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Family Reunion

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My large family is planning a reunion next summer and being with all of them is too anxiety provoking. I don’t want to go. I love them, I just can’t be with them all at once. How do I tell them this with assertiveness and getting what I want instead of just going along to keep them quiet? I fear they won’t understand. (From the USA)

Family Reunion

Answered by on -


  I appreciate how difficult speaking up for your needs can be — yet I deeply admire your courage and strength in doing so. Let me offer three possibilities. I am sure there are other options, but these give you some leeway in responding.

The first is a heartfelt letter that you would write and distribute to the group ahead of time explaining your love and decision not to come. This will allow you to maintain a connection, share your love, and yet not be expected. Secondly, you may also want to consider going, but staying very briefly. This strategy has worked when, for a myriad of reasons, a family member knew they could not stay too long in the presence of so many people. The work here is to be certain you have a place to go, be able to connect with the people you want to connect with, and then be certain to have a destination to go to afterward. Finally, a simple decline to the organizer of the event should do it — with regrets and not a lot of explanation.

The important thing regardless of what path you chose is to honor your feelings and find a way to make them known and act on them.

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


Family Reunion

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

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

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Family Reunion. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 6, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 4 Nov 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.