Author Topic: Nephew's birthday Update #99  (Read 15594 times)

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katycoo

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #60 on: May 12, 2013, 10:49:28 PM »
Here's a different question: 

If your brother and his family lived in the same city as you, would that make ANY difference as to whether you missed your vacation with friends to attend nephew's birthday party?

I'd suggest not.  And that's fine that you choose to prioritise your vacation over attending a child's party.  But I also understand the hurt.

ebelie

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #61 on: May 13, 2013, 04:18:44 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".

I'd like to offer a contrasting opinion.

I too lived far away from all my extended family, including all uncles, aunts, cousins and grandmothers.  My closest uncle/cousins were an eight hour drive away.  We saw some once a year, some twice a year, and some not at all.  Some we did all the traveling to see, and some we split equally with, and one visited us more than we did them.

Not once did any of them attend any of our birthdays.  I didn't feel any less loved - we showed affection in other ways and at other times.  I might have felt differently if my parents had ever made a big deal out of them not attending, but they were fine with it and so were my brother and I.

If I had an aunt that visited my city to see me three times a year, knowing how far she had to travel, I'd feel pretty appreciated.

Bethalize

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #62 on: May 13, 2013, 05:00:11 AM »
I won't make long journeys for diluted time any more unless we also have quality time. So, if I see you every year for a one-on-one visit then sure, I'll go to your milestone party and spend ten minutes with you. If I never see you otherwise I am disinclined. After a friend's son's 1st birthday where I drove two hours, spent three hours making small talk with strangers and drove two hours home I decided never again.

So to the OP - have your quality time with nephew at your convenience.

*inviteseller

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #63 on: May 13, 2013, 09:09:24 AM »
Here's a different question: 

If your brother and his family lived in the same city as you, would that make ANY difference as to whether you missed your vacation with friends to attend nephew's birthday party?

I'd suggest not.  And that's fine that you choose to prioritise your vacation over attending a child's party.  But I also understand the hurt.

This is neither here or there.  My own brother, in 17 years has only made only 2 or 3 of either of my DD's events.  He lives 20 minutes from us, but he also works different shifts.  Should I, and my kids, be hurt that he is not making an effort to re arrange his schedule?  Or do we understand and save him a plate of food and a piece of cake for when he can stop over?  Should we be bothered that my parents, who live 10 minutes away and have some health issues haven't come to any parties that started being more friends than family because they aren't comfortable?  Should I tell them their feelings are not as important as my kids, or do I tell my kids that Grandparents are not comfortable in that setting, we will see them another day?  Just because you (general) think that your child's birthday is the most important day on the calendar and all family should come to the party, not everyone feels the same way and to be hurt over any reason someone has for not coming is SS to me.

Shoo

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #64 on: May 13, 2013, 09:47:32 AM »
Here's a different question: 

If your brother and his family lived in the same city as you, would that make ANY difference as to whether you missed your vacation with friends to attend nephew's birthday party?

I'd suggest not.  And that's fine that you choose to prioritise your vacation over attending a child's party.  But I also understand the hurt.

I honestly can't understand the self-centeredness it would take to make me think my child's birthday party should take priority over someone's hard-earned out-of-town vacation.

Twik

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #65 on: May 13, 2013, 10:06:27 AM »
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.

How important should a child feel he is to his aunt and uncle who live pretty well a full day's travel away from him? Enough that they would give up days of their vacation for the thrill of attending his party for a few hours (when, in most cases, the child will want to spend it playing with his friends rather than grownups)?

I quickly learned growing up that people who live near you are much more likely to attend your celebrations than people who live far away, even when they are of the same degree of relationship. That's the nature of life. Goodness, I had an uncle who I never saw once in my life, but it didn't give me feelings of rejection. He lived far away, and if I was not important in his life, I must admit the converse was also true.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

Lynn2000

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #66 on: May 13, 2013, 10:41:41 AM »
I think some good arguments have been made on both sides. I don't think the OP should give up her vacation and drive 7 hours to attend the birthday party.

Quote from OP:
A few nights ago I was talking to my brother and he brought up Nephew's birthday.  "DN's 3rd birthday is XX date, you know you could come..."

"Oh, DB, I'm sorry," I said, "but that's the start of our vacation week.  We just can't."
"Yeah, well, great," he said sourly.  "So you'll miss it again."
"It's unfortunate, but it just lines up that way.  We're locked into that week."
"Well, I can tell you, DN's birthday isn't going to change.  So I guess you'll always miss it."


True, Brother was not very gracious. Guilt-tripping and whining isn't cool. But what I got out of it was that he was hurt that his son's birthday was always--not just this one year, but into the foreseeable future, and in the past--going to be less important to the OP, than the OP's vacation.

It sounds like the OP is going to try and visit them at another time, so maybe when she makes those arrangements Brother will be able to express himself more politely and maturely. I think he was hurt to be told by his sister that a "non-essential" commitment was forever and always going to be keeping her from attending a special event with his family. And yeah, people have lives and the road goes both ways and it's a long drive, but I think it can be painful to have the reason just laid out there--"Don't expect us at that, ever, because we prefer to do something else fun at that time."

I don't think the OP did anything wrong; she told the truth, her brother was disappointed, he handled his disappointment badly. I personally don't think his disappointment was unreasonable, though--there was a polite fiction that the OP might, in some future year, be able to attend the party at this time, and the OP dispensed with that. Brother should have concealed his reaction better. But I don't think his momentary slip necessarily indicates massive self-centeredness about his children or anything. Maybe other things about him add up to self-centeredness, but to me this one incident of disappointment seems normal.
~Lynn2000

Twik

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #67 on: May 13, 2013, 10:56:35 AM »
Personally, I'd consider expecting *anyone* to travel 7 hours for a child's birthday party to be showing signs of self-centeredness.

And, to be honest, why *couldn't* the birthday party move? If he really wants them there, could the party not be held on a day close to the birthday, but still allowing them to come? If it's that important to Brother, surely a few days one way or another wouldn't matter?

(My mother felt that outdoor parties were necessary for her own sanity, and thus declared my birthday a movable feast from its normal early-spring date.)
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

Hmmmmm

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #68 on: May 13, 2013, 11:59:45 AM »
Lynn, in my opinion, being upset that your sister is not willing to make a 7 hour drive a birthday party is unreasonable.

The OP has said there is no family expectation based on previous generations that extended family goes out of their way to attend birthday parties. The OP has also never offered to come to parties. The brother has come up with the idea that the OP should attend bday parties on his own, even when he wasn't willing to make a trip for the OP's husband's party.

I put his being hurt in the same category as someone saying they are upset that their sister took her family to Disney World and didn't take him. Or my sister received a huge bonus check and didn't give me any of the money. 

perpetua

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #69 on: May 13, 2013, 12:03:32 PM »
And, to be honest, why *couldn't* the birthday party move? If he really wants them there, could the party not be held on a day close to the birthday, but still allowing them to come? If it's that important to Brother, surely a few days one way or another wouldn't matter?

Well, if you turn that the other way around, you'd end up with a question like 'My sister has asked me to move the date of my son's birthday celebrations to accommodate her yearly holiday' and I can imagine the kind of responses that would get.

I can sort of see where the brother is coming from. While there are logistical things in play here that affect attendance, it does seem like the OP is implying 'a holiday with my friends will always be more important to me than my nephew', so I can understand the hurt. That, rather than non attendance at this year's party, is what the brother is reacting to.

Yvaine

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #70 on: May 13, 2013, 12:05:28 PM »
The OP has said there is no family expectation based on previous generations that extended family goes out of their way to attend birthday parties. The OP has also never offered to come to parties. The brother has come up with the idea that the OP should attend bday parties on his own, even when he wasn't willing to make a trip for the OP's husband's party.

And this really varies so much based on families. I don't remember aunts or uncles coming to our birthday parties more than once or twice growing up, and they were local; and I don't remember us getting taken to cousins' birthdays either. For whatever reason, birthdays were nuclear family or else, occasionally, school friends. And then my grandma would take us out, like to eat and to the mall or something, on a different date. We weren't hurt by the lack of aunts and uncles, because that's just how it was. Our Christmases and Thanksgivings were more extended-family-oriented, as well as sometimes a big Memorial Day or 4th of July thing.

Twik

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #71 on: May 13, 2013, 12:18:55 PM »
And, to be honest, why *couldn't* the birthday party move? If he really wants them there, could the party not be held on a day close to the birthday, but still allowing them to come? If it's that important to Brother, surely a few days one way or another wouldn't matter?

Well, if you turn that the other way around, you'd end up with a question like 'My sister has asked me to move the date of my son's birthday celebrations to accommodate her yearly holiday' and I can imagine the kind of responses that would get.

No, she did nothing of the sort. She told him she couldn't be there for a certain date. The brother is the one who then has to find a solution, or else accept that she cannot make it.

I think it's quite exceptional enough that Brother expects the OP to spend at least two days travelling to attend the party. To expect her to ruin her entire holiday schedule every single year is really outrageous.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

Shoo

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #72 on: May 13, 2013, 12:21:25 PM »
To expect her to ruin her entire holiday schedule every single year is really outrageous.

To expect her to ruin her entire holiday schedule *even once* for a child's birthday is also outrageous, IMO.

Twik

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #73 on: May 13, 2013, 12:28:20 PM »
Perpetua, do you believe that friends that you see and are close to are, by definition, less important than a family member of another generation, who you would at best see once a year? Because maybe Nephew should learn that friends are just as important as blood, and that those relationships need nurturing too.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

wolfie

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Re: Nephew's birthday
« Reply #74 on: May 13, 2013, 12:29:27 PM »
And, to be honest, why *couldn't* the birthday party move? If he really wants them there, could the party not be held on a day close to the birthday, but still allowing them to come? If it's that important to Brother, surely a few days one way or another wouldn't matter?

Well, if you turn that the other way around, you'd end up with a question like 'My sister has asked me to move the date of my son's birthday celebrations to accommodate her yearly holiday' and I can imagine the kind of responses that would get.

I can sort of see where the brother is coming from. While there are logistical things in play here that affect attendance, it does seem like the OP is implying 'a holiday with my friends will always be more important to me than my nephew', so I can understand the hurt. That, rather than non attendance at this year's party, is what the brother is reacting to.

But that is not what she is implying. She is implying "a holiday with my friends will always be more important to me then attending a birthday party for my nephew". My sister lives a 7 hours plane trip away. I doubt I will ever go to their birthday parties. But that doesn't mean they aren't important to me - it just means that their parties aren't that important to me.