How Often Should Parents Visit Children?

Old May 30th, 2001, 06:13 PM
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How Often Should Parents Visit Children?

This is addressed to all you young couples who have parents several states away. We travel 16 hours (drive) to see our kids who have our only grandchild who is 3 yrs. old, whom we adore (I babsat him for two years before they moved to New England so we are very bonded!) How often do you like your parents to visit? We try to visit about every 10-12 weeks, usually staying for about 5 days each time (there at the house with them.) Does this sound excessive to any of you? How often do you invite your parents/or do they volunteer to come? I don't want to wear my welcome out but want to stay close to my grandchild! Whaddya think, guys?
Old May 30th, 2001, 06:20 PM
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I love seeing my parents, and am glad that I'm currently close enough to see them very often. In the past, we've spent alot of time on opposite ends o the country, but now I get to see them almost every week!

But every family has unique relationships, so the only way to find out whether your visits are excessive will be to ask those who you are visiting - your son/daughter and spouse! Hopefully you have a close enough relationship that you will be able to get an honest answer.
Old May 30th, 2001, 06:47 PM
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Of course, there may be a very good reason why your kids live 16 hours away. I would ask, how often are you invited? Or, do you just invite yourselves? Worse, just show up? Have you DISCUSSED this with them? How would YOU like it if "whoever" showed up at your house every 10-12 weeks for 5 days or so "there in the house" with YOU??? Has it even once occured to you to inquire, "I'd really like to spend time with my grandchild, but do not wish to impose upon you, what do you suggest"????????????????? Keep in mind, that it is NO GREAT HONOR to have one's parents "drive 16 hours" to "visit" the grandchild while ignoring the parents. I like MY parents to "visit" when an invitation is extended. Has it ever occured to you that you may not even have a "welcome" to wear out? Shame on you!
Old May 30th, 2001, 07:45 PM
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Showing up for almost a week at a crack every "less than 3 months" is a lot and it requires a very special relationship that you may or may not have. That is a lot of hosting and potentially stressful intrusion into a young family's life. Since you ask, I would think it's highly likely that you need other interests, for everyone's sake.
Old May 30th, 2001, 08:16 PM
It Depends
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Maureen, I think that you are jumping to conclusions, and your tone is way too hostile! How do you know they haven't been invited? Why do you insinuate they are not welcome? And she never implied they were ignoring their kids in favor of their grandchild.

I do agree that every 10 or 12 weeks for five days each time is a bit excessive, and may place a strain on the couple, but each family is different, and what might be a nightmare for one family could be great for another. Only you know how good your relationship is. When you go, do you try to help out around the house, cook, do laundry, babysit, etc., or do you expect to be entertained? Playing host frequently and for long periods, even to someone you love and enjoy, can be exhausting and upsetting to one's routine. I get along well with my mother-in-law and have fun with her, but I'm glad she only comes to visit once or twice a year, as everything else gets put on hold while she's here. On the other hand, I would give almost anything if my parents were alive and could visit us, I'd gladly put up with the stress of company to be able to have them here. I hope your kids appreciate the fact that you are able to be there for them.

Do you ever offer to stay with your grandson and let your kids go off on a vacation by themselves? I'm sure that would win you gratitude in spades! I think you need to discuss the situation candidly with your kids (and no guilt trips!), and make sure that your child's spouse is equally welcoming of your visits, or disagreements about it could put a strain on their marriage.
Old May 30th, 2001, 08:40 PM
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I go if I'm invited. I offer to sit occasionally and will if they want to come to see me, but i only go when I'm invited.
Old May 31st, 2001, 03:22 AM
Jim Rosenberg
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Kind of a tough problem because it's a long trip, but the old saying that "after 3 days, fish and guests stink" probably still applies -- and it's not necessarily anything to even take personally. I would say three times a year is probably max if you need to stay at their home for five nights. Are you consistently taking bites out of two consecutive weekends when you visit? Is it a large home where there are places for people to retreat "off stage" for awhile? Do you have activities that you pursue in the local area which provide some uninterrupted hours of respite for your hosts? Remember that you are one person's parents and the other person's in-laws -- often a "loaded" relationship no matter how you cut it. I know one couple where the wife's mother tends to show up on short notice, expects to stay in the home and NEVER tells them when she's planning on LEAVING when she visits. Like many couples, they feel at somewhat of a disadvantage in managing the relationship so they choose to suffer in silence and occasionally seethe in resentment at her lack of respect for whatever THEY may have been wanting to do with the time, rather than cause "a scene". Just cleaning the house to put it into condition for guests (a higher standard, for many of us), planning meals around guests, etc. is a lot of change for many families who may have a far more informal and laid-back routine when they don't have that to contend with. Ever think about getting a hotel room with a pool involved as part of your visit? If you can afford it, your grandson would probably love it and if it's okay with his parents, he could even stay overnight with you. Then part of your visit might comprise a romantic interlude for mom & dad alone in their home, instead of what is probably happening between them now when you visit. (In a lot of homes, that translates NOTHING because of privacy concerns or just because the constant stress of having guests doesn't lend itself to intimacy anyway). Please, don't wear them out, grandmother -- and understand that even if you ask point blank, you are probably still going to be treated with a certain amount of deference. But if they are forced to assert themselves on this issue, it's going to be long haul trying to get things right again from 16 hours away. Be careful. Find what you think the line is and then stay well on your side of it.
Old May 31st, 2001, 04:10 AM
Donna F
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In our case, my MIL babysat our son for 3 years until I stayed home with him. Before he was born we probably vacationed together with my in-laws twice a year. My parents also live in the same town but we do not have a close relationship with them. Over the years our son grew very close to my in-laws and I am glad for every minute he spent with them. I don't think many kids have close relationships with their grandparents so I say keep up the visits. I also learned a lot from my MIL so I am glad we spent a lot of time together. Our son is now 22 and he seems to choose friends who are close to their families. My MIL died last year so we now invite my FIL on some of our weekend trips.
Old May 31st, 2001, 05:51 AM
Melanie S.
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Ooooh touchy subject! I will answer as a late 20s couple, no children, married 2 years. We live approximately 9 hrs drive form my parents and 6 hrs drive from husbands parents. We enjoy our parents visiting, the problem however is that we prefer a weekend visit (Friday night to Sunday afternoon) reason being, I work 50hrs/week and husband works even more, there is simply nothing for them to do during the week and we feel guilty going off to work while they are there, but work is a necessary evil. There is also a difference in sets of parents. I am the oldest and my parents are younger (late 40s) they enjoy going out and doing stuff with us while they are there. We go to the theater, to the movies, shopping trips, we hardly stay home when they are there (we are not stuck!) My husband is the youngest and has much older parents (mid 60s) When his parents come to stay with us they want to sit around and "visit" This is fine occasionally but you can see where that would get old after a while as we are "on the go" type people. Also with their age, they are retired and are usually the ones who want to "extend their visits." We enjoy my parents coming to visit us about 2 times a year and we usually visit them about twice. All of these are "weekend visits" We would enjoy the same amount of visits with my husband parents, but they make us feel guilty about this so we end uup seeing them more. I think it is because my family is very independent and spread out over the country. with my husbands family both his sisters his parents, grandmother and all aunts and unles live in a less than 20 mile radius. I feel our situation may get worse when we have a baby. My suggestion to "Grandmother Kate" is to talk it over with the children, do not make them feel guilty in anyway, make them glad to have you. Do not stay for extended periods like 5 days. If it si 16hrs away, then fly and stay the weekend! When you are there let them arry on some type of normal lifestyle. If they are ative people, be active and do things with them, don't expect them to stop and stay hoem with you and vice versa if they are stay at home types. I particularly like the suggestion someone gave if about if you want an extended visit with your grandchild, offer to come and housesit/babysit for a week to let the young couple take a trip on their own. Above all, keep in touch via telephone and email! You will still have a closeness.
Old May 31st, 2001, 05:59 AM
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Grandmother, you know you're going to get two sets of answers here -- those from young people who still think parents are aliens and enemies and older people who have grown children of their own. Maureen is a great example of the first. But of COURSE it depends on your relationship with the grandchild's parents.

I always thought it silly and a little dumb that my mother-in-law always cried when we left after a visit, and I admit I made fun of her sometimes. Now I only see my son once or twice a year and he's not even married yet, and I tear up every time I see him off at the airport. It exasperates him, of course.

By contrast, my mother seemed to be eagerly counting the days 'til we left the nest, and now she doesn't see much of any of us. She brags to friends that she doesn't "live through her children," but then she's surprised when siblings don't come to see her and don't call on her birthday or Mother's Day -- and in particular when her grandchildren seem ill at ease and in a hurry to get away when she visits.

What goes around comes around, I'm afraid.

What I want to know is why you're even asking? Have you gotten vibes that maybe you should take a break from the schedule of frequent visits? Or are you having guilt? Assuming this isn't a post from a disgruntled daughter/son-in-law, I'd say the fact that you're even asking suggests you already fear it's too much. It's certainly not too little.

And one last comment: Are you visiting solely to see the grandchild? What about your relationship with your own child?
Old May 31st, 2001, 06:03 AM
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Let me come back to clarify a few points. We have offered to stay at a hotel but my daughter-in-law will not hear of it. She is from an Oriental culture where families just don't do that, she says! Second, we do encourage our children to go out when we are there, and we take our grandson on little adventures of our own. Like the parents will go skiing for a long day, and we do our own thing. I always insist on cooking or treating them to meals out at least half the time we're there, and my husband always cleans up the kitchen, I always bathe the baby - in other words, we don't go sit down and expect to be entertained! There is some friction with my DIL over some of her child-rearing practices, so she & I do have a mini-brawl now and then. Yeah, yeah, I hear all the tut-tutting, but she was happy to have me keep the baby for 2 years so she has to take the bad, as she sees it, with the good. You can't ask your parents to do the work but have no opinions!!! Otherwise, we get along very well. I am just wondering if maybe we're spending too much time there - I really don't want to wear out my welcome. Thank you for all your helpful comments - I think only Maureen misunderstood me a little. Maureen, maybe you could ask a few questions before you go on full assault!!! Thanks again, everybody.
Old May 31st, 2001, 06:17 AM
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It doesn't really matter what anyone here thinks. It's only you, your children, and your grandchild that count. Talk to them, not to us. My mother (may she rest in peace) lived very near us and my husband constantly complained that she was always around. Now that she's gone, he misses her (and the help she always gave us) dreadfully. Enjoy your grandchild while you can. Life is short.
Old May 31st, 2001, 06:27 AM
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Grandma Kate,

Didn't you want to invite yourself on your son's family trip to Disney with d-i-l's sister/brother family last year?

If you aren't the same person, I apologize, if you are, why do you keep asking child rearing questions from strangers? Talk with your kids, talk with parenting experts, but to accept the advice from complete STRANGERS is not the best solution.
Old May 31st, 2001, 06:28 AM
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Since you asked ... and of course everything is dependent on individual relationships, but ... I would find it overwhelming dealing with visits that often and of that length, especially if you are staying in their home. You may want to consider less often if you are staying in their home for that length of time, or just go ahead and make arrangements at a local hotel/motel (for even part of the stay). This way you can maintain your relationships and not impinge on their privacy ... afterall, they are building their own lives now ... give them the opportunity to do that. No matter what the quality of the relationship, household guests for more than a few days place a stress on the household and family. From what you say, you are visiting about every two months and staying for a week at a time in their house ... I suspect that over time this will wear on any family. I would suggest visits less often, or better yet, get a hotel room. Even if your kids "object" (they may feel obligated at this point), try it once ... you may find that both parties appreciate the privacy and break from all the "togetherness" ... less stress and more quality time.
Old May 31st, 2001, 06:31 AM
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I was with you until you said that you had "mini brawls" about childrearing and your daughter-in-law had to take the bad with the good because you babysat your grandson for two years.

Surely if you have kids of your own you know how fiercely protective parents can be. You are not babysitting him now, and you live 16 hours away. I would say any rights to criticize you may have felt you had are gone.

I went through this with my in-laws. They have some different ideas about raising children - not necessarily bad ideas, but just not what I'm going to do. Luckily, my MIL is pretty quick. It only took saying once or twice in a polite but firm voice "we don't do that," or "we're ok with what she's eating," etc., for her to get the hint. We get along great now, but there were some awkward situations when the kids were younger.

Also, as far as babysitting for trips, everyone has a different timetable for this. One of the first times I had to tell my in-laws no was when they wanted to take my under one-year-old so we could get away. I just wasn't ready to leave her yet. Now that my kids are older, they stay with the in-laws for long weekends so we can get away, and we really appreciate it.

We've never had problems with my parents, probably because my mother thought her in-laws were too intrusive, and she knows what it's like.
Old May 31st, 2001, 08:32 AM
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Both sets of our parents are about the same distance away from us as you are from your son, and we have the only grandchild on both sides. My folks fly down every 2-3 months for a weekend, Friday-Sunday. His folks drive down twice a year for 5 days. Feels just right. If my parents stayed longer it would feel like too much; if his came
more often it would be hard. Our son has
a close relationship with all of them.
Now he is 12 and goes to visit them all by himself!
Old May 31st, 2001, 09:09 AM
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Grandmother: the fact that you are asking the advice of strangers would indicate that you - or someone - already thinks this is too much visiting, and you are looking for validation to maintain this schedule. Since you asked, I think it's way too much. I also think your relationship with your daughter-in-law would improve if you tried really hard to remember who are the parents of this child. I will make a rash assumption that your son, the father of the child, and his wife, the mother, are in agreement about "child rearing practices". You need to mind your own business and bringing up their child is not your business. Babysitting your grandson for two years, presumably while both parents worked, does not give you parental rights. It did give you a wonderful opportunity to form a relationship with him, though. Your attempts to help while you are staying with them could be viewed as intrusion. Your DIL, from an Asian culture, will never tell you to butt out, she was brought up to respect the older generation. I suggest, as have other posters, that you reduce the number of visits, the hours per day you spend with the family, and stay in a hotel.
Old May 31st, 2001, 10:30 AM
Troll Buster
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Startin' to look like a troll: Let's see:

1. Post is on a sensitive social issue barely related to travel but guaranteed to rile everyone up.

2. Kate slips in the part about her DIL being Asian, but she calls it Oriental. It's more provocative that way.

3. She claims she has "mini-brawls" with DIL.

4. She includes a little resentment for all the past babysitting she has done.

5. First post is innocent enough; second includes a little more chum for all of the sharks.

Great troll, Kate. Really top notch. Subtle, too. You don't see that very often. Come back again soon.
Old May 31st, 2001, 10:59 AM
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The simple answer to this question is: as often as they are invited. You should never go to someone's haouse and stay 5 days unless they atually invite you to. I don't mean grandma mentioning they might come for a visit and asking when a good time is, I mean wait for a formal invitation, even if you know the door is always open. I don't have this problem as my inlaws live about 30 min. from me. I do however have the problem of grandma and grandpa just stopping by or calling to see if we are home so they can come by. Whether across town or across the nation, it is only polite to wait for an invitation.
Old May 31st, 2001, 01:12 PM
Abigail VanBuren
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This isn't DEAR ABBY! Write to my column for this advie not a travelboard.

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