This topic contains 19 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by CET 4 months ago.
June 8, 2018 at 2:46 pm #756387
My husband and I live on the West Coast, and we moved here about 3 years ago from the Midwest, where both our sets of parents live.
So far, my parents have tried to visit us 1-2x per year. We have a spare bedroom and bathroom, so every time they’ve visited, they’ve stayed with us. They are good house guests, but our apartment is small (less than 1000 sq feet).
The last time they visited, they booked flights for a ten-day visit without consulting me first. Turns out, ten days is a LONG time to have house guests in an apartment, especially since my husband and I were working the whole time they were here. After they left, my husband and I agreed that from then on, we would limit visits to 5 days for house guests.
This month, my parents texted to say they were looking at booking flights to come visit for a week. I asked them if they could do five days instead and said that a five-day visit would be easier for us because it’s tough for us to host house guests for a week or more when we’re both working.
After this, they never replied to me. I talked with them on the phone a few days later, and they didn’t bring it up. So I texted an again today to say it seemed like maybe they weren’t booking tickets. They confirmed that no, they weren’t booking tickets, but didn’t say why or offer any explanation.
I admit, I’m kind of hurt. I don’t think my suggestion of doing five days instead of seven is unreasonable. I’m also annoyed and hurt that they can’t be bothered to tell why they’re not booking a trip. It’s likely they’re upset/hurt that we don’t want them staying with us for a week, but they haven’t directly told me that.
I feel like I ought to ask them about this, especially since it’s going to be at least 5 years, maybe more like 10, until we can move into a bigger home, which will make it easier host guests for longer visits. But I’m sort of a conflict avoidant person, and so are my parents. (Shocking, I know.) I would love some suggestions or scripts on how I can have this conversation with them.June 8, 2018 at 5:33 pm #756413
“Hi mom and dad. I can tell you are upset by my suggestion of a five day visit, and I’m sorry you feel that way. It was never my intention to hurt your feelings. Can we talk about this?”
“My husband and I made an agreement that guests of any kind should stay no more than five days, because we like our space and alone time.”
Otherwise, I kind of feel like the ball is in their court. You didn’t do anything to necessitate this type of reaction, so I’m not sure how far I’d go to make this right. (Although, 5/7 days, tomato/tomahto.)June 8, 2018 at 5:40 pm #756415
Thanks, anonymousse! That’s helpful. I’m not really sure there’s much I can do. Mostly I just want to clear the air, but I also want to clarify that this 5-day limit is unlikely to change (unless they want to get a hotel) in the next 10 years or so.
If they don’t want to visit unless they can stay at least a week, then… does that mean they’re not going to visit until we can afford to buy a bigger place?June 8, 2018 at 5:47 pm #756416
I live in a “destination city” on the west coast. My parents love coming to visit, but we established very early on that my place was just too small for them to stay. My apartments have a rental/guest unit for just such visitors and they try to plan stays around when that unit is available. It not only keeps the trips short (because my parents are notoriously cost sensitive travelers, even though the guest suite is 50% less than most hotel rooms in our area) but it is less stress on my husband and I. (And they have privacy that way as well). Establishing that boundary has made visits much more pleasant for all of us.
It’s a little too late for you to set the standard from the get go- but have you considered helping them find a hotel in your area?June 8, 2018 at 6:05 pm #756419
You will need to have this conversation on the phone, not by text. I wouldn’t frame it as “I can tell you’re upset about…” but rather like, “oh hey, so you said you hadn’t booked tickets to come visit in July, right? Are you planning to?
Mom: No, we’re not…
You: Oh! Why not?
She may say she feels like it’ll be too much stress on you, and you can say no, not at all, you’d love to have them visit! It’s just that A) the place is sooo small, and B) you want to make sure you can be around to do stuff with them outside the apartment when they come. You never meant to make them feel like it would be a burden. Please come!
FWIW, I wouldn’t have laid the new policy on them via text.June 9, 2018 at 8:33 am #756527
They may think that five days isn’t worth the cost of tickets and the tiredness of spending two full days traveling. Especially if they find travel exhausting and need a day or two to feel good after the travel day it may not seem worth the effort or the cost.
Also, you basically are saying that you find them tiresome and can only take them in small doses. (I’m not putting a value judgement on that. It could be very true) Their reaction could easily be that if they are that bad you can spend your time and your money to come and see them for the amount of time that suits you.
If you want to control the amount of time you see each other then you should be the ones making travel plans, especially if they have more space than you do.June 9, 2018 at 9:40 am #756532
I think most normal people would understand that having guests for 10 days is exhausting. It doesn’t matter who it is. 5 days isn’t a small dose. I travel from the Midwest to a coast twice a year for about 7 days. If I could get away with only doing 5 and still seeing everyone I need to, then that would be plenty, and still worth the trip. I don’t quantify seeing my family in dollars. If it were like two days, sure, then maybe not worth it. But compared to not seeing them at all, yeah, it is.
In the end, people who interact with other people have to take their own wants/needs and the other person’s wants/needs into consideration.
I agree with the advice on talking with them about it. I think this is something that, if they are normally reasonable, they will eventually get used to.June 9, 2018 at 9:56 am #756537
I think it depends on their situation and their outlook. Our local airport, an hour drive for us, was a hub. With airline consolidation it no longer is so now we have almost no direct flights except to Chicago, Atlanta and Raleigh. This has made the cost of flying go much higher, about double. So what might have been $300 per person suddenly is more like $600 per person and what might have been a direct flight now requires a layover somewhere. What might have taken a total of six hours is more like ten to twelve hours when you include total travel time. Spending that much money and two full days traveling in less than a week wouldn’t be worth it for many people. If you can go for seven days you can at least travel both ways on the cheapest travel day if you are trying to save money. Five days doesn’t allow that. If you spend your first day traveling and then your second day exhausted from traveling and then the fifth day packing to travel again that leaves only a few good days. If they find travel exhausting then a few good days probably isn’t worth the effort or the cost.
If they are younger parents and have plenty of money it might make no difference.
You can make whatever rules work for you and your family can tell you that those rules don’t work for them. That’s life. You can see if you can find a happy compromise or you can go visit them or you can just not see each other for years.June 9, 2018 at 10:13 am #756539
I should probably clarify a few things:
*I didn’t exactly communicate the new “policy” via text. I didn’t say “we can’t have you visit for more than 5 days.” When they said they wanted to come for 7 days, my response was more like, “how about 5 days instead?”
*We do travel to them 1-2x per year. I’m happy to visit them but they have more flexibility and time off from work so if they want to see us more, they have to come to us.
*I do find them tiresome but then, I find all guests tiresome after a couple of days. When they are here, they want to spend ALL their time with us. Like, the minute I walk in the door after work, they start talking to me and will keep hanging around until I go to bed. I have to actually say, “Hey, I need to go do x thing,” or “I need a few minutes to decompress so I’m gonna get changed out of my work clothes. See you in a few minutes.”
*My dad comes from a culture where family and hospitality are VERY important. When his family comes to visit, they will stay in my parents home for 3-4 weeks. My mom doesn’t love this so I thought she might be understanding of me not wanting house guests for too long.
*I don’t want to suggest they get. A hotel. I think the extra cost would make it tough for them to visit us.June 9, 2018 at 10:58 am #756543
Also both I and my parents live near hub airports so that’s not an issue.June 9, 2018 at 11:14 am #756544
Ok, I guess we all got it wrong.June 9, 2018 at 12:11 pm #756547
I’m not bothered by the update. The details are relevant.
I imagine that even though your mom didn’t like having to accomodate such long trips, it still seems normal to her or “what you do.” Maybe she assumes that it should be different for you about them than it was for her about the other family. For example, my mom hated going to visit my dad’s family often, but wouldn’t think that I could ever feel that way about her because she’s my mom.