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managing relatives when everyone is scattered across the country - Page 2

post #21 of 40
I thought some more on this. Having to go across country to visit relatives w/ our 5/2 y'os is a PIA, but having visitors isn't much better! My mom visits pretty frequently, but she expects to be entertained rather than be helpful and 5 of us + dog in a 1850' house--let's just say that I prefer short visits.

DH's sibs have visited with their young children and of course my boys love that, but ugh, then it's 8 people in the house, 4 of them who spend most of the time shrieking, running around and/or making a mess. Don't get me wrong, I love that the cousins have fun, but sheesh, would I love to have them down the street to see for a couple of hours weekly rather than 24/7 in our cracker box.

Growing up our relatives were a plane flight away too, but our parents just shipped us up to them while they had their own vacation. DH and I would never be comfortable doing that. Honestly, the 70's were a time of neglectful parenting IMHO but sometimes it seems like they had some good ideas.
post #22 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetPotato View Post
Okay-- I just had to laugh reading this because we have the same problem-- only WE live in MN, my parents live in Ohio, and dh's parents live on the east coast. It sounds like you and I need to just trade some families and we'll all be good!

Seriously- It drives me nuts. My dh's family is very expensive for us to visit, in terms of airfare and precious vacation days for dh. We're thinking that we may commit to visiting each set of parents once a year, and more than that they can come see us. It's true that WE moved (for my dh's career)- but I feel like it's much simpler for a couple of affluent retired people to travel than it is for dh to take off work and us travel with dd. Dd and I occasionally travel alone for more frequent visits to my parents, since we can take the train cheaply, but I have to admit that I'm feeling kind of petty and grumpy about how long it's been since they came here and how slow they've been about making plans to come back. Dd loves to have them here in her life, and it makes me so sad every time she asks if they're coming to visit and I have to put her off because they simply won't make plans.
Wow, I feel like you are the bizarro-world me! I am also admitting I feel petty and grumpy about how no one will visit....even when we pay for their tickets! Makes me feel quite rejected, really. And I'm tired of the guilt trips used to pressure us to travel.

Frankly I am not buying this "you move away, you come back to visit" argument. Really? Dh and I have both been away from our hometowns for 10+ years. It doesn't feel like we "moved away" it just feels like we're adults and we happen to live elsewhere. And just because there happens to be a better job opportunity elsewhere to support your family, the entire burden of travel falls on you? I think it's unrealistic to expect families with several young children to do all the traveling--it's disruptive, it's expensive, it's a pita! I understand that our families don't want to leave the comforts and routines of home....but neither do I! Neither do my kids!

We do Skype, but we always sort of run out of things to say, or the whole thing seems strained and awkward. Maybe it will work better when the kids are a little older.

Mostly I am just ranting because I am stuck with the kids at my parents' house and getting very little help, and I am vowing not to visit again for a couple of years. Grrrr....
post #23 of 40
My family is also far flung. We live in N. America, and we have a lot of family either in southeast asia or western europe. we trade off visiting with family who has to travel overseas. we went two years ago to europe, my cousin from germany came over here last month, and we'll go to asia next year. everyone is understanding that we can't get everywhere, so both sides of the family try to make it to one major destination (when we went to europe, everyone in western europe tried to make it out to Paris for our visit) so we aren't travelling all over the place.
post #24 of 40
We live on the east coast, and have close family all over California, in Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado and Ohio. We discuss it openly, AND we do most of the traveling, which can be exhausting.

Factors re who travels:
who can get time off work
disability
who can afford flights/ trips

The kids having strong relationships with our families is super important to us, and trumps the major inconvenience of schlepping them all over the country (although the schlepping has gotten much easier since they hit 3 and 5 - the last year of travel was easy compared to all the prior years).

When we look at our financial picture alone the choice to travel so much is a bad one. We have postponed home improvements and racked up some credit card debt paying for our trips. However, when we look at the big picture we have no regrets. We are young and our income will go up as DH's career takes off and I reenter the work force, but if we waited until then we'd have less time to travel AND the kids would have lost a lot of childhood memories with grandparents, great grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles, some of whom have progressive medical conditions that will affect their ability to get out and have fun with the kids.

In our family, the person who travels is not always the one who pays. My mom and dad have the means, so they usually pay for the kids' tickets whenever we travel to see them and pay for hotel/ cabin if we meet them somewhere. My inlaws are in a tight spot, so we often pay their way.

As others have said some of the best times we have had together with both sides of the family have been when we met in a neutral location and rented a cabin.

We cannot wait until circumstances change and we can move closer to family and cut the travel in half.
post #25 of 40
My family lives in New England, we live in Maryland and DH's parents live in Wisconsin. Usually, we visit the ILs twice a year (for holidays) and they visit us two or three times. This year, however, the whole family went to Ohio for Passover and we will have a newborn for Rosh HaShanah, so we won't be going to Wisconsin at all. We pay for our trips and they pay for their trips, but my MIL came to help me out on short notice a couple months ago when my mom flaked, so I paid for that. We often discuss travel schedules.

We typically only go to visit my family once a year, if that. I would really like to go more often, but it almost always ends up bad. My mom is in the midst of divorce (going on two years now) and we definitely cannot stay with her. I stayed with my dad last summer, and that was a nightmare I will never repeat. So that leaves us with staying at a hotel, which is pricey. My mom usually plans to visit three or four times a year, but she often flakes out or cuts her visit short. I don't know why she's like this. My dad hasn't visited since DS was born two years ago.

Maybe I'm weird, but I really enjoy visiting my ILs. They love DS and we usually have a wonderful time. I don't love the cost, but it's really important to us that our kids have a strong relationship with their grandparents, no matter where they live. I wish it could be the same with my parents.
post #26 of 40
Most of our family are fairly local (within Ohio, anyhow), but my moms parents do live out in CO. DH & DS1 met my grandma once when my brother got married a couple yrs ago (DS1 was just over a year, I think). I'd love to go out and see them some day but we simply don't have the money to travel right now, maybe in a few years. All of my moms family basicly lives in New Mexico, and I've met most of them just once or twice, though its now been several years since I was out there.

My dad's sister and her family live out in LA, and she flys out to see her parents/us a few times a year. Her daughter (my cousin) has been going to Syracuse, so we've seen her a bit more (she's caught rides with friends or a short plane trip and come to thanksgiving/easter a couple times now).

DH's dad lives up in wisconsin, and he comes down to see his family once or twice a year, and I've been up there, once or twice too, though its been a while.

So, I suppose in general the people who moved away go visit everybody else (ie Dh's dad, my dad's sister). We just rarely see my moms family... but its always been that way. As kids we'd drive out every couple years, and we all flew out there once, but mostly we talk on the phone.
post #27 of 40
OP, it does seem really unfair that they aren't coming and are expecting you to travel with little ones to their place, far away.

We have the same problem, with my mom, who doesn't want to make the drive to come see us (3 and 1/2 hrs..not that bad!) She insists we go to her.

IL's live in NYC. We are in west TX. They have the money and time to fly down to visit but usually they don't. In fact, they expect us to come to them. SIL & BIL live in Los Angeles. They refuse to come see us which is fine..they have a 3 yr old and we would not expect them to. But they expect us to come see them!

We used to do it. We used to try to do Christmas and everything and we'd fly to L.A. or NYC and then we'd drive all over creation to see other relatives too.

BUT. Year before last, Christmas was such a horrible beatdown, with our little guy really not happy being dragged from place to place, long plane ride, nothing babyproofed..and a bunch of relatives he doesn't really know..so we decided no more. This past Christmas we told everyone that if they wanted to see us they were welcome to come but we were staying put. Period.

And nobody came. Which was actually fine with me, because I don't really care for my IL's anyway. But it would have been nice though if some of my family had come. They just decided not to. So..there you go. We decided no more catering to all the relatives who we don't enjoy the time with anyway. ANd it turns out, they really don't want to see us very much if they can't be in control of every.single.thing.

I don't really have advice except to decide what is best for you, DH, and kids, and go from there. You are not required to do all the travelling!!!!!
post #28 of 40
Haha, we are on a visiting strike. My family all lives around the same area (Philly and NJ), all within an 1 hour of each other (my one sister is moving now to the other side of the state though). For three years we lived in Northern NY, a good 8 hours drive, more often 10 with bad weather and stopping. With the exception of my father and his gf (who I am not really fond of and so visits are not great for me) NO ONE made the drive to see us. We on the other hand made the drive 2-3 times a year, pregnant, with baby, through blizzards. No one except my dad even came when I had dd1. They waited for me to come there. I get that it was easier and we weren't living in a very interesting place but still. Any exuse they had we had too (work, school, kids), but we went anyway. And we made less money than all of them.

Now we live in Europe. We refuse to go back to visit them in the US until at least one of my sisters or my brother comes here first. Petty? Maybe. But it is what it is. We paid for my dad to come out in March to meet dd2. Then he came and I found out that he really could have afforded a ticket if he tried a little bit and prioritized. Whatever. I was glad he came (especially without said gf). But it is 3 full airfares plus one partial for us. I want my kids to know their family but the effort has to come from both ends.
post #29 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by NicaG View Post
If you have close relatives who live far away, how do you decide on when to visit, who travels (them to you, or you to them), and how often?

Anyone else have this problem? Do you discuss visiting schedules openly with your relatives? Any good resolution? Is it ok to go years without visiting the grandparents?

I don't actually have this problem, but I'll post how we deal with close relatives that live far away. First off my in-laws live 45 minutes away, so they aren't a concern as far as visiting goes. My brother is in Northern Virginia so he also isn't an issue. That being said my parents and 2 sisters live in Georgia and we're in Maryland so around an 11 hour drive or 2 hour plane ride away.

I do tend to travel the most, that being said I do not tend to pay for said travel. My parents want to see their Grandchildren often. So they pay for me to fly down with the two of them 3 or 4 times a year, normally 2 times in the summer, once in February and sometimes a 4th time in October. On those trips it is normally just me and the kids not DH at least not for the whole trip. What often happens is one of my parents will fly up, spend the night here and then fly down with me and then before we leave DH will fly down so he doesn't miss much if any work and fly back with me. I tend to stay for at least a week when I go down to visit. I'm going in 2 weeks for a week and a half. That way my parents get a lot of grandchild time.

That being said my parents do both work still, and since I am a SAHM it is easier for me to come down for long visits then for them to come up for long visits. They have no problem baby proofing their house and my Mom is a lot of help, not as much as DH, but pretty close. My Dad will watch the children as well, but is not that much help with them, he does like to play with them though.

We also go down at Thanksgiving. DH comes with us on that trip. We will sometimes drive depending on how much vacation time DH has, though often we fly, sometimes I fly in a few days before DH and leave a day or two after him, but he is there for most of the Thanksgiving trip. We always do Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with his.

My Mom also travels up to visit us, normally for a long weekend, she has 2 meetings a year about 2 hours away so she will normally stay with us either the weekend before or after the meeting. She also visits a couple more times a year so probably 4 or 5 times. My Dad will often come with her for one or two of the trips.

We also go on vacation with my parents on occasion. We went to the beach when DS was 1, and last year we did Disney. We aren't doing a vacation with them this year because my brother is getting married this summer and my Mom is basically their wedding coordinator, but I expect we'll do something next year.

So we visit them a lot, it is rare to not see my parents every 6 weeks or so, often more frequently. We do discuss travel and figure out the plan that works best for all of us.

In our situation I could not go a year or longer without seeing my parents, my children's grandparents, but everyone's situation is different and you need to find a plan that works for you.
post #30 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bellabaz View Post
Haha, we are on a visiting strike. My family all lives around the same area (Philly and NJ), all within an 1 hour of each other (my one sister is moving now to the other side of the state though). For three years we lived in Northern NY, a good 8 hours drive, more often 10 with bad weather and stopping. With the exception of my father and his gf (who I am not really fond of and so visits are not great for me) NO ONE made the drive to see us. We on the other hand made the drive 2-3 times a year, pregnant, with baby, through blizzards. No one except my dad even came when I had dd1. They waited for me to come there. I get that it was easier and we weren't living in a very interesting place but still. Any exuse they had we had too (work, school, kids), but we went anyway. And we made less money than all of them.

Now we live in Europe. We refuse to go back to visit them in the US until at least one of my sisters or my brother comes here first. Petty? Maybe. But it is what it is. We paid for my dad to come out in March to meet dd2. Then he came and I found out that he really could have afforded a ticket if he tried a little bit and prioritized. Whatever. I was glad he came (especially without said gf). But it is 3 full airfares plus one partial for us. I want my kids to know their family but the effort has to come from both ends.
But, if you moved, why should they come visit you? They weren't the ones who chose to create the distance...

If we moved away, part of that would be making sure we set our budget up to be able to go back home to visit. I wouldn't expect other people to absorb the cost.

Also, if you live in Europe now and they are in the US, then you're trying to dictate where they should spend their vacation and use their vacation time. That's not very fair.
post #31 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by JL83 View Post
But, if you moved, why should they come visit you? They weren't the ones who chose to create the distance...

If we moved away, part of that would be making sure we set our budget up to be able to go back home to visit. I wouldn't expect other people to absorb the cost.

Also, if you live in Europe now and they are in the US, then you're trying to dictate where they should spend their vacation and use their vacation time. That's not very fair.
Who says life is fair? Relationships are a two way street. If both sides desire a relationship then both sides need to do some work.
post #32 of 40
We have this issue, too. My dh's sisters all live in OH (we're in GA), and his parents are in FL. My parents are within an hour, so not a big deal. My grandparents are in FL, and they used to do most of the traveling, but they are now elderly, and that's not practical.

I travel to see my grandparents (though not frequently), because of their age.

My dh feels like he didn't move away from his sisters (and he didn't--he's a tag along child, 10 years younger than the next older sister, and his parents moved him away when he was 8), but his sisters also feel like *they* didn't move away, either. They are in the same town that they have been in for 30+ years. We go up every other year for the holidays (cause there are 3 of them, nad it's easier), and in between, we try to get together.

His parents sometimes visit us, expect us to visit a lot (which doesn't happen), and they are generally unhappy with the situation. But, we do what we can to see them.
post #33 of 40
We used to travel a lot to se the grandparents, but it got a bit much after a while. Could you use skype, photo sharing websites, facebook etc?
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post #34 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JL83 View Post
But, if you moved, why should they come visit you? They weren't the ones who chose to create the distance...

If we moved away, part of that would be making sure we set our budget up to be able to go back home to visit. I wouldn't expect other people to absorb the cost.

Also, if you live in Europe now and they are in the US, then you're trying to dictate where they should spend their vacation and use their vacation time. That's not very fair.
I really take issue with this. My dh works in a very specialized profession, and the jobs are concentrated in certain parts of the country. He works with a recruiter and tells the recruiter to tell him immediately if jobs open up in the midwest....in eight years, 1 opening (which dh applied for and did not get). Dh literally cannot support our family in either town where we grew up. We don't have the option of living near our families at the moment. And besides, isn't my mil "choosing" not to see us by repeatedly turning down offers to pay for her plane ticket, repeatedly refusing to move closer to us, even though she really has no reason not to, except for being vaguely afraid of driving on the east coast? I just think the whole, "you moved away, now you absorb all the cost of maintaining a relationship" is unrealistic. There needs to be some give and take, depending on everyone's financial situation and the ages of the children and how much travel they can tolerate.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rightkindofme View Post
Who says life is fair? Relationships are a two way street. If both sides desire a relationship then both sides need to do some work.


Exactly
post #35 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post
When I was younger, my friend's family would all rent and split a huge beach house (not expensive, depending on where you go. Lake houses, mountains, etc are all good choices) and meet up there. I always thought it was such a neat idea and we've used it ourselves. It doesn't have to be expensive, everyone has to travel so no one feels especially put out, it's not anyone's home turf, and it doesn't feel like you're wasting vacation days and not doing anything fun.
We always did this when I was growing up too and it was great! My family still does this actually, although I live overseas now and can't really participate so often. It was great because, like you said, it was neutral territory so no one was imposing on anyone and no one got their space invaded. We kids always had a blast with our cousins and it was a good chance to get away from everything and spend time outdoors and get good quality time with each other that you don't get when you still have all the distractions of home there, imo. You know, playing cards with your cousins or going for a walk on the beach with grandma instead of people being glued to the TV or, later, when we were teenagers, being distracted by our own social lives.

Living abroad makes visiting the family really a logistical nightmare, but if we ever move back to the States we'll definitely be carrying on that tradition.
post #36 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by NicaG View Post
I really take issue with this. My dh works in a very specialized profession, and the jobs are concentrated in certain parts of the country. He works with a recruiter and tells the recruiter to tell him immediately if jobs open up in the midwest....in eight years, 1 opening (which dh applied for and did not get). Dh literally cannot support our family in either town where we grew up. We don't have the option of living near our families at the moment. And besides, isn't my mil "choosing" not to see us by repeatedly turning down offers to pay for her plane ticket, repeatedly refusing to move closer to us, even though she really has no reason not to, except for being vaguely afraid of driving on the east coast? I just think the whole, "you moved away, now you absorb all the cost of maintaining a relationship" is unrealistic. There needs to be some give and take, depending on everyone's financial situation and the ages of the children and how much travel they can tolerate.
I think you missed my point.

Your family was the one who chose that profession. You chose to make it so that you had to move away.

Your extended families didn't choose that. Why should they shoulder the cost of your choices?

I look at it from my perspective. We are able to budget to take 1 family vacation a year. 1 trip a year where we fly somewhere. If we were required to travel to see the family who has moved away, then we wouldn't be able to go on a vacation somewhere we actually wanted to go to.

Luckily our family who moved away comes back every year and we travel to them every couple of years.
post #37 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by JL83 View Post
I think you missed my point.

Your family was the one who chose that profession. You chose to make it so that you had to move away.

Your extended families didn't choose that. Why should they shoulder the cost of your choices?
Presumably because they care about maintaining a relationship, too. Choosing a profession isn't such a pat and predictable thing that you can be sure there will be jobs in the area you want. Things aren't so static that companies don't close, sell, or relocate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JL83 View Post
I look at it from my perspective. We are able to budget to take 1 family vacation a year. 1 trip a year where we fly somewhere. If we were required to travel to see the family who has moved away, then we wouldn't be able to go on a vacation somewhere we actually wanted to go to.
We've NEVER gone on a vacation "somewhere we actually want to go." Any traveling we've ever done has been to visit relatives. I'd really assume someone wasn't interested in a relationship if they expected me to visit them with my one vacation a year because I moved away, yet were using their vacation time to go to a resort or something.
post #38 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4evermom View Post
Presumably because they care about maintaining a relationship, too. Choosing a profession isn't such a pat and predictable thing that you can be sure there will be jobs in the area you want. Things aren't so static that companies don't close, sell, or relocate.



We've NEVER gone on a vacation "somewhere we actually want to go." Any traveling we've ever done has been to visit relatives. I'd really assume someone wasn't interested in a relationship if they expected me to visit them with my one vacation a year because I moved away, yet were using their vacation time to go to a resort or something.
Absolutely agree 100%.

And to the "you chose it" opinion, in our case my DH didn't choose a career that required he move, nor could he have foreseen 15 yrs ago that the economy would crater and his company would no longer offer employment in our area.

I don't think it's fair to argue "you created the distance, you deal." My brother and his wife moved a couple of hours away from his ILs. Her parents sold their house of 25 years and moved to be near them, as did her sister, who moved across country. Based on their experience, I could argue that our relatives should pick up and move to be with us, let alone do more traveling. Everyone's experience is different.
post #39 of 40
But even when we were in the US, no one made the effort. If my sister had a baby I would not expect her to drive 9 hours with said baby just so I can see it. I would go to her. Because she is my sister and i love her. Plus we had to use our vacation time to see them.

Yes I moved, but I don't feel that means only I have to make an effort to maintain family ties.
post #40 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by JL83 View Post
I think you missed my point.

Your family was the one who chose that profession. You chose to make it so that you had to move away.

Your extended families didn't choose that. Why should they shoulder the cost of your choices?

I look at it from my perspective. We are able to budget to take 1 family vacation a year. 1 trip a year where we fly somewhere. If we were required to travel to see the family who has moved away, then we wouldn't be able to go on a vacation somewhere we actually wanted to go to.

Luckily our family who moved away comes back every year and we travel to them every couple of years.
I hear you and if cost were an issue we would shoulder it. But all of my siblings make good money. Plus they do go on vacations other places as well. I am not particularly interested in spending the amount of cash we would need to to go back ot the states, plus 3 weeks of vacay time. But I would because they are my family.

You said you still go out to see you family once every 2 years or so. I don't really expect a visit every year. But in the 3 years we lived in the states no one made an effort. I would just like a little receprocitiy.
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