Author Topic: Daughter doesn't want to vacation w/ g-parents  (Read 5415 times)

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turtleIScream

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Daughter doesn't want to vacation w/ g-parents
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:34:37 PM »
BG: my daughter (12) has always been close to her grandma, my MIL. Several times over the years, she has stayed at their house for a few days, or even vacationed with them. The last few years, the trips have been horrible for her, but she never wanted to say anything negative, because she didn't want to hurt grandma. After this summer, my husband and I agreed there would be no more overnight visits without us present. End BG.

MIL called our daughter a couple of weeks ago, and let her know the dates of next summer's trip, and invited her along. MIL has also contacted my husband once about it, and he told her we had to look at our schedule and get back to her. I don't know if he forgot our agreement, or was trying to postpone the difficult conversation. In our discussion, he was reminded of why we had decided against these trips, and agreed to break the news to his mom. Add to this, independent of our agreement, our daughter has stated she does not want to spend a week with grandma.

Guess what? He has not spoken to either of his parents since then. Grandma has her weekly Skype call with our daughter tomorrow, and the subject is sure to come up. MIL and I don't talk, ever. But I can't let the burden of explaining our decision fall on our daughter. In an ideal world, the conversation would go like this:

G-ma: so, are you excited about next summer's trip?
Daughter: My dad still wants to talk with you about it, so can you call him to find out what's going on?
G-ma: Sure, I'll give him a call. How is band going?

How I envision it actually playing out:

G-ma: we've been looking at some of the things around [vacation spot], and there's a doll museum there I'm looking forward to taking you to. Do you still like dolls?
Daughter: well, I've never really been into dolls, but if you want to go there, it could be interesting.
G-ma: how can you not like dolls? I loved dolls when I was your age. In fact, I still like dolls. You know me, I'm just a big kid with gray hair and wrinkles. Ha ha! So, are you still excited about the trip?
Daughter: My dad still wants to talk with you about it, so can you call him to find out what's going on?
G-ma: (sigh) well, when will he be home? He never answers when I call him, or he has to get off the phone right away. So, can you make sure he calls me tonight, but not too late?
Daughter: he's not coming home tonight, he's on a trip for work. I can ask him when he gets home later.
G-ma: well, we really need to know what your plans are. Do you think he'll talk to me if I call him tonight?

I absolutely think my husband has dropped the ball in communicating with his parents. So, I get MIL's frustration. I just think it is highly inappropriate for her to drag my daughter into their conflict.

Is there anything I can do to help my daughter try to head off or deflect this conversation? Am I going to have to monitor the call, and break the news to MIL myself? If I do it, what can I say other than, "well, manipulation tactics like these are part of the reason we won't allow you unfettered access to your grandchildren"?

camlan

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Re: Daughter doesn't want to vacation w/ g-parents
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2012, 08:43:01 PM »
The ideal solution would be for you to contact your DH right away and tell him he needs to talk to his mother before the weekly Skype call. Unless his work takes him beyond the range of cells phones and/or internet access, this should be possible.

Other than that, I'd postpone the Skype call until he can contact his mother.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn

Sharnita

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Re: Daughter doesn't want to vacation w/ g-parents
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2012, 09:09:46 PM »
I guess I'm not sure why g-ma is to blame for this.  For the most part dd is (understandably playing along as if the trip is on and DH is avoiding.  how would G-ma know to treat it as if anything else is happening?

Hunter-Gatherer

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Re: Daughter doesn't want to vacation w/ g-parents
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2012, 09:21:03 PM »
Have DH talk to his mother before the skype call... or even on the skype call before your daughter gets on.

I get the very distinct impression that there's a whole lot of backstory that we're not getting that makes the whole thing more complicated, but really the only way to spare your daughter that conversation is for someone else to have it with your mother in law first.

Drawberry

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Re: Daughter doesn't want to vacation w/ g-parents
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2012, 09:21:53 PM »
I do agree that your husband has dropped the communication ball, and it seems to be out of fear for upsetting his family. I also agree that your daughter should not have the responsibility of picking up that slack. However, she should learn early how to put her foot down and tell people "No" without feeling guilty or ashamed. That does not mean she should be required to say anything more then "Thank you Grandma but I am not going this time.", when she learns that saying 'No' is not something to feel bad about conversations with her grandmother will be a lot less stressful for her.

If you cannot contact your husband to speak with his mother soon then the slack seems to fall on you. If you are predicting a difficult scenario for your daughter it would be in her best interests as well as your and your husbands to simply bite the bullet and call grandma ahead of time and let her know honestly that your daughter hasn't been enjoying vacation time and will not be having overnight trips anymore. I understand you may not be in the most...amiable of relationships with her grandmother but to prevent your young daughter from being put in a situation she is not equip to handle you may have to bite the bullet and take over.

I do feel strongly that we should equip young people with the tools on maintaining control over their lives in that they can say no to situations they do not want to be in. (Obviously that does not mean dissent against parenting, but in situations they do not feel comfortable in) Your daughter clearly feels an obligation to please grandma and feels guilt in saying "Grandma I do not want to go on vacation right now, we can see each other for lunch when Dad get's back from his trip and you can tell me all about the trip you had". Equipping her with the capacity to hold her ground with 'no' will carry over to situations that may be more serious as she gets older. There is no guilt in 'No'! The secrecy that you and your husband are holding over the whole situation is going to influence your daughter and contribute to making her feel  wrong for saying no to Grandma.

LeveeWoman

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Re: Daughter doesn't want to vacation w/ g-parents
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2012, 09:22:58 PM »
I'd get ahold of my husband ASAP to tell him to get this fixed. If that's not possible, I'd find some way to prevent the next Skype session until he has the chance to do what he said he'd do.

LifeOnPluto

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Re: Daughter doesn't want to vacation w/ g-parents
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2012, 09:39:53 PM »
Why are the vacations horrible for your DD? From your post, it sounds like the reason is that MIL drags DD to boring places and activities that DD has no interest in. Is that right?

If so, I think you and your DH (or just your DH if you absolutely cannot/will not speak with your MIL) firmly tell your MIL that DD is 12, and her interests are changing (eg she would have a rotten time looking at dolls). It sounds like your MIL and DD are close, but just don't enjoy the same activities. Isn't there any way you all sit down and work out an itinerary for your DD's stay that suits all parties?

TootsNYC

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Re: Daughter doesn't want to vacation w/ g-parents
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2012, 09:59:00 PM »
One thing that might work in your favor--as kids get older, their activities and commitments get stronger and broader and bigger. That's a excuse you can use if you want. Find a summer camp that overlaps part of that week.

turtleIScream

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Re: Daughter doesn't want to vacation w/ g-parents
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2012, 10:09:26 PM »
Thanks all! Just got off Skype with my husband (ETA: well, when I started this message; it's taking me a long time to type!), and told him he needs to talk to his mom. He acknowledged he should have done so already, and that he's dreading the conversation, but he knows it needs to come from him. So, he was calling her as soon as we got done talking. If he can't get ahold of her, daughter will reschedule her Skype session for after contact has been made.

Hunter-Gatherer, oh yes. There is a lot of backstory of "little" things that have destroyed my relationship with MIL, but we've tried to not let those little things get in the way of the grandma-granddaughter relationship. But the little things add up, and our daughter was pulling away from grandma on her own.

Drawberry - I have tried to counteract my own prejudices against MIL in encouraging my daughter to build her own relationship with grandma. I've let some little things go so as not to poison their relationship, but in retrospect, I should have been more proactive in discussing how to handle irritations and conflict instead of always giving the benefit of the doubt. In trying to teach her how to not be rude or disrespectful, I have erred in not properly training her in standing up for herself. She already hates, hates, hates confrontation, and is very much a people pleaser, and it was easier for me to think she is just a more forgiving person than I am than to face the fact that she's just better at hiding the hurt. :(

Thanks to eHell, all of us (daughter, husband, and I) are learning that standing up for yourself =/= rude, and JADEing is not necessary. But there's a very tension-filled, anxiety-inducing gap between accepting that concept and applying it in actual relationships.

Pluto and Toots - different interests and being treated like a 6 year old are part of the tension, but a very small part. We have actually have had that talk with MIL, which would have gone better if she didn't turn it on us and say I am unduly influencing our daughter to only like what I like, and making her grow up too fast. We are already looking at camps for her, but we can't keep relying on schedule conflicts to help us avoid the real issues.

Thanks again!

turtleIScream

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Re: Daughter doesn't want to vacation w/ g-parents -update #9
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2012, 10:17:01 PM »
Just received this text from my husband:

"Awkward message delivered awkwardly. Acceptance offered. I'll want to know if [daughter] feels otherwise."

Basically, they've agreed to not bug her for details, but I will still be monitoring tomorrow's Skype session.

peach2play

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Re: Daughter doesn't want to vacation w/ g-parents
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2012, 12:06:36 AM »
Good luck then and thank you for letting your daughter say no.  My mom would ship me off to my dad's parents for a month each summer and I hated it and she wouldn't listen so I had to keep going.  Kudos to you for giving her the power!

rashea

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Re: Daughter doesn't want to vacation w/ g-parents
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2012, 08:54:40 AM »
It's not too late for her to learn how to say no, and it sounds like that's a good lesson for her to learn. I'm sorry she has to practice on Grandma. Hopefully she won't bring it up today, but I'm glad you're going to be around just in case.
"Manners change, principles don't. It's about treating people with consideration, respect and honesty." Peter Post

Vermont

VorFemme

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Re: Daughter doesn't want to vacation w/ g-parents
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2012, 10:06:05 AM »
Yikes...

At least it went better than the four generation "family vacation" we planned for last year - where Granddad found DGDs didn't want to go to Disney AGAIN with Grandparents (apparently they want to do the scarier roller coasters and not the more sedate rides that the 70+ year olds with arthritis can handle getting in and out of more easily) and didn't catch that married oldest cousin would be there with her husband (and they enjoy roller coasters and scary rides) with her baby - as well as Aunt VorFemme, Uncle VorGuy, and oldest cousin's baby brother - VorSon. 

The other thing is that the grandparents drive from their house to Nieces' home, then take three days to get to Disney area (they are in the middle of the continent - either Disney would be a three day drive - we just own a time share near ONE of the Disney properties and had invited everyone to join us there for 2011).  They get bored with a three day drive each way...I can't blame them, I know how my parents travel and it is NOT stopping at the interesting (read as expensive but where their friends go) tourist spots along the way.

So - things got changed.  Granddad got his feelings hurt.  VorGuy got his feelings hurt (and we ended up having spent for an upgraded suite that was more space than we needed - although we did spread out to fill it...but some of the other plans for Univeral, Sea World, and such didn't happen because the large family GROUP wasn't there). 

Brother got his daughters set up for basketball and church camps - but if those camps had been set up earlier - or everyone had been told that they *might* conflict with the trip to the Disney area and "we'll have to see what dates they end up being, as they aren't finalized yet" there would have been a lot fewer hurt feelings from Grandparents, Uncle VorGuy, and Aunt VorFemme, the attempted peacemaker.....

Not to mention the cousins who wanted to see them and the grandparents (and DD wanted introduce her son, the first Great-grandbaby to her grandparents and cousins).  But Sea World was still fun...and they went on the roller coasters while Grandson & I found more sedate things to do (a concussion twenty years ago changed my preferences in rides - I used to LOVE the Tilt-a-Whirl and roller coasters - no longer).
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

Zilla

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Re: Daughter doesn't want to vacation w/ g-parents
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2012, 01:46:57 PM »
I am glad your husband stepped up to the plate.  It sounds like something my husband would do and not realized oops should have been done sooner.  I hope mil is kind to your daughter tonight during their skype.

Onyx_TKD

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Re: Daughter doesn't want to vacation w/ g-parents
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2012, 04:17:58 PM »
Guess what? He has not spoken to either of his parents since then. Grandma has her weekly Skype call with our daughter tomorrow, and the subject is sure to come up. MIL and I don't talk, ever. But I can't let the burden of explaining our decision fall on our daughter. In an ideal world, the conversation would go like this:

G-ma: so, are you excited about next summer's trip?
Daughter: My dad still wants to talk with you about it, so can you call him to find out what's going on?
G-ma: Sure, I'll give him a call. How is band going?

How I envision it actually playing out:

G-ma: we've been looking at some of the things around [vacation spot], and there's a doll museum there I'm looking forward to taking you to. Do you still like dolls?
Daughter: well, I've never really been into dolls, but if you want to go there, it could be interesting.
G-ma: how can you not like dolls? I loved dolls when I was your age. In fact, I still like dolls. You know me, I'm just a big kid with gray hair and wrinkles. Ha ha! So, are you still excited about the trip?
Daughter: My dad still wants to talk with you about it, so can you call him to find out what's going on?
G-ma: (sigh) well, when will he be home? He never answers when I call him, or he has to get off the phone right away. So, can you make sure he calls me tonight, but not too late?
Daughter: he's not coming home tonight, he's on a trip for work. I can ask him when he gets home later.
G-ma: well, we really need to know what your plans are. Do you think he'll talk to me if I call him tonight?

I realize there must be some background that's shaping your perception of Grandma, but as an outsider, one thing I notice about these hypothetical conversations is that they never say that your daughter isn't going on the trip. "Dad wants to talk to you about the trip" doesn't indicate "I'm not going." Even more so, responding to "there's a doll museum that I'm looking forward to taking you to" with "I'm not into dolls, but...it could be interesting" would suggest to me that she is planning to go. I think it would be unreasonable to expect Grandma to drop the subject of the trip completely just because she's told that Dad wants to discuss something about the trip with her. Also, if Daughter is telling her to contact Dad, then asking when would be a good time seems perfectly reasonable. If Grandma called while he was on a work trip, would she get an answer? If not, then asking when she can actually get ahold of him is a good idea.

I realize that avoiding telling her clearly that Daughter isn't going may be a defense mechanism based on prior issues with Grandma. However, if conversations are typical, then you might want to consider whether unclear communication from your family is exacerbating the situation. If it is, then Daughter may need to try a different method.

How do you think Grandma would have responded to something more like this?
G-ma: So, are you excited about next summer's trip?
Daughter: Well, I talked to Mom and Dad about the trip, and they said it won't work out for this year. Dad still wants to talk with you about it--do you want to call him, or should he call you? [Change topic after getting Grandma's answer--maybe start talking about whatever fun activity she will be able to do during that time.]

In this case, Daughter shuts down the trip conversation by making it clear it's not happening. However, it also clearly indicates that this decision was made by you and your husband (i.e., not Daughter's decision to explain or justify) and tells her who she should talk to about it. If Grandma asks why, Daughter can always repeat "Dad said it wouldn't work this year. He wanted to talk to you about it himself" and change the subject.