We have a 15 month old child. He is the only sub 10 year-old in my side of the family. I recently got into a dispute with family, as they wanted us to arrive for a family occasion at a specific time, not earlier or later (reason: don't want too many people in the house at the same time). Whatever the reason, we would be happy to oblige if it wasn't for the child; for a variety of reasons related to the child, 30 minutes earlier suited us much better, and did not have any direct impact on the hosts other than the above reason.
We were told by an intermediary family member, that this demonstrated a lack of respect to those who were hosting the event. I replied that when it comes to anything involving a family with a small child, that you should not demand anything in terms of timing, but, understanding the complexities of managing little ones, a mutually agreeable consensus should be reached. I was then told that we "cannot go through life expecting everyone to do what we wanted to on our own timescales" (this straw man type argument is a familiar pattern with some members of my family). It was said that when their kids were young, they always bended to fit in with other people.
This was said by a member of my family who had children (many years ago) and presented as if it was an undisputable fact. However the experience of my wife and I completely disagrees with this. If a friend invites us to a social event and the time doesn't suit our daily pattern we either decline (not a realistic option with a family get-together) or suggest an alternative time (usually reaching a compromise). My wife's side of the family are all too willing to make sacrifices/compromises in order to accommodate us & their other grandchildren (eg multiple sittings for meal times to suit various routines). Herein lies another issue with dealing with my family - when they present things as fact which I find not to be true in my experience. I don't know how to approach it constructively - it just turns into a brick-wall situation where person A states scenario X is true because of person A's experience, and person B disagrees because of person B's experience.
A few extra things to bring more colour to the scene - I feel that better direct communication prior to the day with the hosts could've improved the situation, I did not know how important it appears to be that we turned up 30 mins later, and perhaps they did not know the ins and outs of our child's routine (but should they need to know that? Is not a request from the parents enough - we are not intentionally awkward people). They were also a bit taken aback when we said we needed evening food some 2 hours before everyone else had theirs, but they coped with that. They gave us some bread & cheese, which was fine, we didn't expect them to bring the full evening buffet forward for us.
My one thought as justification for the families' attitude is that my family are too far away in years from the time when they had little ones to remember what it was really like.
Also, by "routine" I mean his nap time, his meal times, and the fact that he falls asleep in the car very easily (which can be a blessing and a curse).
This leads to a few questions. 1) Who is right - is it ever OK to demand a fixed time of arrival for a family with young children. I am not asking this because I want to say "ha the internet I was right" but more to test our parenting radar/intuition. If I am considered right then it will boost our parenting self-esteem, if not then we will try extra-hard to be humble in the future.
2) Am I right to expect higher standards from family members in terms of catering for our us and our little one, than from friends? Are the standards I am expecting unreasonably high?
3) Crucially, any suggestions on how to move this forward? At the moment I feel reluctant/trepidatious about spending more time with the family on away turf, as I feel they will be unwilling to make compromises (around timing and other issues) for the sake of my child (this fear is based on this & other incidents, where a quiet calm request to do things differently for the sake of me or my wife has been met with a (sometimes aggressive) no). I have already listed above a couple of the difficulties of discussing issues with my family but here's another one. My wife & I would rather sit down and calmly discuss issues whereas my family are a lot more aggressive with disagreements, and rarely seem to actually resolve things. I (correctly) believed as a child that there must be a better way to resolve differences than this.
Thanks for the responses advising to say no to family events, I see the reasoning behind it and will probably try to use it in the future.
However it was not an option on this occasion because it was a two-day event, that we had already committed to. We were only told of the time requirement in the last 10 minutes before we left at the end of the first day, and much of the food prep had been done for the next day. So to have told them we couldn't make it from there would've been, understandably, taken rather badly by the rest of the family (some of whom had travelled 3+ hours to be there).
I'm not sure what we could've done differently on this occasion (ideas welcome), just that we can chat about it with the hosts to avoid the scenario in the future.