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Old 10.08.2011, 19:02
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living away from home

After nine years of living on a different continent to my family I think they're finally starting to break.

The skype and telephone chats are nearly always on the brink of turning sour as we try to avoid the topic of me being away. The pressure is starting to give me a brain aneurysm and I'm finding it more and more difficult to communicate with them.

They take it as if I choose to be here because it's far away from them saying things like "we're less and less involved in your life" and "if we really mattered you'd make more of an effort to come back" My mother usually ending up in tears. I should say me and the fam have always been close and I do miss them very much my life has just brought me to Europe and I am happy. I don't know what else to say! Moving back would not be for my life choice but only to please them.

Anyone else out there feeling the pressure? and how do you deal with it...especially those of you who have children. (I don't but they would think when/if I get pregnant I'd move back)

Is it so selfish to want to be happy?

thoughts, comments, suggestions welcome !!!
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Old 10.08.2011, 19:12
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Re: living away from home

I feel you. I got comments like "do you think we decided to have children so they could move away?". It makes me feel like an ungrateful brat but it's not the purpose of my life to please them either.

I can't come up with any suggestions, I always try not let these kind of topics come up on skype chats.
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Old 10.08.2011, 19:17
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Re: living away from home

It would help to know where you are from and more about your situation but here is my take.
I am single, been living on another continent from what little family I have left for over 14 years now. My mother before she died would constantly hit me up with this sort of guilt and I come from a very English family where that sort of behaviour is quite "light-weight" in comparison to some of the pressure that I have seen some of my Indian or Pakistani (for instance) friends under.
I did not buckle to my mother's demands because I knew that I had to live my own life for my own sanity. I had no desire to move back to South Africa that I see as a dead end and just refused to even discuss the situation.
At the same time, yes, I missed my family a lot. I suggested to them that they come and visit me. And that it did not matter if I was here or there, I still loved them exactly the same and suggesting otherwise was clearly emotional blackmail and would not be accepted in any way. I once had to go as far as turning around and telling my mother that it was not my love for her that was in question in the situation because she was trying to get me to do something that would damage my life for her own satisfaction and not thinking about what best for me.
Yes, by all means, respect and love your family, but expect that respect and love right back. Family is 50/50 give and take. You are your own person and they need to treat you like that so if you feel at all that they are treating you like and extension of themselves, you need to figure out how to fix that and make the relationship better.
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Old 10.08.2011, 19:24
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Re: living away from home

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They take it as if I choose to be here because it's far away from them saying things like "we're less and less involved in your life" and "if we really mattered you'd make more of an effort to come back"
Your parents will be less involved in your life as you get older whether you live in Swiss or not.

As a parent I always encourage my children to do what is right for them, and not what I want them to do. Two of them are happy staying in the Uk and one is more interested in travelling and living in different countries, she will probably end up living in Spain or Germany.

I'm not sure that helps much, but maybe you can suggest that they to do 1/2 the visiting and make the effort to come and see you too. They might even enjoy the trip...
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Old 10.08.2011, 19:27
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Re: living away from home

Hi
Am not sure there is any answer or good advice but try to think this way; every time you feel that they are complaining or "attacking" you - turn it around and response with; I understand that you are frustrated and sad.
You don't have to say much more.

The thing is, that they are more concerned with own feelings and frustrations than yours. So just listen and let them know that you can see how frustrating it must be for them - but then leave it. Its not easy, I know - but then use us at the Forum to share this with, as you are doing now.

Don't give yourself a hard time and blame yourself. You know what is best for you and what makes you happy. Get some more of that

Sorry for not being able to give a solution.

But remember tough times don't last but tough people do
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Old 10.08.2011, 19:45
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Re: living away from home

It's standard issue Parental/Grandparental Emotional Blackmail, Mark 1.

Antidotes include
  • informing them that such elements of conversation are "off-limits", and if pursued all conversation will stop
  • repeating like a broken record that the trains, planes and automobiles that they expect you to use to visit them actually work in both directions
  • pointing out on a regular basis that they are choosing by their inaction and lack of engagement to be "less and less involved in your life"
You basically have three choices over a period of time: a) you allow yourself to be manipulated to the point where you crack and submit yourself to what they want, rather than what you want, b) you finally have enough of the manipulation and stop contact on any regular basis, or c) tackle it with them head-on and force them to make a decision as to whether they want to be in your and (presumably, since you referred specifically to those of us with kids) their grandchildrens' lives, they better sort themselves out and get their act together.

As you'll have gathered, you're not alone in this - a lot of folk have had to put up with it at some point or another. Don't allow them to contine with this "poor us" victim mentality. It's pure manipulation.

Nil carborundum, as they say!
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Old 10.08.2011, 19:58
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Re: living away from home

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Is it so selfish to want to be happy?
No, your parents need to grow up and let you have your adventures or you'll end up hating them for every missed opportunity in your life.
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Old 10.08.2011, 19:58
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Re: living away from home

I think that a child’s duty in life is to achieve liberation, detaching him/herself from the mother. This is a true sign of maturity and independence. All the major philosophical, religious or spiritual systems have been claiming that for ages.
Love that you share with your parents develops and matures through time and a lot of parents do not want to evolve and do not accept change.
I’ve seen this pattern so many times, and even I have followed it. I have very loving (sometimes smothering) parents, who unfortunately always refused to let me grow up and grow my own wings. Yes, I love them and yes, I want to be independent.
What has helped me is the advice that I got from a much older and wiser woman that I know. She told me that I need to emphasise the positive aspects of my life in Switzerland when I’m talking to my parents. I can’t imagine a parent who doesn’t wish happiness to his children. Secondly and very importantly, I need to nurture my relationship with my mother, let her feel that she is still involved in my life.
Breaking the bond with mother is like losing a piece of your soul. I believe that distance has no influence on this special connection, because it is not physical, but spiritual.
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Old 10.08.2011, 20:04
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Re: living away from home

Because I don't know the real details of your situation, I guess it's hard for me to give advice, but I can certainly empathize...

My father tried to give me a bit of a "guilt trip" when I moved here. He said, "Well I'm from the time when family always stays together." So I had to explain to him that times have changed, people and jobs are globalizing, etc. And I remember saying: "What if, for example, I had a PhD in a highly specialized area and the only job I could find was in another country?" I also told him that he should be happy that his daughter was moving to a country that is so incredibly safe and has such a stable economy, etc. (especially compared to the US, where I'm from!).

So perhaps your family needs to understand that they are being a bit hypocritical by accusing you of being selfish for having moved away... because the way I see it, they are being selfish for expecting you to remain somewhere other than where you really want to be.

I hope your parents will come to realize this for themselves. And I wish you much peace and happiness in your life!
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Old 10.08.2011, 20:10
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Re: living away from home

YOUR life not theirs. I moved away 10 years ago and it broke my mothers heart. but in the end Id be home 2 months out of the year and seeing my family more....

We wanne move back to the USA (from Belgium) andd then the rents can come as many times as they want (not to often though ....)
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Old 10.08.2011, 20:13
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Re: living away from home

I was so lucky that my parents never made me feel guilty for living away from them in the UK. I shall always be grateful to them for that. In those days, visiting them meant train to London, crossing London by tube, train to Dover then over to ferry, then on to another train to Paris, then cross Paris by 2 tubes, and another train to Switzerland, then another train to their house! I once missed the connection in Paris, running with a toddler, a case and a baby in a papoose- and just saw the train leaving. I cried and cried- and slept on a bench in the station, like a tramp, with the 2 kids under my shawl. With 1 baby, then a baby and a toddler, and so on, sometimes on my own, with a big suitcase. And they did the same to spend every Christmas with us, and sometimes came on hols with us all over the UK.
A two way thing. Sometimes as they got older, sick and at times, very difficult- I had to go regularly to keep them afloat, and at times I was so frustrated. I am glad I did it - and now they are gone, I only remember the good times (or laugh at the others) and am so glad I kept that very special relationship going. But I am sure it wouldn't have worked if they constantly made me feel guilty, and that they put me in the world to care for them in their old age. Not sure what your culture is and where your roots are, but it it clear that is more prevalent in countries where social services and care are non-existent and the elderly have only children to look after them.

My heart goes out to you. But if you can make it work - it will be much easier later, when they are gone. If the relationship is too poisonous, perhaps (and I am not sure) is best to let go. I know friends who have done this and regretted it forever, and others who did, and feel it was the best thing they've done.
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Old 10.08.2011, 20:31
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Re: living away from home

Has anyone thought how would we be like as parents if our kids were away...when I'm going through these phases I keep reminding myself not to turn into them when my time comes...atleast one generation should learn something and break the cycle
the indian-paki ones forget to cut the umbilical cord! they are the worst.

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Old 10.08.2011, 20:33
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Re: living away from home

Seeing your children move away to live their own lives is, to my mind, like the PhD of parenthood. You've succeeded in launching them fully-fledged into the real world. Job done, get on with your own life, but always be there for them.
I simply cannot abide hearing stories like the OP's of parents making their children feel guilty for leading their own lives.
All my children have left the nest, and are in other countries. I'm really proud of them all, and love to hear stories of their lives and achievements.
I often 'feel' like crying, because I do at times miss them so much but I never do cry, or at least not when they could be aware of it.
We have a really good relationship, my children and I, and they visit whenever they can. I visit them too, but only ever by invitation.
Had I constantly made them feel guilty for living their lives away from me, I'm pretty sure they would resent it and not visit so often.
Just get on with your life. It's your life to live and enjoy as best you can.
Always remember, though, that your parents will probably always want more contact with you than you really want, or are able, to give them. That's just the way it is.
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Old 10.08.2011, 20:34
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Re: living away from home

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After nine years of living on a different continent to my family I think they're finally starting to break.

The skype and telephone chats are nearly always on the brink of turning sour as we try to avoid the topic of me being away. The pressure is starting to give me a brain aneurysm and I'm finding it more and more difficult to communicate with them.

They take it as if I choose to be here because it's far away from them saying things like "we're less and less involved in your life" and "if we really mattered you'd make more of an effort to come back" My mother usually ending up in tears. I should say me and the fam have always been close and I do miss them very much my life has just brought me to Europe and I am happy. I don't know what else to say! Moving back would not be for my life choice but only to please them.

Anyone else out there feeling the pressure? and how do you deal with it...especially those of you who have children. (I don't but they would think when/if I get pregnant I'd move back)

Is it so selfish to want to be happy?

thoughts, comments, suggestions welcome !!!
I haven't lived within 1,000 miles of my family in 20 years. I still get the razzing at least once a year: "When are you going to move back to Texas? You're moving to Switzerland?!? What!!!!! Don't you live far enough already! You keep moving further and further away! Don't you love us? When are you going to give us grand children?" It never seems to wear them out.

But you told us on here exactly how you feel and that it's just circumstance. Have you ever told your family that? (I haven't told mine -- it's not exactly easy -- but they need to hear it).
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Old 10.08.2011, 20:38
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Re: living away from home

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I haven't lived within 1,000 miles of my family in 20 years. I still get the razzing at least once a year: "When are you going to move back to Texas? You're moving to Switzerland?!? What!!!!! Don't you live far enough already! You keep moving further and further away! Don't you love us? When are you going to give us grand children?" It never seems to wear them out.

But you told us on here exactly how you feel and that it's just circumstance. Have you ever told your family that? (I haven't told mine -- it's not exactly easy -- but they need to hear it).
Then tell them, Kein Franzosisch
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Old 10.08.2011, 20:42
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Re: living away from home

You might want to take a look at this old thread.
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Old 10.08.2011, 21:15
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Re: living away from home

I feel for you I do. I am so lucky in the fact my parents encouraged us to spread our wings and 2 out of 3 of us live abroad. It was tough when we moved to Hong Kong but my folks would come 2/3 times a year and loved the experience of a new country. Now back here I go back maybe once a year but my dad (my mum has since passed away)comes to visit every other month and again loves to learn about different cultures etc. Ultimately my parents wanted us to be happy be it home or away which has made it easier for us to move around. I think I would be devastated if I got the feeling they resented us living abroad.
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Old 10.08.2011, 21:17
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Re: living away from home

Ceppych like you my kids live away. One in the UK where she was born and bred- with our grand-children. Much easier now with Easyjet and TGV/Eurostar, of course. But they have few holidays and I remember well the frustration at times that 'duty' and hearts made us feel that one ought to spend hols there or with them. So like you, we only visit by invitation - and fortunately that is regularly. But they are going to Andalucia for their hols this Summer- and although I crave for them to come here - I understand fully they need space for them, so would never show how I feel, and act all excited and happy for them (well, I am actually - I just wish they could have time for both- and that is not possible). Other daughter recently moved to Tenerife- and of course we are so happy for her. And delighted to be invited to go and stay - and hope they will come here as soon as properly settled.
I am afraid I do cry sometimes - but I would never let them know this.
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Old 10.08.2011, 21:18
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Re: living away from home

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Then tell them, Kein Franzosisch
I will when OP goes first.
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Old 10.08.2011, 21:26
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Re: living away from home

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They take it as if I choose to be here because it's far away from them saying things like "we're less and less involved in your life" and "if we really mattered you'd make more of an effort to come back" My mother usually ending up in tears. I should say me and the fam have always been close and I do miss them very much my life has just brought me to Europe and I am happy. I don't know what else to say! Moving back would not be for my life choice but only to please them.

Anyone else out there feeling the pressure? and how do you deal with it...especially those of you who have children. (I don't but they would think when/if I get pregnant I'd move back)

Is it so selfish to want to be happy?

thoughts, comments, suggestions welcome !!!
Unfortunately, they're taking the wrong tack, but as someone who has been an expat since the age of 16, going back and forth between continents and never living back in the midwest since leaving it, I have some understanding of the pressures and...well, since becoming a parent, I've had a lot of understanding of the hell I put my parents through and a bit of regret that I wasn't a bit more clued at the time.

When I was young, I can't say that my parents guilted me at all, mostly because I was the youngest and the black sheep, though my mother would occasionally make snide remarks when I would call home. I found ignoring it worked well for me and just making the best of the call. Do what makes you happy, but also let them vent and try to validate their feelings. In the end, family is what matters most above all else - when the bottom comes, your tribe is going to be the ones you can rely on no matter what.

As a parent, I have had a revelation in the hell that is the vulnerability that is having a child. Sadly, my mother died weeks before I moved back to the US when I was pregnant so I didn't get to share the series of epiphanies I had afterwards but, I'll try to sum it up succinctly; Having kids is the best and worst thing ever as you have to both love them and allow them to try things that may end badly. You love them, you may not like them at times, but ultimately you want them near, to know they are doing well, that you succeeded in giving them the right tools to be happy in life. No parent likes to loose contact and/or sometimes control.

Best advice is; keep in touch, send postcards and photos. Stay positive. Tell them you love them. Share anecdotes. Get them to visit. And, if you do get pregnant, you will want to go home, whether or not you do, because it's a very strong maternal draw to return to the nest.

Even though the parents seem to be taking it badly, try to be positive and understand their needs as parents who love you. Family is complicated, but a little care and feeding go a long way.
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