Author Topic: Parents should be divorced = awkward Christmas! Update #8, 18, 28, 46, 55, 69.  (Read 16948 times)

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oopsie

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BG:

My parents have been married for a little over 40 years. For as long as I can remember (i.e. at least 30 years) they have lived together in the house I grew up in when realistically, they should have been divorced. My father sleeps in the basement and my mom sleeps in the master bedroom upstairs. They pretty much live separate lives and my mom is irritable and confrontational towards my father even when I go to visit them both and they are in the same room together. They have both said negative things about the other to me and my siblings, even after I've asked them not to. I'm not entirely sure why they haven't divorced other than laziness/money issues. Anyway, this is what I've grown up with and now, I'm officially DONE!

The last time we were at their house was for Thanksgiving and my mom had made a whole spread, really delicious, homemade. My father sat in the living room and visited with us but didn't eat a single bite. My children were asking why he wasn't eating anything. I just gave them a lame excuse but I knew the real reason - they had had a fight about something (probably my dad threw out something moldy in the fridge that was my mom's - she has hoarder tendencies) and now have an agreement that they won't touch each other's food. It was not fun at all to eat and enjoy a meal knowing my dad wasn't also partaking.

Bottom line, when it comes to one interacting with the other, both are incredible immature and emotionally stunted.

End BG.

Here is my dilemma - typically every Christmas, we go to my parents' house in the afternoon and have a meal, unwrap presents, etc. Usually my parents are able to somewhat keep their petty bickering to a minimum but after Thanksgiving, I truly have no desire to go there. I have spoken to my sister who was also at Thanksgiving with her children and she agrees although she is much less likely to say anything. I know that my mom will be hurt if I refuse. She is newly retired and enjoys cooking/baking/hosting, having her grandchildren over. I have thought about having them over to my house but DH and I don't really like cooking/baking/hosting and it doesn't really solve the problem that they pretty much can't be in the same room together without fighting about something.

I would really appreciate some suggestions on how to tactfully handle this.

Thanks!!
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 11:38:10 AM by oopsie »

jedikaiti

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Restaurants are your friend. One night with Mom, the next with Dad.
What part of v_e = \sqrt{\frac{2GM}{r}} don't you understand? It's only rocket science!

"The problem with re-examining your brilliant ideas is that more often than not, you discover they are the intellectual equivalent of saying, 'Hold my beer and watch this!'" - Cindy Couture

wyliefool

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Yep. This is how I've learned to deal w/ my parents--who, incidentally, are still married and yet have lived separately for 20 yrs.  :o Everything's so much better when they're on their own--they're perfectly reasonable people. Just not together.

This year, for xmas, we're going to MIL's. And brother is hosting the family meal later.

cwm

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I know you said you don't want to cook/bake/host, but what about a laid-back hosting? Appetizer spread (that you picked up at the store the day before), juices/soda. Very laid back, everyone has fun opening gifts, and if your parents can't behave civilly to each other, then either they come at different times or one or both of them stays home.

Have your sister over, too. Or get with her to make plans for just your two families.

And if your mom is hurt that she can't cook/bake/whatever for her grandchildren, tell her nicely that your children are starting to ask questions about why grandma and grandpa aren't eating together, and you'd rather not subject them or yourself to such discomfort. What it boils down to is the fact that you shouldn't give up the comfort of yourself and your DH and children to appease someone who can't even behave civilly to her roommate/husband. Your parents have trampled your boundaries and shown they're more than willing to continue doing so, it's time to stop letting them.

heartmug

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If your sister will help, have them over, one at a time to your house and just do appetizers like another poster suggested.  It is too bad they can't make more of an effort at least to make it pleasant for the grandkids.
The trouble is not that the world is full of fools, it's just that lightening isn't distributed right.  - Mark Twain

SamiHami

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"I'm sorry, Mom & Dad, but Christmas is a time for good will and forgiveness. It's just not fair to my children to have to experience the drama between the two of you. Since you two can't get along, we are going to come up with another way to celebrate the holidays."


What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

m2kbug

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I think I would just say to my mom and stepdad that I don't plan on spending Christmas at your place this year because you and dad (you and mom) bicker and fight too much.  We're all miserable and I don't want to be around it and the kids don't need to be around it. 

Be blunt and honest.  If you guys can't get along for three hours and a meal, we'd rather just skip it.  Of course we want to get together, but you two have to promise to behave or we'll see you separately.

Since they live in town (yes?), you could perhaps see your parents at different times in shifts.  It makes for a really long day to do that, but it's a possibility.  It also poses a problem with sis and her family and seeing everyone together, but such is life in the land of (should be) divorce.

I don't know how DH's family works with this or your sister's family, but you could do Cmas Eve with one and Cmas morning/afternoon with the other; or one in the morning and one around lunch or evening.  It's not easy, for sure, but doable. 

Maybe your parents and my mom and stepdad should get together for coffee (bicker-fest).  They could compare notes.  It's so unpleasant and uncomfortable.  Talk with your sister about how she would like to manage the two of you and your parents, your in-laws, and devise a plan to present to your parents or tell them they need to put on their smiley faces for a few hours.

jedikaiti

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"I'm sorry, Mom & Dad, but Christmas is a time for good will and forgiveness. It's just not fair to my children to have to experience the drama and tension between the two of you. Since you two can't get along, and everybody else would likely be made miserable by your bickering we are going to come up with another way to celebrate the holidays."

Just my suggestions.
What part of v_e = \sqrt{\frac{2GM}{r}} don't you understand? It's only rocket science!

"The problem with re-examining your brilliant ideas is that more often than not, you discover they are the intellectual equivalent of saying, 'Hold my beer and watch this!'" - Cindy Couture

oopsie

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About 10 minutes ago, out of the blue, I got this text from my sister -

"I feel like telling our parents off."

I replied that it was so funny that she wrote that because I've been thinking that all morning. She said we need to talk and so I'm going to her house after work to discuss what's been going on and how we're going to handle Christmas. I will certainly mention the Ehell approved suggestions posted here!

Thank you everyone!!


lkdrymom

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Re: Parents should be divorced = awkward Christmas! Update #8
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2013, 03:18:59 PM »
I think you need to be blunt with your parents. Tell them that Thanksgiving was awkward with Grandpa not eating and the kids noticed and started to ask questions. Tell them if they can't be civil to one another for 3 hours you all will be celebrating holidays some place else.  If they want to spend the rest of the year battling it out amonst themselves that is their business but if you and your family is invited over you will not tolerate walking into a war zone.

jedikaiti

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Re: Parents should be divorced = awkward Christmas! Update #8
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2013, 03:31:39 PM »
Let us know what you and your sister decide. Personally, I think that if they can't pull it together and play nice for a few hours, it's better to enjoy the day without them than be miserable with them.
What part of v_e = \sqrt{\frac{2GM}{r}} don't you understand? It's only rocket science!

"The problem with re-examining your brilliant ideas is that more often than not, you discover they are the intellectual equivalent of saying, 'Hold my beer and watch this!'" - Cindy Couture

snappylt

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Re: Parents should be divorced = awkward Christmas! Update #8
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2013, 05:26:09 PM »
I'm going to join the chorus and suggest that you and your sister, together, might explain exactly why you were so uncomfortable last time.  You could explain that you don't want the kids seeing that, so Grandma and Grandpa can either decide to promise to act nicely for a few hours or you all simply will not go to their house next time.  (Surely your parents are grownup enough to be able to "fake it" and act pleasantly for a few hours, even if they don't particularly want to.)

artk2002

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"I'm sorry, Mom & Dad, but Christmas is a time for good will and forgiveness. It's just not fair to my children to have to experience the drama between the two of you. Since you two can't get along, we are going to come up with another way to celebrate the holidays."

This, or one of the many possible variants on "Behave like grownups or we're not going to be seeing you on the holidays."

No child was ever damaged by the lack of contact with grandparents. On the other hand, children can be badly affected by adults behaving badly around them. OP, your parents are modeling very poor behavior when it comes to dealing with conflict. You don't want to expose your kids to that kind of bad example.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

CaffeineKatie

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Re: Parents should be divorced = awkward Christmas! Update #8
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2013, 06:29:38 PM »
Oh POD POD POD to everyone saying "No more exposing the kids to their grandparents' drama!"  I STILL can't stand Christmas, and I'm only able to handle Thanksgiving if I stay home and cook for myself and DH alone.  It's been more than 50 years since my parents would argue/snipe/scream over both of those holidays and it still makes me have anxiety attacks.  Please don't do this to your kids!

Softly Spoken

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Re: Parents should be divorced = awkward Christmas! Update #8
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2013, 06:35:32 PM »
Can your parents be civil to each other outside of their own home or does the bitterness and bickering go with them? I can see how toxic going into such a war zone would be...so what about neutral ground?

Is there any chance you or your sister's house would work for the get-together, but Mom could do the cooking and hosting she enjoys? She could maybe come early/separate from your Dad on the premise of prep/Mother-daughter time, and your Dad might see food served in your house as 'your' food, even if Mom was the one who made it.

Obviously I realize I am being really optimistic with this suggestion. ::)

The important thing is to find out whether your parents are willing to put their love for the rest of their family before their dislike of each other - and you may have to explain to them directly that if they are unwilling to do that and find a compromise, they may find themselves stuck with just each other's thorny company for Christmas.
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