Monday, December 26, 2011

Pretending to Have Emotions Around Family

I saved this question for the day after Christmas as I thought many of you out there might need it:

Dear David,
Have you had the experience of being with your family and having to pretend to have emotions you do not really have? There is an attempt at cheer but the years of inter-family problems and frequent unhappiness which no one wants to discuss makes being cheery difficult most of the time, Have you had this experience?
~Alone with the Loved Ones

Dear Alone-A,
Don’t worry, my darling. This is how it usually is. I myself dislike feigning emotions I do not have but sometimes you must. The way I handled it with my family was pretending I was being paid to be there. Coming from an advertising background, I pretended that my family were the clients and I was being paid a thousand dollars a day to be with them. I was always pleasant, smoothed things over, entertained them, told funny stories, suggested outings and they loved it. The fact that it was completely artificial was fine with them. You’ve had problems with them because they cannot be upfront, recognize their own emotions, deal with reality. So forget it. My own folks pretty much abandoned me completely once they found out they weren’t in the will. So your take on family isn’t wrong. You just have to live with it.

(Family cartoon via

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