Carolyn Hax: Trips back home lead to family feud

The Washington PostMay 6, 2014 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Carolyn: I moved away from my hometown last year, but I'll be taking regular business trips back that way for the next few months. Living there are my mom and dad (divorced), two siblings and several old friends. Last time I went home, I paid a visit to one sibling and spent the rest of my free time with co-workers. I never heard the end of it from everyone I didn't visit.

How do I manage everyone's expectations so that visiting one person doesn't hurt others' feelings?

HOMETOWN BLUES

Warn everyone that you can't possibly see everyone in one weekend, so you'll see one or two each time. Thank them all in advance for their understanding.

Carolyn: Our son shocked my husband and me by calling off his engagement to "Molly" last month. He gave us almost no explanation. We were disappointed - we love Molly and wanted her to be part of our family. For almost a month, we believed our son was the one who had called off the wedding. Molly reached out to us this week and explained that she called it off because of our son's confessed infidelity.

Now I feel even worse. I've been holding on to this email for days without mentioning it to my son. Should I talk to him about it?

NEW ENGLAND

No. You already feel too deeply and know too much. Your son is currently digesting the consequences of his actions without your having to do or say a thing, and that's how it should be. Let things settle and give your son a chance to come to you with a more truthful version of events if and when he's ready.

It can also be knowledge you add to the pot of your understanding and draw from as you continue through life with your son, understanding that he's as much a bundle of gifts and flaws and triumphs and colossal screw-ups as the rest of us, which is why it's so great to have parents around who love the whole bundle.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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