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Should I REALLY spend £5,000 and fly across the world to see my parents when we are not even that close?

(16 Posts)
TooMuchCaffeine Thu 29-Oct-09 11:09:20

My parents moved back to their birth country 16 years ago after they retired, and having lived in this country for over 30 years.

Apart from when my mum came for a short visit for health reasons about four years ago, they have not seen my DS except in pictures. My dad has never seen DS - only photos as he did not come with my mum when she came last time. It is unlikely that my dad will want to come to England for a visit as he is happy where he is. Otherwise I would send them a ticket.

I have never been close to my parents. They looked after us all, and worked very hard to keep us in house and home. But I have always felt that for whatever reason they were not emotionally available for me, and in my dad's case I was the least favoured child. They have not been privy to any of the ups or downs of my life now or in the past. I get a birthday card and a Christmas card, but no phone calls to say "hi" unless I phone them. My mum is in her late 70's and my dad is in his early 80's now. Both are fit an well.

On the three occassions I have visited them (twice before I got married and once with my husband) me and my mum have got on each other's nerves to the point where I wanted to get the first plane out of there. My dad spent most of his time talking about my older sister (from whom I am estranged - another long story). They have never asked about me or my life - they are happy enough to know that I am happily married and settled. I love them both, because they are my parents but I don't miss them and I have long accepted that this is the relationship we have. I wish it could have been different but it wasn't and never will be.

The thing is I am struggling between wanting to visit them with DH and DS so that DS can see his "roots" (plus the rest of his family) and feeling resentment at having to spend so much money on flights (average £850 return in low season for each of our tickets) plus spending money, when the relationship isn't even a good one or one that will be kept up afterwards with letters or phone calls even. Then I think to myself what if they die and my son doesn't get to meet his grandfather? Then I think all he will do is meet his grandfather in a faraway country but he will not have a relationship with them so what's the bloody point of spending money we don't have readily available? I am sure they made sacrifices for us and it was not easy for them and that's what causes me to feel guilty sometimes. For the record though - they were never able to visit their own parents more than once while they lived here because they could not afford it.

How does this sound to you guys. I would appreciate some advice on this. Please those of you who have wonderful functional relationships with your parents/grandparents don't judge me for expressing these sentiments. It's how I feel.

Northernlurker Thu 29-Oct-09 11:14:54

I think you should go tbh. If they don't keep up the relationship with your son - well that's down to them. You shouldn't have to make all the running but if you can afford to go I think you should. Being brutal - in ten years time they may not be alive and you will always have to live with the fact that you didn't do this thing. That could come back on you in years to come - it's worth £5000 and a bit of hassle not to try to live with potential regret of such magnitude.

IMoveTheStarsForNoOne Thu 29-Oct-09 11:18:18

Just asking, but why does it have to cost £5K?

Surely you can get all your flights for £2.5 and don't need that much spending money?

MaggieBruja Thu 29-Oct-09 11:18:40

I'd go. But maybe not this year. If it's a once in a lifetime trip, and at that price, I wouldn't blame you, then it'd be nice for your son to remember the trip.

I hear you that you're not close to them, but it's the kind of thing that might scratch away at your consciousness after your parents had gone... Better I think to do it, just to cover all the bases, for your peace of mind AND also because it probably means a lot more than that to them.

In the mean time, get skype and a web cam!!!

MaggieBruja Thu 29-Oct-09 11:19:48

yes NL, the regret, I'd hate to have to live with a 40 years of 'maybe I should have done that for them'.

lou031205 Thu 29-Oct-09 11:24:20

I am very close to my parents, but relationships with DH's parents isn't so close. They live abroad. I still think you should go. They raised you, and cared for you, and your DS needs to know more than a photo. Do it, then move on if you need to.

OhYouBadBadKitten Thu 29-Oct-09 11:28:38

Can you arrange a compromise, so that you meet up with them at a holiday destination in their country? So that you get a nice holiday out of it and don't resent paying the money so much.

Fennel Thu 29-Oct-09 11:32:24

I would go. I don't have a good relationship with my parents, but my dc adore going to see them. DP's parents have never been interested in their grandchildren but my children love visiting them too. For some reason it really matters to my children to see their grandparents. Even though I think they're a duff set of grandparents all round. The dc appreciate it, they even like my father, their grandfather, which is a rare thing indeed, he's not very likeable. So I try and hide my irritation and go on family visits which I hate, knowing the dc appreciate it.

SquIDGEyeyeballs Thu 29-Oct-09 11:33:23

Two years ago the 5 of us (me DH and 3 children) spent thousands and flew from the UK to Australia to visit my dad, who had moved there 25 years before after splitting from my mum. I had seen him infrequently - he came over for my wedding and my brother's wedding, as well as being here for the birth of DDs 2 and 3, but I had never been over there due to cost, distance, life generally not allowing the opportunity.

Dad and I weren't terribly close but there was a real fondness and I thought it was a good opportunity to develop our relationship (as well as the relationships with my extended family ie stepsiblings, half sister, their families etc).

We had a fantastic time, and the holiday became even more precious as my dad died earlier this year after being diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour just 5 months after we had visited.

The holiday left us broke and knackered, but I would do it again in a heartbeat as it was a pivotal point in the growth of the relationship between me and Dad. I now have some incredibly valuable memories of him and my girls can remember their grandad as a person and not just a photo.

mumblechum Thu 29-Oct-09 11:37:39

I personally don't think the link between grandparents/children is that important.

DH's dad is from Nigeria and he hasn't seen him since he was six. His dad went back there then and there's been no contact. Therefore, ds has never met his granddad, seen photos of him or anything else and a part from once or twice wondering about him in passing for a minute or two, has no interest whatsoever.

If your parents aren't that bothered and the only reason you are is because of some "roots" thing that may or may not be important (it's totally irrelevant in our family), then I wouldn't go.

TooMuchCaffeine Thu 29-Oct-09 11:49:31

Thanks for your advice. I hear what you are all saying, ie mostly the consensus is that I should go. The reason why it costs so much is that where they live, I will need to spend money on transport while I am there, presents for my relatives (it would be frowned upon to go empty handed), and generally for food that I and my son to eat, clothes to suit the (very hot) climate, and various sprays and creams to avoid being eaten by mosquitoes. The fare that I quoted is the lowest possible - in reality it will probably cost around £900+ for the adult tickets because I don't want DS to miss school. So yes, it really will cost around £5000 max.
We have thought about going there and basing ourselves in the main town, rather than where my parents live, and that would give us more of a holiday experience (and aircon) and would be a nice treat for them to come and stay with us there too - that way I would be more in control and there would be less terrotorial wars between me and my mum.

diddl Thu 29-Oct-09 11:51:43

I´m with mumblechum on this one,tbh.

There´s no chance for frequent visits, so any relationshipis going to be mainly phone/email, so I´m not sure one visit will make a lot of difference to your son in termsof "roots"

Ifyouwant to see your parents though, then go!

TooMuchCaffeine Thu 29-Oct-09 11:57:11

I worry about DS because similar to mumblechum he has never met DH's parents. DH's dad was estranged from their family and DH and his mum and sisters fell out when we got married - she is now dead - so no chance of a reunion there. DS is our only child (although has DSD who lives with her mum) and I worry about him being "rootless" IYSWIM

6feetundertheGroundhogs Fri 30-Oct-09 23:37:21

Yes, OP, go but aggree 100% with you to base yourself somewhere independent of your parents. That way you can be yourselves, they can carry on as they normally do and neither of you will get on the other one's nerves.

wanttostartafresh Sun 01-Nov-09 16:42:09

I agree with mumblechum. LIke you said, there is no 'real' relationship between you and your parents and there is unlikely to be one in the future. One visit with your DS now will not somehow 'create' a great relationship where before there was none. That would take years to build. So, I wouldn't go if I were you. In your DS's eyes, you and your DH are his whole world, his most important loved ones, and as long as he knows you are there and you love him, I am sure he is not at all concerned about meeting or knowing his grandparents.

PrincessFiorimonde Sun 01-Nov-09 17:14:43

TMC, how old is DS, i.e. old enough to retain clear memories of his GPs if you do go?

Is part of your concern that DS might one day ask you why you didn't take him to meet his GPs and extended family? (Sorry if that's an intrusive question - am not in any way trying to put potential emotional guilt on to you here, because of course you have very good reasons for not going, if that's what you decide, and DS will see that. I just wondered if this thought is a concern for you.)

IF you go, think it sounds like good plan to stay in the main town, for the reasons you mention in your second post. But it might cost a bit more?

IF you don't go, is the Skype/webcam idea feasible for your parents?

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