Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Struggles to Connect With New Extended Family

DEAR HARRIETTE: Ever since my mother remarried, I have a much larger family than usual. My stepfamily is very close, which leaves my sister and me on the sidelines occasionally. Honestly, I am OK with this because they are very obnoxious and exclusive, but I know my stepfather feels as though he is failing at bringing the family together. Do I have to be close to my new family? My sister and I are both adults on our own schedules. -- Wrong Crew, Dallas

DEAR WRONG CREW: For context, please know that even for small families and families that have not experienced the addition of stepparents and children, once the children are grown and living their own lives, it is common for gatherings with everyone present to occur only a few times a year.

That said, relax. Think about which new family members best complement you. Choose to build a relationship with those people so that you do stay connected. This should include your stepfather. Choose to talk to him when you call your mother. Cultivate a bond with him that feels comfortable for you. Be clear about what your sister would like so that you incorporate her wishes into your shared intention.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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