Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Family Visitors

A quick question for those of you who live on a different continent from your family:

Do you have any family members who still refuse to come visit you? Do you find this hurtful, and if so, have you ever broached the topic with them? What are their reasons for not visiting you? Do they still expect you to visit them often despite their refusal to do the same amount of work only in the opposite direction? Do you feel this is fair since you made the decision to live where you do? Are these people with whom you get along very well otherwise?


  1. Wow, I have really thought about this a lot. I find it really hurtful that my parents will take the time and spend the money to drive 14 hours to visit my sister who has kids, but won't save up to visit me with a flight over the Atlantic. They say it's too expensive, and I know they're not well-off, but I feel like I'm not being made a priority and that if I provided grandkids they would look at the situation differently. Though I realize it's kind of lame of me, I usually make snide remarks instead of talking honestly about it.

    As for me visiting them, I never realized until I lived abroad that people expect you to spend your vacation time and money visiting what they will forever refer to as your "home." If I want to spend that time seeing a new place, I'm bombarded with questions of when I'll come "home."

    Yes, I get along very well with my family when we're together. But I just wish they could know what it feels like to not be worthy of visitation . . .

  2. You're not alone. DH and I have lived away from our families our entire adult lives. Our families do not and have not visited us regularly. We are expected to return home to visit them. Although it hasn’t really been discussed, it’s something we figured out over time. Yes, these are all people we get along with otherwise and yes, we feel it is unfair. We’ve grudgingly learned to accept it.

  3. I definitely agree

    Luckily my parents have visited, but the expectation still is that I come home. It is one of the things many of us struggle with living abroad. Going home is not at all a vacation - it's time spent fulfilling obligations and running around with a packed schedule trying to fit in the things you want to do and try to balance who you offend by not spending enough time with during your visit... Not relaxing, and not a holiday!
    It's even harder when your family lives somewhere that is not home to you. It's just not possible anymore to see them both and I hate losing some of those friendships. Then again, I wonder, is it fair that I'm the one who has to always travel and make the effort? Unfortunately I think that's part of the tradeoff of living abroad.

  4. We have been living in the US for ten years now, and during those ten years only two of our family (my mother-in-law and brother-in-law) came over for one resp. two visits. We went to Germany multiple times. I can understand that my dad at the age of 87 doesn't want to make the long flight anymore. But the others? At the same time they expect us to take the long journey, and as someone here already said, it's not a holiday, it's plain stressful. I usually need a vacation after those trips to Germany. And no, we're all not very close either... but we get along when we see each other. I think it is very hurtful that none of them makes an effort. BTW, this goes for "friends" as well.

  5. This is hard and I fear it always will be.

    My family might make a trip over if we get married or if we have a baby, but realistically, I don't think they'll make the trip over here just to visit unless there is a really *big* reason for them to come. Maybe if it were less expensive it would be easier for them to decide to come.

    And while at the moment I enjoy coming back to the States for visits, it really takes a big chunk out of my pay each time I decide to go. I'm going again in December for Christmas this year because I spent the last two years in Germany for Christmas and felt really homesick last year for my own family's traditions. And also to see my niece, who will be born in November. And there it makes sense for me to go.

    But I imagine especially once I start my own family over here, the visits will become fewer and farther in between. That makes me sad, but I also like living over here too.

    I don't think it's fair just because I made the decision to live here. We've never talked about it, but I think it is pretty much unspoken that I'll come home every year for a visit.

    It's such a tricky topic...I'm not even sure what else to say about it. I'm not sure what to do either.

  6. I'm sorry to hear this is relatively common, but on the up side, it does seem less personal if it happens to a lot of people. After only a couple of years it wasn't a big deal, but after five years and never once making it a priority to come share a bit of your life, you feel pretty unimportant. They want us to see their houses and apartments and changes - but they don't care about ours? I also wonder if by living abroad - which seems "glamorous" - we are giving the false impression that we have a lot of money and that traveling home is not a problem for us. In reality that is not the case.

    @Michemily & sarahgilmour - I do wonder if they are just waiting for us to have kids before they visit. If so, they will be waiting a very long time. I wish that we as a couple could be considered a family unto ourselves and be afforded the same respect as a family that we would get if we had children.
    On the flip side, friends of ours do have a kid and they've gone perhaps a bit too far in the opposite direction - their parents visit so often they barely get time to themselves.

  7. Ah...those family visits! When we moved from California to Hawai`i we got an initial flurry, which then died down, although my brother, aunt, and mom eventually all followed us and relocated to Hawai`i. When we would travel back to CA we would calculate the RPD (relatives per day); the higher the better! It's great to be the reason for a mini-family reunion. Now that we've relocated to Heidelberg, we'll have to see if the trend continues. Our kids are grown now though, so we'l see if even they can be bothered to come visit!

  8. ZOMG Anne -- you hit the nail on the head!

    Both sets of family members (parents and siblings) have to Regensburg to get a taste of Europe with us (each time different and new places for us, besides the visit to our home in Regensburg), but for some parties it took longer than others.

    Sarah got a visit from her mother-in-law to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. Then my dad came over for a visit. Then everyone else kinda trickled in slowly. Good friends have taken over seven years to finally get their stuff together and get a passport, let alone make concrete plans for travel. What hurt about that was it wasn't expressly to come visit us or travel with us — a family-member wedding in Spain brought them to the continent and while they were "here" in Europe, they decided to visit Bavaria, Barcelona (for the wedding), Seville, and London while they were at it. Nice to see them, and we had a great time, but dang...we visit them nearly every year in the U.S. while we're there. :-/

  9. My father refuses to come visit me because, in his own words, "I don't do Europe." It's really his loss, though, as I think he'd really love it here. The sad thing is I think my mom would like to come but now needs to find a travel companion.

    I am not hurt by it, though. In fact, I have taken counter-measures. I told him Baby Thorsten (his soon-to-be grandson) will not Skype with anyone who refuses to visit us. This is how my family works.

  10. I guess I am relatively lucky in that I have a small family, the ones who can travel (my parents, my sis and her boyfriend) have been over two times each in nearly six years and the ones who can't (my grandparents in their late 80s/early 90s) live close enough to my parents and sis that I can visit them all pretty easily and with little stress when I am home.

    What burns me more is the friends. I have friends who have the means to come over (and to be fair some have) or who are nearby for a work trip, etc and don't bother with the visits. I could be understanding of that but when I am in the US they also seem to be bothered if I don't do the whole east coast tour to visit each of them in their respective cities rather than coming to visit me after the long trip over. Three years ago I stopped my over the top efforts to see everyone and just put an invite out to visit me in Connecticut or where ever else I might find myself on a trip over and lo and behold, no one bothered.

    I guess after 6 years, I don't think about it so much anymore - I have my point of view, they have theirs and if I am passing through their cities because I want to then we visit. If not, we don't. Facebook and email it is :-)

    I do admit I would be hurt if my parents and sis never came over even though I think it is fair that I do much more of the travel in their direction as money and limited US vacation time make it more challenging for them to take nice, extended trips to Europe more frequently. They also never wanted me to move and live this far away so I don't push it too hard as I know it was a choice I made even considering their feelings on the matter.

  11. I waited a while to answer your question because it's a topic I find painful. None of my family has visited (and I don't expect them to) and one set of friends will swing by this month and I am pretty excited. I cut my parents and especially my Dad a break, because of age and infirmity and- actually- having good reason not to visit Germany. But my family do expect us to spend our little vacation time running around like maniacs visiting everyone and no more- we will visit Disney (and thus the wintering parents) this year, after a longish break, and those who wish to see us will be there. No more multi-state horrible for the kids vacations for us. And having kids- really doesn't make those who don't want to visit visit. They just don't want to" "waste" their vacation time, spend lots of money, not do other things. Doesn't mean they don't love us, just that we aren't a priority. I've learned to live with it. And I understand the difficulties and expense of travelling with 4+ people, at times when tickets are expensive, and using limited vacation. I really do.

  12. I was actually surprised that we didn't have more family visiting us considering we had a child born in Germany! So, I don't think that is the problem.

    I do however, want to address some other reason that we can't seem to figure out. NO ONE wants to come to Berlin. I can't count the number of people (friends and family) that told us to meet them in Munich, Heidelberg, and even Frankfurt (sorry elmadaeu!)! Americans seems obsessed with "The Romantic Road" and if Berlin is not a part of it, they don't want to see us...I mean us. I don't get it but the only thing I can think of is that "they" are thinking that instead of thinking they are visiting us, they are thinking that they want to take a big European vacation and this puts added stress.

    I know what you are feeling though. I was very disappointed by the # of visitors. I tried to comfort myself by watching the exchange rate and thinking that they too, were watching the exchange rate. :)

  13. Wow Yelli, all the folks I know ONLY want to go to Berlin, far, far away from Mainz where I live. We should somehow do a trade on that one. :)

    I feel pretty lucky on this front. I've been in Germany for six years now and my mom comes to visit like clockwork once a year. My dad and stepmother have only visited once, and while it does smart a bit if I think about it too much, I've talked to my stepmother about it and she says that my dad secretly doesn't really like to travel. I do hope they make it sometime again though, as I think they'd love the place where I'm currently living, and we are expecting a child soon. Friends have also come by, the closest at least once if not more regularly, and others have made the effort to stop by when they are visiting Europe for other reasons.

    I find the more stressful thing the expectations when I am "home" visiting America. The first couple of years when I would visit I stressed myself out trying to fit everybody in, but I have since just decided that family are the main stops (the immediate family, very luckily, don't live impossibly far apart) and that anyone else who wants to see me can come over and visit. I am done with the stressful rush to get everywhere and see everyone. It's impossible to make everybody happy, so better just focus on being happy with my vacations myself!


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