Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My parents want to hang out with my husband and me every weekend, and often invite us to do things far in advance. We enjoy spending time with them, but we need to start turning more of these invitations down to see other people and prepare for our upcoming baby.
How can I politely decline an invitation when I cant give a specific reason? Whenever I turn them down, they ask what well be doing that weekend instead, and they are very sensitive to any impression that were choosing other people over them.
You say, We have other plans, and when they press, you draw a line. Mom/Dad, I love you and enjoy your company. We have friends, though, too, and also need our alone time. If they press even more, then you say, Im happy to make plans with you (your preferred frequency), beyond that our time is spoken for.
That very sensitive says they almost certainly wont take it well, but the longer you put off this reckoning, the worse its going to get.
If there is not a cultural foundation for this expectation in your family, then please consider talking to a good family therapist about drawing boundaries.
Carolyn: Yes, I have been to therapy about my relationship with my parents things were much, much worse for most of my life, with a lot of blowups and silent treatments on their end and tears on mine. Now Im much more able to tell them no. Its not a cultural thing for us, but Im their only child and they dont have any other friends or strong family ties, so I get a lot of focus and pressure. I guess its time for a harder line.
PACKED CALENDAR AGAIN
It is. Im sorry youre in this position. Parents choose to have children, and assume obligations to care for them accordingly. They do not confer obligations to their kids. Certainly thoughtful children come to a sense of gratitude and duty on their own, but its not the parents place to decide the what, when or how.
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