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To not want an annual "Family Day"

(366 Posts)
FamiliesShareGerms Mon 27-May-13 05:18:15

I probably am...

MiL likes getting all her children and grandchildren together at her house for the day. I like it too, it's always good to catch up with the extended family and for the cousins to play together. But - and I know this is irrational - I can't abide the fact that she insists on calling them a Family Day. With capital letters. Grrrr.

I could live with this (just about) because I know it's my problem to deal with. But I am really struggling with the fact that she is trying to make it an annual fixture on the same weekend every year - and not linked to eg her birthday. A couple of years ago I (very politely) said that we have lots of other things going on, and didn't want to commit to an annual fixture, and I thought she had taken this on board. But the email summoning the clan has just come out, confirming that "the Family Day will be on X, as usual".

How do I respond? I don't want to say we aren't going, because our DC would miss out on seeing their family. But if we just go, then we are by default signing up to an annual Family Day. Which I really really don't want to do. I also don't want to cause a rift with a MiL I get along with really well.

DH would be quite happy not to go, BTW, and I talk to MiL far more than him.

Help me navigate this one, oh wise MNers!

PS is a Family Day a thing other families do, or something MiL has created?

daftdame Fri 31-May-13 10:18:25

TheresTheDoor I would turn up to a funeral also of someone I hadn't seen for a long time. If you move away from family, this can be a reality. My extended family is very big and spread out all over the place, but I still have fond memories of people I saw more when I was a child.

ChocsAwayInMyGob Fri 31-May-13 10:20:16

daftdame- all the more reason to have a family day. Shame to only remember family from your childhood. Your kids will be you one day, IYSWIM.

daftdame Fri 31-May-13 10:32:15

What I'm saying Chocs is that you just have to be easy going about it. I like seeing my family but they can't really dictate my life because they don't know enough about the day to day running of it.

Sometimes boundaries have to be set, this can be different for different families. Some are very close to each other, have each other's house keys, pop in unannounced etc, some are more 'high days and holidays'. Both can work but for it to work it has to be mutual.

Think of the parable of the Prodigal Son. What would have happened if his father had a strop like the brother and refused to accept his son back? Wouldn't have had the happy ending.

daftdame Fri 31-May-13 11:09:35

By the way I think the OP should say they'll go if she wants to and not worry about 'signing up' to anything. If one year they can't/won't go then don't say yes.

When you spend too much time trying to manage people's expectations life can get really complicated.

MadeOfStarDust Fri 31-May-13 11:18:14

Chocs... I'm not from abroad either - just live in SW and family are from north Scotland.. logistical nightmare....

wordfactory Fri 31-May-13 12:05:11

A family day with my lot would not involve one day. It would require an overnight stay due to distance. Sometimes that's doable, sometimes its not.

fedupofnamechanging Fri 31-May-13 16:11:47

I don't understand why so many people find it so hard to say no.

A family get together is lovely, if you like that kind of thing. Personally a day with IL's and their extended family is something I find torturous - I have nothing in common with them beside dh and I literally have nothing to say to them. The events I have attended in the past have resulted in rudeness from dh's cousins and criticism for my decision to be a sahm (they are Danish and don't 'get' it, because the expectation in Denmark is that you will return to work, that you are failing society if you don't. Of course, they have lovely state subsidised childcare...)

Anyway, I digress. I have made a decision to not do this again. People can have as many objections to that as they like but I am saying no and that's that! life is too short to do things that you hate, out of duty.

I hope when my dc are older, that they want to visit me. I don't see why they wouldn't - I still like seeing my mum. But mostly, I just want them to do whatever makes them genuinely happy.

I hate being pinned down to a day and expected to conform. Fine if IL's are easy about whether you attend or not, but I hate being told to do anything and guilt trips would result in short shrift from me.

OP, my advice is to go if it fits in at the time or not if it doesn't and refuse to allow anyone to make you feel you 'have' to.

I also think that your dh should make more of an effort with his own mum - it's not your job. My mil comes round once a week and I am struggling because the dc are getting to an age where they are too old to play with their grandma - dh is working and I have little to say to her. She is nice, but she is not my mum. It's hard going.

exoticfruits Fri 31-May-13 17:11:43

Who would guess that a simple invitation to spend a day with family causes such problems, merely because it is asked in advance, has been done before and will probably be done again?
You can turn down invitations.

Snazzywaitingforsummer Fri 31-May-13 17:24:16

Exoticfruits - I know! To think merely issuing am invitation could be so insulting.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Fri 31-May-13 17:26:53

So go the years you can, and if you genuinely can't one year because something important crops up then I am sure you will be excused!

seeker Fri 31-May-13 17:29:27

It's because it's a MiL's invitation. They are always written in toxic ink.

daftdame Fri 31-May-13 17:32:20

exotic Things are not always as simple as they first seem.....wink

I think if you have come from a long line of bolshy ....ahem....assertive people you may sometimes have to set a few boundaries, otherwise life becomes about just doing as they want. Which conversely they don't want because it becomes boring.

I say yes go to extended family events but don't feel obliged, go because you want to. As you say you can turn down invitations.

Thing is OP feels in a tiz because she foresees trouble if this event becomes a truly 'not to be missed' event. I say sometimes you can't avoid that. When people start talking about 'obligations' in terms of extended family there is bound to be fallout, simply because of the logistics. The only way to avoid this is don't engage in 'obligation' type conversations.

daftdame Fri 31-May-13 17:38:01

snazzy I don't think it is about invites, more 'Summons'

Also people over-think sometimes to try to avoid trouble.

Sometimes MIL's can have a stash of the old 'toxic ink', you just need to make sure you're immune and enjoy yourself anyway. If the booze and food is flowing I would!

exoticfruits Fri 31-May-13 19:02:09

I bet the MIL in question would be amazed if she read this thread and think 'good grief, it is only an invitation-if you don't want to come just turn it down or make an excuse'.
(future note to self-'if ever you issue an family invitation make it plain it is merely an invitation and not to be interpreted as a summons')

FryOneFatManic Fri 31-May-13 19:08:27

exotic I doubt the MIL in question would be so laid back, given thst she got the DH's sister to ring up saying that the MIL was upset by their non-attendance on another occasion.

daftdame Fri 31-May-13 19:17:52

exotic I know a fair few people who would say 'Good grief...' but the mischievous twinkle in their eye would tell you how much they relished the hoo, hah! wink

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