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Visting parents who live some distance away

(47 Posts)
golfbuggy Tue 28-Mar-17 19:48:47

My parents used to live about 30 minutes drive from us, but just before Christmas, after years of talking about moving and putting offers on houses in many different parts of the country (and then withdrawing them) they unexpectedly exchanged on a house and moved not long before Christmas. The new house is about 4 hours away. I am not a good traveller so this puts it (in my head) into the "too far for a weekend visit" category.

As they were still sorting the new house they came to us on Christmas Eve, before staying with my brother over night and spending Christmas Day with him and his family.

February half term it was busy at work so I had no time off.

a few weeks ago my dad mentioned that they would love me to come down. I said (granted rather vaguely) that I'd try to come down over the Easter school holidays.

Possibly stupidly, having sorted when I was taking holiday from work, I didn't check this with my parents and it now turns out that the week I am off, they are in turn going away on holiday so it is no good for a visit. It genuinely had not occurred to me that they would go away then - as a retired couple they generally avoid school holidays like the plague.

We are away during May half term so it now looks like our first opportunity to go down to their new house will be the summer holidays. My parents are very sniffy about this. I admit I am annoyed (probably childishly) about their (pretty much spontaneous) choice to move so far away so I think this is the inevitable result of their decision! We don't have a particularly close relationship, so my view is probably also slightly jaded by the fact that I'm not that bothered about seeing them but know they like seeing their grandchildren. However the grandchildren are now pre-teens and are also less than enthused about having to make a long car journey to see their grandparents when they would rather hang out with their friends.

AIBU to not make more of an effort to go and see them /their new house?

Rainydayspending Tue 28-Mar-17 19:52:38

4 hours isn't that bad. Would a train journey be better (i suppose it could be tiring if you're doing the sole driving).
But. YANBU. They presumably haven't bothered visiting/ knew you don't like to travel far etc. This was a predictable downside of their move.

Rainybo Tue 28-Mar-17 19:56:52

I know this feeling well. I live away from my parents and I don't drive, so any trip to see them involves a bus, coach, train, bus over about 4 hours so not really a weekend trip.

DM in particular asks every school holiday about us visiting or they will come down but then that is always for the whole holiday! I am a single parent and work full time and so I don't feel that I get any time for myself as actual holiday. DM does a good line in guilt tripping and I can be a great martyr.

This Easter I've said no. It's caused all kinds of sniffiness. But I'm bloody exhausted.

They are now thinking of moving to my town. I'm not sure this will be any better shock

Rainybo Tue 28-Mar-17 19:57:41


Licketysplits Tue 28-Mar-17 20:01:14

YANBU. My mum moved about 200 miles away a couple of years ago. Much much talk about how she misses me, doesn't see enough of me etc, but she fully expects me to make all the effort despite me working full time and her being retired, in good health, and as able to drive and get on a train as me. It's really annoying.

Unicorn81 Tue 28-Mar-17 20:02:06

I drove 4 and half hours on a Thursday after work and back on the Monday, its exhausting, especially if you are the one driving. I dont think you are unreasonable, sounds like your parents should make a little more effort to see you.

golfbuggy Wed 29-Mar-17 12:13:17

Public transport is not really viable unfortunately - the route is cross country, so going via train involves travelling miles further and changing and takes about 6 hours. Plus I don't find it any less tiring than driving anyway.

Feeling better about the responses so far. Ironically when my parents lived 30 minutes away and complained that we only visiting once a month, the MN consensus seemed to be that I should make more effort!

Oly5 Wed 29-Mar-17 12:18:56

Hm. I think if you wanted to see them then four hours is nothing. And I can see why they're hurt that you're not making an effort to see their new home!
I personally think you're making excuses not to go... And it's childish to hold a grudge because your parents moved away. It's not all about you surely?
But only you know your relationship with them

Llanali Wed 29-Mar-17 12:35:00

I don't think 4 hours is really any distance at all, and I'm afraid I wouldn't allow my kids to grumble about time with friends instead of what is clearly an occasional trip to the grandparents. Presumably they see their friends far more regularly.

I think YABU, presumably they would like you to go and see their new home. I think it's churlish to be complaining they didn't discuss/canvass for opinion their decision to move.

If they were asking you to go monthly that would be a bit different.

MsGee Wed 29-Mar-17 12:35:55

We are a similar distance from my folks, although 4 hours can easily be 5 or 6 if you get stuck in traffic on Friday evening.

We last visted my parents in Xmas 2015. They came here 3 times last year and normally in school holidays, when we would have visited them.

I don't think you're being unreasonable. Living so far away is tough and too far for weekend visits.

Figgygal Wed 29-Mar-17 12:37:22

Well my parents are 500 miles away I go up for long weekends 4 or 5 times a year so it takes 10 hours in car but we fly so I do you're being a bit unreasonable regarding the distance .

However they made that choice they have to accept that it comes with the consequences specially when the children are in school. Could They come to you in the non-holiday time ?

remoaniac Wed 29-Mar-17 12:40:31

I think 4 hours is a long way - 8 hours' driving in one weekend is quite a lot. We're not all keen drivers and petrol is gradually getting more expensive again.

What about the early May bank holiday? Could you go after school on Friday and come back Monday?

namechangedtoday15 Wed 29-Mar-17 12:44:01

I think you're being a bit childish to be honest. I presume you're a grown woman! Your parents can live wherever they want!

I personally don't think 4 hours is too long for a weekend - my sister lives that far away and we go down for a night, have even been there and back in a day for a birthday party one Sunday afternoon!! If you left after school on a Friday (say 3.30pm), even with a bit of traffic you'd be there for 8-9pm. Have all day Saturday with them, Sunday morning, leave at lunchtime on Sunday.

Obviously not every weekend, but am sure you can manage it once in 6 months?! If they're away at Easter, can you maybe go the weekend before or the weekend after?

LadyPW Wed 29-Mar-17 12:51:58

Yes OP's parents can live wherever they want. But they have to accept that OP won't see them as much unless they make the effort. I think 4 hours there and back is a very long trip, particularly for a poor traveller. I can't imagine wanting to do that on a Friday night, particularly knowing I had to do it again Sunday afternoon. I can't see the issue with waiting till the summer holidays. They saw you at Christmas.

NerrSnerr Wed 29-Mar-17 13:03:49

Could you go over a long weekend? Maybe a bank holiday. My parents live about 5 hours away and we do it over a long weekend. It does sound like you are making excuses.

corythatwas Wed 29-Mar-17 13:15:14

These things depend on a whole lot of factors:

family relationships- is there a general dynamic of give-and-take to this family?

what exactly the OP means by being a "poor traveller"- does she throw up non-stop in the car or just find it a bit tiring?

how much attention and love the grandchildren have had over the years- so how much they might reasonably be expected to put back now that they are old enough for a bit of reciprocity

In our case of loving grandparents who had put themselves out in the past, I did not think it was too much to take a young child and a wheel-chair bound older child on a 4.5 hr cross-country journey by public transport (3 trains, 1 bus) to see ageing ILs, nor at a later stage to expect a young teen to come on a 6hr round trip to sit for a few hours by the bedside of a terminally ill grandparent. But that was in the context of a very loving relationship. It was in the context of knowing that they would have done the same for us, had they only been able. And that makes a big difference.

golfbuggy Wed 29-Mar-17 13:16:30

I work full time so can't go after straight after school (well I can if I take time off but my annual leave is already stretched as thin as it can go). My DC don't get home till 4 anyway, so by the time we've changed and are out we'll hit rush hour traffic somewhere on the way - not my idea of a fun way to spend Friday night.

I agree my parents can live where they want, but they can't move a long way away and then complain that I think it's a long way away and don't want to squeeze in a tiring journey!

The way things stand we will see them in summer and then probably again at Christmas. If they hadn't booked to go way during the Easter holidays (they are away for 10 days) we'd have seen them at Easter as well. They are very welcome to travel up here to see us whenever they like (and my brother lives reasonably close to me so they could see us both at the same time).
This is probably a drip feed but they don't get on with DH, which means he has zero desire to see them (he's previously sucked it up for Christmas/birthdays etc but no way on earth would he do it for a stay away). Hence I'd prefer to go when I am off but he's working so we don't miss out on family time.

May bank holiday weekend is DS's birthday and just before KS2 SATs so not a great time to be away/travelling and the other bank holiday is when we are away.

But these are probably all just excuses. I guess they come from a long history of years of putting myself out for my parents for no thanks/appreciation and no being at the point where I'm not prepared to do it any more.

Hulder Wed 29-Mar-17 13:17:17

YANBU. It's pretty obvious that the best opportunity for you to visit would be the Easter Holiday - just when they have chosen to go away.

If they really wanted you to come, they would be on at you about dates and not booking anything themselves so you had first dibs. They haven't. Their loss.

And I agree - 4 hours away means you aren't going to go on a normal weekend. It'll be bank holidays or school hols.

Hulder Wed 29-Mar-17 13:20:15

Cross posted with you - of course the real deal breaker is that you absolutely would make the effort for people everyone loved spending time with.

If they haven't been that sort of parent, IL or grandparent - sadly they aren't going to get a lot of visits.

Semaphorically Wed 29-Mar-17 13:20:29

If you don't want to them you don't want to. It doesn't sound like you're being lazy or selfish, you have perfectly good reasons for not going down more often.

I was told once by a career coach that guilt is a useless emotion. It doesn't push you act (as anger, sadness and fear do) it just makes you feel bad.

golfbuggy Wed 29-Mar-17 13:22:55

x post with cory. When I say I'm a poor traveler I mean I get car sick and also very tired. If I drove down on the Saturday morning for example, I'd likely to be too exhausted to do much for the rest of the day.

We visited my parents fortnightly when the DC were school, which gradually stretched to monthly as they got older. My parents have got noticeably less interested in the DC as they've got older and have minds of their own and on the flip side talk non-stop about my brother's daughter who is still at the "cute" stage. They've never babysat or helped out in any way - actually they did look after DC once when DH was rushed into hospital for an emergency operation, so that's not strictly true. But still - definitely a history of visits being for their benefit, and not really ours.

golfbuggy Wed 29-Mar-17 13:26:14

DC were small (not school)

Hillarious Wed 29-Mar-17 13:27:56

A four hour journey is "too long" if the bottom line is that you really don't want to do the journey.

We regularly used to visit family members about 3.5 hours away for the weekend because we really enjoyed being with them.

QueenArseClangers Wed 29-Mar-17 13:58:35

Ah well, they sound like dicks.
Rid yourself of the guilt and concentrate on family who are actually worth it.

namechangedtoday15 Wed 29-Mar-17 14:06:49

I think you are trying to justify your decision not to make the effort - your first post says they said they'd love you to go down and you accept that you're annoyed that they made the move.

If you don't want to go, don't go but yes, YABU in my view to see them twice a year.

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