Dear Amy:

My niece will graduate from high school soon, but I have no desire to attend the ceremony (if invited). My niece has never willingly engaged me in a conversation. Even getting a "hello" from her is like pulling teeth.

Before you say that this is just a phase that teenagers go through, this child has been this way her entire life.

She never thanks me for any gifts she receives (unless forced to by others) and never asks my opinion or help with anything. I don't think she has a clue who I am and how important I could be to her. Our family is small; I have no children and have never been much of a "kid person."

What's worse is her parents have allowed this attitude and done little to correct it.

The day may come when I tell her what I really think of her, which could ruin the relationships I have with the rest of my family.

Should I ignore whatever faults this child has and just believe that she'll come around some day?

I'm about to forget about her entirely. I doubt she'd even notice or care whether I was alive or dead.

- Neglected Relative

Dear Neglected:

I can only make a pitch for you to choose to be the mature and understanding adult and not the petulant teenager.

I'm not saying that you need to tolerate abuse or neglect for the sake of a relationship you don't enjoy. However, I wonder if you've had a part to play in this dysfunction. Is it possible that you have conveyed that you aren't much of a "kid person," and that your niece has picked up on this and beat you to the punch by not being much of an "aunt or uncle person"?

Genuine life-celebrations are few, especially in a small family. A graduation ceremony is one evening out of your life. If you are asked, I hope you will choose to go. If you aren't invited, you'll have dodged a bullet - though I have a feeling you would be hurt if you weren't asked.

I wonder if there is a way for you to dig a shred of pleasure or amusement from this young person. If not, please don't tell this girl what you "really think of her."

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