November 6, 2017 at 2:50 am #726141
I have a close relationship with my parents, but I grew up without much contact with my extended family. I’ve seen my cousins more than a handful of times, but not much more…even when I lived in the same general area as them for six years I saw them maybe every year or two. They are very religious and I’m not, so it never felt like there was much to talk about.
My grandmother (who I’m also not close with) has decided that she wants a photo with all of the grandchildren/great-grandchildren in it for a birthday present, and put one of my cousins in charge of organizing it. Unfortunately, I now live on the opposite side of the country from them. When my cousin first sent a group text to organize the whole thing, I told them a possible date I would be in their area for work, as well as when I’d next be in my hometown (6-7 hour drive away but on the same coast), and that I might be able to come down after that trip was over. My grandmother was even offering to fly me in for the photo…
They checked with the photographer she wants, and got four potential dates. Three didn’t work with my youngest cousins’ college schedule. The last date didn’t work for me, because it’s a time I already committed to dog sitting for my parents while they travel. Another cousin texted me telling me how important this was to our grandmother and asking if I could “make myself available for even an afternoon.” When I was clear that I couldn’t possibly do that date, they said they’d check if the photographer could do the next weekend but “the photos might not be ready for Grandma’s birthday”.
I know I don’t have a great sense of family obligation, but am I being overly difficult? Is this how things usually are in families? I feel so resentful, like I’m being put in the position of being the bad guy by saying no to something I can’t possibly say yes to. And a bit like I’m only valuable here as part of a collectible set of grandchildren for some sort of trophy photo, because my absence would mean the set was incomplete. Honestly, I have no desire to go do this photo, especially since it would mean I’d have to stay with my family, who I’ve never visited for longer than a single meal. I’m super tempted to just tell everyone “Nope, not interested” but I’ve already gotten myself into date-negotiating at this point, and saying a firm no seems like an unnecessarily nuclear option when I don’t want to be hurtful.November 6, 2017 at 4:13 am #726143
Call photographer who is doing the portrait, them you can’t be there but it’d make your grandmother happy for you to be in the portrait too, so what background does he or she plan on using etc? So you can get a portrait done locally & then be photoshopped in? It might be that the photographer will need to take the photo first & then you get a decent photographer to do your end or she or will do it when next in local area. Yep, it will cost you some money, but less then a ticket & less family interaction involved. Obviously try & get this done fairly at roughly the same time so your grandmother can see the results & make sure whoever does the photoshop is v good at it. Oh & less of your family you tell about this the better, or they will all want it done this way. Just say you can’t make those dates, very sorry, but you’ll make up to grandmother some how & then give her the end result.November 6, 2017 at 8:15 am #726149
Yes – this is totally normal for families, especially when some are more close than others. The way you’ve outlined it, they want you in the picture. They are doing their best to manage everyone’s schedules and for one weekend, one person isn’t available, so they’re trying to figure out how to make you available.
Couldn’t your folks put the dog in a kennel for two days and give you a chance to visit your extended family? That would be a relatively inexpensive solution to this problem.November 6, 2017 at 8:37 am #726150
Or not even a kennel. They can get the Rover.com app and find a sitter. That’s what we do now that our regular guy can’t do overnights anymore. That’s the obvious solution here. Your parents figure out another sitter if they care about you being in this picture.November 6, 2017 at 8:53 am #726151
I definitely think this is normal when trying to wrangle adults with conflicting schedules; it’s just flat out hard to do.
I am curious why dog sitting for your parents takes precedence over what’s likely a once in a lifetime family obligation. Couldn’t your parents hire a professional? They have plenty of time to introduce the dog and get comfortable with the sitter. Alternately, how does the dog do in the car? Can you take him/her with you? That seems cumbersome but it’s a way to do both.November 6, 2017 at 8:57 am #726152
Also, you don’t have to stay over at their home. They gave you an out with the ‘even for an afternoon’ thing so you’re in the clear to do in and out on the same day.November 6, 2017 at 9:37 am #726155
Hi LW, I am of the belief that you don’t have to be close to family members just because they’re family, and it sounds as though not only have you never historically been close to your cousins/grandma, but you really have no desire to improve those relationships moving forward. Obviously, the entire pet sitting excuse is bs (as outlined above, your parents can get another pet sitter), but you are totally entitled to say something along the lines of: “Thank you so much for really trying to include me in these family photos for grandma. Unfortunately, I am only available the following dates: x, x, and x. I am more than happy to look into other photographers who can accommodate us on one of those dates, but if that doesn’t work for you all, I will have to sit this round of photos out. If that’s the case, let’s do a casual photo shoot for grandma next time I’m in town.”November 6, 2017 at 10:17 am #726161
Do your parents live in your hometown? If so, you are being EXTREMELY unreasonable, because it’s the perfect opportunity to snap the photo without needing to make a special trip. You mean to tell me their dog can’t be left alone in their home for an afternoon? Or you can’t ask someone else to go and stare at the dog while you give your grandmother this gift?
Give me a break. You sound like a resentful child. Which, maybe you are—but then just tell your cousin you don’t give a crap about this photo and you’re not coming so she doesn’t try and figure you into her plans.November 6, 2017 at 10:25 am #726162
I think you’re overreacting a little bit. My friend’s family was supposed to set up a photo time as a give to their mom (so, my friend, her husband, her three brothers, and two of their wives, plus children in this photo). They all live locally, except for one who is a 2-hour train ride away, and it was SO difficult to find a date. Everybody had kids’ birthday parties, or weddings or work or whatever. And this is involving literally just a 2-hour trip, not across the country. It’s pretty common in large or extended families to have a hard time finding dates that work for anything, not just pictures. So, I mean, I get that it’s frustrating for you and them, but this is pretty normal. They aren’t trying to set you up to say no to them. They’re just trying to find common ground on something that’s hard to coordinate. Do what you can, but no need to turn this into a huge conflict.November 6, 2017 at 10:37 am #726163
Are you parents still in your hometown? So, the date they want you to come for the picture, you’ll be on the same coast, but a 7 hour drive away?
Since your Grandma said she’s buy you a plane ticket, couldn’t you fly in and out on the same day? You’d be gone maybe 8 – 12 hours. Is there someone that could check on the dog in that time period while your away? Or do your parents have no friends or neighbors?
If your parents live near you, this advice obviously doesn’t work.
Or you could go nuclear and say no thank you. But if you do, you’ll kill any relationship you have with these people, which might be ok with you?November 6, 2017 at 10:45 am #726164
Oh, yeah, that would be totally ridiculous, of course I wouldn’t be refusing if I was in the same place. No, my parents live in my hometown, which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. My cousins live about a 6 hour drive away from there so going for an afternoon would be tough. It would be hard to do it in less than two days, probably 3 (depending on bus/train schedules) unless i rent a car.November 6, 2017 at 10:54 am #726165
So, these dogs are basically my parents babies, and to be honest, I think that the way my parents act about them is pretty ridiculous! However, my mom has a lot of anxiety about leaving them at all. My parents are getting older and have some health problems that makes travel tough, and they’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip because they feel like soon it might not be possible for them. They asked me to come in (from the other side of the country! ack) to dog sit for a few weeks because it was the only way they felt comfortable going. Since they basically don’t travel ever because of the difficulty of getting a dog sitter they are comfortable with, and the dogs have never been kenneled, stayed in anyone else’s home, or been alone for like longer than 5 hours, I really don’t feel like I can leave them for a few days. It’s absolutely more about my parents than the dogs, and yes they are fairly nuts about it and I wish it was easier for them…but I want them to enjoy their trip and I would never try to argue with them about something I know is more emotional than logical on their part.