Family Never Visits Yet Gaslights Me

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  • Jason
    October 12, 2022 at 10:47 am #1116487

    Basically my family feels that me and my wife our distant. My two sisters (in their 30s) live 5 minutes from my parents. They see them everyday and are on the phone multiple times with them.

    My wife and I live 60 minutes away. I see my parents about once a week. A couple of years ago they claimed that they feel distant and want to see more, yet they never visit or accept my invitations to come my way.

    My son was born 3 weeks ago. I invited them to a nice outlet area with picnics that they could meet him outside (we have medical issues with our son and want to avoid crowded indoor meets).

    Immediately my family wants me to do this by them. I’m frustrated and dejected that I can never make plans my way with my family and I feel gaslit about being “distant”

    October 12, 2022 at 11:36 am #1116488

    Hi. Not sure if your sisters have families of their own or not? The amount of
    interaction they have with your parents seems pretty excessive to me. But if they enjoy it or want to just please your parents, well that is fine. I do not think it is reasonable of your parents to expect something similar from you and your family. Especially as you live an hour’s drive ( one way?) away. Now you also have a new baby. Plus you see them once a week now.
    You have told your parents they can come see you more often, and either it is not easy for them or they just want things their way.
    I think you should just “let them complain” and keep doing what works for you and your family. Now with the baby, that could mean you can not visit as often but maybe you can call more.
    As far as them wanting you to travel to them to see the baby, if it is possible, you could could do that this once to “throw them a bone.” One less thing they can gripe about. Enjoy your new baby/famiy!

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    October 12, 2022 at 12:07 pm #1116489

    You didn’t actually ask a question, so I’m not totally sure if my reaction to this is helpful/what you’re looking for.

    I think it’s unrealistic to expect a couple that lives an hour away and now has a newborn to be making a trip to see them more than once/week. Even once/week would feel like a lot to me — even pre-baby — but I know some families are much closer than mine. Pre-baby, it may have made sense to do more of the driving since it sounds like it’d have been two of you making the drive to see (at least) four of them, but the effort really needs to go both ways even if it’s not a totally even split.

    Have you ever pointed out to them that they never take you up on offers to meet closer to you? If so, what did they say? I’d start with this conversation if you haven’t already.

    October 12, 2022 at 1:21 pm #1116490

    Honestly, having a new baby gives you a good chance of fixing this.

    If the only way they get to see baby is what works for you (them visiting outdoors) they’ll probably do it. They can propose you visit them, but you can just say “sorry, that won’t work for us, but can you come on X day?”

    As for them claiming they think you’re “distant”, there’s nothing you can do about that. See them at the frequency that you want to, and accept that they’re going to complain.

    Have you told them that you’re already coming to see them as frequently as you can manage?

    October 12, 2022 at 5:03 pm #1116495

    Don’t drive to them. You have a three week old baby.

    A few years ago, they said they felt distant. They didn’t change anything. You need to let that comment go. I don’t think seeing your parents every weekend is a “distant” relationship at all. But even that will probably need to change.

    Don’t feel guilty. They can come to you. Stop driving up every week, that’s a lot of driving! Especially on top of work and schedules and a new baby. You don’t live 5 minutes away and you shouldn’t expect not be expected to go visiting so often. If they have a problem with it, they can speak up to you about it in the present or future or drive to you themselves.

    I agree this is a great time to get them to come to you. Start now. Tell them, sorry we can’t make that drive with a newborn. “Would you like to meet here at this time?” And invite them to a place you picked out that is convenient for you, your wife and baby’s schedule.

    October 12, 2022 at 5:04 pm #1116496


    October 12, 2022 at 5:10 pm #1116497

    Having children was really good for me, as a people pleaser, to learn how to say no. At first, I still used justifications. First, “I’m sorry, we can’t, the baby, the baby’s asleep, the baby needs to sleep, the baby’s hungry, the baby’s tummy’s upset.”

    It turned into just, “the baby.”

    Then you learn to easily say, “I’m sorry, I can’t.” With no justifications.

    You don’t have to go visit your parents and your sisters every weekend if you don’t want to. You’re an adult and you can make your own choices. Even if they are hard and feel uncomfortable at first.

    October 12, 2022 at 5:10 pm #1116498

    I should have written, I then easily learned to say no with no justifications.

    October 13, 2022 at 6:25 am #1116500

    I assume your parents are in their 50s-60s. If they are in good health, two hour of driving is not a big deal. However, they may have a little more difficulty driving at night, but that shouldn’t prevent them from coming for lunch.

    What if you invite your sisters and the whole family travels down? Each of your sisters could take a parent.

    Otherwise, a good phrase is “The road goes both ways, you’re always welcome to come for a visit.”

    October 13, 2022 at 1:59 pm #1116503

    If they comment again about missing you or feeling distant, can you say something like “I know, we really miss you too. We’re available X, Y, and Z dates to meet you at X location and we’d love to see you”. Make the location good for you. If you get pushback, say traveling with a newborn unfortunately isn’t in the cards for a while but you’d really like to see them. If they decline the response is “I’m so bummed you can’t make it, let us know if your availability changes”. Put the responsibility back on them. Don’t feel guilty for saying no to traveling hours with a newborn.

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Family Never Visits Yet Gaslights Me

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