Post # 1
How close are you to your nieces/nephews? What if they are long-distance? The first niece/nephew in the family?
My FI’s nephew’s birthday was last week (turning 4 I think) & I left a message on his mom’s facebook wall wishing him a happy birthday, as did my Fiance. Well my Fiance got a voicemail from his sister the other day reaming him over the coals for not calling her child on his birthday. Calling him selfish & that he doesn’t care for his family.. He texted her back that he wished him a happy birthday via facebook and she basically said ‘oh, so you’re just a crummy facebook friend now”… Then he got mad and told her that ya, he is being selfish, he moved out of state 4+ years ago & we’re still trying to settle down & pay off our debt, we’ve got a wedding coming up which has made us very busy & a little crazy, we own our own retail store and are in the process of subletting out a portion of our space (taking forever!!!), and to top it off his nephew is only 4 & won’t remember who did or didn’t call or get him a gift. He is surrounded by family- all his aunt’s & uncles & his mom’s aunts & uncles live within driving distance & he hangs out with his cousins all the time. We are pretty much the only family not around at least once a month, but we live 4,000 miles away!
I guess I’m wondering if we are in the wrong here & what to do in the future. Ya, he should have called him (& I even told him too but he forgets with so much going on- his to-do list is pages upon pages long), but I don’t think it’s that big a deal. I was never close to my aunts & uncles & only heard or saw them once a year at x-mas/thanksgiving. I certainly never got a birthday call from them… Because of this I think we are struggling to find our place with this- he’s the first child from my FI’s immediate family so no-one has expectations setup aside from his parents apparently. My family was always spread out whereas my FI’s was always very close to each other. I thought maybe we should apologize & send a nice belated gift & card but now I’m afraid it will add insult to injury & make his mom more mad.
Post # 3
I live in another country and I see my brother’s kids about once a year. My family is very small so I always send them a birthday card on their birthdays and when my financial situation allows it, a Christmas present. It’s my way of staying close to them even though they’ve probably forgotten who I am by now.
Your nephew will probably be more responsive if you were to call on another day other than his birthday. Your SIL is being bitchy and seems like the person would expect everyone to worship her kids.
ETA: I just reread your post. I don’t think you should apologize. Just learn from the way your SIL reacted and call and send a card next time.
Post # 4
To be long distance from my niece and nephew would be hard. My sister and I are best friends (think Roseanne and Jackie from the “Roseanne” show)
Actually…right now I’m on my way to pick up my nephew from school as my sister is at an appointment so she can’t pick him up today.
I really don’t know how I’d handle a long-distance relationship with close family. I have an aunt/uncle who live in New York. I didn’t really even think about them when I was growing up. We saw them once a year, and it was always kinda awkward…
Post # 5
FI’s niece and nephew live about 1000 miles away from us. We haven’t actually met his niece yet because we haven’t seen his sister since about a week before she was born. Since Future Brother-In-Law is in the army and has no say in where he’s stationed I highly doubt we’re ever going to live near them. On one hand I’m glad because Future Sister-In-Law brings the drama like no other, but on the other I’m sad becuase it will limit our influence in their lives. I think mature, stable adults modeling a loving realtionship is something they are going to need in their lives.
Post # 6
I have four nephews who all live about 3 hours away from me, but I see them fairly often. I don’t call them on their birthdays because, honestly, they don’t want to talk to their aunt 🙂 I usually make a comment on my SIL or my sister’s Facebook or send a text. If I happen to see my nephews on or near their birthdays, they get a card and a present. Otherwise, I don’t usually send anything. None of my aunts or uncles, and I have many, ever call to wish me happy birthday or send me anything, so it’s not the usual in my family.
I don’t think you and your Fiance were in the wrong, but I’d apologize just to keep the peace. Say something like, “We’re sorry we hurt your feelings, but we didn’t realize it was important to [kid’s name] to call him. We thought the Facebook message would be enough since he’s so young. We’ll do better to call in the future.” Now you know what she expects of you guys, so I’d definitely be calling on his next birthday!
ETA: My family is very close, and I do have relationships with my nephews, and I still don’t call them.
Post # 7
I always call and talk to them. They are about to turn 6 and 5. I try to do it early before the day gets crazy, if I can’t be there. Pesonally, yeah I’d be hurt if my sister left a fb note vs calling. If for some reason I didn’t want to call the day of, I’d call a day on either side. So I get her being upset.
Post # 8
I get where you’re coming from. It’s really not about him remembering if you called on his birthday. You should call, like PP said, on other days… maybe once a month or once a quarter and talk to him. That way when he does see you he has some sort of idea who you are.
I have 14nieces/nephews. All but the oldest four (who are all engaged/married/parents) get cards for V-day, St.Patricks day, Easter, July 4th, Halloween, and any other “holiday” with stickers or little things. That might be another way to help forge a relationship with your nephew. I get random pictures in the mail from them, or parents posting me things they say to tell me on FB. A few of them are getting better on the phone, 4 is kind of hit or miss(he may jsut breathe into the phone and not talk anyway). It did help that I spent alot of time with 6 of them before I moved, they all lived with in 10 min of my house before.
ETA: my brother’s would be really pissed if all i did was leave a FB note on one of their birthdays.
Post # 9
I’d apologize to keep the peace. Next year he will be old enough to remember so I’d send a card, small gift, and try to call around or on his bday. Also get some cards for other occasions like Easter, Valentines, first day of kindergarten etc. Stickers are awesome when you’re a kid ab lnd easy/cheap to mail.
Post # 10
Just apologize and send him a belated gift.
Even if I can’t make it to my nieces’ birthday parties, I still call them or send them gifts on their birthdays. They are my family after all. Giving them a call is so much more meaningful than a Facebook message through their mother even if they are still very young. My three year old niece loves to have phone conversations. I can’t understand half the things that she says but the two of us love to talk to each other.
Post # 11
My nephew is my world, and I hate being so far away from him (only 500 miles not nearly as far as you guys). I wouldn’t miss a bday party or major milestone if I could help it, and I absolutely would send him a gift and call/skype/facetime with him on that day (which I do on a regular basis anyways). Maybe they won’t remember down the line, but they do know at the moment and it’s important to me to establish the closest relationship I can with my nephew early on. I’m always afraid he won’t remember me if I haven’t seen him for a while – he’s only 2 but he definitely knows who I am!
Post # 12
Personally, I wouldn’t bother to call. I only call my parents and close friends in their birthday.. but think about if you had kids how would you want Sil to address your child’s birthday?
Post # 13
My nieces and nephews are over 1000 years away and when it’s their birthdays, usually I just leave Facebook messages myself and SO doesn’t leave any messages. I guess it depends on each person’s relationships. My sister understands the distance and that I’m a college student with an internship and my schedule isn’t always nice when it comes to birthdays. Also, we do live in a technological society now so it does tend to happen that birthday wishes are done by electronic means these days.
Post # 14
Growing up almost all of my aunts and uncles marked my birthday somehow. I don’t think I talked to them all on the phone on the day though. Some sent cards, but others waited (months later) to see me in person to give a card and gift.
Maybe a quick talk with your Future Sister-In-Law (or let your Fiance handle it) about expectations and what works best would help. We always used to go out for dinner on our actual birthday, so even when grandparents called we didn’t always get the chance to talk to them on the day, especially if it was a week day.
Post # 15
I grew up away from my extended family, and had 7 sets of aunts/uncles that I saw at most once a year. I HATED the phone calls. Love seeing them in person/hanging out, but the phone calls were always the most awkward thing ever. I did like cards because then you got that they cared without the awkwardness. Even now, if I’m home when they call, my parents want to put them on, and it’s always a stilted catch-up sesh. I’d rather keep in touch through second-hand info flowing both ways, and then just bond naturally in person.
Moral of the story: do what works for you, and manage expectations. I send cards for birthdays & christmas. And then the occasional email update (complete with a few photos) throughout the year. Maybe do more than a facebook post next year, but don’t feel obligated to do a phone call specifically just because it’s “expected”. It might be worthwhile to have a conversation that not calling doesn’t equal not caring.
Post # 16
@BeckyS0: Um, ever tried talking to a 4 year old on the phone?
If you’re going to do something, send a card or a gift. For what it’s worth, in my family we give gifts to the nieces and nephews, even those interstate. But every family is different. If I was in your position, I’d get into the habit of sending a birthday card.
That said, your Future Sister-In-Law sounds like a self-entitled b1tch. I would never, ever dream of “calling out” a relative who didn’t send a card or gift. Gifts are just that – gifts. When you get one, wonderful. When you don’t, say nothing, you weren’t owed one anyway.