Dear Blake,

Our family does not have a relationship with my son, “Josh.” My sister occasionally asks me if I have heard from him and, when she does, she refers to him as “your son,” never by his name. I can’t imagine myself referring to my niece as “your daughter.” I refer to her by her name. My sister is sensitive and doesn’t take criticism well, so I don’t know of a polite way to tell her how this offends me. It implies detachment, disinterest, distance.

Signed, Lydia
From Dover, Delaware

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Dear Lydia,

For some reason you did not disclose why your family is so distant with Josh. I need to know their motive so I can determine if your son is worth the dynamite to blow him to Hades. Here are some speculations on why he is being disowned. Is he a user? Does he lie and emotionally manipulate family members to benefit his own selfish pathetic needs? Is he a thief, to the point where your relatives have to frisk him and/or conduct a strip search every time he leaves their place, to deter him from stealing anything that might interest local pawn shops? Is he a violent person, to the point where at family gatherings, people bet on who Josh is going to beat to a pulp? And lastly, is he involved in a cult, and everyone is offended and deeply concerned that he wants a family member to voluntarily become a human sacrifice? If that’s the case, maybe your family should get together and draw straws, and the loser has a farewell party held in his/her honor. Soon after that you can have another gathering, as all of your family testifies against Josh at his trial, encouraging the judge to give him the max, especially if it’s the death penalty. I hope this helps.