I’m struggling with what to tell my parents when they pester me about why my husband and I don’t bring our two young kids (3 and 5) to visit them more than once or twice a year. We all used to live in the same metro area, but a few months before our first child was born, my parents moved into a luxury full-service retirement facility almost four hours away. It’s so expensive we’ll be lucky if they leave enough to cremate them. And far from enjoying themselves, they do nothing but complain about the demanding and bigoted old rich folks who populate the place.
They accuse me of loving my in-laws more than them. I wouldn’t say that—but my in-laws did help us buy a lovely house with a separate suite, which they moved into when our first child was an infant, to save us the cost of a nanny. They spend quality time with our kids every day and seem genuinely interested in them as individuals. Their plan is to spend only what they need to and leave most of their money to us. (My husband is their only living child; his sister died tragically young.) This may be partly a cultural difference since I’m white and my husband is Chinese American. But we’ve already mutually decided that this is exactly how we want to behave toward our grown children and grandchildren (assuming, of course, that it doesn’t conflict with their wishes).
In contrast, it feels like my parents have decided to prioritize themselves and not invest in future generations, and that this is a continuation of a lifelong pattern. They had six kids seemingly just because they liked babies, losing interest in each of us as we grew old enough to speak our minds. They didn’t help me or my siblings with college; we had to either go into blue-collar work or wait until our mid-20s when we could qualify for loans independently, thus getting a late start in our careers. They didn’t contribute to our homes, weddings, or emergency expenses. Of all six of us, I’m the only one who even has kids, and only because I married someone better off.
So now them wanting to see my kids all the time feels like wanting to have their cake and eat it. Should I communicate this to them? Or keep my petty bitterness to myself and continue to make excuses about the long drive, even as the kids get older and less exhausting to wrangle?