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Family gatherings when estranged from family member

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VVV

I have a terrible relationship with an adult sibling. Dynamics from childhood have continued into adulthood to the point where the relationship is pretty much done. For those who are estranged from a family member/no longer have a relationship what happens at family gatherings such as Christmas, weddings, funerals etc? Do you both go and just not interact or do you choose not to go? 

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Tinky Winky Woo

I do try to avoid a lot of contact but if I have to go I tend to simply ignore that the other person is there.  It is easy when you aren't stuck in a small room together.  When I get sick of their rubbish I get up and go for a walk or even back to where ever I am staying for a while.  I don't be fake and pretend they are someone I want to spend time with but   I speak politely but try not to engage in a deep conversation.

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BadCat

I avoid the people in my family who I really can't talk to.  If we're at the same gathering I just talk to someone else.  But mostly I avoid family gatherings as much as possible.  I expect they'll be over soon anyway.

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Squeekums The Elf

We as good as ignore DP brother a all functions or we dont go. Like christmas day, we stay home, do our own thing then see DP parents on boxing day. 9 times out of 10 his brother will try worm his way over, we end up leaving early or a big argument will ensue.  Once his parents and grandma go, we wont speak to his brother or his family again

Avoid and ignore, repeat after me, avoid and ignore lol

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Freddie'sMum

Move countries.  Don't go.  Pandemic.  All good.

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Jane Jetson

I'm 99% sure that I'm estranged from one sibling - they basically ignore me and the third sibling and seem to have gone no contact so I'm pretty sure. (No idea why. I think it may be our failure to embrace the correct type of Christianity, but that's as good as my guess is - there's been no massive bust-up or anything. Maybe they just don't like us, that's valid enough I guess.)

What this sibling does is only ever speak to us or interact with us in any way when our Dad is around, usually because Dad has, given his inability to notice any of this, facilitated a get-together at say Christmas or something. The estrangey sibling chats to us in a normal, friendly manner while Dad's looking, then once everyone's back home reverts back to ignoring any "nice to see you, happy Christmas" type texts afterwards (which I no longer bother sending).

So idk, you could just merrily pretend nothing's wrong for the benefit of observers, perhaps so that you look like you're taking the high moral ground, then get back to NC afterwards? Seems to work for my sibling, anyway.

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Arthur or Martha

We don't have family gatherings, makes it easy.

My parents moved around a bit when I was child, as we left school we moved on with our lives in different places. One sibling has moved so often I don't know where he is and have had nothing to do with him for 20 years. The other sibling moved to a small town that is impossible for me to get to. So therefore no family gatherings.

I wouldn't go if I knew your sibling was going to be there. Organise something for yourself and your children, or make an excuse. Just because you are family doesn't mean you have to continue a relationship with them.

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CallMeFeral

Just be careful with avoidance. It often means you end up getting estranged from a lot more members of the family than the one you're having trouble with, and that's usually not good for you or for the family members who care about you. Although it's cumbersome, I'd normally say go and just ignore them or be coolly civil. 

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Murderino

I have a strained relationship with one sibling. Generally all communication is directed through the other sibling from both us - not in an A can you tell B way but each of us hear stuff about the other from A.  So I might tell A some news and it will come up in their conversation with C. C may or may not contact me depending on how big the issue.

We are a small family - dad, three of us, one partner who never comes to anything and my two kids - so we attend all family events and it is superficial chat much like Jane Jetson describes above.  If it was a larger gathering I would just ensure my time was taken up with other attendees.

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TheGreenSheep

I go. I just don’t give them anything. Courteous. Lip service. Thin smile. Count the hours. Leave. I’m convinced my godawful MIL doesn’t even know I work. FIL is lucky to even remember the grandchildren’s names.
My sister I only share the air with her maybe every few years, family funerals things like that. The rest of the time she is on full ignore.

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Ellie bean

While not estranged as such, with family members I really don’t want to talk to I find busying myself excessively with my children to be helpful. If you can get yourself a seat at the kids table at Christmas you’re a winner imo :) 

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Murderino

^^^ I was invited to me XH's family Christmas lunch by xMIL and everyone was lovely but it felt weird! I busied myself with the kids and their lunch and opening the gifts they were given until we could leave to go to my family.

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DQMission

It depends on the event. I will make excuses if I feel it is reasonable not to attend. If it is an important event then I attend and avoid said family member.

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Dianalynch

Attend and mostly ignore, with cool civilities as necessary. Group settings were the only basis on which I would see them, as there were others to talk to, and I was busy with my kids. 

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Marinated.

You've described the relationship between my sister and me.

In my family, it would be considered disrespectful to not turn up to those kinds of events. So I go - and avoid said sibling and any drama.

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*Ker*

I don't speak to one person. So I literally don't speak to her. Not one word. I have nothing nice to say to her, so I choose to say zero.

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CallMeFeral
2 hours ago, Ellie bean said:

While not estranged as such, with family members I really don’t want to talk to I find busying myself excessively with my children to be helpful. If you can get yourself a seat at the kids table at Christmas you’re a winner imo :) 

I've done this! It seems to work well in terms of "I took care of the kids ALL EVENING" brownie points that I can use next time I don't want to be designated driver, as well as avoidance of people :p 

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mandelbrot
14 minutes ago, CallMeFeral said:

I've done this! It seems to work well in terms of "I took care of the kids ALL EVENING" brownie points that I can use next time I don't want to be designated driver, as well as avoidance of people :p 

Also works really well when you station yourself at the kitchen sink washing anything that is not currently being held in someone's hand, AND you don't have to deal with your own kids, giving the family the 'joy' of spending 'quality time' stopping the kids from smearing Christmas dinner on the carpet.

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hills mum bec

I haven’t spoken to my Father for over 20 years.  My sister still sees him and it was all good until a few years ago as he lived interstate.  Since he has moved back closer I decline any invitations from my sister if I know he will be there.  She understands.

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magic_marker

A family member has manipulated people so we don't even get invited. 

The selfishness in them knows no bounds.

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ytt

I'm estranged from my sister and now my father. It helps that we live on the other side of Australia!!! My family only has mum and dad who separated when I was in the last year of primary school, my sister and two brothers. One brother has one son that I haven't seen much and my sister has two kids that are little brats - my sister blamed my mum for bratty kids because mum wasn't a good role model 😳 . My kids turned out great though!  All other family members are in the UK

We've never had family gatherings thankfully

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Ernegirl

I relate to this via my BiL rather than a sibling. They're overseas so I only have to grit my teeth and make shallow pleasantries once every several years.  My sister is effectively lost to me because of this man, which is sad. There are often fallings out amidst my other siblings, on and off over the years. It's actually easier for adult siblings to disengage, I know now it's my parents who are most heartbroken by it. Strangely enough, I realised a few years ago that this pattern of sibling estrangement  has travelled down three generations of the family.

But hey- happy families!

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YodaTheWrinkledOne
4 hours ago, CallMeFeral said:

Just be careful with avoidance. It often means you end up getting estranged from a lot more members of the family than the one you're having trouble with, and that's usually not good for you or for the family members who care about you. Although it's cumbersome, I'd normally say go and just ignore them or be coolly civil. 

This would be my approach as well. Minimise contact/conversation in group catch-ups.  If both parties are mature about it, it can be done quite easily. Only gets awkward if someone draws attention to it. 

MIL has pulled the whole if-you-invite-them-then-I-won't-come thing. It went down like a lead balloon. She is now hardly invited to anything as most of the family don't like ultimatums. Several years on, I think she is regretting her hard stance as she has missed out on some lovely family celebrations, but her pride won't allow her to change.  It would have been easy enough for her to mingle without speaking to the people she doesn't like.

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Not Escapin Xmas

To me it would depend on what happens if you do turn up and they are there. If they take that as ‘we are back to being friendly’ and start bugging you endlessly after said event, then I would try to avoid.  If the feeling is mutual and there will be no longer term ramifications then I’d just grin and bear it.

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OscarAndTilly

I had a falling out with my brother 4yrs ago. There is only me, Mum and brother so I don’t have to worry about family gatherings. For Christmas etc Mum sees us for lunch and his family for dinner. 
I guess If there was something I had to go to and he was there I would say hello but not chit chat. I actually did see him at a funeral and it was a bit awkward, especially as my niece and nephews came and sat with us afterwards. 
 

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