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Health & Spirit

How do I get over my anger toward parents not visiting me and my children?

Carolyn Hax on

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My parents are very active, in their mid-60s, and live a two-hour flight plus two-hour drive from me. They regularly travel internationally, see their nearby grandkids fairly frequently, and both have hobbies they're very engaged in. We're pretty close.

But if I want my two toddlers to see them, I almost always have to go to them, taking time off of work, loading up all our gear, etc. Whenever I ask my parents to come and visit us, they say they're too busy with things like a cocktail party they're planning, starting a new club for my dad's hobby (even though he's already active in two clubs for it!), or something else they seemingly could step away from for a few days a couple times a year.

They currently haven't visited since last year. For an upcoming holiday we planned to spend with them, they made plans with friends in their town -- which we're welcome to join, but they don't really seem to care if that is feasible for us.

I've read enough of your columns to know I can't change them, so how do I let go of being angry and hurt over this and keep giving willingly when they don't give back? I don't think the travel is too much for them because they travel much further for vacations, and I don't think it's that they're not up for toddlers, because when we go there, they're very engaged with the kids. We're just behind cocktail parties, hobby clubs, painting classes, vacations and pretty much everything else on their priority list.

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I want to skip our next visit, because if they don't care, then why should I? But that seems petty, and would possibly just lead to having no relationship at all.

-- Accepting Grands

Have you told them yet, explicitly, that you feel hurt by their unwillingness to travel to see you and your kids?

Carolyn:

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