Five Out of Six Ain't Bad - A Family Reunion Quandary

Dear Relationshipper,

We are planning a family reunion for this summer and there are six adult children involved, with five of them being married and one single. Four of the children live in different areas of the United States and two live in the same state as we, the parents, do. It started out that we were going to try Montana and plans were pretty well established. Then one of the children said that they would not be able to make it and this person was the reason we had originally thought about Montana because that would be approximately half way for that child and the rest of us to travel. Now we are considering a destination closer to the rest of us. Does that mean that we are definitely choosing not to include the more distant child, or just being practical, since that child and spouse said they could not come? What if they changed their mind later? We think the reason they are not coming is financial. So should the rest of us suggest helping them out?

Long Creek, Oregon

Dear Sherrie,

Isn’t it amazing how tricky family gatherings can get?  I know a lot of families that have trouble coordinating a dinner between four people who all live in the same town, let alone a family reunion with over a dozen family members scattered across the country!

I would say your best bet here, without knowing the personality types of those involved, is to just be direct.  Call the child who declined the invitation, and let them know you are thinking about moving the meeting space.  Remember, they declined the invitation, so you really owe them nothing – but if you are willing to give them another chance, then by all means, give it!

Tell the child, “The family is thinking about moving the reunion to .  Are you absolutely sure that you don’t want to come?  We really would love for you to come, but if you definitely can’t, then it just makes sense for us to have it a bit closer to home.  But we absolutely don’t want you to feel left out.”

Listen to their response, and then casually offer them financial help.  Say something like, “If you want us to contribute a couple of dollars toward plane fare, we’d be willing to kick in some money, and I know would too.”  Only offer money if you really want to – because you’re under no obligation to pay for their trip.  But, it would just be a nice thing to do.

Then, if they still decline your offer, tell your child, “Well I definitely want to do something special.  Maybe after the reunion we can get together – just us.”

This should pacify the situation – and this way, you know you’ve forth the best effort you could have.

Either way, enjoy the reunion!


Keep those questions coming:


Post a Comment