Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax: Being the youngest sure gets old

 

Dear Carolyn: You gave a really thoughtful response a while back to a friend who felt like she was missing out on celebrations of her milestones (http://wapo.st/1lVwmqt) because her same-age friends passed them a few years prior. I would love your take on how you would deal with this when it’s family who’s not reciprocating.

My husband is the youngest of five kids and our two children are the youngest grandkids of six: 18, 17, 15, 13, 5, 4. Our children’s births and events aren’t similarly acknowledged as were their older cousins’. For example: My son’s birthday hit at the same time as his elder cousin’s graduation. Party and gifts for the latter, no acknowledgement of the former.

I understand the grandparents’ energy is much different at 75 than it was at 62 — and the aunts and uncles are now raising teenagers, who have completely different needs. Should I just not be comparing the treatment of those grandkids who came first? Do I just accept the fact that we’re having a different experience?

Unequal

Yes, exactly. The world is a big place, and your kids’ worlds are bigger than the limited world of their extended family. Where your husband’s family isn’t jumping in with the experiences you were hoping for, you can jump in to give your kids a different experience entirely.

If you’re really feelin’ it, this can be liberating. For example: Christmas for the older cousins used to be a big multi-family melee, right? Which was great for them? Which is why you want it for your kids?

All true, but those melees also become an expectation, which becomes an obligation. Curling-ribbon handcuffs. With the family in a different place now, you’re free to take your kids to [blank] for Christmas, just because. Think of it as Lemonade 301 Honors.

If it helps, people with small or far-flung or deceased families do this all the time. The only difference is that your extended family is right there and therefore seems like an option, which then sets you up for this disappointment you describe. If instead you see family as just a different form of unavailable, then I think you'll unlock more possibilities as well as pre-empt a lot of the hard feelings — and teach your kids the joy of flexibility versus fixed expectations.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.

Read more Lifestyle stories from the Miami Herald

  • Ask Nancy

    Ask Nancy: My mother won’t listen to her doctors

    Q. My sister and I are constantly taking my 86-year-old mother to the doctor for her real and/or imagined problems and the doctor will make suggestions or prescribe treatments. She either disagrees with what the doctor says and requests to see a different doctor, or decides that she doesn’t want to do the treatment or take the medicine. How do we get her to comply with what the doctors prescribe?

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Chef’s knife:</span> Chef Tom Azar prefers to use an 8-inch chef’s knife, sharp, in his kitchens.

    Cooking

    A cut above: Sharp knives are a home cook’s greatest tool

    For home cooks, buying the right knives is only half the game. Proper storage and professional sharpening also are key.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Layered: </span>Picnic coleslaw is assembled in a glass jar for easy portability and pretty presentation.

    Cook’s Corner

    Layered picnic coleslaw is a sight to behold

    Don’t you just love the way this picnic coleslaw looks?

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category