Dear Barb – Negative Nellies

Dear Barb:

I come from an estranged family and until recently we hadn’t seen each other for years. For the past three years I have tried to organize a family reunion at a nearby park, but it has not worked out well. When everybody attends, they usually stay within their own family group, so I thought if I rented a picnic shelter where we could all eat together that would remedy that issue. No so much, since everybody still sits in their own corner of the shelter, rarely mingling with others. Also It’s very difficult to get everyone to attend; they just don’t see a need to do this. In seems it is always the same people who attend. Maybe through the years they have filled their lives with other family members or friends. I seem to be the only one that wants to do this. I’m to the point where I’m wondering if it would be better to just let it go as It’s not something everybody wants to do. What do you think, would I be better to just let it go, or should I keep trying? Thanks Tereza.

Hi Tereza:

Good for you, at least you are trying to get your family together. Often we see big family picnics at parks or other places and we want the same thing, however, after many years apart it can become difficult to reconcile estranged families. It’s obvious you want to get your family together, but that isn’t always possible. For a family to become estranged there must have been some trauma or dysfunction to cause the separation and often people don’t want to be reminded of what happened. They fear getting together may dredge up old issues. Through the years individuals move on and find their own sense of family through their spouse, friends or neighbors. If you really want to do this I would suggest you keep trying, eventually some individuals may come around. On the other hand, you can still develop your own relationships with your family members and have one on one visits, or a small gathering of the ones who want to get together. Quite a noble gesture on your part, good luck Tereza.

Dear Barb:

I am writing in about my bitchy neighbors. I have lived next door to them for three years and they never have anything nice to say about any other neighbors or the neighborhood. They even complain about the dogs walking by. I figure if they are talking to me about all the neighbors, I’m sure they are bad mouthing me as well. They only see the negative in life. I have tried to point out the positive, but it really doesn’t work, they say I’m just sticking my head in the sand. Really, why are people like this? How can a person be happy when they don’t see anything good in the world? Just venting I guess, Erik.

Hey Erik:

Thanks for your letter, I’m sure there many people who can identify with your feelings. Some people only see the negative and That’s all they want to see. They may have grown up in a home where that was the norm, or things may have occurred that caused them to see the world as a negative place where nothing good happens. There is really not a lot you can do about this, except keep your positive attitude and don’t let them drag you into their way of thinking.

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Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.