Carolyn Hax: Family priorities just can't line up

November 2, 2013 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Carolyn: I have three children under 8. Last summer, my niece and nephew both participated in travel sports, which took up nearly every weekend.

I know each family should do what is best for them, but this affects our entire family. Our parents are getting older and really cherish seeing all of us together. I tried to put together a Mother's Day brunch, but it was the first tournament of the year for both kids. For our parents' 55th anniversary, my sister said the best they could do is a family dinner on a Tuesday.

I wish I could explain to her that fitness and sports are important, but she is encouraging her kids to sacrifice family time. My own kids are in sports, too, but not to this crazy level.

Should I discuss this issue with her, or try to let it go?

SISTER OVERBOOKS

Please stop making this about your sister's priorities. Judging her will only escalate this into a much deeper, more hurtful feud. Not to mention guarantee that one of your children will blossom into a surprising talent at some Time Consuming Pursuit.

Instead, ask your sister to join you, calendars in hand, in finding dates the whole family can get together. Even without travel athletes, it's typical for three separate families to have a hard time lining up their free time, and that gives you two choices. You can insist on special dates and open yourself to all kinds of frustration, or you can embrace the idea that sometimes Christmas will be in January.

Re: Sister: But it really means one family essentially controls the dates because they are SO booked. We specifically keep a few weekends free to catch up on errands, relax, etc., but my family member gets annoyed when we don't jump at the few days (hours) his family is actually available. Frustrating!

ANONYMOUS

Sure, the busier people do drive the schedule, but that's just life, and the bigger person doesn't bean-count.

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