Brother won’t fly to Is­rael, opts for guilt trip, in­stead

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Your Daily Break - Amy Dick­in­son Con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email at askamy@

DEAR AMY » What are my obli­ga­tions to my sis­ter moved out of the coun­try to Is­rael?

My wife and I re­turned to our home­town af­ter col­lege, specif­i­cally be­cause we wanted to be close to our fam­i­lies and par­ents. We wanted our kids to have grand­par­ents and cousins nearby and to gather with ex­tended fam­ily (and my sis­ter) when they come to visit.

When­ever my ex­pat sis­ter and her kids visit each year, we spend a lot of time with them. I re­ally love my sis­ter and her chil­dren.

Re­cently she has been giv­ing me the big­gest guilt trip about not at­tend­ing my nephew’s Bar Mitz­vah, in Is­rael, al­most 6,000 miles away. She feels hurt that she is “low pri­or­ity” on my list.

Hon­estly, I planned on go­ing, but my preg­nant wife is so sick, and I feel guilty leav­ing her alone to care for our young child.

Is the per­son who moved away al­lowed to make the left-be­hind feel guilty for not spend­ing thou­sands of dol­lars and sev­eral days on a plane? I have been to visit Is­rael sev­eral times, but I feel that she is out of line with the guilt. She is the one who chose to live abroad. I’ve never made her feel guilty. But I don’t think it’s fair to say I’m not choos­ing fam­ily, when I specif­i­cally live where I do be­cause I chose fam­ily. What is my obli­ga­tion? How do I nav­i­gate this with­out mak­ing her feel bad, but so that I don’t feel bad, ei­ther?

— Anony­mous Un­cle DEAR ANONY­MOUS » Do not di­min­ish the im­por­tance of a Bar Mitz­vah in a fam­ily’s story. Whether or not you are re­li­gious, they are, and this is huge.

You seem un­will­ing to feel “bad” for hav­ing to miss this. But aren’t you sorry that you won’t be able to wit­ness this im­por­tant pas­sage in your nephew’s life? It might help the dy­namic with your sis­ter if you say you’re very sorry about this, but given your own fam­ily’s sit­u­a­tion, you’ve de­cided it isn’t wise for you to go. This will be your fi­nal an­swer.

Write a very warm and avun­cu­lar let­ter to your nephew, of­fer him a spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence the next time he is able to come to the States, send a gen­er­ous gift and ex­press gen­uine in­ter­est in see­ing pho­to­graphs from the cel­e­bra­tion.

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