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Backroads

How close should extended family be?

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Warning: This turns into a lot.

Despite the atrocity that is the Utah housing market, Husband and I, both separately, have often felt the notion to move. It's a conversation that comes up and now and then. At this time, no serious actions have been made, but it's a thing.

We happened to mention it in earshot of my parents once. They were both upset, with my mother later contacting me and begging me not to move.

We live a couple of blocks from my parents and, while it certainly has its perks, there are some issues. 

To jump right into a major thing, my mother has expressed the concept multiple time that she is Grandmother and therefore running the family. 

In the best of things, she loves having very regular (think weekly to biweekly) gettogethers. She loves having the kids and grandkids over at her house. Again, at it's best, her desire is to have a nice, close-knit family.

When it's not at its best, it's kind of suffocating. A brother and a sister live over an hour away, and this has never sat right with her. She likes being in the know and, honestly, butting into marriages. I've worked at putting up some boundaries with her, which largely have worked, but I don't know if she fully understands or likes them yet. At its worst, I don't always feel like an independent adult, but someone who gave her grandkids for photographs to share with her friends.

While in many ways I recognize the perks and good times of being so close to family, I often am jealous of those who live farther away from their family of origin.

I think having a close extended family is a good thing, but at what point does the extended family overshadow the family a husband and wife have built?

 

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1 minute ago, Backroads said:

my mother has expressed the concept multiple time that she is Grandmother and therefore running the family. 

Whether she’s right or not, is solely, 100% up to you.  It’s not her choice to run the family, it’s your choice to let her run yours.

 It’s always easy to give advice from this far away from the situation, so here’s my advice: If such things are sort of a news flash to you, then you’re still a certain part dependent child.  Move away, visit occasionally, have them over occasionally.  After a year of distance, you’ll look back to the days when your mom still ran so much of your life, and you’ll see how much you have grown.

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3 minutes ago, Backroads said:

my mother has expressed the concept multiple time that she is Grandmother and therefore running the family.  
 

By "the family" you mean her family, right? I believe that once you're married, your spouse and children are your family. The rest are relatives.

If she means your family too then....R-U-N.  lol

At the end of the day, it is a decision between you and your husband. No one else. Don't feel pressured, generally relatives want you to do things to satisfy whatever needs they have with little consideration about how YOU feel. Do what is best for your and your family.

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20 minutes ago, Backroads said:

Despite the atrocity that is the Utah housing market,

Just curious, have you ever lived outside of Utah before? Outside of Utah as a couple? Outside as a family?
Life out in the 'mission field' has many wonderful benefits.

I agree with others, it is 100% up to you and your family. No. One. Else. Not even Momma Bear.
Some of my better relationships are with family who live away from us.
My son, now on his mission, values his family tremendously - hah!

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21 minutes ago, Backroads said:

Warning: This turns into a lot.

Despite the atrocity that is the Utah housing market, Husband and I, both separately, have often felt the notion to move. It's a conversation that comes up and now and then. At this time, no serious actions have been made, but it's a thing.

We happened to mention it in earshot of my parents once. They were both upset, with my mother later contacting me and begging me not to move.

We live a couple of blocks from my parents and, while it certainly has its perks, there are some issues. 

To jump right into a major thing, my mother has expressed the concept multiple time that she is Grandmother and therefore running the family. 

In the best of things, she loves having very regular (think weekly to biweekly) gettogethers. She loves having the kids and grandkids over at her house. Again, at it's best, her desire is to have a nice, close-knit family.

When it's not at its best, it's kind of suffocating. A brother and a sister live over an hour away, and this has never sat right with her. She likes being in the know and, honestly, butting into marriages. I've worked at putting up some boundaries with her, which largely have worked, but I don't know if she fully understands or likes them yet. At its worst, I don't always feel like an independent adult, but someone who gave her grandkids for photographs to share with her friends.

While in many ways I recognize the perks and good times of being so close to family, I often am jealous of those who live farther away from their family of origin.

I think having a close extended family is a good thing, but at what point does the extended family overshadow the family a husband and wife have built?

I agree with your mother. I agree with you more, but I think your mother has the kernel of a true idea that she doesn't quite comprehend or know how to bring about. I wish I could tell her, or better yet, show her.

What will a family look like in Zion, in the celestial kingdom? Parents will not "control" their adult children. Parents will instead glory in the adult nature of their children, in their maturity and ability to handle situations even (or especially) when the adult children's handling of a situation is different from how the parent would have approached it. But make no mistake, parents will interact intimately with their children, even as adults. They will be much closer than best friends, but with the added intimacy of being father and son or mother and daughter, or any permutation thereof. It will truly be heaven.

Your mother senses this at some level. She may have an intellectual picture of what she thinks things will look like. Maybe she just feels sadness over the possibility of losing her precious daughter's presence, and wants to hold her children close and help them. That, too, is an outgrowth of the idea of a true family community. Your mother's problem is the problem all of us have in this state; namely, that we're mortal. This is not heaven, not yet. It is our duty to bring about heaven—but that is not something that is accomplished overnight, or in a week, or truth be told even in a single lifetime. It is a distant goal we work toward.

To tell you what no one actually needs to say: You must do what is best for your husband and yourself, for your children, and for your parents and siblings, pretty much in that order. That risks hurting your mother's feelings, which is too bad. (Really, it is too bad. Truly regrettable.) But such are the hard choices that adults must make.

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7 minutes ago, Vort said:

What will a family look like in Zion, in the celestial kingdom? Parents will not "control" their adult children. Parents will instead glory in the adult nature of their children, in their maturity and ability to handle situations even (or especially) when the adult children's handling of a situation is different from how the parent would have approached it. But make no mistake, parents will interact intimately with their children, even as adults. They will be much closer than best friends, but with the added intimacy of being father and son or mother and daughter, or any permutation thereof. It will truly be heaven.

Your mother senses this at some level. She may have an intellectual picture of what she thinks things will look like. Maybe she just feels sadness over the possibility of losing her precious daughter's presence, and wants to hold her children close and help them. That, too, is an outgrowth of the idea of a true family community. Your mother's problem is the problem all of us have in this state; namely, that we're mortal. This is not heaven, not yet. It is our duty to bring about heaven—but that is not something that is accomplished overnight, or in a week, or truth be told even in a single lifetime. It is a distant goal we work toward.

I love this notion and truly seems an ideal worth valuing and working towards.

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12 minutes ago, NeedleinA said:

Just curious, have you ever lived outside of Utah before? Outside of Utah as a couple? Outside as a family?
Life out in the 'mission field' has many wonderful benefits.

I agree with others, it is 100% up to you and your family. No. One. Else. Not even Momma Bear.
Some of my better relationships are with family who live away from us.
My son, now on his mission, values his family tremendously - hah!

I have lived for times in both Idaho and Washington. We've only lived in Utah as a couple. I think our most recent "moving dream" was Montana.

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Healthy relationships include healthy boundaries.  

How much physical distance than involves is entirely up to you & your hubby.  

Some relationships are able to live physically very close and maintain those healthy boundaries (my brother-in-law is that way).  Others (like with my mom) having some physical distance helps out.  I live 2.5 hours from my family, so we can visit for a weekend, but no one is showing up unannounced for dinner -- I like that, and it makes for a much better relationship with my folks than when I lived in the same town.  

 

 

A super-simple-example of this: up until I was 32 years old, any time I would visit my mother and stay at her house (because I don't live close by), towards the end of the visit she would walk into my room (against my express permission), collect all of the dirty laundry, and take it upstairs to wash it with all of the extended family's.  THIS DROVE ME BONKERS!!!  I'm an adult: I can wash my own clothes!  And would like to do so in my own home where I don't have to figure out who's socks are who's! (And inevitably getting it wrong and accidently taking somebody else's clothes).    Despite my years of protests, she would always do this-- meaning well and trying to be helpful.  It to a LOT of convincing to get her to stop and respect my request in this regard.

Conversely, my brother-in-law loves it when his mom does his laundry.... It's just a different relationship.  

 

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49 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

Conversely, my brother-in-law loves it when his mom does his laundry.... It's just a different relationship.  

Show me a man who doesn't want someone else to do his laundry, and I'll show you...a woman...

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Full disclosure - I can easily see a totally happy couple, doing everything God wants of them, still deeply, deeply intertwined in a very close extended family of siblings/aunts/uncles/cousins, with one elderly matriarch pulling the strings.  

Some people really love a Marnie running the show.

 

 

 

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What's said is that some of the stuff Marnie says makes a lot of sense.

Lest I sound like a total nutcase, a lot of this wanderlust has nothing to do with family, more like the adventure of living in a new place. Just would like to daydream about this without guilt.

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I remember laughing at the Marnie letter, but I've always felt she was pretty much savaged without real cause. On rereading the letter, it's very picky, almost anal-retentive, but it's not offensive. She wants stuff to be stackable, so says no aluminum foil. I can grok that. On the video, she seems like a woman who probably has a well-developed sense of humor, but it's not developed in a manner most of us are familiar with. I bet she's a delightful person if you know her well. I bet God loves her, and probably her family too.

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I think the Thanksgiving letter is a perfect allegory to the OP.

The substance of what each is asking for is not the problem.  It is the method and "A-TI-TOOUUUDDD" with which it is being done.  Just as Marney (BTW, the video is for entertainment only/not real, and I believe the original letter to be merely a caricature of some realities.) had some great ideas and advice, what Gramma Bear wants people to do is a wonderful goal.  But the force behind it without mutual consent is what is creating the tension.

Before I moved to Texas, we had a very close knit extended family.  It worked because everyone understood boundaries.  We got together for things we all mutually agreed would be in our best interest.  We shared responsibilities.  We took turns with hosting activities.  And if someone opted out one day (or many) for whatever reason, we didn't butt into each others' lives to see why.  We all benefitted from the experience such that we all looked forward to the activities.  We really were a Norman Rockwell painting.

I think this is what Gramma Bear wants to have.  But she is taking the method of shoe-horning in order to make the dream a reality.  That ends up being more of a disturbed slumber.

The dream needs to grow organically.  And it has to be with mutual ideals & goals.  It doesn't happen because one person is going to force everyone into a gilded cage of Utopia.

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