I am 26 and I moved out of my parents' house almost three months ago. I am happy that I am finally out on my own, supporting myself financially and starting my life as an independent adult.
My parents are upset that I "never" visit them. I did visit them for the holidays, and it is clear that they would like to spend more time with me than I am comfortable with.
To be clear, I love my parents and we keep in touch. My mom and I frequently text each other and speak on the phone every week or two. My dad and I have phone conversations every week. This is more than enough contact for me. Oftentimes when we talk it is just idle chitchat as none of us have a whole lot going on. Our conversations usually cover how we are doing (always "good"), how our jobs are going ("good") and if I'm seeing anyone ("no"). Still, it is nice to keep in touch and I know that they enjoy these check-ins.
Even when I lived in their home my parents felt that I did not spend enough time with them. I spent most of my free time with my friends, on the computer, or playing video games. I would always talk to my parents in the evening when we were all home from work, and again before going to sleep. We would often have dinner together as a family, but some nights it would not work out.
I figured that this issue would stop when I moved out, but it has not. If anything being four hours away has only made the problem worse, and in hindsight I can see why.
Recently my parents have been pressuring me to visit them. I do not want to do this. I live over four hours away from my parents and I do not like to travel. They have offered to come to my apartment but they insist on sleeping in my bed and booting me to the couch.1 These issues aside, the main reason I don't want to visit is that I do not like spending time with my parents.
The major reason that I do not like spending time with my parents is that we often argue. We have not argued since I have moved out, but it was so frequent while I lived with them that I fear it will continue when I visit. Without getting too far into the details, my arguments with my mother are usually civil but often end with at least one of us crying. My arguments with my dad are not like this.
My dad would often get mad at me for things outside of my control, or be mad about something else and redirect it at me. One time he got upset because I had plans for my long weekend and he had expected me to clean the garage that weekend. He did not tell me until I was walking out the door Saturday morning and expected me to cancel right then, even though my friends were waiting on me to pick them up. During this argument he told me to get out of "his" house2 and then got angrier when I left. This may sound extreme but this is an average case. The only thing making this particular argument any different is that I stood up for myself and left for the day.3
To be fair, I also redirect my anger at people when I shouldn't. We are both working on this problem. Still I would rather not spend too much time with them because I think that the odds of this happening is too great and outweighs the positives of my visit.
I have explained to them that I do not want to travel just to come visit them. I have explained that I would rather that they not come to my apartment just to visit. They do not seem to care.
One of my parents' birthdays is coming up soon. I knew this, and I had made plans for the weekend before as I had not planned on going back for the birthday.4 After my parents found out I had plans, they moved the date of the celebration to another weekend in hopes that I was available then.
To be absolutely clear, I do not want to go back and visit for this birthday. This is not a party for our extended family and friends just my parents, my brother, and me. We will be going to the beach5 for the weekend and I get the feeling that they expected me to come even before checking with me.
What should I do? I feel like I am on the hook for the birthday weekend now, despite not yet committing to going. I do not want to set the precedent that I will come back every six weeks. I don't even want to set the precedent that I will come back for everyone's birthday. I was hoping that living far away would exclude me from being expected at events like these, and I do not think that it is unreasonable for me to skip these events.
Am I in the wrong here? Should I go back for the birthday? Should I tell them that I don't want to go back because I am avoiding arguing with them and hurting our relationship, in addition to the other reasons I've already explained to them? Do you have any other advice for me in this situation?
Thank you for taking the time to read though my post.
1 They tell me that the norm is to let a guest sleep in your bed, but I have never seen nor heard of this before. In the past when I've visited friends or other family members I've slept in a spare room or on the couch. Even when my parents have guests they do not give up their bedroom and the guest sleeps on the couch. I slept on my air mattress when I visited for the holidays.
2 My mother and father both contribute to the lease payments for their house, which I no longer live in. I live in an apartment that I pay for myself. My mother has been the primary wage earner in my parents' house for a long time now. This is neither here nor there.
3 I did end up cleaning the garage in case anyone was curious. I did not care about having to clean up the garage, I was glad to lend a hand whenever I could. I just was not okay with my dad expecting me to drop my plans and abandon my friends for something so trivial and not time sensitive.
4 It is not a "major" birthday that's a multiple of 5 or 10. I am not a huge fan of birthday celebrations myself but I understand that I am not in the majority here.
5 Yes, we are going to the beach in winter. I do not like going to the beach as I find it quite boring, especially so in the winter.
I apologize if this is off-topic. I checked on meta to see if questions about parents are on-topic, and in this case I think it's a solid maybe.