Post # 1
My husband, baby and I live 5 hours away from my family. We visit them frequently, like 8 times a year or so. They all live in my hometown, except one sister who lives an hour away and another sister and brother who are in college 2 hours away, and they are usually in town for the holidays and events when we visit. We usually get to see everyone when we visit, so it’s not like we never see them. But they only visit us very rarely. 4 of my 6 siblings (and significant others) descended on us 2 weeks after the baby was born, and only 2 of my 6 siblings have come once since. Now we’re planning a first birthday party for my baby and I know that 3 of them won’t be able to make it for sure, and haven’t heard from any of the others.
The expectation that feels reasonable to me is the idea that they visit us about once a year. I know that they’re busy, but so am I and so is everyone. One brother and his fiance have a toddler and they’re planning a wedding. One sister has a baby only a little younger than mine. One brother is living and working in Germany, so obviously I don’t expect him to come at all and there are no hard feelings about him. A sister and a brother are in college. Besides those two, all have full-time, professional jobs. To be fair, I haven’t visited the home of the sister who lives an hour from my parents in over a year and a half, but then she hasn’t invited me (our relationship has become kind of distant and polite in that time period for other reasons). A hotel stay would be involved in visiting; obviously we can’t keep 16 people in my little house. But that’s kind of expected and standard, right?
I think what bothers me the most is the way that this dynamic makes me feel. It feels like my husband and I are putting all of the work into this relationship and they’re not putting in any. It feels like our relationship only exists in this place that’s associated with my childhood, and not with my adult life. It makes me feel like they don’t care enough about me to make the trek even once a year. It makes me feel like they don’t care about my baby either. I already feel excluded from a lot of things that take place in my hometown when I’m not there; now they’re not letting me include them in my life here either.
Is once a year a reasonable expectation for visits to immediate family members? Am I right to feel hurt, or am I making a big deal over nothing? What can I do to make it more likely they’ll visit us? What are some other ways I can improve these relationships and make them feel more like adult friendships and not leftover junk from childhood?
Post # 2
I don’t think visits need to be reciprocated. You have a large family and you are the only one who doesn’t live near your hometown; you visit them many times a year and see everyone when you do. So I don’t see the problem. I think it’s entirely reasonable for the one person who’s far away to do all the visiting rather than asking everyone else to travel to that one person. Plus, since you already visit so often, maybe they feel like they get to see you often enough, or they think you just like to visit the hometown so much. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to see you, I’m sure they are glad that you do visit so much.
My husband has a large family and we are also the ones who live farthest. We always visit them, no one else has ever visited us, and I don’t feel that has any bearing on our relationship with them. It’s what’s convenient for everyone.
Maybe at the next family gathering you could invite everyone to come visit you once a year. Or you could have a talk with one or two of your siblings who you are closest to, and tell them how much you would like them to see where you live and spend some quality time together in your town. But please don’t be offended if everyone isn’t enthusiastic about the idea. Think about it, you visit your hometown because all of your family is there, plus it’s the town you grew up in so you have some connection to it. If your family hasn’t spent much time in your town where you currently live, maybe there isn’t much draw for them to visit besides seeing you. And maybe everyone else doesn’t have as much vacation time as you do. Just be thankful that you are able to see your family as much as you do, despite living far away.
Post # 3
You have 6 siblings. If everyone owed each of the siblings and (also the parents) only one visit a year- that could be every other month that you are making a visit to someone. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have too many free weekends and if I do, I am not really wanting to feel obligated to travel to visit people that often. You could do what our family does and plan one big get together yearly (we rent a lake house), so that everyone can be together.
Post # 4
How old are the siblings that don’t visit more?
Family tends to be or not be a priority to people at different ages. When I was in college, I saw my aunt/uncle/cousin once a year, occasionally twice. I saw my immediate family about twice a year. I was very busy and had too much going on. Honestly, it didn’t bother me at all. I was focused on me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve made it a priority to visit family much more often. <br /><br />I think it’s something that happens with time and maturity. My 21 yr old brother doesn’t give two craps if he sees any of us or not. When asked if he’s getting together with everyone for Mother’s Day, he told my mom, “Oh, I dunno. I might be working or something that day. I don’t know.” (That was like, yesterday…)
Post # 5
I understand what you’re saying, caritas, about how not visiting seems logical and convenient from their point of view. The town I live in is a fun place, with lots to do, plenty to draw them in addition to me and my family, if that makes a difference.
My siblings range in age from 18-28. The two college age ones are actually the ones who have visited us, since they had time over a break from school. If anything the older ones seem less likely to care and put in effort because they have busier careers and young children, while the younger ones have extra time. If anything, it’s the reverse dynamic from what StephleBee suggested.
What can I do to change the way I feel about these relationships if visits from my siblings are off the table? What can I do about the way I feel excluded because of living far away? How can I change the fact that it feels to me like they don’t care about me or my family because I’m doing tons of work and travel to maintain these relationships and they’re doing none? The quality of these relationships in general probably has more to do with how I feel than just the travel issue. I’m focusing on the travel issue because it crystalizes some bigger issues I have with my siblings. I have very little in common with them and they think that my interests are stupid and boring. When I’m with them in my parents’ house, I’m the picked-on,out-of-touch, dowdy older sister again and I hate it. I also hate how, even after living in my city for 6 years, I still see my ‘real’ life as up there in my hometown, where I feel I have to prove to everyone there that I’m happy and successful since I took the bold step of moving away. I thought I could reverse that dynamic by having people come to me and see me in my home turf. If they won’t travel to my city, how else can I do that?
Post # 6
marjojo: Hi there. I’m sorry you are having these feelings. I can relate. I live about 5 hours from my family and I do most of the trips. I do not think it’s unreasonable for people to visit you once per year. It is, after all, a fairly short trip. That being said, only my parents and my older sister and her family visit me once a year. My other two siblings do not or cannot due to schedules, funds, etc.
This past weekend, I had a terrible bout of homesickness despite living here for 6 years now. I fel that same way you do. I was especially sad because I felt like (and still do but to a less emotional degree) that I’m missing out on their lives and vice versa. I was sad too that no one expresses how much we miss each other. We express love but we don’t say “I miss you” but maybe that’s ok because it’d just make everyone a tiny bit sad.
Anyways, have you just invited them up? Not as a group and not for a special occasion but just enthusiastically invited them up to hang out? Have you told them how you feel? Have you said that you miss them, feel excluded, want to build on relationships, want to build bridges, etc? I know it’s not easy but I did tell my sister how much I missed her and her family Monday and she came back with just the words I wanted to hear. It was what my heart needed.
People get busy. Reach out, extend the olive branch and get their pulse. Maybe they think it’s YOU who is putting up barriers or don’t care.
I hope you find a solution to this. My bottom line is, share your feelings and you might be surprised at just how far you get. You can start with the people that you think will be easiest to talk to like mom and dad and then work backwards from there. Family is worth it!!
Post # 7
caritas: “I think it’s entirely reasonable for the one person who’s far away to do all the visiting rather than asking everyone else to travel to that one person.”
Let’s look at travel time. You have 6 siblings, 2 parents (I assume) one sibling has a baby… Even if I ignore SOs, that’s 9 people times a 10 hour round trip = 90 hours of travel time. You said you can’t have 16 people in your house… Assuming that number includes you, your husband, and baby, that’s 13 guests, so 130 hours travel time.
You, your husband, and your baby = 30 hours of travel time.
It is so much easier for fewer people to travel than more people to travel, especially if you’re asking for everyone to meet up at once. (Which it sounds like you are, given the 16 people/hotel mention).
I don’t think it’s fair if they don’t visit you at all, but it’s not realistic to expect that everyone will have the same weekend free and be able to come visit. I think you have to look at it like this: if you want people to visit you, it’ll be easier if you don’t try to schedule them all at once and give them an offer for whatever weekend they’re free.
Post # 8
I like the travel time math you did, but if you calculate it over a year instead of comparing one visit to one visit, it looks different.
8 trips a year by me, husband and baby = 30 hours x 8 = 240 hours a year
one trip a year by 13 people = 130 hours
we’re still doing more travel time every year.
You’re right that everyone can’t always visit all at the same time, that’s a fair expectation that I won’t gather everyone at my house all at the same time.
Post # 9
marjojo: When I’m with them in my parents’ house, I’m the picked-on,out-of-touch, dowdy older sister again and I hate it. I also hate how, even after living in my city for 6 years, I still see my ‘real’ life as up there in my hometown, where I feel I have to prove to everyone there that I’m happy and successful since I took the bold step of moving away.
Honestly, I don’t understand why you visit your family so much if this is how you feel. Have you considered reducing your visits? They might think that you visit so much because you like being in your parents’ home and reliving your childhood days, you miss your hometown and aren’t as happy in your new town. I mean, 8 visits a year is really a lot when you live far away and have kids. The only people I know who visit their families that much while living that far away, do so because they are unhappy where they are and miss their hometowns like crazy, and go back to relive their glory days, so to speak.
If you want to work on your relationship with your siblings, take the travel issue out of it. You don’t even have to see someone in person a lot in order to have a close relationship with them. Do you talk to your siblings on the phone or skype? Do you take an interest in their interests and stay in touch about their lives? Part of it seems like just life circumstance. It sounds like most of you are busy professionals with families and young kids, and that kind of situation just doesn’t allow for a lot of free time for maintaining relationships (much less travel), especially if you don’t have a lot in common in terms of hobbies and interests.
I think part of the reason they still see you as “the picked-on,out-of-touch, dowdy older sister” does have to do with being in your parents’ house. But it seems they still have very little incentive to visit your home. What about suggesting a mini family getaway the next time you visit, where everyone can spend a weekend or even a day together somewhere close to but not in your hometown? Start small, work on building relationships first. The visits to you may come later, or they may never come. Just focus on the relationships.
(Also, I wanted to add that the travel time is not just a factor of time. There’s a big difference between traveling 5 hours to visit 5 siblings, and traveling 5 hours to visit 1 sibling.)
Post # 10
I agree with pps who have said that since you’re the one who is far, it is your responsibility. I think you have accept that you CHOSE to move away from your family. Part of that choice is taking on the responsibility of travel for visits. Don’t get me wrong, I am not challenging your choice at all. I moved away from my family for a better job, school, more money. I recognize that I carry the burden of travel to maintain those relationships. Worth it to me.
Post # 11
marjojo: once a year. my sister never visits me. i always have to go to her. my mom rarly does but shes not made of money and its about an hour plane ride that costs 400 bucks! so not to hard on them. my brother and i have seen each other quite a bit this year but hes only a days ferry ride for 60 bucks. my mom wants to move to her home country in brazil but was afraid it was too far. i told her shes always wanted to go and that we will visit her as much as we can. i dont want us to hold her back from her retirement. plus my children will be emersed in her culture which will be wonderful!
Post # 12
marjojo: If you feel like you’re putting in all the work and they aren’t putting in any, then just stop. You don’t have to see them as often as you do and if they want to see you, they can find you. No sense in doing all the visiting and then resenting them.
Also, you’ve moved away and built your own life, so I don’t know why you’re feeling major FOMO. Whatever is happening in your hometown isn’t part of your day-to-day so why does it matter?
I guess I’m just confused because I love that none of my siblings visit and that I go to them. It’s way easier to get on a plane instead of tidying up for guests. I also dgaf about whatever else is happening in my hometown so that helps. Not sure how helpful my perspective is, but focusing on the wonderful parts of your life instead of what’s missing can only be positive!
Post # 13
I agree with your perspective. I live 4 hours from home and my parents and siblings visit me as much as I visit them. Even my grandparents will drive up a few times a year. But they are usually the ones pressing for more time together, so I would feel pretty grumpy if that were the case and they expected me to do 100% of the work. Maybe you should try visiting less and see if they step up. Relationships take two people making an effort, not just one.
Also, do you have regular contact with them? Regarding your siblings especially, I feel like building the friendship (via semi-frequent calls, chats or even letters) has to come first before they are motivated to come visit more often.
Post # 14
marjojo: Geez how awful I would feel really hurt if I were in your shoes as well. FI’s parents live in the same city so we see them every single weekend. My parents live a 2 hour plane ride away and they make the trip to visit us for at least a long weekend once every 3-4 months.
Post # 15
marjojo: are they excited and happy when you DO come? Do they tell you about events happening there? Maybe they dont put in much effort because they figure your going to come visit anyways so why should they bother?….. maybe if you didnt make yourself so available they might be like huh? why hasnt she visited lately?
I know that wouldnt be ideal but its kinda the only way to find out if they give a crap. As an ex: if you have a 20 year old living at home and mommy pays for his phone bill, tuition and car insurance….most people would just keep on- keepin on until mom and dad cut them off (livin the dream) you know? “If your gonna give the milk away for free who am I to say no”…. know what I mean? Its probably just lazyness and now they expect you to do it so they dont bother.
If your willing to just say screw it for a little while and test it out….. maybe you’ll find out whether or not anyone wants to put into the relationship!