DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother has always expressed frustration with her immediate family, specifically her parents and her sister. She moved away from them as soon as she turned 18. As I was growing up, my mother used to tell me how important it was for her to keep her distance from them for her own mental well-being. Now that I'm all grown up, I've started to recognize a similar dynamic between my mother and sister -- one that reminds me of my mother's family. How can I preserve a sense of balance and connection in our relationship without allowing their behavior to affect me in an undesirable way? I don’t want to push my mom and sister away the way my mother pushed her family away. -- Breaking the Cycle
DEAR BREAKING THE CYCLE: Rather than cutting any family out of your life entirely, manage the time you interact with them. Notice how they behave, what you can stomach and what is simply too much for you to witness or be in the middle of. Determine where the line is so that you know that when anyone crosses it, it’s time for you to exit the scene. Let them know your boundary if you think it will help them to curb their disturbing behavior. Otherwise, just know it for yourself. All you can control is you. Figure out what that looks like for your self-preservation, and be consistent in following your plan.