Author Topic: Nephew's birthday Update #99  (Read 15924 times)

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bopper

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #45 on: May 06, 2013, 08:54:27 AM »
People often use birthdays/funerals/weddings/reunions/holidays as a trigger to get together.  Yes, we could get together ANY day, but having an event gives us something to focus around.  For your brother, his nephew's birthday is that focus.  Perhaps other people, like grandparents, travel for that event and it would be nice to have the whole family there.

However,  for you, you a vacation locked in that weekend.  So you have to ask yourself:
Would I like to visit some other time?
Do I see them at other times such as Christmas at another relatives house?
Is it easier for me to travel to them at this point as they have little kids and I do not?
How close do I want to maintain this relationship?
How much does the traveling affect my health?

This is all up to you.
You could decide that you want to make no effort to drive out to him.
You could decide to visit him, but at another time.
You could decide to encourage him to visit you (you drive to his hotel?) when he is nearby on his business trips.

Lynn2000

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #46 on: May 06, 2013, 10:23:37 AM »
People often use birthdays/funerals/weddings/reunions/holidays as a trigger to get together.  Yes, we could get together ANY day, but having an event gives us something to focus around.  For your brother, his nephew's birthday is that focus.  Perhaps other people, like grandparents, travel for that event and it would be nice to have the whole family there.

However,  for you, you a vacation locked in that weekend.  So you have to ask yourself:
Would I like to visit some other time?
Do I see them at other times such as Christmas at another relatives house?
Is it easier for me to travel to them at this point as they have little kids and I do not?
How close do I want to maintain this relationship?
How much does the traveling affect my health?

This is all up to you.
You could decide that you want to make no effort to drive out to him.
You could decide to visit him, but at another time.
You could decide to encourage him to visit you (you drive to his hotel?) when he is nearby on his business trips.

POD to this. Different families work in different ways; and different people within the same family can have different expectations, too. I think most actions fall within the "not rude" range, but some can still be reasonably hurtful; and if someone isn't happy with their current situation, I think they need to step back, look at the big picture, and decide what they personally are willing to change (since we can't make other people change).

In her recent post the OP said that her brother sometimes needs to be prodded to step up and take on his full share of "work" in a situation. So indeed, maybe it's time to do that more. Everyone is busy, everyone has demands on their time or constraints on their travel, but the road still goes both ways. Instead of ceasing to invite brother to things--because he never came--maybe try stepping up the invitations, every month until he realizes you really do want to see him, and the only way that's going to happen is if he comes to you. Every time he bypasses you after a work trip, encourage him to stop by the next time. Not in a guilting way, but cheerful and upbeat and willing to help him overcome obstacles ("I'm sure you must be exhausted on your way back, we'll have the guest room ready for you and you can go straight to bed when you arrive! Then we'll go out to breakfast the next morning and chat.").

And the next time he does come, during a quiet moment I would lay out for him how difficult it is for you to drive long distances, and how much recovery time you need. Maybe you think he ought to understand this already, but IME people often think they've explained something well, when the other person really didn't get it.

Also, I like the idea of getting Skype (especially as brother suggested it) and trying to keep up with nephew more that way. I think sometimes it's more about the effort we put in to stay connected, than the specific way in which we do it, you know?

And honestly, if you try stepping things up for six months or so, and brother still won't visit and still complains, maybe then you'll know that his priorities are really different from yours, and there might not be a way to make him happy, so you should just do whatever feels right to you, even if he doesn't like it.
~Lynn2000

sevenday

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #47 on: May 06, 2013, 02:21:43 PM »
I agree that at 3, the nephew won't remember that you weren't there.  I do think that brother is being selfcentered about the drive, probably thinking something like this: "I have a 3 year old! How can you expect me to drive 7 hours just to go to my brother in law's birthday party!"  What he seems to fail to take into consideration is, as you've said, your health.  It takes much longer for you to make the visit if you are driving.  He also fails to take into consideration your husband's work schedule and availability for vacations.  Does it suck that nephew's bday is the same week as your projected vacation week - because that's where all the other schedules meet?  Yes.

However, there are alternatives.  A lovely card and present sent to be opened at the party, Skype, a phone call.  Your nephew sees you twice a year roughly, he won't forget you exist or think you're evil for not attending your party - unless your brother tells him that you are.  I had plenty of aunts and uncles who sent a card but did not attend parties; I didn't think less of them.  My grandmother NEVER came to my birthday parties (granted she's many states away) but makes an effort to send a card or an email, and I love her for remembering the time even if she can't physically be here.  Your nephew, when he's older, will understand that life gets in the way, but what really matters is the effort to recognize and remember an event.   You should gently inform your brother of this. 

SPuck

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #48 on: May 06, 2013, 02:24:59 PM »
I think you handled the situation just fine, and that your brother should have responded to your decline better.

The only way your nephew would ever get upset about this situation is if your brother made a big issue out of it with him.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2013, 02:31:41 PM by SPuck »

alis

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #49 on: May 07, 2013, 07:20:11 AM »
I'm planning my 3 year old's party as well and I'm chuckling at the idea anyone would drive 1 hour, let alone 7, to attend. Really?

LEMon

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #50 on: May 08, 2013, 01:07:56 AM »
Just a guess, but I suspect it wasn't so much this year but his sudden thought of 'so you will never be here?' which depressed him in that moment.

Personally in your situation, I would tell him that I was sorry it wouldn't work this year, you love hearing about the party, know he has stuff going on in his life right now and wish you could be there for him.  I would even suggest that you might be able to come in the future so that he feels it is important to you.  It may be more that he* needs to feel important right now if he has stuff going wrong in his life.  He may not be expressing what he needs from you, but then he may not even know what he really needs.

* I agree with others that the three year old will never even remember that you were there.  So I think this is brother's need.

silvercelt

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #51 on: May 09, 2013, 11:22:43 AM »
I admit I'm coming at this from the perspective of a family that's scattered all over the country. It would never have occurred to my parents to invite my aunts and uncles to my birthday- it's just not financially possible for us.

I think Bro needs to get a grip on himself. Nephew is three- he won't miss you at a big crowded party. If he's upset you aren't coming because Bro wants to see you, then he needs to use his words.

This, this, a million times this.

I live a 10 hour drive away from my family. Siblings, parents, grandparents, etc- they all live in the same state.  DH and I moved to the coast.
While I would LOVE to be there for my niece and newphew's birthdays (and all other birthday celebrations), it's not feasible for us.   It doesn't even occur to them to send us invitations to the parties because they know we can't come.  They let us know the dates, on the remote off chance that we could come, but never guilt us about it.  It's a birthday party and, in this case, it's for someone too young to remember who was or was not there. 

geekette

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #52 on: May 12, 2013, 12:16:36 AM »
A couple of people have pointed out that nephew won't remember who was at his party, but it sounds like this is an issue that could repeat every year. In a few years, NutellaNut's nephew is going to remember who was there and whether they were there the last time.
I think I was almost in nephew's position growing up. My parents live far away from the rest of their families, so it was a 12 hour trip to visit my uncles.  I didn't see them more than a three times a year, if that - we traveled to see them 3 times out of 4, and so that had to work around our school holidays. They only made it to a handful of my birthday's in my life - my 8th by coincidence and the milestones of 10 years, 18 years and 21 years. They made Geek-bro's 7th, 10th and 18th, but missed his 21st because one was overseas and the other's wife was due  to give birth 2 weeks later.
As the birthday child, I wouldn't have found the fact you cannot make "ever" make the birthday party hurtful (though maybe disappointing). I'd find the fact that you can't make the party because your have other holiday plans hurtful - its not that you're busy with work and can't get the time off, its that you want to do something else on your holiday and that you want to do it every year and (based just on how the conversation was phrased) never make an exception. As a kid, I would have definitely taken that to mean I just wasn't important to you.

You aren't wrong to do something else with your holiday, even if it coincides, but maybe when your nephew is old enough to notice/remember you weren't there you could give a vaguer answer to why you couldn't make it? Maybe just a broader "We have an outstanding commitment that week that we can't shift" would be less hurtful, because it doesn't have the flip interpretation of "We'd rather have fun on our own than see you".

mbbored

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #53 on: May 12, 2013, 12:35:20 AM »
Conversely, I grew up with grandparents, aunts and uncles 2 to 4 hours away and I never remember them at my birthday parties. My parents never gave us the expectation that we would see them on birthdays so there was no way we'd be disappointed. Birthdays were for immediate family and friends.

When I lived in the same town as my niece and nephew, I went to their birthday parties. Now I send them a fun card and give them a phone call.

SPuck

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #54 on: May 12, 2013, 10:19:38 AM »
geekette, I would have to politely disagree that NutellaNut's will be hurt if his aunt doesn't attend. I grew up with aunts, uncles, and grandparents all living anywhere from ten minutes away to a little over two hours away. It never hurt me that they never attended my birthday parties. Some sent presents, some didn't, and at the end of the day it was okay with me because no one made and issue about it. He will only get hurt if someone else (his father) makes his aunt's lack of presence known.

*inviteseller

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #55 on: May 12, 2013, 10:26:59 AM »
A couple of people have pointed out that nephew won't remember who was at his party, but it sounds like this is an issue that could repeat every year. In a few years, NutellaNut's nephew is going to remember who was there and whether they were there the last time.
I think I was almost in nephew's position growing up. My parents live far away from the rest of their families, so it was a 12 hour trip to visit my uncles.  I didn't see them more than a three times a year, if that - we traveled to see them 3 times out of 4, and so that had to work around our school holidays. They only made it to a handful of my birthday's in my life - my 8th by coincidence and the milestones of 10 years, 18 years and 21 years. They made Geek-bro's 7th, 10th and 18th, but missed his 21st because one was overseas and the other's wife was due  to give birth 2 weeks later.
As the birthday child, I wouldn't have found the fact you cannot make "ever" make the birthday party hurtful (though maybe disappointing). I'd find the fact that you can't make the party because your have other holiday plans hurtful - its not that you're busy with work and can't get the time off, its that you want to do something else on your holiday and that you want to do it every year and (based just on how the conversation was phrased) never make an exception. As a kid, I would have definitely taken that to mean I just wasn't important to you.

You aren't wrong to do something else with your holiday, even if it coincides, but maybe when your nephew is old enough to notice/remember you weren't there you could give a vaguer answer to why you couldn't make it? Maybe just a broader "We have an outstanding commitment that week that we can't shift" would be less hurtful, because it doesn't have the flip interpretation of "We'd rather have fun on our own than see you".

To expect relatives to come to a kids party that is more than an hour away is asking too much IMO.  OP has to make a drive that is long and is physically taxing to her.  If the child grows up feeling hurt that the family members did not go out of their way for a birthday, that is on the parents who allowed/encouraged this.  Birthdays are special to kids, but it is not a reason to expect everyone to come from far and wide.  I grew up knowing I was loved by my family but I never saw them at my birthdays because they lived 4 hours away (my family moved before I was born).  They called and sent cards and that was wonderful to me because they remembered.   Maybe in other families it is different, but had I brought up I was hurt that the families did not come trooping in for a day my father would have told me I was being selfish expecting it (and we didn't have parties as kids...just a fun family type day).  And the fact that OP's long standing vacation coincides with the party is neither here nor there.  Her life should not be put on hold because a child she sees a few times a year and only when she goes to them has to be first.  She never said she would never make it, but did confirm that it coincides with her yearly vacation.  I don't see OP's reaction to the brother as being flip or even remotely how you interpreted  it . The child will decide how to feel about it on how he is taught to deal with it. 

AngelicGamer

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #56 on: May 12, 2013, 06:15:01 PM »
For a lot of my young life, my aunt and uncle were out of town / out of the country when my birthday came around.  If they were out of town, it was because they really only got a couple weeks before they had to go home and wanted to see friends while they were here.  I would get a call on the day and a package with a card that would show up anywhere from a week before to a week after.  The package would be small to large, but it made me feel very special.  Why?  Because it's mail and mail to a kid (heck, even a teenager) was a really big thing.

I will say that, as I was growing up, I didn't really care that my aunt and uncle were out doing something else on my birthday.  Mostly because, as my birthday fell when school was out, no matter what day it fell on, I would have a friends party at the pool in our condo division.  If my aunt and uncle had time before they left, I would get a special dinner out with them, but it could be anywhere from the day after to a week later.  And now, as I'm reaching 31 in a month from yesterday (*grumbles*), my aunt and I are super close. 

So, OP, I wouldn't feel bad about missing your nephew's party.  I would see if you could do an un-birthday.  Just remember to call on the day - either through the phone or Skype - and it should be fine.  Make a point to talk to your brother as well.  He might be missing family and it could help to bring the two of you a bit closer.




"Life's tough, huh?  And then you die." ~ Buck, the Magnificent Seven.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #57 on: May 12, 2013, 07:16:59 PM »
Geekette, I don't think it will be hurtfull to the child because he shoudn't have an expectation that relatives travel 7 hours to attend a birthday party. You can't compare traveling 7 hours for an afternoon bday party to traveling 2 or 3 hours for a week long lakehouse vacation.

And he'd only ever compare the two events if his parents say something about aunt and uncle go on vacation instead of coming to his party.

AnnaJ

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #58 on: May 12, 2013, 09:44:35 PM »
I think the fact that you have other holiday plans is a red herring, and so is whether or not your nephew is old enough to remember - taking those issues out of the mix, the situation is:

1. You are looking at a 7 hour drive one way, with all of the expenses a trip like that entails.
2. Your health means that you are down for a couple of days on either side of the trip, not something to be taken lightly.
3. Your husband has to arrange his plans to be able to drive you there and back.
4. Your brother does not reciprocate visits in a fair fashion; I know you said you have (wisely, IMO) accepted that, but he is in absolutely no position to complain about you not coming to see his family.
5. You plan to visit when things are less chaotic than during your nephew's birthday.

Looking at all of that, there is no way in Hades I'd go, and the fact your brother expects you to is...well, pretty special.  It does not matter whether you are vacationing during that time, or twiddling your thumbs at home, is does not make sense to go - which wouldn't matter if you really wanted to go, but... 

I would calmly tell your brother that you will visit when you can, send your nephew a gift and/or card (most kids love getting snail mail) and enjoy your vacation.   
« Last Edit: May 12, 2013, 09:47:37 PM by AnnaJ »

sammycat

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #59 on: May 12, 2013, 10:35:47 PM »
Very well said AnnaJ!  :)