Dear Barb—Reunion Reciprocation

Dear Barb:

I grew up in a somewhat dysfunctional family. My parents divorced when we were all quite young, and the divorce was angry and bitter. This bitterness became a part of our household and our relationships with each other.  As soon as we were able to we left home and rarely spoke to each other for many years after.   As an adult I am trying to turn the family dynamics around and bring my family together. I have been arranging a family get together every year for the past four years, as well as the occasional dinner or get together at Christmas or other special occasion. The problem is no one reciprocates. When I arrange these events some family members show up but no one else ever does it, just me.  When we have the yearly reunion at a park or campground, the families each stay with their own family members. I have tried to organize things like games for the kids, but no one else gets involved.  They all just sit there talking with their own family members, while I take care of the kids. When I post the date on facebook for the get together everyone seems excited about it, but when we get there it’s totally different. Am I beating a dead horse? It almost seems like it’s too late to bring this family together. Should I just give up? Thanks, Maria.

Hi Maria:

Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately there always seems to be one or two people in a family who do all the social planning and when they get tired of doing it, the get togethers stop. So I guess it’s up to you if you want to continue arranging these gatherings. If you stop its possible someone else will eventually start arranging them, but you won’t know that until you do it. If you are finding that you don’t want to do this anymore (it is a lot of work, after all) then you could always get together with the family members you choose to. That way you can keep in contact with the relatives you want to and who reciprocate your invitations. Bringing a family back together after a long estrangement is difficult and requires a lot of forgiveness and acceptance, and it can only be done if all parties really want it.  I found some information online about coping with estranged family relationships at

I also found a quote on this page that I really liked:

“Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that there are things that cannot be.” Unknown