My parents take care of my younger brother, who is 30 years old and fairly high-functioning autistic. My mother has flown out to help after the kids were born, but lately has become phobic about travel. If they drove, it would take 22 hours. I understand it's a hassle, but I wish they would make the effort once in a while, like every 5 years. They sometimes talk to the kids on the phone.
My mil has some mobility issues and refuses to fly. Driving would take about 8 hours, but she won't make the drive by herself, and sil's driving scares her, so she won't make the trip with her. She occasionally talks to the kids on the phone and sends gifts.
My sil is married, unemployed, and never had kids. We keep inviting her and her husband to visit, but they never do. Sil has come to visit a couple times when we paid for a plane ticket, but she never sends the kids letters or talks to them on the phone.
We occasionally go to visit all these relatives, but the plane tickets are so expensive for all 4 of us, and it's hugely disruptive to everyone's schedules, stressful, no fun. We have paid for multiple plane tickets for others to visit us, but lately no one will come, even if we pay for the tickets.
Anyway, I'm fed up. I feel hurt that the grandparents take so little interest in the kids, I feel hurt that no one will visit us. I feel bad that our kids have so little contact with their relatives. Is it ok to grow up this way? Should I be trying harder? The whole situation just makes me so sad. What would you do?
mama to H. 4/05 and A. 9/08 and baby C. 10/11
Most of my commiseration is b/c of my family - they are a 10-12 hour drive away and have NEVER been to visit me (even after dd was born, my mother did not come- EVER) My mother has only even SEEN my daughter about 3 -4 times in her whole life and of course it's only when we visit - I went home recently for my HS reunion and didn't even bother to take dd with me... and it may be years again before I go back.
I think you have done more than enough - and yes it is okay (although sad, and yes a loss) that she won't have those relationships - you need to build your replacement family - very close friends that fill those gaps - Are there people you feel close enough with that could do that? And when she is older I would be forthright with her about the reasons she does not have the relationships with family that you would have likes so she KNOWS you value them, even if you could not provide her with them - There needn't be blame (as much as you might wish to in your heart) but that these were the unfortunate circumstances - And that she should try hard in the family she makes to nurture relationships (as I'm sure you will do no matter how far apart you live)
Sorry - it is sad but it is not your fault and you should try to build positive relationships where you can
Is it ideal? No, of course you want family in their lives. Is it what you want? Clearly from your post it isn't, you'd love for your family to be much more connected.
And there are clearly many many benefits to being connected to other family, so please don't hear me as saying "It doesn't make a difference one way or another" because it does make a difference - to you and your kids.
But will your kids be totally ok despite the fact that they don't have the relationships you wish they did with their relatives? As long as they're ok otherwise, my guess is they'll be fine. Maybe they'll hear about friends' time with extended family and ask questions sometimes or feel a little jealous or hurt... but again, I can't see how they'll be damaged by it if when they do talk to those relatives (however rarely it is) they have positive interactions.
I have a lot of friends who grew up in similar situations, and again while there may be times they wished it was different but none feel damaged or badly off because of it (hey, I grew up an only child and of course there are things I envy people with siblings for, but I'd never say "It wasn't ok that I grew up that way" or feel that way about my child if she never has siblings).
Sounds like you've done a tremendous amount to build those connections... I wonder if it would be worth it to try to "build family" where you are? Not that it's the same - I know it's not - but "family of choice" can sometimes be a fantastic thing for kids where biological family isn't as available as you'd like. It's not the same thing, but it's a way of having your kids spend time and grow relationships with other adults as well as other kids and it's another wonderful thing... do you think that might make a difference?
In other words, there's no reason not to supplement a lack of interested relatives with someone more immediate and motivated.
My situation is similar to yours but my family is toxic. My mother and I have a very tough relationship with lately me dealing with her with a long handed spoon. She's welcome to call and come see DD but chooses not to. She calls on occasion. We live in the samecity but different boroughs. Just a subway ride away. I've stopped offering to meet her in a neutral location so she can spend time with DD because she never takes me up on the offer.
My husbands family minus three people could care less about my DD. They've shown no interest in her and we're through trying. DD calls his aunt (we're very lucky to have her around) grandma. I don't bother to correct her.
DD has plenty of cousins we would love for her to get to know but it's not working out that way. She has plenty of good playdates though and an auntie in one of my closest friends.
The pain of not having her around extended blood family is painful because the situation it comes from is either very hurtful (my side of the family) or based on plain stupidity (DH's).
Anyway to get the GP's involved in your DC's lives even if from a far? Send cards, scheduled telephone calls, etc?
We are also moving in a couple months, not even sure where yet. So right now having friends as family isn't working. But hopefully it will in our next home.
I feel so sad for my sweet DS though. He is so loving and smart and wonderful, and I would love his family members to get to know him and love him like we do. But they don't want to, and honestly they are mostly pretty toxic so I guess I don't want them to, except for MY family, who doesn't seem to care much.
I grew up with over 30 first cousins, wonderful grandparents, and loving every family get together, family reunion, etc. and it makes me sad that he won't have that sense of family.
But I keep telling myself, it is ok. His experiences will be different from mine, but he is loved, cared for, and nurtured by us, his immediate family, and as he grows he will have friends and other adults who love him and care for him too, and he will be just fine.
My ILs are another story. My dh isn't at the same distance into his journey as I was and so estranging ourselves from them has been really hard. Thankfully, fate intervened and we just relocated from a coast to the midwest--away from them enough to be a good thing. Both of my kids know and love my ILs and I'm totally fine with that. They are less toxic and more... I don't know... dismissive and disrespectful in a less overt way (although it took 6 years and cutting them off for 2 years to get to place where they were not publicly disrespectful and outright demeaning). So it's absolutely NOT what we want modeled for our kids, but they DO love our kids and they HAVE come to a point where they respect that WE are their parents... it's civil and livable, just not great. They do NOTHING for us and before our move--when we had tons of packing to do, our FRIENDS pitched in an hour or two here and there where they could to watch the kids while I packed the house... while MIL was at home, 11 miles away, watching TV. And that's just my MIL & FIL. Dh's older brother's family? Yeah... notsomuch. They ARE toxic. The younger brother and his wife, we really love--but they have a very active life outside of the family. So I'm really glad we're far enough to not see them on any regular basis and my kids can know them through the occasional visit and lots of video calls.
I have two cousins (brothers) who grew up 1500 miles away from our family growing up--where we were very dysfunctional, but together every. single. weekend. Every holiday, every birthday. We were all together. Four families--7 adults, 8 kids, lots of dysfunction. Those two cousins had no flaming clue about what our family was like, and they say that they don't really miss what they didn't know they were missing. The youngest sibling of my mother had her children when I was an adult and they also missed all of that (we'd all grown up, people relocated) and those two cousins say the same thing: they didn't really know they were missing anything.
Realistically, both of my grandfathers died before I was born. And life without them simply was the way life was. I knew no different.
I suspect it will be the same for my son.
I myself didn't see relatives much growing up, but I did have a grandmother who sent me letters and small surprise gifts here and there, and an aunt who did the same, and I have such fond memories of both of them...I just wish my own kids had any connection like that. I guess we'll keep trying, but it's just such a frustrating sad battle. I think it's especially hard heading into the holiday season and feeling the lack of family so acutely.
mama to H. 4/05 and A. 9/08 and baby C. 10/11
It does stink in a lot of ways. I admit I'm jealous of people I know with large, close families. But my kids are okay and yours will be okay, too.
My brother on the other hand I am really disappointed but he is overseas and is a workaholic. My SIL is wrapped up in herself but I have accepted that it is the way it is. We still exchange gifts, really ridiculous I tried getting out of it to call our relationship what it is but oddly it still means something to my borther. With skype and webcam there really is no reason not to be connected. Too bad, they only have one child and not planning another. He is very sheltered. My brother and his wife are expat's in Singapore, they're very cosmopolitan. I would love to have my nephew here with my kids playing in the park and running through grass. Maybe one day.
My mom's side of the family, my kids all know. Even the aunt who lives 2000 miles away. MIL's family is mostly here as well and my kids do know them. Even fil who lives12ish hours away makes the drive once a year to see us.
I've given up on my dad's side of the family. If they have no interest in seeing us, that's their deal. But it's taken me a long long time to get here. And it still hurts whenever I hear gossip about my dad that he won't tell us (like, oh, when he got married).
|Anyway, I'm fed up. I feel hurt that the grandparents take so little interest in the kids, I feel hurt that no one will visit us. I feel bad that our kids have so little contact with their relatives. Is it ok to grow up this way? Should I be trying harder? The whole situation just makes me so sad. What would you do?|
I only ever knew one of my grandparents, and, she's pretty much a jerk. There are certainly far worse people in the world, but she has been nasty to me and I just don't particularly care for her. I have always spent as little time around her as possible, and I won't miss her when she dies. But I never particularly cared about my lack of grandparents at any point in my life. It never occurred to me that I was missing anything. I mean, it's "the more the merrier" as far as loved ones go, but I never felt like there was a hole in my heart where grandparents should have been, you know?
So don't worry if your kids don't have aunts, uncles, and grandparents. It's not going to screw them up.
Maybe a family nearby with similar age children that you can swap babysitting with, have casual dinners? They could be like a "sister/brother and cousins to your kids" relationship.
A lot of people these days have only far away relatives or just plain bad relatives. You don't have to actually be related to have family-type relationships.
I think kids get value out of all positive relationships - the more, the better. Doesn't have to be directly related. Best of luck!
Is it ok to grow up this way? Should I be trying harder? The whole situation just makes me so sad. What would you do?
My dad's family was dysfunctional and we had little contact, mom's family was nice just far away and no one had much money so travel was infrequent and we didn't do gifts or letters through the mail much.
Jess mom to 5!!! 3 boys 2 girls and another girl on the way edd jan 31st! I have a Disabled veteran husband
breastfeeding,cosleeping, non vax,no circ,and nature loving family!
SO you are not alone. I think you have made the effort and more. THe ball is in their court. We create family out of friends for our kids. =)
Dh grew up away from all his extended family members. Both his parents come from toxic families and his parents moved across the country to get away. He seems to be fine (mostly, lol.)
As for the family 8hrs away, could you guys drive out to see them? Dh's brother lives that far away and we go see them a couple times a year and they come down here a couple times a here. Everyone else in the family (mine and dh's) is within a 15 minute drive from us.
I think it's totally OK to grew up this way. My kids are 12 and 14 and have had little contact with extended family during their lives (long stories, kinda off topic) but they are happy and well adjusted.
I agree on connecting with people of different ages where you live and I wonder why you think it would be imposing. What are you wanting from those relationships that would be an imposition? We've had wonderful neighbors who enjoyed being around our kids. It's nice for everybody.
but everything has pros and cons
I am in the same situation. It's sad especiall for my kids! I have a 13 yr boy and 12 yr girl. They don't know any different because I don't talk MUCH about it. I once told my husband that I feel like a freak of nature cause we have no family. He said, "you are a freak of nature!" That is why I'm writing because I feel very alone. I don't like holidays and can't wait for them to be over. I do the best to make a fun, happy home for my kids esp during the holidays. Here is my sad, sad family story. These are my living relatives: one aunt in South Africa (I speak to a few times a year), and a sister and brother in law that are married but have no kids and live 1.5 hr away. Then I have a mom who has a brain injury/stroke and lives with my sister and her husband. No one rarely reaches out to me. The truth is my sister and I have tried to be close but we are very very different and she doesn't get involved in my kids' lives or really even care about them. My husband has two sisters. One sister is 71 and has health problems and is hard to get around and we see her very ocassionally--she is very nice. His other sister lived around here and came to our house for almost all the holidays but now moved to AZ to retire and be closer to her son,wife and first grandchild. So we are here in IL by ourselves. I didn't grow around here so I have friends but not that many.