DH and his parents have a pretty cold relationship. They chat when I call and put DH on the phone, they send gifts for us and the kids, they visit, but it all feels very superficial.
SIL really seemed to try to have a relationship with DH, and later with us, while she was married and her children were small. After the divorce, she has been distant and cold. We have family visits once a year or so, and she avoids us for hours and then bails after an hour or so. MIL and FIL have this weird coddling dynamic with SIL where they get to be the "parents" of her kids, so they are no help really.
After years of "gas-lighting" from FIL, back-stabbing from MIL and just plain rude from SIL I finally put my foot down and told MIL that I would not do the "family" visit this year if it included SIL. I told her that it will be the first time I'll be back in the states in two years, and I would like to spend it with people who want to spend time with me and my kids. Life is short, I am done with the drama and the pretense that SIL wants to spend time with us and then makes us wait for hours or even days, says "hello" and then leaves is one I am completely over.
I did offer that they could drop SIL's kids off for a few days and re-iterated how much we love the kids, and SIL. Because of the fact that SIL has been demonstrably rude in the past few years, and has stated verbally that she doesn't want to spend time together as a family, I am done trying to fake it. We accept reality, but don't want to be part of the fake "happy family" charade any longer.
My DH is wimping out, and scheduled his visit for only three days (the rest of us will be there for a month) to avoid his family all together. I wish it were different, because he is missing out on his children in order to avoid his parents. He has forbade me to visit his family (but won't tell them that himself, so I'll make my own choices). I get that it is hard to go against your parents, and the fact that he is finally trying to avoid them is huge so I won't push him. He'll get where I am eventually. Or maybe the will finally wake up to the fact that SIL is acting horribly and we don't have to put up with it?