It is true, you cannot choose your family, but you can choose how much time and effort you invest in each family relationship.

Ask yourself:

  • What are my critical responsibilities? How might I best fulfill my obligations effectively and efficiently? This question can range from child rearing to adult care. Potentially, you can optimize your efforts to meet the responsibilities of critical relationships with a little thought and ingenuity. 
  • Am I doing enough for my family members? Is there someone that needs or deserves a bit more of my time and energy? 
  • Am I letting any family member get away with poor behavior? Do not give family member relationships a free pass. Ideally, the behaviors demonstrated by your family members should be the more gracious, thoughtful, sensitive, and supportive behaviors you encounter during your lifetime. When they are, embrace each fully to the extent possible. If they are not, minimize your time, effort, and energy on their behalf. To do otherwise is to suggest that their current behaviors are acceptable. 
  • Am I being fair to family members who have transgressed? Again, no free passes. But extended family members should receive the benefit of the doubt and a second chance or two more than you would others. Another chance does not mean many or infinite. Do so until the facts dictate disengagement.
  • Do I need to check in with a forgotten (or previously disengaged) family member? Extend new trust and offer further engagement when earned. Not always, but people grow and change over time, including family members. Allow family members to do just that. On occasion, reach out and check in with a more recent version of themselves.