The thing for me I find most challenging is living 1/2 my life and really my entire adult life away from them. I have a brother now 6 hours from me and that is the closest sibling I have ever had. They remember me as a kid, and I remember them as anything but. Over the years we have become closer, it's been like old hat for some and for others it's a working progress. Regardless the ultimate goal is for all of them to know how much I love them, their kids, step kids and their husbands and wives.
Until my mother's tragic death in January '09 I had never spent much time with my nephews and nieces since they too have grown up. I find it almost impossible sometimes to establish rapport with some of them. Finding middle ground, not picking sides, staying neutral, not judging, and just getting to know them for the adults they are and will become. When I was home (Oregon) I was really the mediator between them and my siblings. It made since I didn't have kids there so I could listen to their thoughts, problems, whatever and bring it to the table openly. I enjoyed getting to know them and earning their trust and I have to admit being the cool aunt doesn't suck either.
With all that said, I find that although I try to understand their dilemmas and problems, sometimes I don't understand why do they understand mine. I try to remember that they are young and naive and haven't lived (so to speak). For me I find that I don't understand big things when I haven't experienced them. Life is like that, hard to understand things you haven't experienced. The key I think is, trying to understand, never judge and remember that we all do the best we can with what we know, what we feel and use our best judgement to make good solid decisions.
However the age gap is always going to be an issue. I think differently than a 20 year old, who doesn't. It's normal and expected. Problem? Problem is I don't understand how someone can offer up advice on subjects in which they have no experience, knowledge, or know how. When I react they get mad and then all heck breaks loose. There are days I wonder is it better to have lots of family and friends and with that issues, problems, drama or stick to yourself and have none?
Also if you piss off one of them it's like a chain reaction. The ones they are exceptionally close to, hear the other side and before you know it 1/2 the family is pissed. If I was the person some of them still believe I am then I wouldn't care what any of them thought or said, but since I am not that person I do care.
I wish they knew this about me. Once I say what is on my mind, I'm done with it. There are no decade long grudges, hatred, nothing. I'm done with it, its water under the bridge. So how long will you continue to pout? If you're going to offer up advise on touchy issues, try to remember that touchy subjects mean sensitive issues so wearing kid gloves is almost always a good approach.
Ultimately you know how I feel about you (you know who you are) I love you, you're family and I hope you realize that part of being friends/family is accepting differences and acknowledge disagreements, and move on. Let it go and continue to grow as friends. I had a weak moment and should have handled it better. Forgive me.