Q: My overbearing sister-in-law just moved her son’s birthday party to a week later. When we talked a month ago, I asked when it was planned and said great, because my son will be on a Boy Scout retreat the following weekend.
Now, she moved the birthday party and is mad that my son won’t be there. We already paid for the retreat, and my son is torn because he wants to do both but can’t. Your advice? My sister-in-law is so mad she isn’t communicating with us.
A: Well that makes it easy.
I’m being only half-facetious. Maybe a quarter.
When people are being reasonable, your obligation to them is to be reasonable in return.
When people are being unreasonable, your obligation to them is … to be reasonable in return. (Trick advice.) Her losing her mind over her own mistake does not obligate you to scramble to accommodate her shifting expectations.
Your son will be on a Boy Scout retreat and will have to miss his cousin’s party. Oh, well! These things happen. There’s no need for your son to be torn; he sticks to his first commitment and learns a valuable lesson about not being everywhere one wants to be as a basic fact of life.
Should your luck run out on your sister-in-law’s silence, cheerfully stick to the facts. “Hey, no hard feelings, we hardly expect you to memorize our family’s schedule.” It’s possible to be both reasonable and wholly disinclined to apologize for imaginary wrongs.
Washington Post Writers Group