32 answers

Tired of Extended Family Birthday Parties...am I Wrong?

Ok, here is another in-law question for all you mommies out there. My husband's extended family gets together about once every two months to celebrate birthdays. This includes aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. We are expected to bring gifts, and there are usually 3-4 birthdays each time. For one, we cannot afford this and especially since my son has been born, our finances are even tighter now.

Also, we are sent a very specific menu, and we are to sign up for what we want to bring. Sometimes my MIL even emails the recipe she wants us to make. UGH! It varies on who's house it will be at...but about half the time it is an hour's drive (one way) for us. It takes most of the day...and my son gets his routine all messed up and usually is fussy without his regular nap. So I spend half the time in a back bedroom trying to soothe him and I can't enjoy myself at all. Another thing is that my husband and I get so little time together, that we both hate to give up a whole day of traveling and comforting a crabby child, when we could just hang out together at home. I just don't know what to do. My hubby thinks it's all ridiculous too, and other family members do as well. But no one will say anything. Any advice? Thanks in advance for your help and time :)

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Once again, you ladies have helped me see a different perspective!! To be honest, I guess I was taking all of these gatherings for granted...and I know that if I didn't have them, I would miss them! We may not attend all of them, and we may have to scale back on gifts, but I will try to have a better attitude about them. (My hubby did talk to his Mom about all the gift-buying getting out of hand...so we will see if something changes there) Thanks to all of you for taking the time to help me with this, and set me straight! My attitude has been adjusted :)

Featured Answers

If someone is going to say something negative about it, it should be someone that is blood related to the event. It should NOT be from you. Otherwise you will come out looking like the "evil daughter-in-law". If you husband feels the same way that you do, then he should be the one to decline the invitation. He was born into the family and they have to like him :-)

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I know you've had a lot of responses already, but here's my thoughts:

Just don't do them anymore...maybe go to only 1 or 2. Tell them life has changed.

Good luck!

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Well, I live with my family fairly close by (within an hour.) Between us there are 12 adults and 10 children...and that is only the ones that live close by:) I understand your frustration, believe me I do, but I also think that you (like me:) may have to relax a few things a little. As far as the driving goes, for my husband and I, 2 hours of uninterrupted drive time is such a blessing,so maybe try to look at that as spending time with each other. It sounds like you may have a routine driven child, which while it is nice sometimes, it does not work well for this, so maybe you could work on that on your own, before heading to the dinner. I have 4 kids and honestly, from the first one to the last, they all have to sleep where they are. No lie, my 2 year old and my 1 year old sleep in a stroller at the pool,so that I can still engage my oldest ones. And, the best thing we ever did was to start doing a birthday jar. For whomever we were going to honor (which for us is only the kids) everyone puts an annonymous amount of cash into a jar. The only rule was decide your amount for the year, and give each person that same amount, so that some kids did not get more or less than others. We only do $10, but my brother, who is a college student, does $5. Alone, a $5-10 gift is not much, but add it with everyone's contribution, and you can get something nice. WE have loved it so much, maybe you could suggest somehting like that?! As for the meals, I would be thrilled if someone told me what to make, sometimes the pressure of coming up with something is too much, so honestly I might let that one go. If there is something you really want to take, bring it up in a different conversation. Tell MIL you just tried the best recipe for... and maybe you should make it for the next gathering. Now, finally, for the cranky baby, your husband, and even others in the family, need to step up here, Even with my family, my husband gets to relaxing and chatting, and it is like he forgets we have 4 kids or something. So, now, on our long drives, we discuss what needs each of us will meet, and a code word or phrase that tells the other one of two things...a)I need you to relieve me of duty with this child, cuz I am gonna lose my patience or b) we need to find a way out soon!! I am sorry to go on, but I really do feel like I know just where you are coming from. But, when I see all of my kids playing with their cousins, and my parents happy, the tedious, even frustrating details go away. They wont be around to enjoy this forever, I would hate for my bad attitude to ruin the moments....even if I am right. Again, sorry to ramble, I hope that i was able to help a little. Good luck ~A.~

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If someone is going to say something negative about it, it should be someone that is blood related to the event. It should NOT be from you. Otherwise you will come out looking like the "evil daughter-in-law". If you husband feels the same way that you do, then he should be the one to decline the invitation. He was born into the family and they have to like him :-)

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I think you will regret giving up these family gatherings, but you won't regret it until years down the road when it is too late to make up lost time.

Yes, it is a pain, but we are talking SIX TIMES a year. The gift giving that is expensive is easy...start making each birthday recipient a big batch of cookies. Wrap it all fancy and when your boy gets older, have him help and draw love letters to go along. This isn't you being cheap, this is a labor of time and love and WILL be appreciated.

These gatherings, as crazy as it seems, strengthen and cement relationships. Everyone has hard times, and it is these relationships that get us through those tough times. Your boy will grow up knowing and loving his grandparents, his aunts, uncles, and cousins. He will learn that FAMILY IS IMPORTANT and worthy of a time investment. And you know what else he will learn? That his own mother is worth visiting when he is an adult.

Your husband, who probably enjoys these gatherings, will give them up for you because you are so miserable and complaining about them all the time. So you are also taking from him when you put a stop to these visits. His mother will miss him and resent you.

So put a smile on. Make some cookies. Tell your husband you are so glad that he has a family that loves him and wants to spend time with him. Make extra cookies for your husband and feed them to him. Offer to host one of these gatherings at your place one of the months. And when your MIL emails the menu, simply call her (don't email her) and ask her if you could please bring XXX because it is your 'specialty' and you already have the ingredients.

Just keep in mind that you are talking about SIX TIMES a year. And everyone who comes is inconvenienced, not just you with a young baby. And everyone has to make an effort to be there and make things, and bring gifts. And they do it because they love each other and want to know each other and be aware of what is going on with each other's lives. This is part of being a family.

So I say buck up and go with the attitude that you are going to enjoy it NO MATTER WHAT and your whole family will benefit from it. The thing is, you have this incredible power that should not be overlooked. Wives and mothers set the entire tone of every family outing, every event, and of their entire household. So set the tone and go. It will pay dividends later.

V. S

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If she is using email to send something to you about the party, simply hit reply and explain very briefly that you are unable to attend. If she asks for details, I'd almost make something up.

I think it is very unrealistic that she should ask you to attend a party so frequently for extended family. It is more realistic to simply hold a family reunion in the summer (away from Christmas) and NOT expect gifts to be exchanged. If your husband is not wanting to go either, then HE should be the one to let them know because HIS mother will forgive him more easily and you won't look like the bad guy.

It took me a LONG time to collectively (with my husband) realize that we were now adults and not subject to our parents every wish. If you do not set the boundaries NOW, they may be dictating for a LONG time.

Good luck.

P. <><

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I know all you other younger moms probably won't agree, but I'd like to give an older mom (mid 40's) who's been there's perspective. I HATED going to these things when I was younger and my kids were litte. It seemed like such a chore! Now that my kids are grown and family members have passed on so the get togethers stopped I can see how beneficial they were. Believe it or not, some day you'll look back fondly at those get togethers.

I do understand about the money! We finally started drawing names for the kiddos and didn't buy for adults anymore. Another option is each female bring an inexpensive gift ($10 or under) for female and males for males (something from the dollar store maybe). Just because you have to bring food doesn't mean you can't save time by gettng something storebought and "fix" it up a little (add some spices or garnish) to make it your own

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Well, you are never WRONG for feeling like you do, BUT I think you are not looking at this is the right light. My extended family does the same thing only every 3 months. All 50+ of us. We however do things a little differently. We rotate houses, so that if you have to drive far this time next time you don't. We have family from Houston, Waco, Stephenville, and DFW, so the drives can get hairy. We no longer do the gifts except for the kids. And we do 1 adult gift for Christmas. The kids love them and get to see their cousins. My 8 year old is email palling with 2 of his cousins, so he loves when he gets to play with them. My DH loves the guys trips to the "tractor" store. And I get help with the kids, and get to enjoy the "girl" time.
My DH and I love the drive time. When we stay home with the intent to talk, we rarely do; we do what we need to get done around the house. But when we drive, we talk for hours. Some of our best conversations are in the car. The kids enjoy the talks as well. My 3 year old asked when we were going on "KaShun, so we can talk" the other day. The road trips are a huge part of our family culture.
A routine is important for your baby, but he does need to learn to at least function when he is out of it as well. And these trips may be the perfect way for that to happen. Pass him around. That is what family is for. Heck I know there were plenty of times when I couldn't get one of my children calmed down, and an aunt or grandma would take him and have him laughing in no time.
Try to go with the flow, but in your own way. Call and say "Hey, I really want to fix this instead of that, I'm not really good at blank" Do homemade gifts instead of spending the money. If you truly want to make some changes, I would suggest that your DH recommend them or you will be ostracized for a while.
Just a thought.

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you are not wrong. I would encourage your husband to talk with his mom about this. Help her to understand that while you enjoy the family time it is impacting you financially and it is hard on your child. I would stick to those two issues and not worry about anything else. If she gives you a menu just consider it a blessing that you didn't have to think about what to bring. If there is something you really want to make, just make that also and take it along. It might become something your mom in law requests again

I do think that your child will benefit by having a large extended family, you and your husband just need to be in charge of when you attend.

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My in-laws also have unrealistic expectations for us as well. Thankfully, they live far enough away that this is not an issue like yours, but after MANY long and drawn out conversations with my husband, we have politely declined invitations to particular family events. I can't say that they understand, but we decided that we have to do what is best for OUR family. We always let them know that our doors are always open and that they are free to visit us anytime, but frequent trips to visit are just no longer possible. We have not made a trip to visit my in-laws in a year. They have only been here to see us twice in a year and we visited with everyone at my BIL's wedding a couple of months ago (but without the kids). I finally realized that we were more stressed out during our "family down time" than we were during a normal week...so what was the point. Sometimes I think we feel like we can't say no to family, when truly, saying no to family should be easier because they should know us and our situation better than anyone. I would just politely decline and enjoy your time with your family! Good luck!

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You are not wrong. You and your husband need to just stand together on the decision not to go anymore. It's one thing to get together once in a while to catch up and see everyone, but every two months, extended bdays, and planned menus does seem way overboard. I'm sure you MIL has good intentions but I would have to just put my foot down and say no. My husband works a lot too and we hardly ever give his days off up for someone elses agenda. Our time together with the kids always comes first. I know that it is hard to say no and most likely it will cause hurt feelings, but they'll get over it eventually and then you and your husband can relax and not worry about it anymore. Good luck to you guys.
J.
smh consultant
J..yoursmh.com

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Tough spot. First, you need to make sure yo uand your husband are one the same page. Sounds like you are. You two need to make an arrangement that works with your family. You may decide to show up every 4 months or every 6 months whatever works the best for you. You will need to nice decline and tell them you will see them next time. Hold fast adn strong. It will be difficult at first adn i'm sure a few little remarks will be made (if they are anythign like my family)but hang in there. Do show up when you say you are going to. Family is important. As far as gifts are concerned you will have to a flat across the even-steven gift. If you cut back that is fine and understandable but be consistant. Maybe bring a special copy of a photo or a special dish that is just for that person. You make your limits. And if you are truly there to enjoy your family then they shouldn't care about the cost of the gift. In your talks they shoudl all pick up from you two that things are a little tight now and that shoudl be all that needs to be said. I bet if you back off on some of your visits others will too. They all need someone to lead the pack. If anyone asks, be honest. Tell them that you need some family time in your crazy schedule and that as much as you enjoy the family get togethers you also have to step everything back a notch. It may be hard for mil to swallow at first. But don't make it personal and don't take it personal. She, no doubt, have a hard time not being in total control. It will take her a bit of time to adjust since she has been left to rule for so long. Remember, your husband has to do this with you or you become the root of all evil. Good luck!!

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Dear S.:

I can understand that you may be tired of the extended family Birthday Parties. On the other hand, I am jealous. I would love to live only 1 hour away from family - and I would love to be close to my family. How precious that your son will know his relatives and develop close relationships! My family is 6 hours in one direction, 12 hours in another, and 18 in still another!

It is hard now because your son is just a baby. Soon, he will enjoy it more (and you will more using to building your life around your baby). There will be times that you must miss. Perhaps you could mail a small package with gifts or gift cards to let them know that you are thinking of them even when you you are not there. You may choose to miss some celebrations now. Perhaps they will understand how it upsets your babies routine presently. (on the other hand, as an experienced parent, you may want to help him become adaptable now - if you have more children, the baby often must just go along_.

Our boys are now teenagers and are in athletics. They play sports most weekends and during the week We spend 20 hours per week supporting their athletics - and sometimes more. July is the only "month off". When you look back, one day every two months may seem like nothing!

Good Luck!
Jen

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As a member of a large family--not only my own but my husband's, I can relate to this situation. Family gatherings can be so rewarding and enjoyable. Yet, you know what, let your voice be heard and just say, "I LOVE THIS about getting together, but here are some things I would like to change, because it's not economical/practical for my family."

I would suggest that "gifts" go away in such a large family. Or let that person's immediate family: parents/siblings do the gifting, but it's a little over the top for the gift thing to be what it is.

But an idea for you (which has probably already been mentioned) is scrapbook a photograph page of your baby or them. Or create a CD of the last family gathering, for them to view on the computer, complete with journaling (tell the stories). It is a really nice touch/thought without spending a whole lot of money.

Good luck with this and enjoy your family, as well as your extended family.

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S.,

I don't have advice, only the perspective of someone who lives very far (over 1000 miles) from my nearest relative. The get togethers sound like a pain, but the relationships are probably worth it in the long run, especially for your kiddos. My daughter has no aunties, uncles, grandparents or cousins whom she knows well because of the physical distance. We have made local friends who fill those rolls at times, but it's different.

I agree with others who have said that IF you decide to speak up, I'd ask your husband to be the one. It would probably be received better through him.

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Your DH needs to talk to his parents and explain that as much as you both care about family you may not be able to make it to every event. Be honest about finances, time, ect. You can still send a card to honor each birthday if you are unable to attend. You and DH need to make choices for your own family and sometimes family will disagree or be upset but they will just have to deal with it.

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Even though it can be a pain at times, it is so important to have extended loving family. I have very little extended family and my husband is an only child. It makes me sad for my children they will not have the large extended family experience. However, we are very close with the members we do see. Suggestions would be to call ahead and request to bring something simple for you to make as far as the food. I also agree with the post below regarding gifts only for the kids and maybe just a card with a nice note inside for the adults. If your son needs his nap, I would ask which room would be the most quiet and go and put him down for a nap if at all possible. Even if he won't sleep at least a little quiet time with just you might help. Good luck - I hope the get togethers get better for you and your family.

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Perhaps, if others feel the same way your husband should talk it through with his siblings and perhaps as a group they could come up with a happy medium that would be acceptable to MIL. Perhaps there could be some regular get togethers (maybe 4 times a year instead of 6) where people bring a pot luck dish and have a big get together - just for the sake of getting together. And instead of having birthday parties, just have some fun activities for everyone to do together - maybe each family could bring an activity or game that everyone could participate in. I love getting together with my family and in-laws, but we are all so spread out that we can't get together that often. So, while cutting out the trips may not be the best answer, maybe something can be done about the expense on specific food items being brought (especially if she sends the recipe you have to make - that's a bit extreme) and gifts. That way, you can show that you still enjoy getting together with the family, but not have to put up with all the other extras that seem to be coming with it. Surely there are other reasons to get together than birthdays - not that there has to be a reason to get together.

And count your blessings that you live so close to family. We are 5 hours away from our parents, and our siblings are spread out as far away as Germany. I rarely get to see my extended family because they are all in the mid-west. I didn't get to spend much time with my cousins growing up because it was always a 2 day car trip to go visit them, so we only went once every 4 years and spent a week visiting. Be greatful you live so close and you children can have the experience of knowing their family because they are closer. That is the ONE thing I wish could have been different in my childhood.

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My family went through a similar problem in the last 2 years. My mom is one of 6 children and between her and her siblings, there are 13 of us grandkids, but we're all age 18-40. When we were young, we had a Christmas gift exchange where each person had one name to buy a gift for. As we got older, we went from exchanging gifts to exchanging cash/gift cards. In the last 5 years, many have gotten married, had kids of their own, etc. and the holidays just aren't as big and well attended as they used to, which meant getting a gift to your person or even seeing them enough to know what they like these days was impossible. I wasn't the only one who felt like that so at the next family gathering, I brought up the pros and cons of keeping the system or changing it and everyone, eventually, agreed to change. I think at your next family gathering, you and your husband need to stand up and be honest about how you feel and how difficult it is for you to participate and in the future, you would prefer not to be included. This means that you shouldn't be expected to attend or bring anything (food or gifts) and when it's your birthday, you won't receive anything either. If there are others that agree with you, talk to them in advance and encourage them to stand up and support you. No one can fault you for not having the time/money to participate in this. You'll always have people who are so attached to the "old way" that they'll be reluctant to change, but eventually they'll realize that what you say is true. Just try to present your argument as honestly as possible, without attacking anyone or making anyone feel bad for expecting so much from you.

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Such incidents are the reason in-law jokes exsist in the first place.

I agree. If more than one person feels the same way chances are they need someone to TACTFULLY decline and give valid reasons why it is difficult to do it EVERYTIME. Personally, I quit jumping to the tune of everyone else when it came to my firstborn. I KNEW what my child needed and I did it even if it upset someone else in the process (although I was careful not to intentionally upset anyone of course)-I just stated why I had to forgo events and most people were willing to understand. Those who did not, got over it.

You have multiple reasons-distance which means gas and money-presents which means money-food which means time and money and of course the disruption to your child's routine. Routine is basically all a small child has to keep their world sane. Kindly decline, state your reasons and then retreat. Any mean retorts or accusations you can interupt by saying you will not tolerate it and that you will walk away or hang up during such. I've only had to use that technique once. Boy did it stir up a hornet's nest but in the end I didn't marry my in-laws-just my husband. If they wanted to see me or he so very badly then they were welcome to come to us! I'd say Hey-take our names out of the pool of birthdays since we're not comming and then no one is obligated to cover us if we're not covering them. ;)

Whatever you do-pray about it first then do it with dignity, firmness and tactfully. Might be easier than you think.

God Bless!

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I know you've had a lot of responses already, but here's my thoughts:

Just don't do them anymore...maybe go to only 1 or 2. Tell them life has changed.

Good luck!

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You need to graciously back out. Just send a note saying that you are unable to attend due to gas, finances and TIME. I would start sending cards to those whose birthday is being celebrated (the Dollar store sells cards 2/$1). This will show you are thinking of them.
It may take awhile to get out of the dog house with your MIL, but think of how much happier you and your men will be.
I bet you see that once you start the ball rolling that others will be (Secretly) thankful and things will change.
Good Luck and don't let others rule your family and time.
J.

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No advice but sympathy. That totally sucks. Sorry you are in that situation. I know it must be tough. Hang tough, sister and don't give in to pressure to buy gifts for every person you've ever met. LOL And the recipe thing??? WHATEVER!!! I'll pray for you!!

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I used to have a similar situation- every Sunday was my husbands family day and we got into taking the nephews to places every Sunday and that was our only day together and we werent even married yet- ha! So, I think maybe bring it up at the next "event" so that everyone can speak their mind there and not clam up when asked in private- you know how that goes. But..heres the trick have your HUSBAND bring it up since its his family. Having you follow recipes is a bit bizarre- I totally agree. I think that once people are adults they really dont need the birthday present. Maybe save all that money and do a week vacation at a huge house instead and have one big birthday cake....
On the other hand- I do miss family time-and once every two months really isnt a lot to ask for. I moved here three years ago and I miss it. So- every two months really isnt so bad- but the menu and present issue would have me upset.

Also- about the schedule- I would lose that real quick with the little love bug- If you want to be able to go and explore- get him used to just nodding out whenever hes tired- it will give you the freedom to roan and do field trips. I had two children that just went with the flow- trust me- if they are tired- they will sleep- esp at 6 months - my girlfriend was very scheduled and she regrets it b/c I was able to just up and go with or without the hubby and she never had that freedom.

PS- For Xmas- we stopped the adult gifts- some families do theme baskets for couples- thats always nice and money saving as well-

tkae care

D.
www.partyangelsus.com

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This is EASY. This is your life, live it the way you want to. Gift giving to that extend is insane... most people don't even give their spouses gifts anymore in order to save money in this economy! Someone needs to get some "balls" and put their foot down-- why not you? Everyone else likely feels the same way. As for being told what food to bring, just bring what you want to bring. Dont' say anything about it, just do it. And if you can't make it everytime, just send an apology and thanks for the invite. I've never been one to "do as told", and I don't mind speaking up when I think something is crazy... just get some confidence. Good luck.

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Girl, I have so been in your shoes. When you and your husband said your vows, you pledged loyalty to eachother. You did not pledge to cousins, sisters, in laws, aunts and whoever else demands your time and money. Of course this is a strain, it would be on anyone. For your extended family not to have the common sense to realize this is down right selfish is crazy! Your mother in law sounds like an over bearing control freak who will have you guys at her disposal if you let her. (I am sure she has her good points, just not seeing any in this situation.) I can say this bc I have a mother like her. Mine dictates where eveyone will sit, what we will eat, what time and what we'll wear, I am not kidding. The next time this ridiculous invite comes across the airwaves, respectfully decline and say you will catch them next time. You do need to make/have those relationships with extended family, but not 6 times a year. It is way out of line for them to expect this. Now, prepare yourself, the first time you do this, there will be tears, drama, near nervous break downs, but be strong, she WILL live. Not only will she survive, BUT she will began the process of realizing, understanding, and respecting the very simple verse in Genesis, that states "for the reason of marriage, a man shall leave his mother and father and cleve unto his wife." Really, in Biblical times, many times when a child would marry, mommy and daddy never saw them again. This is a completely natural process that God designed us for. Don't you know people who have their parents still dictating what happens in their marriages? They are a mess. Anywho, there is an underlying message you must send her in order for her to respect your marriage or you will struggle with this for years. That is that you and he love her, but she is not the boss. She was at one time, but she got demoted on your wedding day. Quite obviously, she is accustomed to running the show, so this will be difficult at first, you guys will be the most horrible, ungrateful children, neice, nephew, sister in law, whatever. She may even cancel the whole event, don't laugh, we had this happen at Christmas one time. BUT, I can say from experience, they will get over it, they will still love you, and I guarantee you, will be invited "next time." Amazingly, our marriage actually inspired other family members to be more loyal to their spouse than extended family. The end result is, thankfully, our parents, etc., respect us, our marriage, our bond and loyalty to each other. They know that we will come when we can, but our priority is our marriage and child. It did take a couple of dramas, but it will work out. A final note, it is rude to ask people to bring anything. The only time this is socially acceptable is if the attendee offers to bring something. Maybe for Christmas, or better yet, her next birthday, get her a book about manners. Stick to your guns, you will be glad you did.

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Hey S.,

Your husband needs to stand up to his mom or whoever is in charge of these things and tell them that while ya'll love them and enjoy visiting with them that ya'll will not be attending anymore of these events unless it is your choice. Believe me, I speak from experience and it was such a relief when my husband took a stand. They may not like it and they may be upset but, they will get over it. I promise.

Good Luck.

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I don't have to deal with this myself, but I agree - that's rediculous. We celebrate immediate family, and when I was younger, we'd get together with my older sister's and brother's family at Christmas and we'd get birthday gifts then - my birthday was in MARCH, but I didn't care.

YOUR family is now the focus of your time and energy, and they will have to take 2nd and 3rd etc. place to that.

I suggest going twice a year, perhaps when the most immediate family members have their birthdays, because - and I hate to say this - they count more cause they're closer relatives. Or if you have favorite people, go to their birthday gatherings. Send a card, and maybe a homemade gift, or perhaps a baked treat - something you can send through the mail easily either directly to the people, or to MIL's house.

When you go, I'd say be a bit pro-active re the menu thing - tell MIL that with the 6 month old you need something simple to bring, maybe volunteer to bring the beverages :) - that way you don't have to make anything.

Maybe even suggest that the gatherings happen 2x/year, and that they just be get-togethers. Our families got so big, that at christmas we just do the polyana - 1 gift per person from 1 other person, except for the kids under 12.

Have your husband let tell her - it's his mom and you don't need the grief. GOOD LUCK :)

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Hi S., i know how u feel. My family is huge and we seem to have a get together every week, be it someone's b-day, baby shower, bridal shower, u name it and we are doing it weekly. However, no one is obligated to bring anything if they don't want to or are not able to. Maybe u can comprimise by only going to every other one. I would also talk to the other family members that think it's ridiculous. Maybe ya'll can ban together! Good luck, i hope this helps. Or u can just let them know that u have other plans, they don't have to know that your just planning the day with your family.

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this is very tricky, so tread lightly.

Along the same lines as your story, most of my extended family on my dad's side got sick and tired of drawing for names at Christmas. We're all adults, and it really started feeling like we were all just passing around the same $50-$60 every year. We all really enjoy buying for the kids and sharing a meal and other Christmas traditions, but buying for adults who have everything they need was getting ridiculous. So, I brought it up. OMG, the poop hit the fan! One of my aunts is mentally challenged and she thought we were ruining Christmas by ending this tradition and even though most of the adults originally sided with me, they turned and backed her up instead.

The solution was that those who wanted to draw names, still did so. Those who didn't want to, didn't.

I suggest the same thing for you. I think you should still knowledge everyone's birthday with a card and a phone call, but I think it's perfectly acceptable to stop attending these birthday functions and spending all that money. Back to my life, this same side of the family gets together MONTHLY for birthdays. I don't attend since I live in another state, but I still send cards or ecards.

I think the kids are the exception. I think you should still celebrate the kids' birthdays with gifts.

The other exception is your MIL and FIL. I think their birthdays should be celebrated in a special way.

All the other adults can go without and truthfully, it shouldn't be that important to them to get a present from you for their birthday.

Good luck! Just beware that these situations can go downhill REALLY fast and YOU will be made out to be the bad guy regardless if that's really the case or not.

1 mom found this helpful

Well,

I understand the finances, we are tight too with 4 kids and one on the way...BUT.... 1 day out of 60? Come on, its important for your children to grow up knowing these people.

People who have alot of family take major advantage of the fact that they think it will always be around ( like my husband's) But I come from a family that fell apart starting with the death of my mother 11 years ago..now my children have no cousins or grandparents and it is so sad for me.

Of course your son will be cranky, but you cannot live your entire parenting life around your kids nap schedules either. Engage help from your husband & other family memebers while at the place of the celebration..that is what it is afterall, a celebration of a big family!

If you cant afford gifts dont bring them, you can explain this to the host if you wish but you are not obligated. If the menu is beyond your budget bring what you can and let them deal with it. So what if your MIl asks for a certain recipe, is it really so horrible to make it?

You are part of this big family, you knew it when you married so you really have no right to remove yourself from it. Its only 1 day. And one day you will wish you had more of them.

1 mom found this helpful

Gosh, we would love to come - you know how much we enjoy spending time with y'all, but with the economy the way it is, we've had to cut out all entertainment - the price of gas is really prohibitive. I'm sure y'all understand.

S.

1 mom found this helpful

I thought I was the only one!!! My hubby's family does this as well!!! It drives me (and him) crazy! His aunt and adult cousin and her HUGE family that seem to be the centerpiece of this whole thing. Luckily gifts are not expceted most of the time (we do for his brother's family and parents - but thats it), but we have to drive about 1 to 1 1/2 hours to meet everyone "half way". Funny how they all live in McKinney/Plano and we live in Weatherford and Irving is considered half way..... What makes it even harder is that we end up at a restaraunt (they money factor kicks in b/c it is usually someplace moderately pricy)with about 15-20 people. And most of the time, we get about 2-4 days notice of the gatherings. They get pretty ticked if we happen to have something else planned for that weekend and can't make it.
Our daughter is 8 months old now, but when she was first born, we had one disasterous outing and said that until she was older and more flexible we were not going to be joining them anymore. All sorts of feelings got hurt. They just couldn't understand why we didn't want to drag a baby all over the metroplex in a car and sit in a reatarunt with her for 2-3 hours!
Anyway, I finally got my courage up a few weeks ago and mentioned something about this whole thing to my mother in law. Turns out, she feels the same way we do, but since her husband's sister is the ring leader of all of it, she feels obligated to go along with it so that he gets to see his sister. She and I are now plotting ways to try and change this whole mess so that we all still get together, but it is not so often, or such a huge ordeal that puts out everyone but the aunt and cousin without being obvious. So far, we have been able to get out of one outing all together and have been able to have another one at a relative's house - with them fixing all the food!
Good luck to you and I hope that you all get your situation worked out.

1 mom found this helpful

S.,

In our family, it is my side of the family that has the frequent extended family get togethers, and I see all your valid points. I would suggest you continue to attend as much as your husband asks you to attend. Many times, I attend these functions without my spouse, and while the driving and cooking is all in my court, it is my choice to attend and nobody is forced to do what they do not wish to do.

As for the gifts, that does sound a little over the top, but remember, your bday will come around, too! His family will surely compensate for all the knickknacks you sent over the year with beautiful things for your baby to break (HA!) Really, this is up to you and your hubby to sit down and look at within your budget, and then let him talk to MIL to explain that things will have to change until the economy is better. Gas and grocery expenses alone make this trip costly for your family, surely she and the rest of the family can undertand those facts.

Ultimately, I agree with all the moms who advocate these times together with extended family, especially for you baby boy. The more time he is exposed to crazy aunts and uncles and cousins, the more connected he will be to his family. These are going to be the constants in his life for the rest of his life. He will get better at traveling and as he grows, so will his love for family.

Good luck and God bless!

1 mom found this helpful

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