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Mimishu1995's avatar

What can I do to make my cousin happy, or should I just ignore him?

Asked by Mimishu1995 (17609points) May 10th, 2019

I’m going to go visit my mother’s parents at another town in two weeks and I will stay for 5 days. One of mom’s sisters has a son who has recently came to work in that town. He used to be my close friend as a child, but I’m not so sure about that now. Words are passed around that he is “depressed” because he can’t graduate from college. Also there is talk that he is looking for something to cheer himself up. Mom is saying that it’s best that I talk to him, because I’m the only one in the family at his age range, and because I would probably have nothing else to do there, with the rest of the family busy sorting things out (mom is paying a visit because there is some family issue going on between the adults).

So should I take the chance? I have been reading into a lot of psychology stuff and I have given advice to a friend before, and beside we used to have a history together. But I’m not sure if I can talk things out with him, or even if it’s worth the effort.

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17 Answers

Patty_Melt's avatar

Is his reason he can’t finish college because of academics, or finances, or maybe this family issue?
Maybe talking with you could help him, but it would depend a bit on the reason, and whether you have alternatives you can discuss with him.

For instance, if someone is very I’ll, and needs him to be around to take care of them, that would be a disappointment for him, but a noble task, and something he could be proud of.
If finances is the issue, would you be able to give him comfort to believe that he could finish in future, or would that not be an option?
It seems to me he is in need of some hope. If you can find a way to give him some hope it would be beneficial to him, but I think also good for you. I think it would be good for you to mend that bond you had which has grown apart since childhood.

jca2's avatar

I would just hang out with him – go on a day trip with him, to the movies, to a café, stuff like that. Let him talk to you, not the other way around. You’re hanging out, having fun, and you ask him about how’s school or how is it going with ______ or ______ and let him open up. Don’t pry and don’t push. If he wants to talk about things, he will only in his own time and at his own pace. Maybe he will tell a minimum of stuff or maybe he will talk about it a lot. Either way, if you push him, he may not trust you and he won’t enjoy your time there.

janbb's avatar

There’s a vast range of actions between “make him happy” and “just ignore him.” You can’t make anyone be happy but it doesn’t mean you should ignore him. As @jca2 suggests, you could (and probably should) spend time with him, enjoy each other’s company and give him the opportunity to talk if he wants to open up. If he does, compassionate listening is better than offering advice unless it is specifically asked for.

Inspired_2write's avatar

I agree with jca as well. Consider yourself a pleasant diversion for him. Just be as you usually are around him and don’t ask him anything about school etc and be a listener for him. It must be hard to be around his family knowing inside he may feel bad? Cheer him up doing things together etc.

Kardamom's avatar

You should definitely hang out with him, and remind him of how much fun you used to have together. You should engage him in gentle conversation and see if you can get him to confide in you, without asking him directly, and without letting him know that the other relatives were “talking about him”.

Maybe he will tell you about his troubles. If he does, let him know that you would like to possibly help him, or at least talk to him more about his situation.

Don’t set yourself up to be obligated to him, but let him know that you are a friend, and would like to still be friends with him, if that is true for you.

If you haven’t seen or talked to him in a long time, you may find out that you don’t have much in common, or that you don’t care for his company. If that is the case, just be kind and polite, but don’t obligate all of your time to him if you don’t want to.

Hopefully, you will be a positive person in his life, and maybe he will confide in you, and then maybe you could offer him some advice on how to change his situation.

I know you have been going through your own troubles lately. You could lightly touch on that with him, and some common ground, but don’t get bogged down, and don’t talk about being depressed if it seems to make him feel worse.

If he seems interested to hang out, but doesn’t want to talk about his problems, just suggest some fun things, and do that instead.

If you get stuck, check in with us, and maybe we can help, while you are there.

KNOWITALL's avatar

To me, as you are family and close in age, perhaps just forgetting everything but having fun and getting to know each other again, would help you both.

And since you struggle with depression, perhaps there’s a family tendency to depression you could think about together and maybe discuss.

Dutchess_III's avatar

At least give him a chance.

Kardamom's avatar

@Mimishu1995, I think she is saying don’t just ignore this fellow.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I mean you should at least try. But I understand your reluctance.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Just have fun together, like when you were kids.
It will be good for both of you.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Patty I’d really love to. But now I’m worried that he refuses to talk to me. What should I do it it happens?

Patty_Melt's avatar

Tell him that if he doesn’t do something fun that includes you, you should absolutely perish of boredom. Then smile, so he knows you are drawing him into teasing and poking fun.

Kardamom's avatar

If he refuses to talk to you, tell him that you are there when he is ready. Then say you are going to (fill in the blank with something fun) and tell him that he is welcome to join you.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Just came back from the trip to the town. To everyone’s surprise, the family wasn’t there. My mom tried to contact his mom but she didn’t answer the phone. Everyone assumed that the cousin was hold back by the dad and started talking shit about him, saying things like he was horrible to her and threatened suicide during a quarrel. But I seemed to sense something different. I found out that the mom and the cousin were staying in the house before we came and one day before we came she just suddenly left without saying a word. And also, she was the one to complain about the husband, but she didn’t come when help arrived. I was suspecting that she was lying about her problem.

There was no proof though, so we will never know what happened. But I did enjoy my trip there. The people were supportive and I had great fun joining the game with the little kids. I came back feeling refreshed. It was good for my own depression.

jca2's avatar

Glad you had a good birthday trip, @Mimishu1995 and the cousin issue worked itself out.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Yay for having fun!

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