In Laws Left After Thanksgiving Without Saying “Goodbye” Is That Normal?

Updated on December 02, 2018
E.W. asks from Dallas, TX
17 answers

My in laws, who live 15 hours away, came to spend a few days of the Thanksgiving week with us. I thought we had a good time. They slept in a empty rental house we own half a block away because we don’t have an empty guest bedroom. The morning they had to leave I stoped by the rental house with the kids before school so they can say their farewells, I told them I was going to come back home and wait for them. I sat there, cleaned the house, prepared breakfast and waited. Two hours passed by and I haven’t heard from them. When I texted they said they already left after they knocked on the door but no one answered. I said I didn’t hear and they could have rang the bell or called or texted. My husband was working from home that day. I kind of understand not wanting to hug me again, but the own son?! I’m sorry, I’m Latina, I don’t get it. My parents would never leave without kissing me 100 times. Is that the norm here? Or is just his weird cold family? Help me out!!! I’m trying to understand if something was wrong or it’s just their way.

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answers from Santa Fe on

I guess they thought no one was home. Maybe they were tired and kind of out of it....or worried about the long drive home. It is a little weird though (I agree) would think they would call or text their son to ask where he is or at least ring the doorbell. I am not Latina and my parents would never do this. PS -- I have to bring this next part up bc it's a pet peeve of mine. My stepmom is Latina and she is always going on about how Latina families are closer and family is so important to her - yet she has been my stepmom since I was 6 and she still does not consider my brother and I family and is very cold to us. The double standard makes me depressed...that she can't see it. I'm 47 now...she has been my stepmom for 41 years and she has no kind, loving, family type feelings towards me no matter how kind I am to her. So, in my experience some Latinas are really closed off and consider you an outsider FOREVER. It's really sad.

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answers from Norfolk on

They said goodbye when you stopped by with the kids.
They tried.
They had a 15 hour drive in front of them - people like to get going already.
Prolonged goodbyes are just overkill.
Christmas isn't that far away.
There's no reason to get all worked up over this.
Let it go.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You stopped over and they said good bye to the kids before you took them to school. You said you would be going home after and they should stop by. They did that. They knocked and you didn't answer.They most probably figured that something came up and you weren't back yet. Just let it go. If they had knocked more, texted, rang the bell you'd be here saying 'OMG these in laws!!!! I told them to stop by after I dropped off the kids at school. They won't stop calling, texting, ringing the bell. What the hell is wrong with them?'

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I believe you are overthinking things. They said goodbye when you stopped by with your children.

Did you communicate with them that you prepared breakfast, etc? If not, then that's on you. I don't get why they would come back for another goodbye when they were getting ready to drive for 15 hours.

I would let it go. Do you have some underlying issues with them that you did not post that would make you get this upset over it?

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

It don't think it's wrong or weird. It's just different from what you're used to.

When we visited family, my dad always preferred to say our goodbyes at bed time and then get up very early to leave. I think it was easier with kids to drive early (we would often sleep). He always wanted to eat breakfast on the road, at least an hour into our journey. He just didn't want to linger. He said if we ate breakfast there it just took so much longer to just get out of there. He isn't cold or anything, he just reached at point where he wanted to get going and get on with our journey home.

There really is no such thing as "the norm." Every family is different. That's kind of the reality that can hit you like a ton of bricks when you get married. You can really get to know just how different families can be. Not right or wrong, just different. Embrace the differences as much as you can. It makes life more exciting!

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Cultures vary, and individual families within those cultures also vary.

You said goodbye with the kids. They stopped by but you didn't answer. They are probably just as hurt and put out as you are - they may be thinking, "She said to stop by. We did. She didn't answer. She probably was done with us." You didn't hear the knock. Maybe your bell doesn't work. Why would you want someone to knock, ring, call and text before assuming tha you weren't home or weren't interested? They had a 15 hour trip ahead of them, and they weren't going to waste time standing on your porch after a fun but tiring holiday.

Instead, revel in the joys of the weekend. Drop them a note saying how wonderful it was and you're so glad they had time with the kids, let's do it again soon, and so on. Apologize for not hearing them at the door, rather than berating them that they didn't approach the door "the right way." You have many years ahead of you with these people who, by your account, you enjoy spending time with. Don't try to find a reason to resent them.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

um- they tried.

sorry they didn't try harder. but your title implies that there was no contact at all.

doesn't sound cold to me. sounds a little demanding on your end.

if everyone enjoyed the visit and the thanksgiving holiday, that sounds pretty dang awesome to me.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

But they DID say goodbye and they did stop by. Please move on.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Totally fine in the situation you describe. They did come by your house... And there are telephones. Not like you won’t speak to them for a year so a big goodbye is crucial. I hate goodbyes bc I figure for goodness sake, I’ll speak on the phone in a day or whenever we want. And no one is being deployed to the Middle East. What’s the big deal? I’d find your parents oddly dramatic from what you say. So just different ways people have.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Every family has their own 'normal'. So it's pointless to ask that question in a way. My family is totally different than my husband's. You must have come across this before. Some of my friends have families that are similar to my own, and we can totally relate to one another.

I would leave your in-laws to your husband. That's what any counselor would tell you, and my mother gave me that advice when I got married. It's the best advice out there.

If your hubby was working from home that day, perhaps his parents were trying to be considerate. Who knows?

The thing is, miscommunication can be cleared up very quickly by your husband with a quick phone call if HE feels like bothering. If he doesn't feel like bothering, let it go. Likely, it's nothing personal. It's just their way. Some people want to get on the road after they are dressed and packed.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I suggest there is no normal. Some families will be sure to say good bye. Some won't. Your husband is the authority on his family. What did he say? If he's not upset I'd let it go. If I was hurt, I'd probably call and tell them that I was disappointed that they left without a second goodbye.

Are you new to this family and/or is this the first time they've visited and stayed at another location? Did they agree to stop by or did you assume they would because you told them you'd wait at home for them? This may just be the result of miscommunication.

Not making a second visit is unrelated to their having a good time.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

What does your husband say about missing them? After all, your husband is really who this is about, right? You AND your children already went by, on their way to school, to say goodbye. So this isn't about them or you.

You say you are Latina, so you have a different expectation because of cultural reasons. So the person's opinion with the most important opinion is your husband. And you've left out this part of the equation in your post.

I don't know what culture your husband comes from, but I will say that guys are usually different from girls in my own culture. There wouldn't be 100 kisses from or to anyone, and the guys don't usually kiss. A "bro hug" is pretty much the only thing they give, IF that.

More than anything, you seem to be trying to extrapolate them not trying harder when no one opened the door to meaning that they didn't enjoy the trip. But they had 15 hours of driving in front of them. You also worry that they are cold and weird. Isn't that unfair of you to just assign to them? You haven't said anything about the way they acted during the whole holiday. Were they non-communicative? Were they mean to you or to him? Do they never talk to their son over the phone?

Honestly, if they are decent, nice people, you need to stop assigning such negative labels to them. They've been your parents-in-law long enough that you should know what kind of people they are. Try not to micro-manage your inlaws. That never goes well.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


It really doesn't matter what nationality you are. EVERY family is different.

How long have you been married?
Did your in-laws drive or have to catch a plane?
What does your husband say about their departure?

What YOUR parents do may be different than what HIS parents do.
Please don't read too much into this. Talk with your husband and find out what they typically do when leaving. It's not like they were IN your home, they were in a rental away from you.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

They came by and you were unavailable. Personally, I don't like overbearing people and I feel that calling, texting, knocking and simultaneously announcing to the world that they tried finding you and you were unavailable is obnoxious. I would try just one of those methods (which they did) and if I didn't get a response, I'd assume the person is unavailable and move on. I would think that they are sleeping, went out for a drive and got delayed, needed to get gas or run an errand, are having sex, showering, etc., and would not want to keep insisting. If I needed to leave somewhere and start driving, there'd be more of an urge to hit the road, even more so for a 15 hour drive!

Honestly, it wouldn't even cross my mind that someone might be offended that I didn't try other methods of communication, needed to apologize, or bring up the fact I knocked and got no response. You shouldn't take it personally. They probably thought, "Well, they're busy/not home, we have a 15 hour drive, we saw our son and will see him again in a few weeks for Christmas, he won't be upset if we hit the road, he will understand if we leave without a hug, let's just go, we'll see him and his wife and kids soon enough" without thinking you'd be upset.

Do they usually hug and show all this lovey dovey affection when they leave anyway? Maybe it's just not a custom of theirs. Some people are very touchy and affectionate, others are more about having a lot of personal space at all times. Some cry at goodbyes and avoid them -- my former brother-in-law will leave in the middle of a party, sneaking out, without anyone noticing, because he hates goodbyes. What is their usual practice, when it comes to saying goodbye to their son? As I said, since they said goodbye to you and your kids, they probably felt they weren't going to offend or upset their son, nor did they figure that you'd be upset on his behalf. It doesn't seem to bother your husband though, let it go.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Maybe they were in a hurry to get going - was it early in the morning? Maybe they thought you were asleep and they didn't want to wake everyone up. I think you're reading too much into it. Yes, it would have been nice to say a formal goodbye - but maybe they were trying to be considerate about not bothering everyone on a school day etc.
Also, some people really don't like the whole "goodbye" thing. It's awkward for some.
The main thing is that you got to see them...focus on that rather than the last day which would have been rushed.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I think it is very weird they didn't open the door and call in to say good bye to their son. My very English mother would do so. My very Irish MIL would do so. They both would open the door and just come in -especially if they know I am expecting them. Not sure what to make of it, it's up to your hubby to figure it out, if you ask me.



answers from San Diego on

This is rude and disrespectful to you and your family. How sad the kids didn’t get to say goodbye to grandparents who live 15 hours away. They didn’t call to let you know they were leaving, so this was intentional.

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