Is It Just You and Your Husband?

Updated on August 29, 2011
T.V. asks from West Orange, NJ
22 answers

My husband and I don't have much family. It's only he and I and occasionally his mother will come by to visit but that's only once a month. I don't speak to my family because there is a lot of dysfunction, alcoholism, and drugs and that cycle stops with me. They also live pretty far away. I often hear people complain about family members not taking the kids for a few hours; I tell them they should be grateful that they have parents they can trust and who are capable.

Are there any other families that are doing it alone? How do you feel? I feel good about it in away. While I wish my kids had grandparents who were involved in their life I don't want them exposed to the craziness. It makes us stronger as a family because it's only us. No comments from the peanut gallery which is great. My daughter starts school soon so we have to get into the grandparents, aunts and uncles conversation, I'm not looking forward to that at all.

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answers from Appleton on

Family are not necessarilly the people who are related to you by blood. Family are the people who love you and treat you with respect.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

If one side is "no good" then please ignore them. We have my side, that is GREAT, and the the other side, that is no help at all. So focus on the good side, and ignore the other. Sorry, but if you are no help, then you get NO INTERACTION! Why bother????

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

I agree with Rev. Ruby. Family is what you make it--if you want loving, caring people around your kids to support you and be a family--make your own! Just because people are blood, doesn't make them healthy to be around. You do what is best for your family. The rest will follow. GL

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It's just us with my family.

We purposely moved a plane ticket away from everyone and have never regretted it.

You don't have to get into the conversations at school unless you choose to.

My daughter is 16 and everything is going strong in our family. Sometimes you have to get rid of toxic people so that you can have a normal life.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

girl i feel ya'. i'm a single mom, lost my mama approx 2 yrs ago, leaving me w/a hateful dad & an estranged stepdad...yippee. i don't have anyone to watch my sweet boy if i ever need a break, but it has MADE me ask for help from my friends, which i would've never done.
in addition, for holidays we go to a close friend's house. not my ideal situation but i can't change it. i wish i could have that great big family for him, but i just always think, our family is exactly the way God intends for it to be. and that brings me peace beyond understanding! :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Its just my husband and I as well. I love it, because this way, i am raising our son without others trying to tell me what and how to do things. Also when grandparents are always around kids tend to get more spoiled, i love it that its just us, but i am not going to lie, sometimes its hard, he works all the time and its just my 3 year old and I. We go to the stores a lot lol

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sioux City on

There are a lot of times that I had wished that we had family that would like to be more involved, like on Grandparents Day at school, but really I think my kids, husband, and I are closer because they aren't around. We found this wonderful older couple to adopt for Grandparents Day each year. As the kids have gotten older I notice that it has been nice to not have to worry about the influence of those that don't have their act together.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I have a t-shirt (from a long ago church VBS) that says..

"A family is a circle of friends who love you."

Surround yourself with the friends you have things in common with..... that is your family now!

If you are involved with religious type organizations, sometimes there are older church members that would be very happy to step in as "adopted grandparents" ..... sometimes their grandchildren are far away!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I have pretty much the same situation. But I have never had to avoid those kinds of conversations, unless you mean with your children.
It just makes me so sad that my children miss out on having grandparents that care about them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My husband and I are in your shoes, I came from an abusive family so they have had very limited contact with our kids and my husband's family is just as screwed up so we don't see them either. We have 5 children, the youngest 2 never got to know our extended families or what it was like to have grandparents. My father and I were close but he passed away when I was 12 years old so I have a picture of him on my living room wall and another on my mantle. Our kids are doing great, they are all very close even though their are 16 years between our oldest and youngest. Also our one and only daughter is our oldest and she really keeps everyone talking. She is going on 29 years old and still lives at home but when she was in college she called her brothers every day and made sure she came home every weekend to have Sunday dinner with the family and during the week when they had a school function or something else.
You asked how we feel, the answer is great, it was the best decision we ever made. Yes our kids had to deal with the grandparent, aunts and uncles conversations at school and they will tell you it is hard, but what about kids who are in foster care or those who have lost parents at a younger age, they too are in the same boat and they came out fine just as my kids did and yours will too. My kids know that our home is filled with love and not a lot of drama. They know each others favorite color, food, things to do, dreams, etc. and they welcome all of our friends as if they are part of our family.
Both my parents and my husband's parents have passed away so the separation is that much easier. My brother, Nickey, whom I was close with growing up passed away 2 months ago. My oldest brother and sister would not let me see him before he passed away and had my first born nephew send me a message on Facebook telling me that he passed. I know that is really low but you know what that just shows you what kind of shallow, mean, vial people the are and I don't know about you but I would not want my kids to be exposed to those kid of people.
My best advice to you is like you said you broke the cycle so stay strong and know you did what is best for your family just like I did. If ever you want to talk you can always reach me.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

In life, we have family that we are born into
Family that we marry into and
Family that we choose to have.

I am a single parent whose closet relatives are an hour away. My parents are deceased and my Ex's family is states away (thankfully :) )

Anyhoo, throughout the past 15 years I have "found" wonderful friends who have become as close as family to my son and me. When he was in early elementary school I was blessed to be friends with a much older woman (70 to my 30) who took it upon herself to be my son's "grandmother" and attended all the grandparent day events at his school for several years.

Friends have been there to help take care of him if I was sick or had to travel for work, etc.

These people are my family also and range in age and "relationship" from one I think of as a daughter (and my son treats as a sister), the aforementioned "grandmother", and those that I feel as close to as my real sister. Some have passed on, some have moved away, some are still here, but all hold a place in our hearts and our life and have immeasurable enriched our lives.

He has learned that while we have a small family, our hearts and lives have a great capacity to welcome others in.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Chiming in! We are in Texas with siblings and parents on both coasts, Colorado and overseas. We are not close w/either side but on speaking terms. We've lived away from each other for the past 15+ years. My hsuband and I tried to visit and keep in touch...until we realized we were the only ones visiting and keeping in touch and making all the efforts! When we asked family to start come visiting us, they all balked. Needless to say, we ahve never hosted a holiday in our home b/c noone wants to come down here and spend the money/time.

It doesn't help we only have one child. If anything happens to us, he will have no siblings to turn to. Sure we ahve friends and even have 2 families we are leaving him with should we both pass away. But right now, growing up, its hard to teach him about family when both sides of ours are so disconnected. Its hard to raise my son and not hear things like "when you were that age you did that" or "your brother did the same thing". Its a different dynamic all together to raise an only w/o family around.

Tbh it makes me sad to the point of depression, esp during the holidays.
I try not to criticize people w/dysfunctional family members or overbearing ILs. I'd hate for them to criticize me for not living closer to family. But I do hope they will one day see the value in being close to family, b/c I know if my families lived closer together, I would have a closer relationship w/all of them.

My son knows what family is from my husband and I. I guess that's all that matters. As for having people to turn to in emergencies and childcare, we ahve been blessed w/great and giving friends.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

My family is in a very similar situation as yours. My mother-in-law of 20 years was our closest family along with her husband. We usually spent Christmas with them (my husband was her only child) and made the 6 hour drive to see them a few times a year and they came to see us. Tragically, on Memorial Day of this year, my MIL had a terrible drowing accident in her back yard pool and was taken off life support five days later. I have very little to do with my mother and sister because just like you describe, they are so consumed with dysfunction and drama that I nearly have panic attacks when I am around them. So, my husband and I find ourselves in this new place of it being just us. We have some very close friends but since we have relocated from Texas to Florida in the last year, we don't get to be with them at all anymore. When I took my twin boys to their first day of kindergarten this past Monday, I came home and was so sad knowing that I would have immediately emailed pics to my MIL and been on the phone telling her all about it. I had no one to I said, this is a new feeling for me. Not sure what the holidays will be like, we were talking the other day about taking the kids to the keys the week before Christmas and coming home on the 24th so we won't sit home and dwell on the fact that my MIL won't be here with us. Anyway, I know we'll be fine, sometimes life just works out like that for some people.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lincoln on

I love what Reverend Ruby said. It reminds me of a quote, "Friends are the Family you choose"

I'm like you, I don't have any support from family. My dad works all the time to stay afloat in this crappy economy and my mom has suffered kidney failure and for the past 3 years she has been unable to be of any help to me. Rather the tables have turned and when I go to visit I am trying to help her in whatever way I can. They also live 2 hours away from me.

My ex in laws I quit asking a long time ago for any help and they also live about 2 hours away, so it's less of a problem. They showed they clearly weren't interested. I tried taking him over there. One time they were supposed to watch him while I was in a wedding. I figured since they don't see him much they wouldn't mind if we came a half hour early. They fell apart! Another time they watched him and then my parents went to pick him up and they were sitting on the stoop with all his stuff ready to go. After several more incidences similar to this I figured why bother?

Anyway, like you, when I hear people complain I think sheesh! I sometimes wish I had that fall back like when something is crazy I can call and say "hey can you pick him up for me?" Or when I have a class that goes until 5:50 and I have to have him picked up by 5:45. (I'm a single mom and my ex lives and hour away and works the night shift) But, like you, I love that he has consistency and that he knows that he can depend on me. I call him my partner in crime b/c I think we do have a stronger bond b/c we have to depend on one another. I have had a lot of divorce questions and boy do I hate when they pop up! Good luck with all that, I'm sure you will find a great way to explain it. :-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

I haven't read any of the other responses so I may be duplicating ..but here goes...
I applaud you for making the difficult decision to shield your children from a dysfunctional family...and I feel like it is exactly the right thing to do.
We were a military family when my girls were growing up so we were geographically so far removed from family that the visits were limited to vacation and holidays. When Grandparents Day or things like that came up...we didn't make too big a deal out of it...either it was basically "ignored" by my girls or...if they had someone at church or in the neighborhood that they had "adopted" as a grandparent...then they would invite that person to come with them.
If and when they do ask questions about family...from hearing other friends talk about their family...please don't talk about the bad things about your families...just let them know that some people are lucky enough to have family live nearby and some aren't...and let them know that they can develop their own "family" from friends and others that are important people in their lives.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We are doing it "alone." My family is crazy and live far away, and his family lives about 3 hrs away his mom acts like shes an invalid so in the 5 years we've lived far from them they've been out 5 times but we are expected to show up 2-3 times per year. His aunt lives near us but shes only able to help with the kids in case of emergency (she has no kids and up until 5 years ago didn't have any nieces or nephew close.)

I'm exhausted it would be so nice to have someone to help me out with the kids but I know that's not going to happen. I'm fine with living so far away from his parents too his mom is toxic.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My parents live in CA - I'm in VA...

My In-laws (MIL deceased) lives in MA...when FIL visits - MAYBE once a year - he doesn't really interact with the kids - when my MIL was alive - she would come down maybe 2x a year.

My sister who lives in CA used to come out when she was unemployed (we'd fly her out) 4x a year....

My husband's sisters? One lives in GA and has NEVER been to our home - although asked many times and we've been to her house 2x..long story..
the other one? she lives in MA and hasn't seen me or her nephews (except in pictures) since 2002 and I'm alright with that...

So yeah - you can say we're doing it parents talk to my kids at least once a week and now they are trying to write letters (NOT TYPE BUT WRITE) to them and my sister...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

We don't have any family close and the family that is (relatively close geographically) is about 3 hours away. They've never been that involved... never babysat for us or taken the kids for a weekend of any of that stuff... rarely visit. So just because you have family around doesn't mean they necessarily want to be that close to your kids. We have the obligatory holiday visits and that's about it.

I am mixed about being without family. I came from a large family, so there's been some comfort in having family in my life. But my siblings and parents and I have all been spread all over the country for years and years. I chose where I live for various reasons, and the benefits of being here are worth staying.

I miss some members of my family and wish that we we closer; not because I want them to watch my kids, but because I'd like for my kids to be close to them and know them. We just cherish the rare family vacations when we can see them or they come here, and build our family from friends who live close to us.

It sounds like a good choice you've made considering the crazy family
history you describe. The talk about aunts, uncles etc... may not come up for a while, and when it does you can just say that sometimes people make life choices that aren't good for them or you and that's why you don't see them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Both my parents are gone and so are my husbands. Mine died 20 years apart, and his on the same day 2 weeks before we had our first child. My grandparents are gone also. I know how you feel. Ive had 2 nights which my oldest has gone to a sleepover, but other than that we have had no complete nights to our own. Well actually by that time we had our 2nd already so it wasnt even that. We have had no kid free nights to speak of.

I still have a little bit of family though, Im really close to my brother and his wife and speak to my other brother quite a bit. I have a great relationship with my husbands grandparents, we go to the movies and to eat once a month at least and spend every holiday together. I dont get along with my other SIL and her wife.

You are right about not having to endure too much ridicule on parenting, that is the one tiny upside. The SIL i dont mesh well with has given me a taste of what too much of that kind of negativity can do.......

So yes its pretty much just me and my husband, but thats ok. I really wish his mom wasnt murdered, and my parents had survived their various illnesses because sometimes it really hurts to see the relationships grown men and women and their children can have with their parents. But we are doing fine

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

Yes, but we do see his parents. My daughter felt bad at school because of this. I wish that I had not told her they were mean and abusive because she has told people and we get looked down on. Plus it makes her feel different.
Had I to do it again, I would blame not seeing them on them living across the country. Or maybe say my parents were killed in a car wreck that is too painful to talk about. I would let her see people as "cousins" so she had stories about family.
My inlaws can't be trusted because they get angry and whip kids with belts and say horrid things to them. She is an only child so we are searching for lifelong friends. So far, we have her godparents.
To be honest, I never wanted anyone to hold my family against me so I didn't hold my husband's family against him. Had I to do it again, I would get better therapy to learn to feel good enough to marry someone from a sane, sober, loving, Christlike family that could give my child the family she deserves. Plus, my husband and I deserve it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

I married in AK and moved to his home state of NY. Six months later, he left me. The only person I knew walked out. I raised my children with no family near for decades. We write, call, or visit (rarely) but there's no help with the kids. I have a great family - very supportive - just too far away to really help.

The only down side is they don't get to really know my family intimately. A long distance Grandparent is hard to bond with. I grew strong, independant, and self assured because I had no one to rely on. All pluses. I raised my kids the same way because they only have me to depend on and I'm training them to rely on themselves. It's great to have help but when help's not available, you make do.

I feel good about it, but sad too - We're not the Waltons, but we managed.


answers from Santa Fe on

We don't live near any family so we have to buy plane tickets to go visit them which happens ~ twice a year. Maybe they come here once or twice a maybe we see the grandparents about 4x a year. I feel fine about it...I don't really think about it bc most people I know are the same. We all went to college or grad school, started jobs...and moved again 1ce or 2ce to accept better jobs. I don't really have any good friend who lives near their parents so I'm not sure what that would be like. It sounds so "Norman Rockwell"! I bet in some ways it is nice and in some ways everyone gets on each other's nerves. My parents took jobs away when my brother and I were babies so we got to see our grandparents in the summer and again at Christmas (most years). So, it seems normal to me. We don't suffer or anything bc of this - we have an awesome support network of great friends and babysitters. Our kids do know their relatives very well though. Once a year they go stay with grandparents for a few days without us. (ok, this has only happened 2ce but that is bc they are young and it's a great new tradition). Once a year we try to have a "family reunion" at a beach house or at someone's house. We google video chat. Our son loves to call and chat w his grandparents and aunts and uncles. We send mail/care packages back and forth.

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