Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
Please help resolve a family dispute. My husband and I decided to
have just one child because we fear what is happening to our planet.
He is a kind, gentle guy who didn’t start dating until college. His first
relationship lasted far too long and we feared he would succumb to
fears of being alone, but after they broke up he met and wooed a
wonderful young woman and this summer they got engaged. We see
much too little of them because they both got jobs a plane flight away.
So collectively we decided to celebrate their successful passing
probation and engagement with a weeklong Chanukah trip to the
coast, where we could really get to know one another over long walks
and meals. My mother and sister, with whom we normally spend the
holiday are “insulted” that they were not asked to join us. Is there a
polite way to say “Not this time” that will stop their kvetching?
Once people have decided they have been hurt, “insulted,” or wronged
in some way, rationality sadly does not nearly enough to walk back
their hurt feelings. If they are reinforcing the wound with telling one
another how awful you are, and trying to get you to listen to same, it
will take time, patience, and not always answering your phone when
they call to let them blow off steam. Eventually, like toddlers wearing
themselves out before a nap, they will settle down, but I fear you will
be wasting your energy and breath trying to make that happen much
faster than it will take.
Tell them that this was a wonderful and necessary experience for the
four of you. Admit that yes it while it might have been better for them
had they come along, it would not have been what you, your husband,
your son, and fiancé most needed. Try to plan a long family weekend
with them, perhaps at Passover, and encourage your son/fiancé to
send them a lovely loving note. Then change the subject when they
bring it up. They’ll stop when you stop listening.