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Ask Kari: On Building Family Connections

By November 15, 2021General
Ask Kari Issaquah Highlands

Dear Kari,

My sister and I have not spoken in over two years since we fought over money when we were on vacation together. The pandemic has me reconsidering my family relationships, and I wonder how I should attempt to reconcile with her. What do you suggest?

–  Missing My Sister

Dear Missing My Sister,

Two years is a long time to not talk with your sibling over money. I am guessing there was a dispute over costs attached to the vacation, and the conflict got stuck there.

To move forward, consider writing her a note via email or text. In the note, include you are sorry for your role in the disagreement, you miss her, and you would like to move forward from the incident. Notice I did not include a rehashing of the incident, nor who was more right in their behavior; I simply recommended saying you were sorry and you miss her.

To move forward, you must fold down the past disagreement and move forward. By this time, each of you has cycled the incident in your head repeatedly; go forward and learn from the past, inclusive of learning to say you’re sorry and offering forgiveness to each other. Good luck!

– Kari

Dear Kari,

I am an only child, and both of my parents are deceased. I miss spending time with family, and I thought about reaching out to my extended family members — who I haven’t talked to in a long time — to build closer relationships with them. Do you think I should try doing so, or do you think they will wonder what I want from them?

– Looking for Family Connections

Dear Looking for Family Connections,

I am sorry for the loss of both of your parents. I think it is a fine idea to reach out to your extended family and seek closer ties. Start with the family members you view as the most social and more likely to respond to your invitation to connect. Then, take the lead, invite them to your home for dinner, or make plans to meet at a restaurant for lunch — your treat. Look to build a reciprocal relationship with your family members, and if things drop off, go back to the starting point again without judgment or anxiety about who calls who.

Humans need each other; today, we often get bogged down by too much tech and media. Please do not keep track; just go in for the connection, and the relationships should blossom nicely.

– Kari

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and the owner of Issaquah Highlands Counseling Group.

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