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Thread: Keeping in touch with parents...

  1. #1
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    Keeping in touch with parents...

    As a result of a discussion with friends the other day, I've been wondering how often adult children typically talk with their parents. In my case, my parents lived in another state and I called them a couple of times a month. They never called me. Same with DH. He called his Mom and Dad at least monthly and it was a one-way street, they never called him. I think maybe it has to do with the way our parents were raised. They seem to believe that once their kids are grown then it is the kids responsibility to visit and keep in touch.

    On the other hand, I know a number of people who call their Moms every day, regardless of whether they live far apart or just a mile or two away.

    Of course when a parent is ill, or when you lose a parent and the other is alone, that changes things and certainly did for us. After DH's father passed he talked to his Mom nearly every evening.

    So if you would, please share how you and your parents keep in touch, and how you feel about it. Do you wish they would take the initiative more? Do you wish you would do better and call more often? Or maybe your Mom is like Raymond's on the TV show and calls too often and you don't know how to limit it without hurting her feelings. And does your spouse expect you to do most of the interacting with his or her parents? Are you constantly nagging for him/her to call their Mom?

    I started to do a poll, but it was just too complicated of a question!

    Editing to say, if you are older (like DH) and have grown children, the same question applies. How often do you talk to your grown children. DH used to talk to his daughter several times a week, with both of them doing the calling. If he hadn't heard from her in a few days, then he would call. But sadly, for complicated reasons, they are mostly estranged at this time and neither of them call on any regular basis.
    Last edited by JulieM; 11-04-2009 at 08:37 AM. Reason: adding information

  2. #2
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    My folks have 3 daughters. I am the only 1 that lives far away(5 hours). My sisters live within 45 minuted of my parents.

    I talk to my mom nearly everyday. She usually does the calling but if I do 't hear from her for a few days I feel neglected and call her. My folks have been great about making the effort to visit us, even when they were in NY and we lived in Seattle. They get how much easier for them to come to us than for us(with little kids) to get to them. Now my dad is almost 80 and really starting to slow down and I can tell he really dreads making the trip down here. We will have to be the ones to do the majority of the schlepping I think, and I am cool with that.

    DH talks to his folks every couple of weeks with DH doing more of the calling. His dad is not much of a phone talker so their conversations are pretty brief. They are less inclined to visit us than my parents-they just don't have the need that my mom does to see the grandkids and know everything that is going on in their lives!
    Karen

  3. #3
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    I wish I lived close enough to my parents to see them weekly or more and love when they come visit. I'm not a phone person though and we generally only talk about once every 2 weeks. Sometimes they call, sometimes I do. I only come home (3 hours away) about 2x per year but my parents are fantastic about coming up to visit. They often come up when I am in a play or when DH is doing an exhibit.

    DH doesn't talk to his parents as often. I think it's a self-perpetuating problem...he doesn't call b/c it's always a 1-2 hour conversation but I think the calls are long like that b/c they hardly ever talk. I HATE, HATE, HATE talking on the phone and he knows it so he wouldn't make me the phone contact for his parents.

    We keep both sets of parents updated through photos and videos on Facebook
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  4. #4
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    When I lived in a different state than my parents, I think I would talk to my mother probably once or twice a week. Now that we live in the same town, we see each other more often but we still probably talk at least once a week. It is definitely not a one-way street - sometimes I call; sometimes my mother calls.

    With DH, it is different. He could happily go years without talking to his mother, so it is always his mother calling him. His parents are divorced and he probably talks to his dad at least once a week - his dad calls more often than DH does on calling his dad.

    I think how frequently people talk to their parents may depend quite heavily on the underlying relationship that they have with their parents.
    Sherri

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  5. #5
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    That's a good question.

    My mother is living with my sister since her stroke a few years ago. I talk to them once every 2 weeks, but they never call me. My mother has asked me on occasion "why haven't you called?" which makes me feel guilty. (My mom has always been good with the guilt trips). DH and I have talked about why it is up to me to call and they seldom take the initiative. It's to the point now that if I see my sister's name on the ID I think something is wrong.

    Before DH's mother died he would call her once a week. She was in a nursing facility with Alzheimers and didn't recognize who he was at the end.

    My DS is in Afghanistan right now, but my DIL makes it a point to call me at least once a week. I call her, but she really is diligent about it. Her mother calls her a couple of times a day which annoys her at times.

    We have another son in college who won't return our calls but will call when he needs money.

    It will be interesting to see how others respond to this question.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by hlao23 View Post
    We keep both sets of parents updated through photos and videos on Facebook
    Your parents are either really cool, or really young. I wish we could use Facebook, but Dad spends too much time swearing at the computer & pushing random keys to see if the ads will go away, the typeface will enlarge, the printer will work . . . He's a brilliant chemical engineer but he's 87 and never took my gentle hints to take a computer-skills class at the library. Neither did Mom. So Facebook is out.

    Mom calls almost daily, and always says how much she misses the grandkids. We live 13 miles apart, & they see the grandkids fairly often. When I can (a couple times a week), I'll call my folks just to chat, b/c they really like that & they don't have a heck of a lot going on (I truly wish they had taken up more hobbies & activities as they got older, but they didn't). I'll just put the phone on speaker & do my mindless housework, laundry, etc. so that I can chat with Mom or Dad; I would be OK with fewer calls but they really appreciate them more frequently.
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  7. #7
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    I talk to my mom usually a few times a week. We go in spurts where we talk a lot, and then we might go for a while without talking at all. I have 4 sisters, and I know it takes a lot of time for her to talk to all of them too.

    I talk to my dad only when he happens to answer the phone when I call He isn't much of a phone person, and that's fine.

    DH's parents...I don't know. He could happily go for eons without talking to them, and I know that they talk to his brother every week but they often go 2-3-4 months without talking to us. Whatever.
    “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed
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  8. #8
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    I talk to my parents all the time. I see them all the time. They are two of my bestbestbestbest friends in the whole world. I am so anxious and nerve-wracked over moving cuz of them. I am going to miss them so much, even though I know they will call me all the time. My mom will send me cards and letters in addition to the phone calls. I am sure I will come home to Ohio all the time to see them. I probably see my parents about 4-5 times/week. We hang out together. We have dinner together. We go shopping, grocery shopping, errand-running, whatever together. I make them dinner, they make me dinner. I treasure our relationship, and I think it goes both ways.
    - Josie


  9. #9
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    My goal is to call my dad (age 83) every week, but it usually ends up being every 2 weeks or so. I usually do the calling, although he will call sometimes under the guise of needing to ask me something (about the computer or whatever). We also communicate via e-mail, but those are short and don't really take the place of a conversation. One of my sisters is better, I think, about keeping in contact, and probably calls him twice a week. I also have another sister and a brother, who probably talk to him once a week or so.

    When my mom was living, I was better about calling more frequently, but it was always me who called - mom hated leaving messages on answering machines, and we are away more often than we are home, so she only called if I was being an extremely neglectful daughter and hadn't called in a while.

    It never occurred to me to be annoyed that it was me who has to initiate the call...it just is what it is. I know part of that is because neither of my parents want to be a "bother".

    When DH's dad was living, they only talked every few months.

    DH texts (every 2-3 weeks) with 21-yr old son; rarely a call. Initiated equally by each.

  10. #10
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    I live in a different state from my parents, and I probably talk to them on the phone once a month at the most. They usually call me. I typically only pick up the phone and call if there's a specific reason, rarely to just chat. I'd say the same was true even when I lived 3 hours away, and I didn't see them any more often either (~ once/year). I'm sure if we lived in the same city, we would see them much more often. My brother lives about 30 minutes away and goes over there once a week or every other week for dinner.

    My DH, on the other hand, gets a Sunday call from his parents. EVERY Sunday. They make the phone rounds with all their kids and grandkids, although it seems since they've retired, we get more than just a Sunday call. We probably get a call from DH's parents at least twice a week. And after announcing the baby news, it sure feels like they call ALL the time.

  11. #11
    I'd say I talk to my mom once a week or so, and it varies who calls whom. But we do keep in touch via Facebook and texting, so I'm quite lucky! She also keeps in touch with my kids that way. My dad, not so much. I might talk to him once a month if he answers the phone when I call there, and when we see them (about every 6 weeks or so).

    My husband talks to his mom very sporadically. Sometimes she'll call three times in one week, then we don't hear from her for three weeks. Same with his dad (they're separated). They often call DH's cell phone rather than the house phone too. And they are both the same way about my kids...sometimes they smother, then they separate. It's weird and hard to explain to younger kids!

  12. #12
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    Interesting topic!

    With my parents (who are soon to be divorced): My Dad used to call me once a week, but we've gradually gotten to where it's every other week, normally on a Tuesday night. He's a long distance truck driver, so I never really do know if it's a good time to call him, so I generally let him call me. If he hasn't called me in a while and/or I have something specific I want to talk to him about I will call him. We may talk for 15-30 minutes.

    My mother and I don't have a relationship so we never talk.

    With Mr. Shug's parents (who are long time divorced): Him and his mother will talk every 3-4 weeks, usually on a Sunday evening. There seems to be an equal balance of who is calling who. They will talk for 30 minutes-1 hour.

    With his father, there is "history" there. They were very close and owned a business together. Long story short, Father developed gambling habit, started taking money from business, runs it into ground then dumps it all on his son, who had no idea what his Dad had been doing. They went 8 months without talking to each other after that. Ironically though, it wasn't my husbands choice - it was his Dad who was being a jerk. They finally "reunited" at Thanksgiving that year, and my husband would love for nothing more than to put that all in the past and return to being as close as they were (minus working together), but it's very obvious that that desire is one sided. His Dad has since moved back to Ohio, but even before that, the only time his Dad would call was if he wanted something - his car worked on (for free), borrow our truck, borrow the ladder, etc. Anyhoo, Mr. Shug calls his Dad about every other month. But when they get on the phone they will talk for 2 hours!!!. I had to listen to one of the conversation one time because we were driving back from Michigan, and it was pretty much his father hogging up the conversation and telling him every stupid little thing going on in his life. My husband had called to proudly report he had won a big race, but it was a good 30 minutes into the conversation before he even had a chance to share what was going on in his life. It was given a good minute or so of talk time before back to what was going on in Dear Ol' Dad's life.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jellyben View Post
    She usually does the calling but if I do 't hear from her for a few days I feel neglected and call her.
    Same here, only it's me doing the calling. I get frustrated because it seems that the only time I can ever talk to my mom without waking her up is if i call her at work...when she's too busy to talk. If I can catch her between say, 4 and 7, she *might* be awake, but then it's generally dinnertime (I have a great ability to call right as they're sitting down) or I'm at work. This past week I didn't call at all...was busy with school/work, didn't have a need to. Both Mom and Dad freaked out thinking I was mad at them (because, you know, my life is all about them.) which led to Mom calling me BEGGING me to call her back. At 7 in the morning. When I was not yet up. And then of course, freaking out when I didn't call back RIGHT AWAY. Sigh.

    My father on the other hand generally calls me when he's at the firehouse. I don't often call him because I'm used to getting his machine, pretty much all the time. I really should call him more now that he has a cell phone, I just tend to forget. I haven't heard from him since my cousin's wedding October 10 which is a bit strange, so I'll probably give him a holler soon.
    Erin

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  14. #14
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    Interesting topic!

    With my parents (who are soon to be divorced): My Dad used to call me once a week, but we've gradually gotten to where it's every other week, normally on a Tuesday night. He's a long distance truck driver, so I never really do know if it's a good time to call him, so I generally let him call me. If he hasn't called me in a while and/or I have something specific I want to talk to him about I will call him. We may talk for 15-30 minutes.

    My mother and I don't have a relationship so we never talk.

    With Mr. Shug's parents (who are long time divorced): Him and his mother will talk every 3-4 weeks, usually on a Sunday evening. There seems to be an equal balance of who is calling who. They will talk for 30 minutes-1 hour.

    With his father, there is "history" there. They were very close and owned a business together. Long story short, Father developed gambling habit, started taking money from business, runs it into ground then dumps it all on his son, who had no idea what his Dad had been doing. They went 8 months without talking to each other after that. Ironically though, it wasn't my husbands choice - it was his Dad who was being a jerk. They finally "reunited" at Thanksgiving that year, and my husband would love for nothing more than to put that all in the past and return to being as close as they were (minus working together), but it's very obvious that that desire is one sided. His Dad has since moved back to Ohio, but even before that, the only time his Dad would call was if he wanted something - his car worked on (for free), borrow our truck, borrow the ladder, etc. Anyhoo, Mr. Shug calls his Dad about every other month. But when they get on the phone they will talk for 2 hours!!!. I had to listen to one of the conversation one time because we were driving back from Michigan, and it was pretty much his father hogging up the conversation and telling him every stupid little thing going on in his life. My husband had called to proudly report he had won a big race, but it was a good 30 minutes into the conversation before he even had a chance to share what was going on in his life. It was given a good minute or so of talk time before back to what was going on in Dear Ol' Dad's life. Disclosure: Obviously, I can't stand my FIL

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by avariell View Post
    I talk to my parents all the time. I see them all the time. They are two of my bestbestbestbest friends in the whole world. I am so anxious and nerve-wracked over moving cuz of them. I am going to miss them so much, even though I know they will call me all the time. My mom will send me cards and letters in addition to the phone calls. I am sure I will come home to Ohio all the time to see them. I probably see my parents about 4-5 times/week. We hang out together. We have dinner together. We go shopping, grocery shopping, errand-running, whatever together. I make them dinner, they make me dinner. I treasure our relationship, and I think it goes both ways.
    Josie, I think you are blessed!

  16. #16
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    Back when my parents were healthy, I spoke to them at least once week--they were usually the ones who called.

    Now that my mom is really sick (she is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease), I talk to my dad at least once a day, often more. They live in town now, so I usually see them a few times a week as well.

    DH's parents are younger and healthier--we chat with them about once every two weeks.
    Sara

  17. #17
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    This is interesting...

    Growing up, my mom called her parents every Sunday around 5. We saw my dad's parents every sunday after church for a big lunch and once or twice a week so not so much on the phone.

    My mom and I call each other- usually taking turns but nothing too rigid or planned although I tend to call more- about once a week- more if we have things to talk about less if we are busy. We are talking less often now that she lives with her new friend. I talked to her sunday and talked to her friend for a while- that was very nice.

    DH's mom calls about once a week at home- I usually let him get the phone. I love her dearly but have a hard time talking with her on the phone. She goes on and on with every little detail then changes the topic- I'm lucky to get an occasional uh-huh in- not my idea of a conversation. She used to call DH at work during the week- more when we were first married. We rarely talk to DH's dad on the phone- no particular reason just the ways things are.
    Cheryl

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Meganator View Post
    It never occurred to me to be annoyed that it was me who has to initiate the call...it just is what it is. I know part of that is because neither of my parents want to be a "bother".
    I can totally understand that feeling. I finally learned to communicate by e-mail or let my working children call me. When I called it was often bad timing - "We're having a party", or "We just sat down to dinner." I was brought up to believe that "You never call anyone after 9:00 p.m. unless it is a real emergency."

    They are very good about calling me (sometimes 2-3 times a week), but now I feel better knowing that they are calling at their convenience. Actually, the ones living in this town communicate much less often.
    The cardiologist's diet: - If it tastes good spit it out!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by TieKitty View Post
    Josie, I think you are blessed!
    I know it - I count my lucky stars for my whole family. I have an amazing relationship with all of my siblings too. Obviously you guys get to see how Laura and I interact
    - Josie


  20. #20
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    We only have one living parent - and that's my mom. We do not get along, at all, so we only communicate with each other if it's something important, and then it's through a forwarded email or via my sister. It makes me sad that I don't have a mother who I can be friends with, but under the circumstances I wouldn't have it any other way. I really hope to have a close relationship with our kiddos though.

    ETA - I also have a set of living grandparents and talk to them about twice a month.
    Amy

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  21. #21
    My parents are divorced.

    I live about 2 hours away from my mom and see her about once a month. We communicate (phone or email) a couple of times a week and she always initiates. It's usually to tell me that she bought a pair of new socks or tried a new kind of cheese or something.

    I live about 6 hours from my dad and see him 2-3 times a year. We communicate once every few months, generally to coordinate the next visit. For whatever reason, even though my father and I communicate much more rarely, I would consider myself much closer to him.
    ~Moneypenny~

  22. #22
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    This has varied quite a bit in my life.

    When I was in college and law school, we spoke once a week - initiated by them on a Sunday evening based on a signal to indicate I was available. Long distance was expensive.

    When I lived in the same city after graduating law school, I didn't speak to them much but probably saw them every week or so depending on what was going on in my life.

    When I moved to California, I started speaking to my mother every day but that was chiefly because I had free long distance as a perk of my job so I would wind up calling frequently when I was taking a mental break.

    My father and I speak almost never on the phone now but I see him once a week. We never spoke on the phone though beyond the obligatory how are you -- or if I had a question on cars or plumbing.
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  23. #23
    When I lived in a different city, I talked to my parents at least once a week, and sometimes 5 or 6 times a week, depending on my mood and degree of homesickness.

    My parents always called on Sundays for a weekly check-in. My call usually came in the evening; they used to call my siblings in college on Sunday mornings (I'm sure they loved that!).

    It wasn't until after my dad died that I realized that the weekly calls were always initiated by him. Since his death, my mom only calls when she has a specific reason to call.

    Now that I live in the same town, we usually talk 2-3 times a week. I see her 3-4 times a month, but my husband sees her at least twice a week as she gives him a child care break (he's a stay at home dad) a couple of mornings a week.

    My husband talks to his parents every couple of weeks, and thinks it's wierd that I talk to my family as much as I do!

    mary jo

  24. #24
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    I generally talk to my mother once/week. My father has never been very communicative, and the onset of profound deafness in one ear is an additional factor in not talking to him much. Sometimes I call Mom, sometimes she calls me.

    They never, ever visit - it's a plane ride, sure, but it's not like there are time zone changes and passports involved. It would just never occur to them. They didn't visit for 10 years, and wouldn't have if I hadn't gotten engaged (they met him after the engagement). They haven't been here since my wedding 6 years ago. They really don't visit my grandmother, either, so as much as I dislike the situation for both my grandmother and myself, well, they are who they are and neither she nor I can change them.

    They do visit my sister quite a bit, who lives within a reasonable driving distance (2 hours) and, more importantly (to them), has children.
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  25. #25
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    Interesting topic! Not surprisingly, everyone is all across the board. It's been interesting to read everyone's perspectives

    My Parents
    We live across the country, and they've been divorced for about 25 years. I talk to my Dad about 2 times/year. The call never, ever lasts more than 4 minutes tops. We ask our obligatory 3-4 questions. I try to initiate new stories, share what's going on, etc, and he's not interested. It's a huge stress point for me, and DH has to hear all about it every time. Deep down I know that he loves me & is interested in my life, but he just has no clue how to express it or have a conversation with his adult daughter. It's strange. We're planning a trip to see him in Feb, and I'm already stressing. I have no clue what we will do or say after the first 5 minutes of the visit. Oi!

    I talk to my Mom just a few times each year, as well. But we email all the time. She's a hoot, and tends to go on and on about people I don't know & never will know. And she has a tendency to give surprising amounts of detail about cleaning her house. This is why email is so much better than phone!

    DH's Parents
    They are married, and live about 3 hours away. I adore them both & truly feel like family. We see them about 3-4 times/year. DH talks to them about once/month. Any of them might initiate the call. I haven't noticed a trend either way. We just returned from a vacation to Paris with DH's dad. It was fabulous. I have to admit that my MIL is kind of neurotic & the most anxious & hyper person I know. So visits are best in small doses with her. But, we both really enjoy hanging out with them. DH doesn't ever expect me to initiate calls to his parents, but I will often buy Xmas presents for them, mainly just b/c I'm better at it than DH :-)

  26. #26
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    Interesting thread. I generally talk to my parents once a week - usually on Sundays. We see each other 6 - 7 times a year; we live about 10 hours apart, but they do have a vacation place much closer. So between holidays, a non-holiday trip home, and their visits at the beach, we see each other quite frequently.

  27. #27
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    We mostly write letters back and forth. Occasionally a call, mostly them calling me. We talked this week and I am trying to remember what initiated that. Oh, she called to thank me for something unexpected. Then she called back the next day because she forgot to mention something. This could go on all week And she will have had a letter 3/4 finished detailing everything that we just talked about. It's okay though. I am my mother I'm just seeing my future. Double eek for my DH since we didn't have kids.
    You can't drink rum on the beach all day if you don't start in the morning.

  28. #28
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    My parents are divorced and live 2 1/2 hours away. I talk to both of them several times a week and chat via email with my mom throughout the week as well. I see my dad probably every other month and my mom more often since she's retired and she comes down to see the baby more.

    DH's parents are also divorced and he talks to his dad several times a week (see's him about once a month) and talks to his mom maybe once a week and we see her sunday's at church. We live in the same town as both.

    DH has a grandmother that he talks to several times a week and we see once or twice a week. Always at church and sometimes she'll stop by to see the baby.
    "...having dogs forces us to keep living in places that are right for us. And I think of all the things I might have given up had my dogs not shown me what was important in my life: fresh air, a garden, an eleven-thousand foot mountain in my backyard." - Pam Houston "The Bad Dogs of Park City"

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  29. #29
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    I talk to my mom every day (sometimes multiple times per day)--and my dad will occasionally chime in on our conversations. My parents live about 4 hours from us and we see them, on average, once a month. We would love it if they were closer--the boys hate when they leave.

    My husband's side of the family is in India and we skype them once a week. My FIL died before we married. We are working on getting my MIL over here, but it's been difficult.

    My husband and I agree that it is our responsibility to take care of our parents (they took care of us when we needed them, right?)--so, our house is theirs whenever the need arises (or may be we'll need a bigger house). Thankfully our parents are awesome.

    Our boys are very much attached to the extended family--I hope that continues.

    Greta

  30. #30
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Ulster County, NY
    Posts
    1,548
    Very interesting thread! I love reading all the differences in the responses.

    My deal - My mom and I are close, and would talk several times a week if she were in the States. My parents live in Africa right now, and she calls usually once a week or more. She can call me, I can't call her (complicated international embassy line thing). We usually talk at least once a week - often 2 or 3 times. I rarely talk to my dad, even if he's home at the time she calls. We're not that close, don't have much to say so my mom is the communicator.

    I also email my mom usually every day, and both parents are on facebook so we communicate a little that way.

    DH's family - whoo boy has this been interesting. Before our son arrived, my DH talked to his mom once a week. A check in call - maybe 3-5 minutes tops. Since DS arrived last November, he has (had) to talk to her pretty much every day. If he does not call, she will call. And call again, and start calling cell phones, texts from BIL to please call her will start etc. It drives me insane (especially the repeat calls if no response) but he has tolerated it now for almost a year. Until he gets fed up, I see no recourse.

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