can i take my family overseas away from elderly grandparents?

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starsandstripes
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can i take my family overseas away from elderly grandparents?

Postby starsandstripes » Thu May 21, 2020 4:28 pm

I am hoping that there may be some ex pats or ex pat returners on this site who might be able to help me.

I am married with three young children who are all at primary school. I work for a bank and in January I was asked if I would be prepared to take a role in the US. This sounded a pretty exciting opportunity for us as a family and as I am the main breadwinner I accepted.

There have been a few delays for obvious reasons and so we only told our families a short while ago when we were certain the move would happen.

Mine were very happy for us but my in laws who are older are extremely upset about us going. They have started saying things like 'we will only see you six or seven more times before we die'

It is now starting to affect my husband's desire to move and I am starting to feel very guilty about taking my family away.

Is seeing elderly relatives a couple of times a year enough? Am I being selfish in putting a job before elderly family. If anyone has been through the ex pat move and would be happy to share what it's really like from a long distance family perspective I would be very grateful. Stay well everyone.
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chorister
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Re: can i take my family overseas away from elderly grandparents?

Postby chorister » Thu May 21, 2020 5:59 pm

This may not be a very helpful answer, but there has been a lot of talk about whether the COVID crisis is maybe providing people with the opportunity to re-think their priorities.  Do you really need the additional income / standard of living that would presumably come with your new job?  Won't it be disruptive to your children's schooling, let alone upsetting your in-laws?  What does your husband see as his future in the USA?  How would you feel if you were in the USA right now, with your extended family in the UK?

This is not meant to be in any way judgmental, but it may be a while before you have such an opportunity to re-think what you and your family really want out of life.
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windmill26
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Re: can i take my family overseas away from elderly grandparents?

Postby windmill26 » Thu May 21, 2020 6:06 pm

Do you as a family see your in-laws often? 
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Southfieldsmun
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Re: can i take my family overseas away from elderly grandparents?

Postby Southfieldsmun » Tue May 26, 2020 6:22 am

Hi there,

Congrats on the job offer and the fact that it’s still in place following this weird time. I just wanted to say that although we as a family have never been ex pats, I instigated a year long trip around the world for me, my husband (Only child) and 3 kids (7, 3 and 2). It caused all manner of problems and guilt trips from my in laws. They are not the adventurous types and haven’t ever left the area where they were born so it was a completely alien concept and all they could focus on was how they wouldn’t see the kids, that it would be bad for them, that we wouldn’t remember to put sun cream on them and that blonde children are apparently statistically more likely to be kidnapped around the world (one of the more bizarre reasons not to go). We invited them to join us in one country for Christmas half way round which they did but it was still just negativity, misery, guilt trips and point blank refusing to discuss anything to do with the trip. My family on the other hand were very happy and excited for us. We also decided to move out of London on our return which has also been met with disappointment and negativity. They don’t like change. It’s 30 mins further for them to drive to see us.

Anyway it’s not quite the same thing as we did have a return date (although could well have decided to stay in NZ) but my point is that my husband and I saw both the Round the World Trip and the move to the country as opportunities for our kids and their future which I would always prioritise over those of my in laws and also my own parents. My husband feels pretty guilty about it because his mum in particular is good at emotional blackmail. It sounds harsh but if it’s something you want/need to do for/with your family, you should follow your dream. Imagine doing this when there was not much air travel, FaceTime, etc.

Whilst I can understand their sadness, I think it’s pretty low to use emotional blackmail to try to make you stay for them.

I hope it resolves itself soon in the best way for everyone involved.
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Londongardener
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Re: can i take my family overseas away from elderly grandparents?

Postby Londongardener » Tue May 26, 2020 7:07 am

I agree with Southfieldsmum. When I left the UK to work in Europe (admittedly not as geographically far as the US but in the days before Zoom/Skype) my family were not happy - comments about never seeing me again etc but you have to live your own life, just as your relatives have done for themselves. It sounds like your elderly relatives may well be frightened of the change in circumstances but they’ll soon get used to the new routine of regular Skype calls and post-Lockdown they should be able to travel out to see you too. My family came to love coming to see me and in the end I was away for 6 years doing a job I loved and the experience has stayed with me ever since. I say go for it!
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nairobi365
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Re: can i take my family overseas away from elderly grandparents?

Postby nairobi365 » Tue May 26, 2020 7:29 am

I come from an ex pat family and for many generations the parents were in different far-off countries from their adult young and then grandchildren. We were actively encouraged to move abroad and look to ourselves first. This meant that I grew up with no extended family (am 70 now). I always longed for a grand mother!
When I married and had my own children, we carried on the pattern and on one move when my eldest was 2 years old, we had an extended time near my in-laws in the UK. There was a large, active extended family in the area. My husband had a wonderful job coming up in California and we were aware that we could permanently settle which would mean the children growing up without relatives. We decided not to move and I've never regretted it. There are so many amazing memories and my adult children belong in an extended family, even the members they see seldom.
On the sadder side, my parents remained and died in Africa: lovely to visit but tore my heart apart as they got old and needed more active help from a family member - not just carers. My children have few deep memories about them. For me, their end-life was very painful as I was a single parent with 3 children and couldn't just drop everything and go. I had a job too.
I now have 2 grandchildren 10 miles away and couldn't live in another country. Pre lockdown (!) I looked after them once a week and love it. That will resume hopefully soon!
Alot of choices involved and I think this pandemic has raised alot of awareness. I don't judge your decision at all. It is a very hard one and I wish you well.
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Janet14
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Re: can i take my family overseas away from elderly grandparents?

Postby Janet14 » Tue May 26, 2020 7:39 am

I agree with previous posters that you should do what’s right for you. They will also be judging you from their life experience and I suspect haven’t travelled as much so see it in much more dramatic terms. In fact the States is not that far (although you don’t mention which side!) and it would be very easy for them to come and visit. I often find you make more effort and see people more when you are abroad/it’s not as easy hence lockdown making us get in touch more via zoom etc.
I’d also like to think they’d feel terribly guilty if you gave up on the opportunity because of them! Could your parents possibly call them up and casually mention how excited they are for you and maybe reassure them?
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falla
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Re: can i take my family overseas away from elderly grandparents?

Postby falla » Tue May 26, 2020 7:56 am

In a way it doesn't matter what your in-laws think; I'd be more concerned by the fact that your husband is worried about the move. Having moved out of the UK and moved back, one of our major issues was that my husband wasn't happy - and he was very happy to go in the first place. It magnified every single problem we had while we were away and made it very hard for both of us and our family. As in your case, it was *my* move so I felt responsible for everything that went wrong and felt I'd sold my children a dream that didn't work out for any of us. It caused me a lot of guilt. We came back very quickly and it was a terrible experience (which is not to say yours would be; I'm just saying that was how it panned out for me.).

Your in-laws have concerns but I'd be very surprised if that was the only underlying reason why your husband is dragging his feet. Does he have a job? What would he do in the US? How would you manage without having a support system of friends and family? What happens to your career if you don't take the job? Is the main draw the money or is there more to it? Can you revisit the decision in a few years or is it a now-or-never opportunity? Set the excitement aside for a minute and think about what you're leaving behind as well as what problems you might meet in the US.

I think your in-laws have been very brave to voice their doubts so try not to resent them for it. If you decide not to go, you may be surprised to hear from your parents that they are relieved too. They want what's best for you, and you have to decide what that is - but do take everyone and everything that's involved into your calculations. A move is not a bad thing in itself and neither is ambition but it's a lot easier to try these things at different points in our lives and this may not be the right time for you and those around you.
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SAmum
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Re: can i take my family overseas away from elderly grandparents?

Postby SAmum » Tue May 26, 2020 8:01 am

Just wanted to post some reassurance from someone who is raising a young family away from their parents.

Both my brother and I ended up living in the UK and raising our children here. It is really tough on my mum being so geographically far from us but we make it work. If you can get them a phone with Whatsapp or an iPad and manage a weekly video call with them, it really helps keep you connected. To be honest, we do this with both the grandparents in the UK and SA. Our kids and my husband FaceTime my in-laws in Oxfordshire over breakfast every Saturday morning. Time zone differences make the scheduling a little trickier but if you can find a time that works and stick to it - it really keeps everyone well connected.

Another thing to consider is that a fair portion of your holiday will involve trips home to visit family. These are rarely relaxing and can involve a rigorous schedule of going from house to house visiting people. One way to take the pressure off this is to meet family members on holiday abroad so that you still get to enjoy travel whilst seeing each other. Try to host the grandparents for at least a week in the US every year too.

Every family is different and we haven’t always managed this level of contact over the 15 years I’ve been away. These suggestions are based on the amount of contact we have in years where I feel like we’re seeing enough of each other.

With technology, it has never been easier to stay in touch. We set up a Whatsapp group for both sets of grandparents and I regularly post updates and pics / videos of the kids on there. My mom often tells me how much it means to her to feel so involved in what’s going on in their lives and the in laws have been able to form friendships over the years on this group.

Only you can decide whether this is the right move for your family. Think it’s important to remember how positive you all felt about the move before sharing your decision.

It really isn’t like 70 years ago when my gran jumped on a boat to SA from England and sailed for three months to get there - never to see or speak to her parents again! Depending on which cost you’re at, your husband can be back in the UK by the next day if they urgently need him. Hope this info reassures you all.

Good luck - it sounds really exciting! X
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KarenNY
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Re: can i take my family overseas away from elderly grandparents?

Postby KarenNY » Tue May 26, 2020 8:43 am

I was an expat in London and am now back in the US (couldn’t sleep and the subject of the NVN email caught my attention). My husband and I moved to London From NY pregnant and my parents are elderly and not technology proficient. They tried FaceTime while we were there and visited once each year. We, in turn, spent two weeks over there for the couple of Christmases we were there. If your kids already have a relationship with them, then it will be easy for them to have Saturday morning FaceTimes and the times they visit will be fun. You can even meet up somewhere like Disney in Florida, or A beach town or somewhere and create great memories.
My husbands mother retired in India and my kids still have a long distance relationship with her. They haven’t seen her in a year but speak each week on FaceTime over breakfast. It’s different than what I had with my grandparents but many people grow up with grandparents in a warm climate or a few hours away. The US isn’t as far as they maybe feel (minus the current covid).
On the flip side, my father just passed away during the pandemic and I am glad I was back in NY to be there.
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Bubs
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Re: can i take my family overseas away from elderly grandparents?

Postby Bubs » Tue May 26, 2020 9:02 am

Congrats on the job offer!

We lived in SW11, two children and moved last year to Switzerland for work. Admittedly not as far as the US. My sister-in-law however was in the US for many years with her two children. So one side of the family are used to the overseas grandchildren - and were happy we weren’t too far, and happy to have new places to explore.

Some of my own family were less happy. But, we hardly saw them anyway in the UK (so that plays a large part in how much weight I gave to their complaints) and actually since we’ve been they love it here. Absolutely blown away when they came over, so there’s the enforced widening of their world too.

We took the job as for our children it’s a huge experience, new language, new experiences. And we really aren’t far.

When my niece and nephew were in the US though it still worked. We would visit every year, we would meet up places and spend summers together. Grandparents would go out for long periods and actually be more useful and hands-on when they were there.

And I think it’s good for that generation to have a reason to bust out of their comfort zone and travel a little. If at all possible.

Having the funds available for the grandparents to fly over would be another consideration. We had much “on our retirement income ....” type guilt trips so have paid for some flights and whatnot.

I think really hammer home the life experiences for the children. It’s key. And also for you/your spouse ..... it’s injected a little life into us too. Much as we miss London a huge amount and all our friends there.

(Another bonus .... trips back/lads/girls weekends because you’re missing your friends. I’ve flown back a few times now, solo, and had a blast).

I say do it! It’s given me such perspective on who and what is important to me. And that’s not saying grandparents aren’t, but I think it’s an eye opener for all - in a good way.

Nothing is forever!
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expatkid
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Re: can i take my family overseas away from elderly grandparents?

Postby expatkid » Tue May 26, 2020 9:44 am

Hi,

I am an expat kid. My dad is a banker and his entire career has been overseas. It caused him and my mum a lot of pain being away from family, so when we visited (All summer, every year) it was a really special and cherished time.

There will be a conflict either way, whether you go or not.

For my dad it was a necessity to be an expat, for his career and financial reasons and it gave us, his 3 kids, extraordinary opportunities.

1. Explore your motivations to go (financial? career progression? Opportunities for kids etc.)
2. What are your prospects if you don't go?
3. Imagine you stay back.. how will that make you feel? Regret? Ok? Bitterness?

Also, why not make sure you get a big place out there and invite them to and your parents to stay for extended periods of time.

Being an expat takes a bit of cancelling the emotionality of decisions out and focussing on your core goals.

Good luck!
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Vista321
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Re: can i take my family overseas away from elderly grandparents?

Postby Vista321 » Tue May 26, 2020 9:54 am

Will you only get 2 weeks holiday whilst working for a US bank? Not much to manage trips back to see family. Try and negotiate more if possible, if you do decide to go. Ps a key consideration for me would be your kids schooling. Personal opinion, but I would be much less inclined to move older children than younger ones. Good luck with your decision
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MMum
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Re: can i take my family overseas away from elderly grandparents?

Postby MMum » Tue May 26, 2020 10:04 am

Hi,

Congratulations on the job offer! I live in Australia with my husband and 2 young kids. There is a huge British expat community here and I think everyone would agree there are pros and cons of making the move, but overall it's well worth it.

Like others have said, consider the reasons for the move and the pros and cons of both going and staying. It's always going to be tough being away from family but with facetime, free overseas phone calls, so many flights available (except right now!), it's very manageable to stay in regular contact. It's also always possible to quickly fly home if you need to.

For us being here, we feel that we have a much better lifestyle and it's much better for bringing up the kids. That obviously depends on overall circumstances though.

Also, if you make the move, the worst case scenario is that it doesn't work out and you move back. At least you gave it a try but if you don't try you'll never know.
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sgmitch
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Re: can i take my family overseas away from elderly grandparents?

Postby sgmitch » Tue May 26, 2020 11:42 am

Congrats! Yes, a difficult decision. We are Americans and lived in UK for four years with ideas of hopefully settling. One advantage I will offer is that when family is around the corner you see them all the time but can take it for granted. When you have to fly 8 hours to see them, you often stay longer and really enjoy the time. When we visit our family in the US we really get to spend a lot of time together and do different things and have deeper conversations than we might if we had to rush home Sunday afternoon to get ready for work the next day. Yes, we miss the regular contact though. There are pros and cons of course.
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