DEAR AMY: My mother and younger sister have had a strained relationship since we were kids. They both fall into some pretty toxic behaviors, and refuse to acknowledge or apologize for their intentionally hurtful behavior, instead preferring to view themselves solely as the innocent victim in all of their fallouts. Recently, they had another big falling-out, and decided to cut each other out of their lives as a result. Both have stated that they're not interested in attempting to reconcile. They consider the damage to their relationship irreparable at this point. My mother just told me that both she and my father have decided to write my sister out of their wills. Instead they will be making charitable donations with a large portion of the money that would originally have gone to her. I wish mom hadn't told me, but now that I bear the burden of knowledge, should I let my sister know?
DEAR WILLED: This is one of those dilemmas where it helps to ask yourself, "If I inserted myself into this situation, what good would it do?"
In this case, if you disclosed your parents' decision to your sister, it would only confirm their already established estrangement, likely rendering any future reconciliation impossible.
Given the lifelong challenges between them, you might assume that there is no reconciliation on the horizon. This estrangement might in fact be a relief to both parties. Your parents have every right to do whatever they want with their money, including the remote possibility of changing their minds later.
You should speak to your parents. Tell them, "I wish you hadn't disclosed this to me, but given that you have, I want you both to know that I don't intend to be a go-between. If you want my sister to know about your decision, you should tell her."
DEAR AMY: My college friend, "Eliza," recently moved to a new city. I connected her to my dear childhood friend, "Lexie." The two women had met numerous times previously so I thought it would be nice for Eliza to have someone to show her around the new city. The two have a lot in common besides friendship with me. They are both motivated, friendly, interested in arts and music, and are navigating the dating scene in the city. I saw Lexie recently and she told me something Eliza said that really hurt her feelings. She took Eliza to brunch and offered to show her some of her favorite places around the city to meet new people. Eliza said she couldn't do what Lexie does: i.e. she couldn't go home with random strangers and sleep with them! What a horrible thing to say! I'm so embarrassed that my friend would say this, and I'm sad that Lexie had to hear it. Should I say something to Eliza about this? Should I end my friendship with Eliza for such an awful comment? How should I respond to this?
DEAR FRIEND MATCHER: When you set up two people for meeting and possible friendship, you're taking a bit of a social risk. It's not a hugely high-stakes risk, but it is a generous and thoughtful act, and you have a personal interest in the outcome.
The friendship between "Eliza" and "Lexie" is obviously a nonstarter because of Eliza's rudeness. Lexie can handle herself in the unlikely event that Eliza seeks her out for continuing friendship.
Yes, this sort of rudeness toward an old friend would be a friendship-interrupter, if not a friendship-ender. Did Eliza think she was joking when she made this comment? Was there something about the context of the comment that might explain or excuse it?
Without making too many assumptions ahead of time, you should ask her. You can then choose to accept or reject her explanation, and then make your own choice about moving forward in friendship.
DEAR AMY: Like other readers, I'm upset by you claiming that various people are "racist." Wow — it's easy for you to throw this word around. I suggest you do more to discourage this way of thinking.
DEAR UPSET: Well, I call it like I see it. I think it is important to confront some hard truths in order to do better. In my most recent response regarding racism, I quoted the Dalai Lama: "Dividing the world into 'us and them' might have worked in the past, but it doesn't work anymore. We have to talk through our problems with our opponents, thinking of them as fellow human beings."