18

Me being 22, I moved out a year ago (about half an hour drive away) to live with my girlfriend after I proposed too her.

I always (and believe I still do) had/have a good connection with my parents and experienced a good childhood, despite my parents having had to deal with a heavily handicapped and unfortunately now deceased son.

Since I moved out december last year I am the one who keeps asking ( about 1 time a month) when it suits my parents to meet again, so we can have a laugh a drink or anything else. Not once last year they asked me to come over neither did they ask if they could come over for a cup of coffee or anything else.

If they're going to do stuff with my family, for example they go for a walk or go bowling they don't invite us or me alone.

My dad called me once last year and my mom probably about 2 times. They do give the occasional whatsapp, but those are mostly: remember grandma's birthday or whatever.

I love my parents and I assume they think I am too busy (Working 42 hours a week, buying a house, preparing a wedding and taking care of my chronical sick girlfriend, so I am also running an household), but I'd love it if they would simply give me a call when they would go out bowling or visiting my grandparents.

It kind of hurts to see on Facebook that they do fun stuff with my brothers (23 and 15) who still live at home without even inviting me.

I would like some advice about how to approach them, because at the moment I do feel left out.

Response to questions given:

Q: Before you moved out, were they happy in your choice of a girlfriend/fiancee?

A: I believe they were

Q: Were they disappointed when you moved out?

A: I don't think so. They said they would miss me, but things never got emotional.

Q: Did they help you move?

A: Yes they did.

Q: Did they rely on you for anything when you lived there that they're having to do without now?

A: Only my presence

Q: In other words, can you think of any reason they might be upset with you for leaving them?

A: No I can't think of anything. The only thing I took was my own playstation and they gave us a refrigerator.

Q: Were they solicitous of your affections and attentions when you lived at home?

A: Yes they were. I could tell them anything and they told me more about their life as I got older (finances etc.)

Q: Did they really hear you when you spoke with them, and respect your opinions?

A: Yes they did. We were not any emotional wonders being a family of 4 men. But when I spoke up they listened

Q: Did you all go out together to do things everybody liked, or that just a few liked?

A: We did the occasional funfair or zoo. Sometimes they would go out walking and since that didn't tend be my thing I would stay home. But they always asked me.

P.S. It's kind of the same for my brothers. I barely see them and they barely ask me to meet them.

P.P.S. My parents in law do actually contact both of us to meet up, or ask for an occasional coffee/tea

P.P.P.S If this is not the right setup for this kind of question you are free to edit it or tell me in the comments.

  • 6
    A 30 minute is tough for spontaneous activities (going for a walk), but certainly reasonable for frequent visits. Be honest with them: "I want to be able to see you more often. I might not be able to come all the time, but I miss you all and want to be included." – Acire Dec 8 '14 at 18:50
  • Four men? As in two fathers and two sons? – Jasmine Dec 9 '14 at 19:21
  • How tech-savvy are they? One thing you could maybe do is set up a Google Hangout of Facebook Group where you, your siblings, and your parents can chat. May or may not end up working, but certainly wouldn't hurt to try – Ross Aiken Dec 9 '14 at 21:28
  • @RossAiken It's not about chatting, it's about meeting up. – Kevin Dec 10 '14 at 15:58
  • @Jasmine 4 men as in a family of 5 with 4 men and 1 woman (my mother) – Kevin Dec 10 '14 at 16:00
31

Both my parents and my in-laws had similar issues when I first got married, so I think it's not that uncommon. I would try not to read anything bad into it. It's just a period of adjustment.

First of all, consider that people naturally spend most of their leisure time with the people they live with. Think of when you were still living with your parents. How many activities did you do with your grandparents? Your parents are now in the "grandparent" role, and you are in the "parent" role, even if you don't have kids yet. You shouldn't expect the same level of togetherness. Sad, but true.

Second, my parents and in-laws didn't get used to specifically planning family activities until all the kids had moved out. They were still stuck in "parents with kids at home" mode. They also didn't want to intrude on our independence. That puts most of the onus on you right now, but know that it will get better, and that it's not because they don't care about you.

One thing that helps is to plan a regular time to get together. Perhaps a Sunday dinner, or a night out. These things need to be scheduled now, so you may as well start getting used to it. Don't leave an activity without making at least tentative plans for the next one.

  • 3
    Yep. This is the first bird leaving the nest, so there's no established protocol, and on top of that all their social and family needs are met by those living at home. Once the other two leave I expect it'll change by itself, but until then the contact and fun you have with your parents and family will have to be induced by you. I'm sure you could just drop by for an evening, even unannounced, and hang out. That might be enough. – Adam Davis Dec 8 '14 at 19:51
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    Thanks, great answer! I will try to plan a regular hangout :). – Kevin Dec 9 '14 at 8:55
11

It's important for a young adult to establish him or herself as an independent individual with his or her own life. Whether consciously or subconsciously, your parents are perhaps trying to help you with that process. Especially now you are to be married, your spouse needs to become the new most important person in your life.

In addition, with two children still in the house, your parents are probably not feeling the sense of separation as acutely as you are. Just remember, that even though your brothers have more of your parents' attention right now, they have not advanced as far as you in becoming full independent adults.

If I were you, I would continue to reach out to them when you feel the need, and otherwise concentrate on your new life with your fiance and building a relationship with your in-laws. I'm quite sure your parents will start reaching out again if you have children (or if your brothers move away from home). At that point you may have more of them than you want!

6

I can understand why you feel sad about this but I would suggest that perhaps there could be a more positive reason why you are having this experience rather than that your parents are upset with you or don't want to see you. It sounds like you are very mature and independent, particularly in comparison to your brothers. The situation with your handicapped brother (you don't say if it's the older or younger one) sounds very unfortunate and it's not his fault of course but it sounds like he needs a lot more care and attention than you do, having made your own life and moved out of home.

That's not to say you don't need attention from your parents but I think it's quite normal that parents worry more and have more contact with their children when they are needier. This is a normal process that nearly everyone experiences as they grow up - small children need a lot more looking after than older children until like you, the child can look after itself. Now you all need to adjust to a new type of relationship where you meet each other mostly for pleasure and to enjoy each other's company.

I have had a similar feeling with my parents sometimes although less extreme than your situation. One of my brothers left home a lot later than myself and my other brother and has a few times since had fairly serious problems with money and had to ask my parents to help him out. He's also always been quite a difficult person to get on with and likes to get his own way. This seems to have had the opposite effect to what I would have previously thought in that sometimes I feel that my parents like him more than me and my other brother. More likely, they probably just feel he needs their attention more.

Since I've had a child of my own, and particularly in the difficult early days when getting used to a new baby, I got a lot more support from my parents and saw them more often than when I was younger and single, going about my life which didn't have so many activities they could be a part of.

I have three suggestions for you.

  1. I think that parents like to feel needed and to be able to help out. So try asking them for advice on something. Perhaps tell them something you are struggling with. Maybe it's difficult to get work done on your new home whilst going about your busy job and taking care of your girlfriend so see if they can help out. Perhaps you could ask them to get involved with preparations for your wedding.

  2. As suggested previously, make an effort to arrange social activities with them and include your fiancee. As everyone gets to know each other better and hopefully has a nice time together, they are likely to want to do this more often.

  3. Tell them that you would like it if they called you more often or arranged to meet. It's not always easy to say things like this but try to mention it in a light hearted way. For example, at the end of a social gathering where you feel everyone has had a good time you could say "so when are we meeting next?" Or "who's arranging for next time?". Perhaps they just haven't realised how you feel and like you suggested they may think you are too busy and have a lot of other things going on.

Hope this helps and congratulations on your new home and forthcoming wedding.

3

First, please let me express my sympathy, both for the loss of your brother, and now for the isolation from them that you feel.

I don't know what's going on in the minds of your family members. Before you moved out, were they happy in your choice of a girlfriend/fiancee? Were they disappointed when you moved out? Did they help you move? Did they rely on you for anything when you lived there that they're having to do without now? In other words, can you think of any reason they might be upset with you for leaving them?

Please take a long, careful, and objectively at your family, even if there are things you'd rather not think about too much. Were they solicitous of your affections and attentions when you lived at home? Did they really hear you when you spoke with them, and respect your opinions? Did you all go out together to do things everybody liked, or that just a few liked?

Your fiancee is ill and you're working a lot, and planning a wedding. Did you ask your mom to help at all? Is your fiancee's mom (and dad) going to be helping?

I guess what I'm trying to understand is if this represents a true turn around for them or were they always kind of spontaneous people who didn't think ahead too much, not a lot of planning, just doing what they felt like? I think you need to do some serious thinking about them before saying too much.

In the meantime, let them know you're eager to see them, and take the initiative to set something specific up, at least once a month, that all of you might enjoy: an evening meal, a show, some Christmas music (if you're into that), whatever. If they keep turning you down, you have a valuable piece of information.

If it comes to that, you don't have much to lose by being honest with them about how you've been feeling left out. Maybe they'll be relieved to find that you have time to see them. Or maybe they'll say you're being too sensitive and laugh it off. I don't know. But it doesn't do any good to wonder why they are hurting you when they so clearly are.

You can start building up a life with those who do have more time for you: your fiancee's parents (and family?)Good luck, I hope it works out for the best.

  • Thanks for your response and for your sympathy :). I answered your questions in the opening post. – Kevin Dec 8 '14 at 12:56
2

With grown siblings, the dynamics of "who calls who" and similar are often very opaque and confusing. They are usually, however, not for a conscious reason but are simply trained behavior on autopilot.

I have a similar situation. My parents divorced when my sister and I were in high school. My dad remarried and got three younger stepchildren, and we lived with my mom till we went to college. My sister stayed in the same town as my Mom, I moved a little farther away.

Years later, we're all grown, with spouses and/or exes and/or kids. We're all "close" - good relationships with stepmom and siblings and everyone with each other (we usually all have Thanksgiving/Christmas together, for example, even all the family's exes, because we believe that's better for all the kids). But patterns have formed, where my dad doesn't reach out much to my sister and I - it's generally our responsibility to call them; whereas they call and invite out the three younger siblings more. If I don't call them for a while - we just don't talk, they call on like my birthday and if someone dies. My mother and sister are super close and speak daily; if I don't call my mom for about a week she'll call me.

Those differences aren't intentional. Sometimes someone will get griped about it - like recently my sister said to me she resented my dad not including her much. I know he'd be surprised to hear that and he thinks he does, it's just that my sister and I are older, both divorced professionals with our own houses, raising our kids as single parents, with our lives generally squared away. Whereas the youngers are still moving back into the house sometimes, having them care for their babies, that sort of thing. It's a natural attention-span deal (and as parents get older, they have a lot of stuff to be thinking about anyway, compared to the single-twenties life - especially in this case with another child with disabilities).

What you can do is mention it in a non-confrontational way. "Hey, I'd love it if you'd invite me whenever you all go out, if I can't make it that's fine but I'd feel included." "It would feel good for y'all to call me sometimes as well, so I know you're thinking about me." You can affect their behavior about 20% with prompting of that sort - otherwise, it's the ebb and flow of everyone's life and you just have to account for it and understand that it's not a lack of love, just what is part of the everyday routine and what's not.

0
  1. One reason may be that they are conscious of the fact that too much close contact may (and is likely, at least in popular perception) to lead your significant other to be resentful. "Mama's boy" and all that.

    As such, they may be consciously letting you set the pace of interactions to what would cause the least amount of strain between you and your gf.

  2. They may not realize you wish for more contact. Frankly, most guys in your situations are the reverse. They actively resent being "smothered" and view too much contact as assault on their recently found independence.

  3. They could be like me. I personally just HATE contact and initiating it. It doesn't matter if it's parents, children, close family, far family, best friends or acquaintances. If I don't have a reminder to get in touch with them... I just might not. Not out of malice or bad feelings, but because keeping in close touch is alien to me.

    Living together, this is different because there's no extra energy is spent on initiating contact.

    A good litmus test is, how do they treat it when YOU contact/call them? Are they glad to talk? Or rush to get off the phone and mostly silent? If the former, they probably just need to be contacted first and aren't avoiding contact as such.

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