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The Distance Dilemma

With a family vacation including a family reunion on the cusp of my plans, it has me thinking a lot about how close is too close and how far is too far.

Growing up I didn’t live close to cousins. Not that it made much of a difference, my eldest cousin is 10 years younger than me.

My grandmother and grandfather did live close for awhile. My grandmother lived just a city away from us in Georgia, I remember visiting her place, and her being there for my first day of Kindergarten, sometimes she’d pick me up from school. I imagine that must have been nice for my mom. But she and my grandfather moved West when I was still in elementary school.

My husband had the opposite experience. Most of his live he lived in the same county as most of his cousins. They all grew up together and had family get-togethers often.

When I first met his extended family–Exactly five years ago, it was quite overwhelming. It seemed like millions of screaming kids were running swarming all over the place. He didn’t even know all of their names. I thought I’d never memorize his eight aunt and uncle’s names… But after about a year I had their names, and their spouses names down.

I was never really turned on to the idea of living that close to so much family. Siblings and parents–Sure. But being an earshot away from a millions cousins? I wasn’t so sure. After living near that for a few years, and now being away from that while thinking of having kids I’m getting a little sad thinking that our kids won’t be near any of their grandparents.

Will my kids not get the same spoiling our siblings will because we live further away? Who will we trust to babysit our child? Will being too close be smothering? Will the benefits actually outweigh the downsides to the location?

I wouldn’t want to put the burden of watching our kids on anyone who doesn’t want to… But I imagine family wouldn’t mind as much as others. Especially not grandparents.

I do believe there is such a thing as “too close.” But that hasn’t ever been a problem I worry too much about. Living a few hours away is nice because you’re close enough for weekend trips, but gar enough away to avoid the “drop in.”

I often find myself wondering if it’s worth it to move closer to family to get those benefits, or if we’ll make our own close friends–Like family, wherever we are, and have the same bond. Besides… I wasn’t close to my family most of my life, and I made it just fine.

What do you think? Do you live close to family? Why or why not?


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PS: Amidst my family reunion plans, I’ll be taking a tiny break from my personal blog updates. I’ll still be around, and perhaps have time for an update or two, but I’m planning something a little different and fun for all of you.

The week of a 6th I’ll have a giveaway a day. I’m still working out the details but right now I have more than 20 sponsors. I’m hoping to get about 25, so if you know of someone who has a small business or makes things they’d like to have promoted here, have them holla at me at babymakingmachine{at}gmail.com.


I live like 3hrs from my family and 2hrs from MIL. we have some family 30min away but not super close family and not the kind you would call for help or anything. I wish I lived closer… I say it all the time, I love my family my mom MIL and sis are some of my BFF’s.

We had to go where the job was and this is where it was and IS.

Have fun, Can’t wait for giveaways! I have one too!!!

Enter to win some burp cloths- http://www.bzzagentroyalty.blogspot.com

Brandy

Jennifer says:

You are right, there is close, then there is TOO close. LOL! Right now, my hubs and I live in a different state from our families because of our jobs (we moved here because of my job, initially, before I lost it). My dad happens to live in Vegas, too, and so do a couple cousins, so we haven’t been deprived of familial relationships altogether. But the family we’re really close too, they all live in California. We’re contemplating leaving here sooner rather than later, but whether or not it’s back to California is another matter.

We had to move to Tyler, which is about 2 hours away from Dallas where all of my family lives. My husband is from Chicago, so we are pretty much no where near his family. I think living close would be nice. To have family around, see the little one growing up, BABYSITTERS, etc. I wouldn’t want them so close that they are practically living in the backyard over all of the time. But since we are about to have our first, I don’t think I would mind so much. Any help would be welcomed.

We’ve already been planning our first vacation. Next June, it’s already booked. It’s a year away, but I’m already excited!

Lyndsey says:

I guess we like living as far away as possible from family. We lived within 2 hours of Nick’s family when I had Kaius, but we decided to travel the country when he was only 6-7 weeks old. Ever since, we’ve been too far away for anyone to help us out with the baby. Honestly, I prefer it this way…It makes our current visit with the family MUCH more fun. It also helps to keep family in line. They know that they don’t see us very often, so they are WAY less likely to say anything against our parenting philosophy since they just want to enjoy their visit with us.

I live about 15 minutes away from my mum, but a few hours drive away form my siblings. I have never been that bothered about it, but since getting pregnant I am very glad i live so close to mum… she’s my voice of reason, and dad is my sholder to cry on. I wish my sisters were closer, but not too close as we are all very different. Mr’s family live 4/5 hours away…. so for me it’s perfect, but I suspect he’d like them closer. I also suspect that in the next few years (once MIL retires) they will move closer as I think they want to see our daughter grow up. MIL is quite overbearing, so I am glad she’s far away, that’s not to say I dont love her, I just know that she would critise a lot, although she wouldn’t mean in nastily.

Jeez, I am rambling. I’ll stop now 🙂

Jenn says:

Our entire family is in California and Washington state and we are in Ohio. It wasn’t as bad before we had our daughter, but now, I’d give anything to live near my parents. We’re hoping to make it closer to the west coast in two years when hubby is done with his training and joins a practice somewhere. I can’t wait to live near my family again.

Since we moved to AZ, I’ve thought a lot about this. Thankfully, I still have some cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandma near by. So when I want to see them, I can. And we plan on moving back to GA in a year, so our kids will be near their grandparents from either very young, or maybe even born there. But I still want to be far enough away that family has to call to come over, not just stop by.

We are 100 miles exactly from my parents. it’s an hour and a half drive, so if we needed them, they’d be here, but they don’t just pop in all the time. It’s the perfect distance in my opinion!!

Goldibug says:

I lived away from my family for two years and thought it would be the greatest thing in the world. I was half wrong. I missed my husband’s family so badly that the thought of forclosure on my home doesn’t bother me. I just wanted to be closer and now I am. I was only a few hours away but that still was too far for me. I enjoy being that far from my family but my family isn’t quite as enjoyable to be around as my in-laws are. My kids not only get spoiled more but they are also creating memories with grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles and cousins that would otherwise be unobtainable. I don’t care what I have to give up if it means we can continue to have strong family bonds without the long distance. It does help A LOT that we all respect each others privacy on all matters. The only time our opinions are let known is when they are asked for or if its a matter of someone’s health. Being with a large family is great as long as there is respect for each other.

Sharyl says:

I have about 55 cousins on my mother’s side alone. Most of them live within an hour of each other in NY (with a few out-of-the-country and west coast exceptions). My mom grew up with 12 of her 17 brothers and sisters–so we are used to a big/involved/crazy family. I, on the other hand, don’t mind being far away from all that craziness. I love them all, but its a little much. Its fun being close to C’s family, but I am looking forward to moving to Atlanta and being outside of the circle a little. However, I agree with you that it would be nice for grandparents to be closer for babysitting/spoiling of future offspring. Oh well, I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it…

Marly says:

I grew up about 45 minutes from my dads family and 2 hours from my moms mom, and farther from most her family. My dads family all lived really close to each other and it would be awkward when we would get together because a lot of the cousins were friends with each other and I was left out. Most were 2 or 3 years older or younger than me. I mostly just hung out with my aunts.

We just moved last week and now live 30 minutes from my family, before it was 45 and I loved it. We lived close enough to get together every so often but not the obligation for Sunday dinner. I like having just my little family. Its the same with my husbands family, they live 30 minutes away and we get together every so often.

With babysitting, honestly it might be Utah, but we don’t have close friends. Most just depend on their families and not on each other. I can’t really depend on my family because my brothers has them watch his kids A LOT and my mom is kind of babysat out. We ask maybe once a year and that always seems like too much. We just have dates at night after the kids are in bed or we go places with the kids. It’s worked for us though.

Tamara says:

Eh, the family thing is a pretty prickly subject for us. We lived close to my husband’s family for a year and a half and didnt really see them as much as we thought we would. My family is spread all over the country. If we HAD to move closer to family, i’d move closer to my family, but i would hate it, lol. Hubby and I are pretty private people, even when it comes to our families, so having them hover over us as we get the hang of being parents sounds like the least fun thing I can think of lol.

Tracey says:

I have always lived next to family and I always plan to. I lived in NH for 22 years with my folks and near 2 sisters. I moved to NM to be near another sister and my folks live here now. I am the youngest of 8 children and we are spread out across the country a bit but we try to see each other often.

I am perfectly happy living away from my husband’s family. There are just too many of them! He is one of six and there are at least 12 kids(if not more,I can’t keep count). But it would be nice to have our family closer – we are in the South and our family is in the NOrth. Babysitting is difficult – we have one sitter, my cousin who is in college here. My other sitter is my mother, she comes down whenever I travel.

Sarah says:

It would be nice to be close to family when you have kids but when you don’t it’s kinda annoying. We lived in CA a year ago and recently moved across the country to GA, where we used to live. We now live 2 hours away from my in laws and they seem to be annoyed if we don’t call or visit often. When my in-laws lived in NC and we lived in GA it was good b/c it wasn’t too far that we couldn’t drive up in an evening but it was far enough away that we couldn’t justify going there more than 4 times a year. I would prefer to be close to my mother when we do have children but a MIL is still ok. I’m just glad to be back on the East Coast and nearer to family then we were.

Jessica says:

I have always been close to my family and I absolutely love it! I’ve heard so many people say that it’s neat to see me grow up around my cousins and that they wish they would have. But, I think it just varies. Some people like it, some people don’t.

I’m sure that doesn’t help though. 🙂

I think it has a lot to do with boundaries. What are yours? What are theirs? Are you in agreement? It can be as easy to live next door to someone as living thousands of miles away if you have good communication and respect for one another. It can also be a nightmare if you don’t start out with some type of understanding, no matter what the distance.

Michaela says:

We live a little over an hour away from our family. Most days it is a good distance… close enough that we can drive to visit when we want to but not close enough to have to do it daily. There are other times though that we wished we lived further away (like when they nag about not having seen us in forever and it’s only been a few days) or not close enough (like when my husband and I would like to go out, but can’t because we don’t have a sitter).
I don’t think that there is a right or wrong distance. It all depends on the family and what you feel comfortable with.

My family is all close and I love it. My son sees his aunts, uncles and grandparents at least once a week. It’s been wonderful for him to build relationships and even choose favorites so young. It is really nice knowing that when I work I am leaving my son with someone that loves him more than any other babysitter would and my son sees them often enough to feel comfortable while I am gone.

Hubs family is scattered and live further away than we’d like. I wish we lived close to his brother since he is obviously close to his bro and I am close to his bro’s wife. (Not to mention my son and their daughter are only 6 months apart and get along very well.) They live 240 miles away and it seems a bit too far. Then again, I would share a house with them if I could. 🙂

I agree that TOO close is a bad thing. I don’t think distance has much to do with that though. I think that setting boundaries in your relationship with extended family is important to do early on. You won’t have unwelcome visitors pop in if you make it clear that they are welcome, but only when they call first. I live less than 3 miles from my parents and they have never popped by. They always call. They respect our privacy and space (even when we lived with them for a while!) and sure sometimes my mom gives unwelcome advice on parenting, but I just tell her to back off (in a nice way) and she does. I guess healthy communication is the key to success with that one.

Darcel says:

We lived 4 hours from both sides of the family growing up. We hardly saw them at all. We moved from the only family I’ve really known growing up, my church family.

Now we live near my husbands family and we don’t see them that often. They are only 30 mins away!
I think it’s important to remember we all have our own lives, but it also takes work from both sides to keep everything rolling.

Jen says:

I live exactly 8 minutes from my mom. I always thought that she’d take my kids ALL the time, and my husband and I could go out a lot together and grandma would be a babysitter whenever we wanted her to. Turns out..not the case. She take them maybe once a month if we’re lucky.

I like living close, she has her own life so it’s not like she is here ALL THE TIME. I do wish I had more cousins close by especially since we all have kids. But even the ones that do live close we rarely see do to all of us living our own lives.

From lots of unfortunate personal experience you can’t just trust family to watch your kids, so that is something to really think about.

You know your children might be spoiled more just in a smaller span of time, because they are the children the grandparents never get to see ?

Unknown Mami says:

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I grew up surrounded by family. My mother has 12 brothers and sisters. At times it can be smothering and as an adult I chose to move away. Now that I have a daughter I’m torn. I want her to know that she comes from something bigger. There is also something beautiful about seeing her held by family. They hold her differently than others almost like they are making a promise to love her for the rest of her life.

Jennifer says:

I think it really depends on how close a family is and how they get along. For most family I think about 20-50 miles is perfect. Close enough for a nice visit anytime, but not so close it becomes an every day boundary issue.

Kristin says:

I am SO glad that my Mom and sister live so close to me. You’ll never find cheaper or more loving sitters.

Michelle says:

What a great question! I am also torn on this one. We moved across the country to a state where we know almost no one last March. My husband misses Colorado but the distance is a breath of fresh air for me! I like being this far away now but maybe not forever. We were spoiled that hubby and I could travel before and someone could always watch our kids now it is much more complicated. Luckily we have found a reliable teenager who can babysit for date nights and after school for us.

When I was little I lived close to most of my extended family and had a lot of cousins close in age to me. We moved to Colorado when I was 10 and it was just me, my sister, my mom, and my dad. It was nice but I missed the big holiday celebrations and big family gatherings we never got.

When I met hubby all his family lived within about 2 hours of each other in Colorado. Every aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent, not a single person lived outside of Colorado. I was so excited to have a big family to celebrate with. My expectations were let down quickly when I realized most of his family really didn’t know each other or care to get to know each other well. If we saw his family at 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas that was all to be expected. Big families have big drama and appreciate this time to be just us, our family of five!

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a former journalist, and lifelong creator striving to make the world a better place. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day by cherishing our individuality and celebrating our differences.



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