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by Abigail Van Buren

Sister Pays the Price for Her Brother in Law's Deception

DEAR ABBY: Most of my extended family are pleasant and enjoy each other's company when we meet at family gatherings several times a year. But three of them (all from the same side of the family) are just plain rude. Every event becomes an uncomfortable exercise in bracing oneself for the verbal attacks that come from these critical, judgmental people.

We have tried talking about it, but hear the same refrains -- "I'm not changing," "Accept me as I am," and, "You have no choice but to put up with me because we are family!"

I am a younger member of this family who occasionally spends holidays with friends or traveling. When I do, I am severely chastised by these three relatives, who say I have "no right" to skip family gatherings. If they were nicer people, I would want to spend more time with them.

I want to do the right thing, but what do people who have the same ancestry "owe" each other when there is no connection of friendship or goodwill? -- RELATED IN NAME ONLY IN SAN JOSE, CALIF.

DEAR RELATED: I know of no rule of etiquette that states you are compelled to attend every family event. Good manners dictate that you treat those around you courteously. But that does not mean that you must engage in anything more than casual, superficial chit-chat with those who are critical, judgmental and rude.

Because these get-togethers involve extended family, spend the majority of your time with the relatives who make you feel welcome, supported and loved.

P.S. One thing you do NOT owe these folks is an explanation regarding your absence when you choose to avoid them.