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Teen Talk: Dispute between grandmother, uncle anguishes cousins

Published: Tuesday, Jul. 30, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3D

DEAR KELLY: My family used to be real tight, then my uncle and my grandma got into a big fight.

My grandma said that my uncle was dead to her and she never wanted to see him again. Now the whole family is fighting. We never do anything as a family anymore, and I miss seeing my cousins and even my uncle.

I've heard my dad talking to his brother and telling him to just apologize to my grandma, but my uncle is stubborn and refuses to say he's sorry.

I told my dad I wanted to go see my uncle and he said, no, that it would upset my grandma and make things worse. But my uncle did nothing to me, so it doesn't seem fair that I can't see him. I've heard my grandma's side of the story and my cousins' side (as told by my uncle), and I'm not sure who I feel is at fault.

It all seems so stupid. My cousin and I talk about meeting somewhere with no one knowing just because were so tired of all this stupid fighting and we don't want to be involved in it all. My cousin did nothing wrong and had nothing to do with why they are fighting, so why is it wrong for us to hang out? Also in your experience, do things like this last forever?

– Family Feud

DEAR FAMILY FEUD: Feeling caught between two people you love is a horrible thing. While arguing or disagreeing is normal, arguing with family members can be extra stressful because it involves people we love.

Your dad can probably understand how you feel because he is caught in the middle. Because your grandmother and uncle have taken the argument to the point of not talking, it's hard to heal. The only thing worse than not speaking to a family member today is not speaking to them tomorrow.

When families fight there are often three sides to a story – his side, her side and the truth. Usually the truth lies somewhere between both stories, and hurt feelings make the situation much worse. Your job is not to determine who is at fault but rather how to stay out of their disagreement.

It doesn't seem wrong to want to meet with your cousin. In fact, it seems very right. You and your cousin aren't fighting. You are family and you care about each other. Your parents should take this as a positive thing that you want to see each other – isn't that the goal of being cousins?

Sounds like your dad is walking a tightrope in the middle. He fears upsetting his mom even more. I get that. But that should not stop you and your cousin from getting together. The disagreement was between your grandma and your uncle, and their feud should not mean you can't spend time with your cousin.

Perhaps you need to change your wording when you talk with your dad.

Instead of saying you want to see your uncle, say you want to spend time with your cousin. Maybe you meet and do something like go bowling or see a movie? If your dad is worried about upsetting his mom because you spent time with your uncle, hopefully she would support and still encourage you to be connected with your cousin.

If your dad is hesitant to talk to his mom about it, perhaps you call her and let her know that you love and support her but you also miss time with your cousin.

Share with her how important family is to you and how want to stay connected to your cousin. Perhaps by letting her know that you will be spending time with only your cousin, she will be OK with it and it won't upset her. She should be happy her grandchildren love each other and miss each other, regardless of what is happening in the family. She may be angry with your uncle, but your cousin doesn't deserve the wrath of whatever went down.

I hate to give a wishy-washy answer to your question if family feuds like this last forever, but there is no definite answer. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. A lot depends on the people involved, how forgiving they can be and what their relationship history was like.

Both parties have to be willing to cool off, compromise and communicate. Hopefully they can put the argument behind them so neither one of them has to live with any regret if something happened and they were unable to make peace.


Write to Kelly Richardson at Teen Talk, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15880, Sacramento, CA 95852, or email krichardson@sacbee.com.

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