Q. My parents have never liked my husband much and don’t really make a secret of it. It wouldn’t matter that much except that they want us to travel up to their house (about 45 minutes, usually heavy traffic) to see them at least twice a month. They claim driving is too hard for them (they are in their mid-sixties and active). While my husband doesn’t always go, I don’t like going up alone and it cuts into our weekend time together. The kids don’t enjoy it either and would rather play with friends.
A. One of the developmental tasks of adulthood is to differentiate from our family-of-origin. That means that at some point you become your own person with your own priorities, likes and needs. Your parents are treating you like you are still their dependent daughter instead of the grown woman you are. Differentiating can be difficult because it means your parents are not going to be happy that you are changing the way things have been.
My guess is you already know the answer to this question but aren’t looking forward to doing it. This is entirely understandable but your parents are not entitled to a twice-monthly visit at your expense, no matter how much they want to see the kids. You say they are active which means driving for an hour isn’t too much to ask.
The best way to approach this is to be honest. Tell them that not only do the kids have activities that they can't miss but it is also breaking up your family time. Suggest that once a month they drive down and the next month you will drive up. If you feel you should see them more often, offer to drive up once each month. If they balk, and they will, don’t say anything else; just repeat what you have already said. In fairness, they may not have ever thought about this from your perspective. If you don’t mind them coming down twice a month, then you certainly can suggest that. Or, you can suggest that they drive down for one of the children’s activities mid-week. The important thing is that you don’t want to be resentful of them and you will be if you continue much longer with the current arrangement. Unless your husband is a total shmuck, they will get used to him and respect you more for sticking up for your needs and those of your family.