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Old 07-01-2008, 09:58 AM
Location: Mid-Atlantic
1,820 posts, read 3,999,316 times
Reputation: 1903


My family & I have lived away from our home in WNY now for almost 12 years.
The first 6 years we still did not have children so we made it home to EVERY family function, I mean EVERY one. Picnics in the Summer,nieces and nephews birthday parties,godchildren birthday parties, and of course,the holidays.EVERY HOLIDAY.
Now that we have 2 children, our trips have become less frequent,although, we still go home approx 5-6x a year still trying to make it to the special birthday parties,etc...
Our drive is approx 9 hours so it isn't around the corner and makes for short weekend trips, especially when leaving late on Friday nights after work.

The issue that we are now experiencing is that as our children get older,they are of course involved in different things,getting invited to bday parties and we have family things that we would like to do, just us,as an immediate family.
We seem to still be "expected" to attend everything and when we decide to not come home for things,it is the guilt trip for it seems like,months.
We have "missed' so many functions here where we live because of things going on back home that we drive back for.
Not only is it us going home,but we do also get some company from home,in the Summer months due to our proximity to the beaches.
Please don't get us wrong, we LOVE to visit our family & friends back home and we LOVE to have company, but the problem is that we feel as though we are not "allowed" to have our own lives.
There are so many things that we miss here because of going back or having company. Our children have missed numerous birthday parties of their friends here due to having out of town company and we have missed my husband's very nice Xmas party at work every year due to having to travel back home.. it is endless.
We don't know how to tactfully tell our family & friends that we need to be able to establish our own things here, that our activities can't always be scheduled around them.

This next coming week, we had to withdrawl our oldest daughter from a Summer day camp she was looking forward to because we have company coming from out of town and when we told them we would love to have them but that our oldest (who is close to their oldest) would not be here during the day, the response was "well ,can she not go?" "it is the only time we can visit?" SO-instead of saying Sorry,no,we already paid,we had to go through a huge thing to get our money refunded to us.
When we vent to our close family about things like this the responses are basically "that is what happens when you live away from home".

I think the thing that really bothers us ,is,the fact that when we go home for things no one's lives are stopping because we are there.
As an example.... we have these particular family members who we are very close with,we love to be together,BUT... just a few weekends ago, we went home for a family picnic and they showed up 3 hours late because their daughter got invited to a birthday party that they felt bad to not have her attend. So, why should we not feel bad when our children can't attend their friend's events?

Anyone else out there have these issues with living away from family & friends, what do you do to balance a happy medium with everyone?
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Old 07-01-2008, 10:20 AM
Location: CA
2,464 posts, read 5,821,937 times
Reputation: 2593
No one can make you feel guilty unless you let them. There was a time when you and your SO orbited around the extended family but now that you have a family of your own... it's OK that you stay in your own solar system. Your extended family is just going to have to deal with it.

I live 2000 miles from my extended family so I can't take a drive and be there within a day (plus I have very young children). BUT, of course, my family feels the need to try to guilt trip me into taking an expensive trip as often as possible (with the four of us, it's not cheap). If I go to someone's graduation and there's another graduation a month later... I'll get the "why didn't you come to MY graduation but you went to his" blah, blah, blah. So, I just make my phone calls and e-mail as often as I can and trips are down to once a year. Do what you can without overextending.
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Old 07-01-2008, 10:31 AM
Location: In a delirium
2,588 posts, read 4,943,557 times
Reputation: 1379
I don't know how to do it tactfully, but it has to be done and done firmly. Likewise, telling them you will not tolerate any guilt trips needs to be done firmly. If they start in on one, then you end the conversation. You have to be clear about this and follow through with it. You deserve this, but they're used to you caving in and doing what they want you to do. Mommabear2 is right in that no one can make you feel guilty unless you let them. You really need to put your family first, which you haven't been doing. They'll get used to it and hopefully will lay off the guilt trips. If not, then it's their problem.

We live far from family. We're on the west coast and they're in the midwest and east coast. If family wants to see the four of us, then they need to hop on airplanes to come visit or pay for our tickets. Or, wait until the next BIG function, which means weddings, funerals, and any extended family vacations. It's just too expensive for us to fly 4 people across the country as well as secure boarding for the dog.

Good luck. It's hard to set boundaries, but it's so worth the effort.
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Old 07-01-2008, 10:36 AM
Location: Albany, GA (Hell's Waiting Room)
602 posts, read 1,769,403 times
Reputation: 287
We now live about 6 hours away from my family and about 8 hours away from my husband's family. My folks, despite various physical ailments, make the drive about every 6 weeks (and we go up there about every 6 weeks, so that they and our kids can see each other roughly every 3 weeks). My husband's family can't be bothered. They will drive to TEXAS to see their other (favorite) grandkids, but they only CALL us about every three or four months or so. Yet when we've made the drive to north Alabama and burned the gas and spent the money, they invariably expect us to make ANOTHER two-hour drive to see them. I'm getting so resentful of this, I don't even want to go.

I'm not saying anything here that I haven't discussed with my husband. It isn't his fault, he knows how I feel, and he sort of feels the same way, but he doesn't want to get into it with them. They're in MUCH better physical shape than my folks, but it's obvious that they simply don't care about seeing us or our kids.
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Old 07-09-2008, 01:00 PM
8 posts, read 30,542 times
Reputation: 16
I have had some issues in this area. We have had so much company the past 18 months, as long as we have moved away, that out of necessity, I have "gone on" with our regular life. IE.: If my daughter has a birthday party, I send her, now I wouldn't "keep" her away from visiting family all weekend, but I figure if we go " home" to their turf, their life, parties, and kid ball games go on. I tiptoed around this at first, but with so many visitors, I went with my gut, and allowed my kids to have their new friends and activities take an iomportant spot in their life.
Now for venting - and maybe some advice: I am fairly new at this. We are in the new area 18 months, and have been "hosting" company from the get go - you got it - we are at a beach situation. I feel like I have bent over backwords - from stocking the house with food, cooking, buying cutsie little toys for so and so, buying an extra playpen, shuttling people around, going out and entertaining more than I would like, and sadly have been met with not as much "thanks" as I had anticipated, but...."you are late" with an airport pick-up, "you know what you ought to do better" "well, what are you doing, you could shuttle me and my kids to get our pictures taken with a local photog. with your kids' carseats. I tell, you I was at a loss for words. With each trip, my husband and I learned more, and many people told us it would take us 2 yearts to get the whole thing down pat. We are now frowning upon airport travel, shuttling people around, and quite frankly , are trying to suggest hotels. We would love to "see" people, but being so inundated has taken a toll on our "family unit"

Then we go back " home", we are at times blown off to other people's priorities, they couldn't posibly have lunch with us, or pick us up... taking 1-2 hours out of their time... but we are expected to give up.. I mean totally give up weekends at a time to "service" others.

How do we stay in touch, and still "like" theses people. I love them all in small doses, but I think a lot of this living together type of circumstances, has been like going to a family party that is just tooo long. Are hotels and rental cars the answer? I did tell my good friend that I didn't think I could "handle" a third visit in a month - his visit would have been the third family to visit in a 30 day period for a weekend stay. He was okay about it, and I guess It will get easier to say no.
Any advice - bring it on - please!
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Old 07-09-2008, 01:49 PM
Location: Home!
8,710 posts, read 10,401,180 times
Reputation: 8511
I am moving to Vegas in about a month. I know that I will face some of this myself. While my husband already has a job there, I will be looking and my daughter will be going to school. I figure one time each they can stay and then it is going to be "cool, I am so glad you are coming. What hotel will you be staying at so that we can meet up with you for an evening or during the day?" In Vegas, it is 24 hr go, go, go. We will be living there, not on vacation. They will just have to understand that. Hopefully they will.
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Old 07-10-2008, 04:31 PM
5,822 posts, read 13,313,859 times
Reputation: 9290
You need to learn to say "no" and stop being an enabler. Of course you love your family and enjoy their visits and visiting them, but you, your spouse and children have a responsibility to yourselves. You should not have your children's activities revolve around visits to and from relatives. The children are eventually going to resent being forced away from their activities and friends.
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Old 07-10-2008, 06:06 PM
Location: Chaos Central
1,122 posts, read 3,687,751 times
Reputation: 894
I agree with those who say you must take control of your own life. A 9-hour drive is definitely not around the corner.

You don't need to come up long rationales for why you can't go to this or that. You only need to give your polite regrets with the explanation that you already have another commitment. Case closed. If you can't say no, then it's really no one else's fault that you're not doing any of the things you really want to do. I don't mean that to sound harsh at all. It's just a fact.

You can always say, "but we'd LOVE to see you...when can you come see us?" thus putting the onus of travel back on them

Of course, elderly or sick relatives or friends deserve extra consideration.
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Old 07-10-2008, 08:33 PM
Location: Boca Raton, FL
5,170 posts, read 8,691,075 times
Reputation: 6167
Smile Living away - such a hard issue

This is a hard issue for me. I had a very strong father figure. My parents had 4 children. My dad had worked such long hours and travelled a lot when we were young. It was wonderful to have him home.

So, if we had a family event, even if one of us was away (states), he flew that person home. Always did. As we all got married and thus more events, the family grew and there were more and more events (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays). My dad would call each family, make the arrangements, etc. Everyone came. (BTW, we all lived within 10 miles of each other). As we had children, it became even more special.

It wasn't until my dad passed away and then all our kids were tweens and teens that the events lessened.

I do look back so fondly on all the times we had and I feel totally grateful for them. It was really b/c of my father. He loved having his children, their spouses and then eventually, the 12 grandchildren. I miss him.
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Old 07-10-2008, 10:43 PM
Location: Cosmic Consciousness
3,871 posts, read 15,510,840 times
Reputation: 2638
Identify what you really do want, and identify what you really don't want.
Choose what you do want, and eliminate what you don't want.
If you don't live YOUR life, who will?
Simplify. Listen to your happy inner voice, and follow it.
Choose joy.
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