DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a brother who lives 3,000 miles away from the family. He has lived there for more than 20 years. Though he stays in close touch with my mom, he hardly ever comes home. We invite him to all the holiday meals and every special event, but he hasn't come for years. We miss him and love him and want to see him. We were thinking about suggesting that we go out to visit him for the kids' spring break, but I'm worried that he will get upset if he thinks we are crowding his space. Honestly, who knows what to believe -- he doesn't talk about visits. How can I approach the idea of visiting him as a big family group so that he might consider it? -- Missing My Brother, Jackson, Miss.
DEAR MISSING MY BROTHER: You didn't say how often or if ever you or other family members visit your brother, so I don't know what the precedent is currently. I do know that family members who live far away from the core family unit often feel isolated. Call your brother. Tell him that you and the family miss him and that you want to visit -- soon. Ask if all of you can come to visit during spring break. Tell him the dates, and then see how he responds. Given that yours is a group of a number of people, you should plan to stay in a hotel so that you don't invade his space without his invitation.
There's a good chance he will say yes. If not, you can tell him that you would love to visit whenever he is available. Continue to send him photos and include him in family activities from a distance so he knows you are thinking of him.