Guest K&M

Any advice on dealing with difficult elderly family members back in the UK?

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    Guest K&M

    Hi all,

     

    Not sure if this is the place to post this, so happy to be redirected if the mods think it's appropriate.

    I just wanted a bit of advice from other PIAs who might be / have been in this situation.

     

    Hubs & I have been out here since 2011 & recently bought a house so looks like we're staying :biglaugh:

    His family are pretty happy for us, his parents visit every couple of years, they have another son & grandkids nearby them so no issues there.

     

    My family, however, are quite elderly & were pretty angry & sad when I emigrated, I am an only child & they regarded it as kind of a betrayal and still bear me a fair bit of resentment :sad:

     

    We went back to visit them last year & stayed with them (at their request) and all was a disaster, with them expecting us to spend our entire time drinking coffee sat on their sofa, & me & hubs obviously wanting to catch up with the old buddies, go out drinking, come back late etc. It was not pleasant.

     

    Due to some health scares recently I want to take a trip back next year to hopefully see them before there's no more opportunity, and leave things on good terms. Hubs doesn't want to come & I don't blame him, plus I have 2 more weeks a/l per year than him so makes sense for me to use it this way and him to stay home & look after our dogs.

     

    However I don't want to stay in the "family home" after last time, and suggested I book a holiday apartment nearby & see my relatives every day for coffee, lunch, whatever, but then have my own space for friends and drinking in the evenings (all at my own expense, of course). My elderly relatives have gone mad about this to the point they don't want to see me unless it's on their terms, ie. staying under their roof. I've no idea why they want this as a) it made them mad last time when I stayed, and b) I personally wouldn't want someone in my house who didn't want to be there.

     

    Hubs suggests I just go ahead & book my flights & accommodation & they will come round. I think this is probably true but it seems an expensive gamble, and while I'd love to catch up with my old mates etc & could easily fill 2 weeks in my home city without family input, my primary reason for visiting is to see them. Alternatively I could wait and see if they have a change of heart in the next 6 months. Or I could just not bother (which is what I'm tempted to do now - spend my money & a/l doing something I would enjoy, but I am sure I would regret that in years to come).

     

    Sorry this is a long post but has anyone been in this situation who could advise? Either on here or by pm? I would really appreciate it :-)

     

    Kat

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    Feel for you terribly as the situation must be so hard and also its sad, but at the end of the day, and not meaning to be horrid, they are punishing you for leaving them and this is the only way they know how to, they want to fill you with guilt and want you to feel as sad, horrid as they do, its a older person control thing and if it were me i would go, book separate accommodation and if they want to see you- fine if not your conscious is clear, you have tried to see them and if they choose not to see you, they have to deal with that not you, see your friends, have a great holiday but do not let them dictate to you where you stay or who you see, if you do as they say, in their eyes they have won as silly as it sounds!! Its very hard when family behave like this , its sad and extremely heartbreaking, but from my experience, live for YOU and not them ... Sending hugs and hope my post makes sense :-)

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    Guest K&M

    Thank you Star, yes that makes perfect sense and is exactly what my husband said also. I guess I just naively hoped they would have reacted with "Yay it would be lovely to see you again" and I actually thought they'd be pleased I wasn't staying with them after last time, so I was kind of shocked & upset by the reaction I got. I like your idea that if I just go anyway and leave it with them whether or not to see me then my conscience is clear. I am very sure they will come round and won't be so harsh as not to see me when I've flown half way round the world to stay a few miles from them. I appreciate your reply. I thought I would put it "out there" as I'm sure there must be other expats who have been in the same or similar situations :-)

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    For sure, i think there is plenty of us who have upset our older relatives by moving to Australia, so you definitely not alone x x

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    Guest Claire-n-tel

    Hi Kat!

     

    No been in the same situation thankfully but just an idea, could you arrange a few days away with them? It would give you all time to be together out of your normal enviroment and therefore not expected to just slip into their lives and on neutral ground.

    I know it would mean probably paying a couple hundred quid to hire a cottage or something but thats not much compared with getting there, and hopefully it might leave you all with a good memory of having fun togerher?

     

    Claire

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    Guest K&M

    Thanks Claire, that is a good idea I might suggest that :-)

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    Hi Kat, an upsetting situation and I am sure all of PIA are thinking of you and wish you the best, guess my wife & I are among some of the lucky ones where our parents encourage us to live our life.

    Going by yourself may be a good move along with the other suggestions of booking a cottage for a few days, but how do we put a spin on it to attract your parents? may I suggest that you write to them saying something like you have had invites from several friends whom would like to (or need to) catch up with you to for amongst other things to discuss Australian life with advice on emmigration, and tell your parents that because of all what will be going on during your trip that you would really like to spend some meaningful and quality time with them and that you would really like to take them away for a few days and ask them where (and maybe even when) they would like to go, that way they will still have some control on part of you. Hope this may give you some ideas anyway, and sure PIA will come up with some other well meaning advice/suggestions.

    Good luck, Keith.

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    I think between the suggestions put forward you could find something that might suit everyone concerned. I'd personally go with perhaps inviting them away for a weekend or a few nights somewhere, away from home, so a mini holiday for all of you and neutral ground. And being in a B&B or some such, your own space. And then staying in your own accommodation for the rest and popping in to see them the last day or two of your trip or something.

     

    I am defo with Star on this though, go and at least know you have tried. Better to do that than not go and always be wondering or perhaps regretting.

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    I would like to add a parents point of view.

     

    You may be amazed how sad it makes one feel when a member of your family moves to the other side of the world. Our son moved to Adelaide 15 years ago, leaving a good job to be with an Aussie Girl friend. We were terribly upset, as we had always been a very close family, and my son was one of my best friends, going to football and playing golf with him.

     

    We had been visiting Adelaide for a few years before his decision, visiting some Aussie friends whose daughter was his girl friend, so we knew about Australia and what the travel entailed. However this distance thing meant a great deal to us, and when we had a close friend die, whose son was in Australia we realised how far it was, as when he came back for the funeral, in his eulogy he said sorry to his Mum for not being able to get back in time to say goodbye

     

    I would say that it probably took about 5 years for us to finally accept our son being in Australia, and when his marriage broke up and he said he would come back to England, we said to him to stay in Adelaide as his children were there and he owed it to them to be around for them.

     

    We also decided to emigrate to Adelaide and paid for our parents visa's ( a lot of money) lived in Adelaide for 3 years to help him over his marriage breakup, and are now back in the UK, as Australia is too expensive when you are living on pensions from the UK with the poor exchange rate. We now travel back to Adelaide most years whilst our health is okay, but recognise that as the years go by that we will not be able to do the journey due to maybe health and financial difficulty, and not see them, particularly our Grandchildren whom we love dearly.

     

    Maybe all those who have emigrated to Australia and have children, will go through the same type of Trauma themselves as their children grow up and make their own lives, as no doubt some will make the move back to England, as we have discovered many Australians prefer the English way of life.

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    Guest K&M

    Hi Hayshake, thanks for your input.

     

    I do have empathy for my mum in particular, I get that it is a long way to Australia and I'm sure she expected me to be around and local to her to help her out as she got older, and it was less of a big deal for my in-laws as they have another son & grandchildren close by. However my family have always regarded my leaving as some sort of betrayal, rather than being happy for us to have such an opportunity, when in truth our emigrating was nothing to do with not loving our parents and everything to do with wanting a bit more out of life than we felt was on offer staying in our small town in North Wales for the rest of our lives.

     

    I am very conscious of the distance and expense and physical difficulties of travelling long-haul between Aussie & the UK which is why I propose to be the person who undertakes the journey. My frustrations are around my elderly relatives (extended family, not just mum) not accepting that in travelling so far I also want to link in with some old friends as well as see family, and actually have a bit of fun and catch up with people without being criticised for it.

     

    Last time my husband & I visited the UK my family said they wouldn't mind us seeing friends if we stayed with them, but it became very quickly apparent that they minded a lot and frequently accused us of "putting friends first" even though we have given them the first opportunity to plan what our trip itinerary would be, and then planned all our friend-based activities around that. They didn't like us going out in the evenings, drinking, coming back late etc even though it never impacted on the things we had planned with them during the day and happened at times when they would usually have gone to bed anyway (although they made a point of waiting up for us to come back and interrogating us on where we had been, like we were naughty children rather than a married couple in our 30s).

     

    This time around it will be just me travelling without my husband, who was a great support to me last time, so I am completely not prepared to go and stay in the family home without my greatest ally to back me up. I know it would be a stressful and unpleasant experience for all involved, and things will go far more smoothly if I have my own place to stay and can see my family for agreed times and activities, then do my own thing in the evenings which won't affect them at all.

     

    I suppose I am just very frustrated as to why this has made them angry, rather than happy and relieved, and can't understand why they don't see this as the sensible solution, the same way I do. I am not asking them for any money or to put themselves out in any way, quite the opposite. It makes me not want to bother spending my time & money visiting them if they are going to be so inflexible, and also I genuinely can't understand why they would want a person to stay in their house who a) doesn't want to be there and b) is going to do things that they consider disruptive to their routine. I certainly would not want to pressure an unwilling guest into staying in my home if they would prefer to be in their own independent place and I knew they would irritate me if they stayed anyway.

     

    If you have any suggestions as to how we could resolve this, or even ideas as to why my relatives have reacted like this, I would appreciate it as I am truly baffled, and sad that my attempts to put things right before it's too late have been responded to in this way :-(

     

    Thanks for reading, Kat

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    Its a difficult one Kat. I hope you can work something out with your parents.

     

    I am so lucky (only child also for my Mum) in that my mother has always been really supportive of me going off, travelling, seeing the world from as soon as I was able to go it alone. And that she and my step father are really supportive of us heading to Aus now (they always knew there was a good chance I'd end up there as married to an Aussie). Of course they freely admit they are gutted we are going but that they would never be angry or make things difficult for us. They appreciate our reasons for doing so. And say that if they were in our position they'd be doing the same thing. I can't imagine what its like to have parents who guilt trip or make life difficult because they are upset or angry about their child leaving. I appreciate pretty much every parent must hurt, but how they cope and deal with it is the key thing. Some seem to handle this sort of thing better than others.

     

    I've always been open and honest with my parents and we told them 2 years ago we were looking to move this year or early next and have kept them posted as things progressed. I'm sure we'll have our teary moments in the months to come before we leave but I am confident I, we, still have their full support and am being as considerate as I can be re the move.

     

    Once again, really hope you can find some middle ground that works for you all. Keep us posted.

     

    S

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    Guest Claire-n-tel

    Hi Kat!

    So it's not actually you parents who are really the problem? Who are the relatives? To be honest, if it was not my direct family but my extended family i think i would feel better about putting my foot down.....

     

    Maybe you could send an email/letter explaining to them that you understand that it is hard when people move away and this is something that you thought long and hard about before making your disision, but this is something you have done for you and your children

     

    Tell them that you would love to be able to spend some quality time with them during your visit and plan to do so but there are also other family members and close friends that you want to make time for.

     

    Tell them that you can understand that they may not feel that you have done the right thing and that is ok for them to feel that but you would love to be able to get past that and for you and them to feel comfortable with your visits.

     

    Explain that you are going to stay somewhere else as you don't want them to feel like thier house is a hotel and that when you are there your time is just for them.

     

    I think at the end of the day if that doesnt work you may have to make the decision of either, giving into them, ignoring thier attitude or putting your foot down.

     

    Good luck!

     

    Claire

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    Guest K&M

    I like it Claire. Think that is what I will do. Might copy your phrasing if you don't mind, it sounds suitably non-threatening!

    Main people who have a problem with my plans = mother & elderly aunt (who live together, and have done since I was a child, my aunt never married or had children so regards herself as my "second mother"), uncles much less bothered and more reasonable, cousins really don't care as they are much more normal and well-adjusted and happy in their own lives.

     

    Thanks to all who have given me support on here, it has been much appreciated x

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    Guest Claire-n-tel

    Go for it Kat!......let us know how it goes.

     

    Claire:wubclub:

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