Should I move my kids closer to their extended family? - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-06-2006, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, I would greatly appreciate different points of views on this subject! We are in a situation where we could possibly move back to our home state. Our boys would be close to their extended family. My husband and I do not want to move back to the mid-west, as we love Oregon. But our kids don't have any meaningful relationships with our friends here in OR. I lived close to family growing up and had wonderful relationships with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. If we raise our children here, I worry they won't form those strong relationships.

We live a healthy lifestyle with lots of outdoor family activities, eat organic, avoid traffic, hustle and bustle, and generally take life a bit slower. I worry if we move close to family, the hecticness would lessen our bond as a family. Maybe not. But by simply adding holiday activities would be a lot for us. But, I do miss family and I know my boys are missing out by not seeing their family more.

I also worry about living without family close in case of times of crisis. As you can read, I worry a lot!! I know many families live out of state, away from family, and I would like to know how you folks handle these issues.

Please give me some insight and points of view. This is a very big issue for us!:

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Old 06-06-2006, 01:35 PM
 
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Moved to Parenting...

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Old 06-06-2006, 01:53 PM
 
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I can totally relate to this question. Dh and I are in the opposite situation in that we live close to extended family right now -- but fantasize about living in another part of the country. We have gone back and forth about this ever since ds was born almost 7 years ago.

When it comes down to it though, we have basically decided to stay close to family for the time being. It's not so much for the support structure [though thanks to my wonderful ILs we do really have that.] It's more for the kids. This is the time for them to develop those bonds and memories with their grandparents, their cousins, their aunts and uncles. We see the ILs at least twice a month and the kids love having sleep overs there. We see my extended family [my sister and parents are not in the area] maybe 4 to 5 times a year at big gatherings -- but the kids delight in those too. Additionally my grandma is still around, so the fact that the kids get to have a relationship with her too is very special.

Since having kids, I have really started to see the limitations in a society structured around the nuclear family. It's just not that healthy for kids and parents. I know that some people build an exxtended "family" or tribe in their community through places of worship or other things -- but not everyone can. And while our extended family is not a huge part of our day to day life, I do want our kids to experience these bonds while they can. I think the fact that both Dh and I did when we were young helped create that value for us as adults. And it's a value I do want to transmit to my kids.

On the other hand, I don't want to minimize what a bummer it is to live in an environment that doesn't reflect one's values or interests. It wouldl take work to create a Pacific NW lifestyle in OH, that is for sure.

Anyway, that's my .02, fwiw.
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Old 06-06-2006, 02:22 PM
 
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Here are my pennies. I live closer to my IL's and see my side less. The IL's are NOT AP/NFL and I am constantly questioned. I have been quaranteened into other rooms of the house away from everybody in order to BF the children. They think I'm weird for slinging and there aren't too many other crunchies in my area of the Mid-West. If you want anything AP or NFL you pretty much have to order it online. There are a few Natural stores but it is mostly foods homeopathics and herbals. Anything beyond that is ordered. There is more hustle and bustle where I am so I can understand your reason for concern. I'd love to relocate for a few years, but I am not sure that this will happen.
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Old 06-06-2006, 03:35 PM
 
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I grew up away from relatives. It was nice to not have hectic holidays and I felt like I had a good bond with relatives from visiting every year. I would be hesitant to sacrifice lifestyle changes for the sake of being closer unless the relatives are pretty compatable. It is nice for the dc to see cousins more regularly while young, though. Sometimes, you think that you will see people more often because you are closer, but it doesn't happen because people are busy. When visits are official vacations, time to get together is more likely to be carved out of schedules.

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Old 06-06-2006, 06:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband says I glamorize the thought of living closer to family. I'm sure I do, but my mom is so good with the kids and she wants us so badly to live closer. We are pretty deep into AP and none of our relatives have really gone there nor agree with it (co-sleeping and extended breastfeeding in particular). My Mom wants the boys to spend the night with her, but I don't know how comfortable I feel about that. She has remarried since I moved away and really is in a pretty bad situation. I would rather my kids NOT be exposed to her step-children, because they have extreme problems emotionally and are really into trouble. On my husband's side, everyone is great, but not as interested in being a part of everyday life of my boys. They are the only grandchildren, so no cousins.

I was raised so differently, my Mom and Dad being 15 and 18 when I was born. My grandma/grandpa/aunts/uncles were a major part of my life. I wouldn't be the person I am today if it weren't for them. And they all think I should move back. My husband doesn't want to move. I'm not sure if I want to either. I am really struggling with this!

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Old 06-06-2006, 06:26 PM
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We were romantacized (is that a word?) by the idea of our children growing up close to their grandparents- baking cookies with grandma and going fishing with grandpa, so we moved closer (about an 1 1/2 away when we were 1000s of miles away before- the only urban location where dh and I could find jobs).

Within weeks we were questioning why we did such a thing. The grandparents never visit (even though they're retired and they're young- in their 50s). While I'm glad we live where we live (its close to the ocean, great for families, lots of "crunch" factor, etc), I'm not sure we would have moved here if it weren't for the "lure" of being close to the grandparents. They only offer to babysit if we drop the boys off at their house- they live 75 miles away, so its NOT convenient (that would be a total of 6 hours, 300 miles roundtrip, in the car to drop off and pickup up for babysitting). They have never even offered to come and spend the afternoon with the boys to let me have some time off- to run errands or whatnot. Maybe it's just my parents, but the idea of being close and the reality of being close seem to be two whole different enchiladas in my opinion. Stay where your lifestyle is supported by the community!
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Old 06-06-2006, 07:40 PM
 
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We did it. Moved from Portland, OR to Iowa , about a year and a half ago. It has worked really well, but we made sure we talked a lot about what we realistically could expect. My ILs come to see DS almost monthly, and its a 6 hour drive for them. They've recently watched DS for four days at their house, so DH and I could go on a trip. We see my sisters every other month or so, and my parents the same. Both families are very respectful of our parenting choices, kind and non-toxic people, so I knew they would be good influences in all of our lives. Everyone is at least a 3 hour drive from where we are, but its much closer than 3000 miles away. The town we live in is much less hustle and bustle than PDX, but nowhere near as cool .

I would think about the actual family members you would be moving close to, and how well you trust them, how bonded to them you are. Let that guide you, as well as your memories of family experiences.
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Old 06-06-2006, 08:11 PM
 
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My MIL says she would like us to move closer to her but when we lived closer we saw her even less than we do now. She never visited us then and still doesn't. It is all on our side. I know it'd be the same deal so I don't feel super motivated to move any closer because of her desires. She has people in her home and life that dd probably shouldn't be around more often. If we moved closer to her, we'd be living pretty differently in terms of housing and lifestyle. We'd be giving up things that give our lives quality.
We do live within a 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hour drive of most of the grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins. It seems like a nice compromise- close enough to visit on a regular basis but not too close. My parents are the only family that will reciprocate visits though. They are great and very supportive. They never interfere with our parenting.

I do want to stay within an 8 hour drive right now because my parents are older and mil is not always in the best of health. Most of my grandparents died before I was born and all of my grandparents were gone by the time I was 8 years old. I really feel sad that I wasn't able to know them. It is like a hole sometimes. While my dd is young I'd like to give her a chance to know the grandparents and other family. I know we aren't going to stay here forever though. We will likely move much farther away when dd is pre-teen/teenager. I think by then it'll be easier for her to maintain any relationship she wants to maintain.

If I were in your situation I don't think I'd move. There are other ways to foster a good relationship long distance.
http://www.grandparenting.org/long-distance,htm.htm
http://www.fambooks.com/grandparenting.htm
http://www.grandloving.com/ten.html
http://www.pbs.org/parents/experts/a...ndparents.html

Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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Old 06-07-2006, 04:04 PM
 
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well, we live next to both my parents and my dh's parents (mine live two blocks away, and his live maybe 12 blocks away). It has its pros and cons. Dh's parents raised him VERY differently than we are raising dd, but they try to be respectful of our needs... that said, recently (as as dd gets older), my MIL is having issues with the way we do things. My parents aren't as available as dh's parents, which is hard for me, and also creates tension/jealousy between our sets of parents.... in addition, I have a seven year old brother, uncle to my dd, who is being parented in a not so good way by my parents, and his behavior and how my parents deal with him worry me because of what my dd sees... however, the support we receive is wonderful, dd loves to sleepover at either of their houses, which allows us to have more dates, and whole nights to ourselves, which really helps our marriage... i am torn about the issue myself, I like and don't like the extreme closeness, and also, because I am still living in the same town I grew up in, I do want to move soon... we want to move to the B.C. area, for better schools, environment, etc... our town is tiny, in the middle of nowhere, and the schools leave MUCH to be desired. So in our case it is a toss up of whether we want the support of family, and our dd in an awful school, or whether we want to be on our own, with dd in a good school and good environment.... and those are hard pros and cons to weigh.... if there is really nothing holding you where you are though, no better schools, jobs, friends, things to do, maybe moving would be a good idea.... however, know that you will encounter difficulties in being around family also. I think as long as you are willing to work out those things it is a good decision.
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Old 06-07-2006, 04:23 PM
 
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We've recently moved 20 hrs away from both our families (we both grew up in same small town) so that I could go to grad school. We have firmly decided that while we miss my sister and nieces- we are never moving back if we can help it! We actually requested no visitors fall and my MIL is so mad she still dosen't call us or the kids. We're loving it!

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Old 06-07-2006, 05:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarahsolazy
I would think about the actual family members you would be moving close to, and how well you trust them, how bonded to them you are. Let that guide you, as well as your memories of family experiences.
That's a great point. I feel very bonded to my mother after having children, but we've always had a better relationship when there's some distance!

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Old 06-07-2006, 06:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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[QUOTE=onlyzombiecat While my dd is young I'd like to give her a chance to know the grandparents and other family.[/QUOTE]

This is what motivates me to want to live closer to family! There are so many great people that I want my boys to know. It's harder to do living far away, but I have to put my immediate family first. There's a lot of reasons for us to stay where we are.

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Old 06-07-2006, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emilyrose
well, we live next to both my parents and my dh's parents (mine live two blocks away, and his live maybe 12 blocks away). It has its pros and cons. Dh's parents raised him VERY differently than we are raising dd, but they try to be respectful of our needs... that said, recently (as as dd gets older), my MIL is having issues with the way we do things. My parents aren't as available as dh's parents, which is hard for me, and also creates tension/jealousy between our sets of parents.... in addition, I have a seven year old brother, uncle to my dd, who is being parented in a not so good way by my parents, and his behavior and how my parents deal with him worry me because of what my dd sees... however, the support we receive is wonderful, dd loves to sleepover at either of their houses, which allows us to have more dates, and whole nights to ourselves, which really helps our marriage... i am torn about the issue myself, I like and don't like the extreme closeness, and also, because I am still living in the same town I grew up in, I do want to move soon... we want to move to the B.C. area, for better schools, environment, etc... our town is tiny, in the middle of nowhere, and the schools leave MUCH to be desired. So in our case it is a toss up of whether we want the support of family, and our dd in an awful school, or whether we want to be on our own, with dd in a good school and good environment.... and those are hard pros and cons to weigh.... if there is really nothing holding you where you are though, no better schools, jobs, friends, things to do, maybe moving would be a good idea.... however, know that you will encounter difficulties in being around family also. I think as long as you are willing to work out those things it is a good decision.
Everything you wrote struck emotional buttons for me! I've battled with family issues all my life and it could have been the main force for me wanting to move across the country! Lots of drama on my side of the family. I will have to admit things are more peaceful for me, but I still feel like I'm missing something major. We would be sacraficing a great school system, great community, organic lifestyle, clean water, unlimited outdoor activities, season ski passes...if we moved back to the midwest. A lot of things we have become accustomed to having. But being a SAHM to twins, I get lonely and long for my mother's help and companionship. None of my friends here would enjoy going to the grocery store with me and my kids, but my mom sure would. I envy you're situation, but I'm not sure I could live so close to my family. My family has always struggled with boundaries. I have no doubt my mom would visit weekly. My husband has concerns about that!

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Old 06-07-2006, 06:21 PM
 
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Wow - this is so close to home...so to speak. My husband and I moved from our hometown in west MI to southwest NM almost 3 years ago. We have a 6 month old who is completely adored by our families...mine especially. We battle with whether or not to move closer. I LOVE the little town we're in and have some great friends, it's a very "family" type of community. But my husband is going back to school to be a teacher and probably won't want to teach here. I'm not sure what/if I'll do "when I grow up" other than be a momma, but I might like to go to a seminary at some point and there aren't really any around here. We love the community and the support we get for our natural parenting choices and aren't crazy about the "midwest-ism" attitude we generally experienced. I seem to have had a better relationship with my family being long distance, but I think I'm settled enough as an independent person/family to establish boundaries if necessary. My family is able to travel often and they've seen Simon 3 times in his 6 months of life. My husband's parents are divorced and neither one is much inclined to travel. I dread even going back to visit MI because my family is more involved, more active, more fun than his (he agrees) but then we get guilty feelings for not spending more time w/ his family. His sister is especially a "taker" not a giver, so it's expected that we go to her...she doesn't come to see us even when we're visiting. So many things to balance! I guess I gotta believe that there are cities/towns within a half-day drive of where we're from in MI that would be a good spot for us. Maybe the community and feel like we have here, but close enough to family to see them more often.

I'm curious to hear more from people about the differences between living in town with extended family, within a few hours drive, and across many states. We change ideas often about which scenario would be ideal.

Oh...and I'm new to these forums. What's dd and Dh? I don't get it. MIL I know!
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Old 06-07-2006, 06:25 PM
 
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We live about 8 hours from my family and DH's (and they are 3 hours from each other). We are close enough to be able to visit a few times a year (we expect them to come here as well as us go there). I grew up away from extended family so this is what's normal to me. DH grew up near his family and he does have good memories of it (Tuesday dinner at Gram's, etc.) but doesn't mind being this far, either. I really like it and wouldn't want to be closer, personally.

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Old 06-07-2006, 06:35 PM
 
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bjoy32- We're from West MI too! We lived by family until the boys were 5. We had people showing up at our house without calling or knocking! My mother would call 3 times a day. MIL would come over and click-click her tongue at my house, kids, etc. No one liked that are children slept with us!

I miss my sister a lot. My boys and her girls adore each other. So, sister and I bought a phone plan so we can call all we want, set up a blog to post pictures for each other and bought a web cam. The web cam is great as we get to see everyone blow out candles on birthday cake, etc. They made it to visit us once in the last year. They might have come sooner but did not want to travel too much with baby and was hard for husband to take off work. They'll be here in about 3 weeks though and the boys and I are going back home with them for my brother's graduation for a week. We've gone back once and I went alone for a week in February. It is hard going back as I hate to see the ILs. Husband dosen't like to see his parents either! Both of us like to see my dad and brother but need my mom in SMALL doses.

It took some adjusting to but we love being away. No one in either family agrees with our homeschooling and it's nice to not have people 'testing' our children. We are so busy that we wouldn't spend that much time extended family anyway and now they can't show up and ruin any plans we have! It's nicer when we do see them because 'distance makes the heart grow fonder'!

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Old 06-08-2006, 03:15 PM
 
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I'm on the opposite end-living near my parents and wondering about moving away. I have a great relationship with my parents and they respect everything I do as a parent even if they don't agree with it. I live 5 minutes from them and see them pretty much daily, as my dh is a chef and works all the time. I don't want to stay here forever, but a) they are getting older b) they don't have a lot of extra money and c) my dad doesn't fly. So, if we move, I know that we won't see them nearly as much as we'd like to and they'd miss the boys so much. My brother lives in Atlanta, GA and doesn't have any kids. Dh's brothers live in Wilmington, NC and in the Bahamas. They have two kids each. The boys get to see their cousins every once in a while, but there's really no way they could see them much more. Also, dh's parents live in nothern VA. They drive to see us on a fairly regular basis. My two closest friends live in Seattle and when my dh was there for a work trip he loved it. I tend to think of how great it would be to live near my friends, but it would be so far from all of my family and pretty much up to us to travel. As it stands I've got wonderfully supportive and helpful parents around, but no friends. I tend to lean, for now at least, towards the relationship with the grandparents is more important for the boys than living on a sunny island or somewhere spectacular rather than my adequate, but not extremely exciting home city. It's tough not to see my friends, though...

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Old 06-08-2006, 11:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by OR Mom
We would be sacraficing a great school system, great community, organic lifestyle, clean water, unlimited outdoor activities, season ski passes...if we moved back to the midwest. A lot of things we have become accustomed to having. But being a SAHM to twins, I get lonely and long for my mother's help and companionship.
Maybe you could talk your mom into moving there ... lure her with the great lifestyle and the ski passes! Or see if she could be convinced to take longer visits to see you (not just holidays, which are hectic, but several weeks at a time in the summer, without the pressure of fitting everything into a short visit).

I can see the appeal of moving closer to family, but it sounds like you'd be giving up a lot, and you might end up being unhappy there.
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Old 06-09-2006, 12:22 AM
 
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If you guys would be unhappy to move back, I wouldn't do it.
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Old 06-09-2006, 10:39 AM
 
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We live about 2 hours from where I grew up. Most of my extended family (my mom's and dad's sides) are around there. We see my parents' often. They mostly come to our house, just because it is easier for them to make the 2 hour drive (4 hours total) than for us with a 17 month old.

My paternal grandmother and maternal grandparents are all still alive, and we see them maybe 5 times a year when we visit my hometown and they come here maybe once a year.

As for aunts/uncles/cousins we see them at Christmas and myabe one other time throughout the year. The aunts/uncles/cousins who live farther away we see less than once a year.

I am very close to my parents and brother. I enjoy seeing them as often as we do, which is a couple times a month. I'm fine with only seeing my extended family a couple times a year. I'm glad we see my grandparents more than that, though.

It works very well for us to be some distance away from extended family. We parent very differently than anyone in my family ever has, and so far everyone has been tolerant - for the most part - about what we do. I don't ever worry about ds not getting to know his larger family because I know he will.

Dh's family is a different story. His mom and sister are *very* toxic people and, unfortunately, we aren't speaking with them. They live about 500 miles away. The entire rest of his family lives about 1000 miles away. We are actually going to visit them in about a month.

Being close to family is good at times, but I really think for a lot of people (definitely for us) it works a lot better to have space and freedom. I know if we lived in the same town as my whole family we'd be having picnics and lunches and who knows what else all the time. Family members would drop by unannounced. We'd be expected to do certain things. It just wouldn't work well for us.

I wonder if the idea of being very close to family is romanticized for you because of your good memories? I know I've had moments thinking it be great to be very close to everyone, and then I spend a weekend with my mom and I'm like, "No way I could live so close!"

It sounds like you are happy where you are. Maybe if you are worried about your dc's getting to know your extended family you could think of ways to do that without making a big move. More frequent visits? Blogging? Scrapbooks? Letterwriting? A webcam (we do that with my parents!)?

It really is a tough decision. Good luck!
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Old 06-09-2006, 09:49 PM
 
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We just moved coast to coast to be near my family and the decision was entirely made on how it would benefits our girls. I have a big family and I knew it would be better for our girls. The thought of them not growing up around family is weird to me, and if anything ever happened I would want my family to step in to help. There's some things even our best friends didn't sign up for in our relationship.

My mom would come out almost twice a year and we'd go back once a year. That's expensive (not always relaxing) and I didn't see those family bonds growing stronger than the ones we previously had with friends. I believe that for a deep bond to grow there needs to be a lot of routine at a young age for our girls.

I wouldn't label my family AP by any means but there are a lot of AP things they do without knowing it. I've found a balance I can live with and have no problem scheduling time with my girls and dh to do things without any of our extended family. I'll also limit how long a visit lasts when I think it's too much.

I do not talk about all my choices, like non-vaxing, that's a big one for most and if one hasn't researched it I can understand why it would shock someone. I do manage to slip in many AP thoughts and opinions without them feeling defensive. My dad, for instance, has been talking to people about how bad motrin and tylenol are for children when they're sick. He says it's all over the news (I don't get to watch the news much, and thought that was pretty cool to hear). Eventually, you become the person to talk to about certain things.

Bottom line is that my dh and I like my family and agreed it was the right choice for our family. When our first was barely a year old we talked about this and agreed we'd move in about 4 years (done).

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Old 06-10-2006, 01:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Boobear, you hit the nail on the head! As much as I love our home and lifestyle, pretty much everything you wrote will be the reason we move back! I can't imagine raising my children this far from their family.

We will be moving back, but it's hard to say goodbye to so many things, mostly the climate. I know it will be the best decision for my boys and also my extended family. My mother wants so badly to be a part of my sons lives.

I will need to stay strong with my beliefs about extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, organic food, and such. I do feel confident enough and hope everything goes well. I loved reading everyone's responses. They've really helped me through this time of indecision. I need to get my kids back to their extended family.

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Old 06-12-2006, 05:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I wanted to add a little more to my last post. We are not moving back immediately. One day I feel like I know what to do and the next day I feel completely different. Part of that has to do with my husband's STRONG feelings on staying where we are.

So many things to factor in. At this point, I feel a huge loss for my boys not getting to see family more. The people we associate with are not substitutes. I'm sure part of this realization comes from their age. They are looking to make relationships with others. I am trying to provide that, but I really just want them to be closer to family, so they can get to know grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. I'm going on and on. Just wanted to say the decision wasn't quite as easy as I last posted. I still have to talk my husband into moving!!!!

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Old 06-15-2006, 04:40 PM
 
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My dh and I just left a dream job and location to move back to be closer to family. The town we moved to is still really nice and semi crunchy so we didn't have to sacrifice that, but we did sacrifice a lot. We moved back for the kids. We felt it was important for them to form a close connection with their grandparents and cousins. I feel part of the problem in this culture is the breakdown of the extended family. After living in cultures with close kinship ties, I really began to appreciate the important roles our families can play in the lives of our children.
Of course living close has its costs and you need to be independent enough in your relationship with your spouse to set boundaries but I am hoping that it is worth it in the end. I feel that giving my children their grandparents may be one of the best gifts I could give them and vice versa.
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Old 07-08-2006, 03:45 AM
 
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I could have written your post word for word. We struggled with this after our son was born. We had family nearby but never, ever saw them or got any kind of support from them.

We decided to move closer to other family in order to have that experience for our son growing up, despite the fact that we have a pretty different lifestyle from my family here.

It is still up in the air. We've had bad luck since we've been here financially speaking, and we've been living with family for the past 6 months. It hasnt' been pretty. The quarters are still too close to know whether it was for the greater good or not. Hopefully I can get an answer to this question myself soon.

We basically made a huge list of pros and cons, and decided that the pros slightly outweighed the cons. There are pros and cons to every decision and location, and it's easy to romanticise wherever you're not.
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Old 07-08-2006, 08:00 PM
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Just a thought that may keep you in OR, what culture and values do you want for your children?

As much as you love your family, are they what you want your children to pick up, or has the culture you have found in OR more resonnant with your own core values at this time? Or did you need to *overcome* your family environment to get to where you are now as people?

If what your family represents and the midwest *is* who you are, move back, but if you love OR because the culture and "vibe" there what is in your spirit now, perhaps you should stay and enjoy occasional visits from family.
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Old 07-20-2006, 01:00 AM
 
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I can't imagine giving up living in OR! (Ok, I've never been there, but from all I hear, it's at the top of my list of places to move if I could move.) I still like the idea of talking your mother into moving out there, but I know that may not be practical.

We live fairly close (about an hour's drive) to my ILS, and even though they aren't overly involved in my kids' lives, and don't say much about the way we parent, I sometimes feel smothered because all of dh's siblings live in other states. I know there's a positive side, though--the kids get to see their grandparents several times a year. Still, if we had the chance to move to the west coast, we'd be out of here like bats out of hell, regardless of the fact that the kids would see less of their grandparents.
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Old 07-20-2006, 10:45 AM
 
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We did move from a place we considered nearly idyllic to be closer to extended family. I like living here well enough, I just liked the previous place much better. I don't regret the move. I didn't want my kids growing up not knowing their aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.
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Old 07-20-2006, 01:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We felt like we finally made our decision and my husband TRIED to give a 2 month notice. Well, Dh's boss is trying very hard to get us to stay! Huge incentives!!! It doesn't help, considering we are having such a tough time making our choice anyway!! So, we are debating again about what to do.

Oh, I dread moving back, because I know how much I will miss it here! I keep thinking in 16 years when my boys turn 18, they will be moving back here and asking us why we moved.

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