Author Topic: Breaking the News  (Read 7989 times)

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mbbored

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Breaking the News
« on: June 11, 2013, 11:55:48 AM »
Yes, I know this is six months ahead of time, but my family starts planning holidays EARLY.

My mother is widowed and the highlight of her year, every year, is having all of her adult children come home for Christmas. However, this year I've decided not to make that trip for several reasons. Flying across the country and boarding a dog over the holidays takes up almost an entire month's salary for me (I'm a grad student). Also, I haven't seen my dad's family, including my last surviving grandparent, in several years and promised my grandmother I'd fly across the country to yet another state to visit her for Thanksgiving (my mother will not attend that), taking up a considerable amount of money and time as well. Finally, my laboratory research is very delicate and needs attention 7 days a week. I can ask for coverage but I hate to use up favors over Christmas, assuming anybody would even be in town to help me out.

So, how to I break the news to my mother that even if she offers to pay for my ticket, I just can't make it this year?

MrTango

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Re: Breaking the News
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2013, 12:12:53 PM »
Probably best to let her know that you've already committed to traveling for Thanksgiving and that it will not be possible for you to travel at Christmas time.

If you want, you can choose to blame work (I won't be able to get the time off).

If she tries to argue that you should change your plans at Thanksgiving, stick with a firm "that will not be possible."

At some point, you might just have to switch to "no."

cwm

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Re: Breaking the News
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2013, 12:34:28 PM »
Honestly, I'd tell her now. That way she's not working herself up for six months about how excited she'll be to see you and then suddenly you can't make it. Don't even mention the costs of plane tickets and boarding your dog, explain that you and the rest of your lab team have split up the holidays, and that you'll only have Thanksgiving free and you've already made plans with your father's family. Set it in terms of work and explain that it cannot be changed for anything because everyone else has already made their arrangements for the holidays. Will it stop her asking again and again in the future? Probably not. But at least it will set up the expectation early that you won't be there and that won't change.

Zizi-K

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Re: Breaking the News
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2013, 01:11:42 PM »
I think it depends on your mother. Some people would treat 6 months notice as 6 months to try to change your mind (my in-laws are like this), in which case telling her at the last possible moment might be better for you.

SPuck

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Re: Breaking the News
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2013, 02:05:32 PM »
Your best course of action is to tell her once (CWM has the best way to), and then tell her the topic is no longer up for discussion. I wouldn't even bean dip if she brings it up in conversations. It's probably going to be something she is going to gnaw on until Christmas is over. Don't feed the drama coming from her (and quite possibly your siblings if she is the type to summon the Horde), and you should be fine.

Judah

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Re: Breaking the News
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2013, 03:11:57 PM »
Just tell her. "Mom, I've decided I'm going to spend Christmas with Dad's side of the family this year. You get me every year, and I haven't seen them in years. I'm looking forward to seeing them, since it's been so long."
Ask for what you want. Let's be clear on this one:
Subtle hints don't work.
Strong hints don't work.
Really obvious hints don't work.
Just say it!

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lowspark

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Re: Breaking the News
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2013, 03:31:27 PM »
Is it feasible for you to host Christmas this year? If everyone is traveling to see Mom, can they travel to you instead?

If not, can you invite her to come visit you some time before the holidays?

Maybe that would soften the blow?

delabela

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Re: Breaking the News
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2013, 10:21:59 PM »
I gotta warn you - even if you are very upfront about it, she may just choose not to believe you. So be prepared to follow up towards the holidays with a "remember, mom, we talked about this". 

MrTango

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Re: Breaking the News
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2013, 08:19:07 AM »
I gotta warn you - even if you are very upfront about it, she may just choose not to believe you. So be prepared to follow up towards the holidays with a "remember, mom, we talked about this".

After telling her, I wouldn't bring it up again unless she says or does something that causes me to think she doesn't get it or isn't accepting it.

SPuck

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Re: Breaking the News
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2013, 08:35:29 AM »
Maybe that would soften the blow?

I don't see why mbbored has to soften the blow. Life happens, and traditions change. Bonds can still be maintained in other ways. If someone is so wrapped up in the idea of their Christmas that they grow toxic that is their own burden to bear. If seeing family is so important then there are other less chaotic and expensive times of the year this can happen.

lowspark

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Re: Breaking the News
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2013, 09:37:08 AM »
Maybe that would soften the blow?

I don't see why mbbored has to soften the blow. Life happens, and traditions change. Bonds can still be maintained in other ways. If someone is so wrapped up in the idea of their Christmas that they grow toxic that is their own burden to bear. If seeing family is so important then there are other less chaotic and expensive times of the year this can happen.

First, I didn't see anywhere in the OP that the mother would be toxic. I just got the idea that she would be very disappointed. And no, certainly mbbored does not have to soften the blow. But don't you try to mitigate disappointment for the people you love?

Based on the OP, I'm just assuming that there is a normal mother-daughter re-lationship, that she normally goes home for Christmas but won't be able to this year, and that she is looking for a way to tell her mother because she is anticipating her mother's disappointment.

What's wrong with trying to soften the blow under these circumstances?

And specifically, your last sentence:
If seeing family is so important then there are other less chaotic and expensive times of the year this can happen.
That is exactly one of the options I'm suggesting.


kherbert05

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Re: Breaking the News
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2013, 09:55:04 AM »
Tell her now that you won't be able to take off because of where you will be in your research. Can you arrange to skype your Mom's and speak to your family during the day.


I grew up in Texas. Mom's family was in Canada for a variety or reasons we would never travel up there at Christmas. (Mom had a history of being deathly ill during Canadian winters, we simply didn't have the clothes needed to travel there at the time you couldn't buy them here unless you went to very high end stores, and most importantly my grandmother believed all children should sleep in their own beds on Christmas Eve.)


We called every year - sometimes from Dad's sister's house if we couldn't get through earlier in the day. It made us part of their day too.
Don't Teach Them For Your Past. Teach Them For Their Future

SPuck

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Re: Breaking the News
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2013, 10:37:50 AM »
What's wrong with trying to soften the blow under these circumstances?

Toxic was admittedly to strong a word, but the worst can be brought out in people when traditions are changed so preparing for unexpected personality quirks to show is possible. I've seen my own parents get a little worked up over the change of traditions (luckily they only shows it to me and not the people changing), but it does get to the point where people have to accept change.

mbbored

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Re: Breaking the News
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2013, 12:08:55 PM »
Is it feasible for you to host Christmas this year? If everyone is traveling to see Mom, can they travel to you instead?

If not, can you invite her to come visit you some time before the holidays?

Maybe that would soften the blow?

It's not really possible for me to host Christmas. I live in a 2 bedroom place 3000 miles away from most of my siblings and as the only single one it's always been on me to visit them. I've been out here 5 years and my mother has only visited twice and swears she won't do it again until I finish graduate school (2 years away.) I wouldn't call it a toxic relationship but I admit it can be a frustrating one when I'm expected to do all the traveling and initiate all the contact.

TootsNYC

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Re: Breaking the News
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2013, 01:38:04 PM »
Just tell her. "Mom, I've decided I'm going to spend Christmas with Dad's side of the family this year. You get me every year, and I haven't seen them in years. I'm looking forward to seeing them, since it's been so long."

But this isn't accurate--the OP is seeing dad's family at Tgiving, which uses up her $$.

So I'd say, "Mom, I can't swing the trip home--I don't have the money or the time."

And don't talk to her about "hate to ask for coverage"--just tell her you CAN'T. Don't even hint that any other decision is even possible.

And if she ever starts to lament that you won't be there, don't pooh-pooh her, but say, "yeah, it stinks, I'm bummed too. Maybe next year it'll work out. Are you decorating the house differently this year? What time of day should I call? Do you think we should try to work out Skype so I can talk to everyone? Do you have a speakerphone?"