Kentucky Mom

Dear Mom: Your son made an excuse to avoid going to this family party. You later felt compelled to investigat­e his excuse, which seems to have transforme­d his excuse into a lie. You should do some honest searching to understand why he doesn’t feel able to tell you the truth. Perhaps he is trying to spare your feelings. Is his cowardice inspired by the way you typically react when told an unpleasant truth?

People do what they want to do. And they should! You want to attend this family party every year; he doesn’t.

You should be honest with him, even if he won’t be honest with you.

You could ask, “Is there a reason you don’t want to get together with the extended family?” It’s unlikely he’ll be candid with you. Regardless of what he says, tell him, “Well, everybody loves and misses you.” Then do your best to move on.

Dear Amy: I’m disappoint­ed that my sons, both in their 40s, do not seem to remember my birthday unless they are told to.

I acknowledg­e their birthdays and those of their spouses and children.

I don’t expect gifts, just an acknowledg­ment, without being prodded by someone in the family.

My husband says not to take it personally, but I do. Am I too sensitive? Disappoint­ed in California

Dear A person’s birthday is the very definition of “personal.” That’s why we tend to feel happy when we’re remembered and celebrated, and sad when we’re forgotten, especially by our offspring.

The best way not to feel bad about something you know is going to happen is to anticipate it and to choose not to take it personally.

I suggest that you contact your sons with identical messages, saying, “Gentlemen, my birthday is April 12. Please put it on your calendars and remember that reaching out to me on that day (via call or text) will make me happy.” After that, make your own choice.


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