Relationship with Family Friends

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

My entire family has been friends with a family (of four) for over twenty years now. While they have their own family in the area, they have little to no contact with them. Their adult children call our family members “aunt” “uncle” and “cousins”. We sometimes do the same, but in our hearts they are not our “true” family.

Not long ago, I told their one adult daughter that I did not like how she (and others) were treating my (real Aunt). My Aunt is sweet and they were being “mean girls” making fun of her, to her face and behind her back. This turned into “We don’t treat each other like that in this family. You cannot understand…(as you are not a member)…” She was of course defensive.

She now refuses to speak to me, making me feel uncomfortable at MY family events. At family get-togethers, everyone drinks alcohol. She will bring this topic up again. What is the best way to handle it, or best way to respond?

A: It sounds like it is time to clear the air. I would first write out everything that you like to say including how you feel and what you’d like to accomplish. This is designed so that you can get all your feelings out in one place. Second, I would talk to others in your family about getting some help. Explain that you would like this to change and are hoping for a reconciliation and understanding. This will give your family a chance to discuss strategies and ways to approach this person and come up with a potential solution.

The idea here is to heal this process that has ruptured long-standing connection between the families. You will be using the power of that history to heal the future.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Aug 2013

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2013). Relationship with Family Friends. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/08/22/relationship-with-family-friends/

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