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Old 08-19-2007, 02:37 PM   #21
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I think it's sad when people can find time & money for everything else but visiting their family .For me it's a priority especially now that my Mom is 91 .I used to visit her once a year but now it's several times .Between visiting her and my daughter I'm racking up some serious frequent flyer miles.
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Old 08-19-2007, 08:26 PM   #22
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I don't think anyone should rush to judge any child for not visiting their parents, the truth is no-one knows what went on behind closed doors, someone who may appear to those on the outside to be a fantastic person may have been the crappiest parent. Children should visit their parents because they want to - not because of any feeling of obligation or scorecards being kept.

I haven't spoken to my mother for over 2 years. She is a terrible parent and I don't like the person she is today. Rather than go thru the farce of sitting around with her once a year and making out we like each other, I choose to forgo any interaction with her. I have relatives who think I am the biggest bitch on the earth because I don't spend any time with her, but the years I was forced to live under her roof were more than enough for me. If they knew what she was like when we were children they might think differently, though I am sure that they would not believe it.

Being around my mother adds nothing to my life, she has chosen her path and I have chosen mine. Nothing sad about it, I owe her nothing as she owes me nothing.
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Old 08-19-2007, 09:03 PM   #23
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Why would people want to be visited by someone who doesn't want to visit them?

There's a reason it's called the 'nuclear' family: sufficient concentration can result in widespread damage.
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Old 08-19-2007, 10:44 PM   #24
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My husband's family moved from Ohio to Colorado 3 years after we got married. The distance has always been an issue. We used to drive out every year until we had kids. When the kids were young we'd fly out or they would visit us once a year or every two years. My husband's brother and his family live in New Jersey, so the grandparents would fly for a visit to NJ and then fly to see us in Ohio.

My father-in-law is gone now, but my mother-in-law still makes the trip to NJ and then Ohio once every few years. She tries to time it with an event like a graduation or birthday. She's 78 and still in good shape. She can afford the cost of flying for herself.

It's different when you have to buy 4 plane tickets and rent a car. That's $1500-$1800 right there. It's much less to drive but you need to take 2 weeks if you are driving. The last time we went to Colorado was in 2004, but my husband went by himself in April, 2007.

Every 5 years or so we all (Mom, 5 siblings, 3 spouses and 7 grandkids) manage to get together but it takes a lot of coordination and planning. The family in NJ won't travel to Colorado due to the spouse refusing to use her vacation time to visit family, she wants a real vacation.
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Old 08-20-2007, 03:28 PM   #25
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Old friend having problems getting his children to visit except at Xmas, and reading his emails is almost painful. He is really hurting, and, I gather, his wife is also.
Son says he is "too busy" with work and will not come (married, no kids); youngest girl (single, no kids) has not been to see them in 8 years! Yes! 8 years (count 'em)!!!
Without getting into it too heavily, what is the normal amount of visits one has with their adult children who live in another area of the country? Say, you live in Florida and they live in D.C. or Seattle?
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I don't think anyone should rush to judge any child for not visiting their parents, the truth is no-one knows what went on behind closed doors, someone who may appear to those on the outside to be a fantastic person may have been the crappiest parent. Children should visit their parents because they want to - not because of any feeling of obligation or scorecards being kept.
Ann Landers & Dear Abby used to publish letters about lonely nursing-home residents who never got any visitors... and then the two columnists would be deluged in mail from angry sons & daughters describing exactly why they would never visit their parents again. So it might be a case of your friend reaping what he sowed or the results of his familial neglect. Hard to tell from the outside and really none of our business either way, but it reminds me of Harry Chapin's "Cats in the Cradle" song.

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Why is it that parents do not do more of the actual visiting? Is this a left over from when the kids were college age and the kids DID come home for food, money and whatever --- and the thinking never changed once the 'kid' got married and/or establish his/her own household?
What else could be more important to retired empty nesters than visiting your own 'kids' and grandkids -- provided they are on speaking terms, that is?
I think that it's a personal choice. I haven't seen my father or my brother since his father/our grandfather's funeral over five years ago. He hasn't seen his granddaughter (now nearly 15 years old) since she was eight. I swap e-mail with Dad every month or so and he sends the appropriate family cards & grandkid birthday/holiday checks, but he doesn't want to travel out here anymore. He flew a lot on business in the 1960s-1970s and then spent 14 years flying from CO-->Cincinnati every 6-8 weeks to visit his father in the care facility. So when he says he's done flying, I know he's not just making an excuse.

Grand Junction is a difficult place to get to without a dedicated trip. I'd visit him but (1) he's never extended the invitation and (2) I choose not to give up family time to spend it with my father trying to figure out if he wants family time. Maybe someday we'll invite him to join us in the nearby snowy Rockies during spring break, but our daughter would rather spend time with her work and her friends than snowboarding at Breckenridge. Again it's not as though my father has suggested meeting somewhere he can drive to, and it's a lot of my personal effort for what ultimately may only be an attempt to make myself feel better about trying.

When I was on my first submarine and they'd try to visit, I'd usually be in the middle of some horrific work schedule requiring 20 hours/day and no chance at all of taking leave. I was a little SOB tough kid to raise, I was harboring a lot of anger toward my mother, and I had no time for anything other than work. I can see why they'd give up trying to drop by. I felt very lucky to be on shore duty (available & able to take leave) when my mother decided to die, but it certainly didn't resolve any of the problems between us.

My brother and I didn't get along when we were growing up (my fault, I'm older), and over the last five years he's become more involved in his own business than in answering e-mails or cards. My last e-mail bounced because he closed his account. My birthday card to him (three weeks ago) hasn't been acknowledged. So I do what makes me feel good and he does whatever it is that he wants to do. It is what it is.

Whenever I get maudlin about the lack of father/brother time, I consider my spouse and her parents. She joined the Navy to get far away from them and they still tracked us down to set up housekeeping near their only grandkid. Even in her 40s my spouse still feels this huge burden obligation of parentally-imposed adult guilt to initiate all contact, execute all planning, and endure all the inevitable kibitzing & cheapskating. (I've suggested that we swap parents for a while but she's not convinced yet.) After over five years of having my PILs living just 10 minutes away, it's a great mutual relief to be separated by 5000 miles again. After over six months since they've left her mother hasn't even phoned her and we have no idea what their current e-mail address is. I don't think they'll attempt to make the 11-hour flight out to Hawaii ever again, so we'll be expected to genuflect at the family altar drop by every time we're on the East Coast. Thus we don't discuss our Mainland travel plans for fear of being guilted into unwanted side trips.

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Why would people want to be visited by someone who doesn't want to visit them?
There's a reason it's called the 'nuclear' family: sufficient concentration can result in widespread damage.
Thanks, Khan, I just had to review this whole thread with my spouse in order to explain why I was laughing so hard!

When our kid leaves the nest (just three more years!) we'll have to start all over again and establish an adult relationship. Hopefully she comes home to visit once in a while, but it's hard for spouse and I to imagine that we'll ever stalk our kid or our grandkids. In my perfect vision of the future, I'd rather get together for a family Disneyland trip or have them drop the grandkid off for a weekend. I certainly don't want to experience living together for prolonged periods unless everyone deems it necessary.

I'm glad we decided to become parents, but it's definitely a life sentence without parole. For all generations...
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Old 08-20-2007, 03:33 PM   #26
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After reading this thread and thinking about it I called my brother and talked it over. He sent me this video, which gets to the heart of this sadness.




Ha
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Old 08-20-2007, 03:55 PM   #27
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Every family is different and their needs are different. We have just moved away from our grown children but have already made plans to visit next month. Our expectation in moving was that we would make the effort to see them since it was our decision to move away for as long was we are able. We have found that we have make a good decision in moving to a travel destination. The kids are already scheduling time in our spare rooms. One will be dropping off the grandkids for us to watch while they go have adult fun.

I know that at the end of my fathers life, it was a chore to visit even though he lived in the same area since the cancer and/or medication had made him into a miserable person to be around. I grited my teeth and did the visit any way. It would have been SO easy to find excuses not to see him if he had been out of town. After his death, I was so glad I did the weekly visits to lessen my regrets.

The Kids have already been discussing what to do when we get too old to manage our own lives and I do expect we will see them. Each in his own way. One will take responsibility for the finances since that is what they are best at, another for the social aspects of our lives - to be sure we are connected to family, and the other one will be more of a informal realationship since they are more focused on their life.

One thing I am trying to do is write notes to myself as how to be a better really old person. I know that as you get older, you don't realize just what you are doing to family members and others trying to help you.
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Old 08-20-2007, 04:19 PM   #28
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I was never able to visit my parents very often - - busy with grad school and working, then very little vacation time from work, at least at first. Money is lacking as well as time, since frequent vacations to Hawaii (where my family is from) are not consistent with LBYM.

Now that my daughter is grown and living in Portland, I haven't been able to visit her much, either. We are both working and even if I got out there, as a contract employee she doesn't get any vacation time and she needs every cent she has.

Maybe I am just not suited to a lot of face time with my relatives! I keep in touch daily via the internet.

I am better about keeping in touch with parent/kid than with my friends. I have not stayed in touch with any friends that I knew even ten years ago. I love spending time with Frank, but I really don't have much spare time for socializing with other people right now and I enjoy spending some time alone.

Oh and also, I agree with Khan about "nuclear families"!!!
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Old 08-20-2007, 06:46 PM   #29
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The comments I have had from my friend regarding his wife is that she stayed home with the kids as he worked around the world, literally; and that she is optimistic and demure (Japanese girl). I think he feels sorry for his wife, and what little respect he feels his kids show HER.
As for him, I think he knows what he will get from the kids...a Cat's in the Cradle relationship, which is well earned. He was not only never there, but just not the kind of father who would get on the floor to play with the kids. I can't see him relating much to children at all really...except to teach them some game like chess, maybe.
But I wonder what is wrong with visiting their mother? Or do they resent HIM so much, they don't want to visit. I wonder...hmmmmm....
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Old 08-20-2007, 06:55 PM   #30
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Families are not always easy and yes it is expensive to fly to different areas but if your parents were not awful and just did the best they could what would be more important to spend money on ?
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Old 08-20-2007, 07:10 PM   #31
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Duty

Some cultures instill a concept of duty. Ours does not. It may be part of our extreme emphasis on individualism. I think it is selfish and a mistake on the part of the society.

Raising children is hard. Damn few parents try to do a poor job. Nevertheless, there are lots of conflicts and struggles built into it, and the parents are not getting much help or support from anywhere.

Parent's are often there for a child or his/her family for as long as the parent lives-note all the children being raised by grandparents who likely would rather do something else.

See how many parents open their homes to post-college adult children who are having a hard time making a go of it in the world-- no matter if that is largely because the child chose a major that the parents begged him/her not waste time and money on.

My Dad was overbearing and difficult- but he was right about a lot of things that I was wrong about. And I was overbearing and difficult too!

I resented some things that I should have been adult enough to overlook, knowing that they were a result of his weaknesses, not a desire to hurt me.

Another thing I would like to add- if a man is traveling all the time to support his family, IMO that does not give them the right to resent him. If they feel that it does, they should move out and take care of themselves. Our country was built by strong families where the father was often at sea for months at a time. We've turned into a bunch of gimme-gimme sucks who largely deserve the screwed up mess that we have created.

Ha
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Old 08-20-2007, 11:10 PM   #32
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Families are not always easy and yes it is expensive to fly to different areas but if your parents were not awful and just did the best they could what would be more important to spend money on ?
I agree that visiting your family is important. But at the same time it's important to be able to pay for college expenses without incurring too much debt. It's important to be saving for retirement, along with a lot of other things. So we try to go, just not every year or even every other year.

Here's another issue. We refer to this as the 4 day rule. After having guests in the house, or being a guest while staying at a relatives house, we all seem to reach our limit of togetherness after about 4 days. MIL tends to stay about a week and if we travel to see her we will stay 5-7 days just because the trip is so expensive. It's just not worth it to drive 3 days out, stay just a few days and then drive another 3 days home.
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Old 08-20-2007, 11:48 PM   #33
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My mom is 30 minutes away but I don't see her as often as I should. She is 80 and having troubles. My brother retired this month and at his retirement parties we were saying what should we do about her. My nephew said we play cards with her every couple of weeks and I told him it wasn't that often. We are going to try to do better. Mom never invites us because she assumes we are busy, she won't use the internet and none of us like telephones. My nephew is on an instant messanger so I can see when he is online. I well send him or he will send me the message "pinochle" then if the other responds he calls mom and asks her what time she is inviting people for pinochle then sends me a message. We try to get my boyfriend or my brother to make four handed and all meet at mom's house. She likes it, she doesn't have to go anywhere and if her hip hurts she can go lay down. Her doctor told her to use a walker but she won't yet.
We decided to have her hire yard work and housework done. She won't ask us because her youngest kid is 58 and we either hire ours done or will soon. She is on vacation now visiting her sister when she gets back my brother will send his landscaper. We are all going to visit her more often, now my brother is retired he can take her to lunch some days.
When I lived out of state I never visited but I moved pretty often and moved back in state and back out pretty often besides she was about 40 then and didn't really need us around.
When I retire I will stay within about an hour of my mom so I can see her all the time. She lived 240 miles from her mom, she died last year at 98 and mom wasn't able to take care of her as much as she wanted to.
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Old 08-21-2007, 08:50 AM   #34
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We live about 500 miles from our parents. They are in the same direction so we can do both on a trip but about 3 hours apart. We do at least 2 visits per year and when they were able at least my folks would visit us once a year. Now that they are getting older (early 80s) we feel guilty about not going more often or moving closer but we like where we are at and don't want to move back. If we would move we would probably move closer to our son who is off in another direction.

So we mostly feel guilty and keep in touch by phone. Luckily they have a good support structure of friends, many younger than us, that help them out. But someday they will not be able to live by themselves, and we don't have a good plan.

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Old 08-21-2007, 09:46 AM   #35
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Some cultures instill a concept of duty. Ours does not. It may be part of our extreme emphasis on individualism. I think it is selfish and a mistake on the part of the society.

Raising children is hard. Damn few parents try to do a poor job. Nevertheless, there are lots of conflicts and struggles built into it, and the parents are not getting much help or support from anywhere.

Parent's are often there for a child or his/her family for as long as the parent lives-note all the children being raised by grandparents who likely would rather do something else.

See how many parents open their homes to post-college adult children who are having a hard time making a go of it in the world-- no matter if that is largely because the child chose a major that the parents begged him/her not waste time and money on.

My Dad was overbearing and difficult- but he was right about a lot of things that I was wrong about. And I was overbearing and difficult too!

I resented some things that I should have been adult enough to overlook, knowing that they were a result of his weaknesses, not a desire to hurt me.

Another thing I would like to add- if a man is traveling all the time to support his family, IMO that does not give them the right to resent him. If they feel that it does, they should move out and take care of themselves. Our country was built by strong families where the father was often at sea for months at a time. We've turned into a bunch of gimme-gimme sucks who largely deserve the screwed up mess that we have created.

Ha
Good points. Somehow my family culture or my community culture instilled a sense of familial duty in me. In the past week I have seen all my siblings when my sister was visiting from California. I visited with my cousin, her spouse and her son who was visiting from NYC. We are all close. We get irritated at habits and problems of one an other but we rarely criticize. Some of us have made terrible life mistakes but we love each other none the less.

My parents are long dead. I wish they could have lived to see I turned out OK.
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Old 08-21-2007, 10:11 AM   #36
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Parents live in Maryland, 4 adult children (all married).

Child #1 - lives in the Southwest
Child #2 - NYC metro
Child #3 - DC metro
Child #4 - Detroit metro

Child #1 visits once a year with spouse and kids, usually at Christmas but some years in the summer; typically stays for 2 weeks. Parents fly out to visit them at least once a year, I believe Child #1 pays for part or all of the plane tickets.

Child #2 visits once every month or two, usually stays for the weekend, with spouse and kids. Probably adds up to about 2 weeks worth of visiting days per year. Parents are invited to drive up (2 hours) to visit once every month or two.

Child #3 pretty much the same as Child #2.

Child #4 visits about once a year with spouse, usually at Christmas and sometimes Thanksgiving as well. Typically stays for one week at Christmas and maybe a few days at Thanksgiving. Parents have not flown out to visit (no grandkids there yet!) but I'm sure they'd be welcome to do so.

So that sums up my family situation. On average, it looks like about 14 days worth of visits for each adult child per year, along with fairly open standing invitations for the parents to travel to visit the kids (and more importantly, the grandkids) throughout the year.
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:10 AM   #37
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I think you have to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. When me and my siblings got out of the house, my mother stated that she had been living her life for others for many years (as a stay-at-home mother), and that she was leading her life for herself from that point forward. She then proceeded to do just that. We try to see her, but it is only on her terms and only if we travel to see her. She has nothing to do with the grandkids or SIL/DILs, indicating that she already raised kids. After about 10 years of this, my sister has totally written her off and I have greatly reduced my exposure as I get tired of banging my head on the wall. She has become totally self-centered with her time. I am not certain how this will play out as she gets older and less independent.

I see more of my father, but no a whole lot more. This is a whole 'nother story, involving his moving a long distance away to the middle of nowhere, making visits very difficult (either way). At least he will come to visit me occasionally, and things are not one-way.
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:29 AM   #38
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The comments I have had from my friend regarding his wife is that she stayed home with the kids as he worked around the world, literally; and that she is optimistic and demure (Japanese girl). I think he feels sorry for his wife, and what little respect he feels his kids show HER....

aaah - i've been discussing this topic w/ my friends recently. we're all 1.5 or 2nd generation kids (came as young children or children of immigrants) and we've all been having a little conflict w/ parents lately. we all grew up doing basically whatever we wanted...both parents were either working or unable to manage kids doing american things they didn't understand, so we did whatever we liked - luckily we were mostly good kids.

anyhow, there are some certain things that our parents seem to want to dig their heels in on - that they swear has to do with their culture - but sometimes us kids have NO idea since few of those ideas were imparted on us as kids.

so even if those kids were raised by a japanese mother, they may not get what her expectations are based on her culture. i'm not japanese but close, and there can be a lot of "untold" expectations, guilt, and burden that goes along with that territory. mom probably understands why they don't feel her pain/expectations, but she feels these things nonetheless...also, in the old country, the adult family network would have worked on her behalf to resolve the situation (aunty tells uncle, tells cousin, tells mom, tells daughter...who finally tells kid what they are doing to their mom).

if her kids already have their own kids and don't realize what their mom did for her then it doesn't look like there is much hope for understanding. If the kids are not completely insolent, decent folks, then can't someone share with them that their mom would appreciate some reaching out?
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:54 AM   #39
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My parents are long dead. I wish they could have lived to see I turned out OK.
Me too Martha; I'd say you made it quite a bit past "OK".

Ha
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Old 08-21-2007, 06:46 PM   #40
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i'm not japanese but close, and there can be a lot of "untold" expectations, guilt, and burden that goes along with that territory. mom probably understands why they don't feel her pain/expectations, but she feels these things nonetheless...also, in the old country, the adult family network would have worked on her behalf to resolve the situation (aunty tells uncle, tells cousin, tells mom, tells daughter...who finally tells kid what they are doing to their mom).
Ah yes, the untold cultural expectations, the guilt...not just in Japan.....

Me (during medical training in the US): Mom, I've been offered a third year of fellowship. This would be great. I could complete my research. What would you think if I stayed here for another year?
Irish Catholic mother: [pregnant pause] Well......[whine]......don't think of me, think of YOURSELF!!!
Me: OK then, I'll say yes!

Next day at work I shared the story....
Colleague: I didn't know your mother was Jewish!!!
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