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Change in Family Relationships

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Family relationships inevitably change over time, due to changes in individuals and how they communicate. In “Write Me Sometime”, the author, Taien Ng-Chan develops the idea that family relationships change over time, and that especially with separated families, bonds between family members can weaken when they fail to maintain contact with one another. In “Write Me Sometime”, the narrator describes her relationship with her father, and details the changes that occur when they start seeing each other less frequently. Significant life events can negatively impact family relationships, since the family is often strained to respond to the changes brought upon by these events. Because of her parents' divorce, the narrator is only able to see her father once per week. This limitation in face-to-face contact strains their relationship. To make things worse, when the narrator turns ten, she is introduced to her “weekend sibling”: a half sister she never knew she had. Seeing the strong bond between her half sister and her father causes the narrator to become jealous of the relationship between them. At one point, the narrator is even prompted to ask her father to stop taking her out to lunch “Once I told him not to come anymore, that I had other friends and needed more time to play with them.” (Viewpoints 12, p.39). Regardless, the narrator manages to get along fine with her sister and dad, up until she leaves home for university. As the face-to-face contact declines to visits once or twice a year, her relationship with her father worsens greatly. Obviously, maintaining communication is key to keeping a healthy relationship, especially after life events such as divorce, and family members moving away from home. Since communication is directly linked with the strength of a relationship, family members can influence the overall relationship when they change how (and how much) they communicate with one other. In the beginning, the narrator and her father have a fairly close relationship, despite the fact that they only see each other once every Saturday. However, once the narrator moves away for school, the lines of communication are essentially cut off. The narrator tries to maintain contact, through writing letters and returning phone calls, but it doesn't have the same effect as face-to-face contact. During one of the father's later visits, the negative effects of the lack of communication between the two are made obvious. They discuss the usual topics, but soon find themselves out of things to talk about. As illustrated in the following quote, things seem to have grown stale between the two: “so I asked him how his work was, and how my sister was. He asked me how my work was, and how my mother was. She's fine, we both said. Things are going fine.” (Viewpoints 12, p.43). The lack of communication between them has taken its toll on the relationship, and they now seem to know each other only as casual acquaintances. Communication evidently plays a huge part in forming and maintaining family relationships; without it, someone you once knew could become a distant friend. Due to the decisions they make, people often change over time, and those changes can have an impact on the relationships they have with their family. When the narrator tells her father she is a vegetarian, they argue about her decision. Later in the story, the father forgets about her dietary habits. This alludes to their weakening relationship, since food is one of the only things they share together. During one of her father's visits to Vancouver, the narrator suggests a walk through Stanley Park. Her father declines, however, explaining that “I've been having a bit of trouble with my feet lately. Your dad's getting old, you know...” (Viewpoints 12, p.40); he opts instead for the same old thing, lunch with dad. Due to the limitations of his age, the narrator's father is unable to adapt to the narrator's lifestyle. As the story progresses, more differences appear: the narrator becomes less of a scientist, and more of an artist “I told him then that I wanted to be a writer. ... Stories and plays and stuff” (Viewpoints 12, p.42). Her father, a scientist, encourages her to monetize her talent, and write for newspapers, but the narrator disagrees. These differences, coupled with the lack of communication further strain the relationship, and make it hard for the narrator to relate to her father, and vice versa. The idea of changing family relationships is well-developed in “Write Me Sometime”; the author explains how her relationship with her father has transformed over years of borderline neglect. Factors like communication, personal decisions, and significant life events all have an impact on family relationships. These factors are inevitable, and as such, so are changes in family relationships.

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