Overcome Your Differences

By Doug Mayberry

March 19, 2018 4 min read

Q: I am one of five siblings, and our family has always been as complicated and busy as you might imagine. The youngest of us just turned 62, and the rest of us are in our 60s and 70s. Over the last five years, we've been drifting apart over trivial issues that have turned into serious arguments.

We all live within a few hours' drive of one another. Our eldest sister wants to patch up all the feuds and is thinking about hosting a family reunion in July.

I think it's going to end badly. Should I go anyway?

A: Yes. Family rifts are common, unfortunately, but it is always worth it to try to overcome your personal differences.

It's especially important to maintain relationships for the younger generations. Through loving, caring compromise, and sharing the ups and downs, you are teaching them about how to deal with problems. Working through issues is an essential life skill that is beneficial for both you and them.

Ask yourself whether you truly want to mend the rift, or whether you are part of the problem. If you go in with a bad attitude or years of resentments, you are unlikely to see a good result. Relationships are defined by what we put into them.

That said, you can't control your siblings' behavior. However, you can control your own. If you try a new behavior and attitude, you may well get a different response than you expect.

Behavior mirroring is exceptionally common, and we often get trapped in cycles of negativity. One person's bad attitude can be transmitted and amplified by the entire group. Instead, do your best to avoid petty squabbles. Be forgiving when possible.

Even if it doesn't turn out the way you'd like, it's still worth going. You'll never know if you don't try, and you might regret it later. You may not get the same opportunity again.

Even if some don't get along, you may strengthen some of your relationships. Success can be gradual, and not everything is all or nothing! — Doug


Q: Our son has just invited us to his daughter's christening, and we'd like to go. However, we live about 500 miles away and are on a modest budget. We're trying to decide whether to drive or fly.

What do you think we should do?

A: Make a list of pros and cons to help you decide. Price out both travel plans, but don't neglect to weigh other factors.

Be honest with yourself about your limitations. If you don't feel comfortable driving for long periods of time, now is not the time to test yourself.

Long trips can also be rough on cars, especially if they're older. You will have to pay for gas and any possible repair. Many people recommend getting a tuneup before long trips.

Luckily, flights have become less expensive than in years past. However, they are less comfortable and can include hidden fees (including baggage). You should also consider the convenience of the airport. Do you live close to an airport with a reasonably priced flight? How convenient is the destination airport? You can also ask your son whether he is willing to transport you to and from the airport, and possibly around town during your stay.

You will also need to prepare the appropriate documents, including an ID for boarding. Research the rules before arriving at the airport.

Once you do the research, you can feel more confident about your decision. No matter what plan you choose, don't forget to bring your positive attitude. — Emma, Doug's granddaughter

Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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