Extended family question
Hi, a little background: my parents(father and step-mom who adopted me when they married when I was young) don't have a lot to do with our family. They might come to visit once a year although we let them know we'd love to see them. The last time we saw both of my parents was last Christmas when we did the traveling. Our children are still home. Stepmom always has excuses for why they can't come yet they travel to see their other 2 children, other family members, etc.. Last year, she asked for our summer schedule so they could plan a time to visit. They never came. However, when summer was over and during the busiest time of the year for us, she asked to come not with my father but when it's about someone else's needs(her mothers late in life travel plans, a friends needing a ride through this area). When she was here, she talks a lot about herself, gives advice, corrects, questioned, helped with a couple of dishes and seemed mostly very un-interested in getting to know her grandchildren. I found out later that they couldn't wait for her to leave and that she gets even less nice when I'm not in the room. otherwise, we never hear from them- no Valentines cards, almost forgotten bdays, etc.. But once a year, we are expected to host or travel to be a part of thanksgiving or christmas. My children really dislike these family gatherings as there is nothing personal about them. There's lots of time spent on cooking and cleaning and other people there(my parents are always very busy with church work and helping people in the church- but little to no time even speaking to their grandchildren). Here's my question. How far do I go to support this relationship? I want to teach my children the importance of family and doing what you can to make things work. I also don't want to lose this family. And I don't know what normal expectations should be bc they're the only family I've got. But I don't even know what I'm working for anymore. Thoughts, advice?
I also need to add that the yearly "expected" special occasion coming up is Thanksgiving. Either hosting or traveling to this event would be a lot- financially and time-wise for us. We have a pretty tight budget and not a lot of extra time. We do love family and we want to do whatever it takes. But in this case, we always end up worn out, our children hurt ... It seems to be a waste of time but I don't want to jump ship completely. There's also a lot of guilt tripping re: these occasions. It feels like my parents expect to give absolutely nothing: no calls, notes, visits, etc. Yet we're expected to make sacrifices to be a part of these holiday gatherings that seem pretty empty and meaningless at this point. I used to be close to my brothers. After mentioning not being able to do Thanksgiving and asked for another possible time to get together- he's just mad. It just feels like such a one-sided deal.?
From what you have described, your parents seem to have superficial relationships with others, especially you, so why keep up the pretense?
Opt out for the gathering. You won't be able to make it this year. Why not take the family for a weekend vacation - or just stay home and start your own, more loving, family traditions?
These "dreaded" holiday times do no one any good. It's time you took care of YOUR family and not rely on relatives to make everyone else feel good. You have the chance to break the chain of this behavior.
Savor those relationships that you want to preserve. Can you see your brothers at other times?