I hate guilt trips! petty family vent

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Posted 4/14/2012 by prettyprettypeas in NSBR Board
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PeaNut 262,876
May 2006
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Posted: 4/14/2012 9:51:42 PM
Here is the story...

My family has never been really close, and ever since my dads passing 9 years ago, it is even worse. I am good friends with my sister, but my mom is very manipulative, plays the martyr etc. I try to only talk to her 1-2 a month, but stay in contact through email and texting. She comes to visit ONE time a year to see my kids, and spends most the time reading or spending money on them. So with that....

My nephew is graduating High School on a Saturday in May. My mom and sister EXPECT my family to come to the graduation. It is in Kansas, I am in California. So tonight I was talking to my mom and she asked if we were coming...I said I am not sure, it depends on what the kids have going on with sports and school.

My daughter has a daddy/daughter dance-her first ever at school that Friday. So we wouldn't be able to fly out till Saturday morning, and then would have to either fly back Sunday or Monday-meaning the kids miss school. Also the tickets for all four of us are about $3000, not to mention the rental car and hotel.

I really don't want to go, and honestly think that with all the competitive sports they are both in that the weekend will have something that we must do. My son is a competitive gymnast and plays All Star Baseball and Tournament ball. My daughter is a gymnast and plays soccer. Plus we have a dog that would have to be boarded-so add that money.

So my mom tells me that if at least I don't show up, that I will be breaking my nephews heart. What? Really? GAH!!! She makes me so mad.

None of my family think that it is too much for me to take my kids out of their school, their activities for an hour long graduation ceremony. Or they think that I should come to the ceremony and miss my kids sports etc....

Anyway I have pretty much made my mind up that none of us will go, unless something miraculous happens. But it just pisses me off the way my mom tried to *guilt* me into coming.....

Mom to the Wild Things.

PeaNut 96,783
July 2003
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Posted: 4/14/2012 9:56:15 PM
I can't imagine a high school boy having a broken heart over and aunt and bunch of cousins not attending his graduation! Did you snort or laugh when your mom said that? I'm sure I would have.

Forget about going. Spend the 3K on your own family. Really, that's way too much money (unless you have it flowing out your ears) for a fast trip like that.

The Project Pea

PeaNut 139,756
April 2004
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:02:33 PM
you're supposed to fly your entire family half-way across the country for a nephew's high school graduation?? When I was in HS we were only allowed to have one parent attend, I can't imagine very many schools these days just having an open invitation to all the student's extended families. Maybe you should look into if you are even allowed to attend the ceremony before you let her guilt you.

But seriously, either way, you need to put your foot down. Send your nephew a congrats card with $100 and I'm sure he won't be heart-broken in any way, shape, or form.


PeaNut 265,518
June 2006
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:03:04 PM
i hear you.

That would make me crazy-irritated.

Le Sigh. Sometimes i think all of our collective lives would be better if our society raised women to just come out and deck each other (or whatever man pissed them off) instead of go this soft-and-squishy emotional blackmail route.

.. .. ..

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PeaNut 114,805
November 2003
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:04:20 PM
Doing something as a result of a guilt trip is a task I avoid like the plague!


PeaNut 262,876
May 2006
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:04:54 PM
Thank you!

I plan to speak to him personally and congratulate him and send a nice $$ gift.

My mom has always been this way...


PeaNut 19,198
July 2001
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:08:27 PM
Ditto. $3000 is too much to be expected to spend. Nice card, nicer $$ gift and tell mom & sis to either send you the airfare or go scratch.

My Grandkids Are Cuter Than Yours! ;)

PeaNut 135,321
March 2004
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:08:29 PM

Send your nephew a congrats card with $100 and I'm sure he won't be heart-broken in any way, shape, or form.

This is exactly what I was going to say. And I have six nephews and speak from experience!


"Write it on your heart that those you love are the greatest gifts of all."

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PeaNut 452,048
January 2010
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:08:48 PM
I was going to say too that a lot of high schools only allow each graduate so many guests. That is crazy if they expect you to spend 3K for a short trip. I wouldn't worry about it. I doubt your nephew will be upset. Just send him a card to congratulate him.



PeaNut 129,041
February 2004
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:15:56 PM
Why did you tell her you weren't sure? You sound pretty sure that you're not going.

Don't play games with her. Just talk to the nephew directly. Tell him you're sorry you can't make it, congratulations, and watch the mail for something from you.

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PeaNut 159,331
July 2004
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:19:07 PM
If it were me, I'd leave dh at home with the kids and go for the weekend. Certainly, it's too much to expect that your whole family attend. The cost is just too high, you can't all attend the ceremony, and if the kids have commitments, well, that's life. They have to honour those responsibilities.

I don't think it's too much for your mom to want you to be there, there, though.

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PeaNut 295,941
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:22:27 PM
Is it possible for just you to go? Not buying into the guilt trip thing... Just thinking about the cost.

I would probably call him to congragulate him and send a $$ gift. He'll live if you can't make it.


PeaNut 18,334
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:25:39 PM
I said I am not sure, it depends on what the kids have going on with sports and school. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Let go your own passive agressiveness. It is mid April. You know your kid's schedules. Straight up say "No" Tell them what you have going on and what it will cost. Maybe it is important enough to them to pick up the tab for your travel.

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PeaNut 30,073
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:25:58 PM
What about just you going? Leave your husband and kids at home and make it a girl/sister weekend. Bunk on your sisters couch and ride in her car with her. That way, you'll only have to pay for one airline ticket, spending money and food.


PeaNut 477,557
August 2010
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:33:36 PM

My family has never been really close

I think this /\/\/\/\ says it all. If you were close to your nephew and sister, you might feel differently. Don't feel guilty.


PeaNut 262,876
May 2006
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:38:39 PM
I don't want to just go alone, and miss out on my own children's stuff.

I TOTALLY know that it's passive aggressive which is probably why I DO feel guilty. I just don't want to say anything so far in advance and then have to listen to her complain and whine about it until then.

Bunking with my sis is not possible, she has 5 kids (blended family) and no space.

I just need to woman up and tell her exactly why I won't be there. I have been the odd one out of the family forever. I moved out at 17 in High School and never do what I should (in her opinion). So no matter what, I can't win....

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 497,090
January 2011
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:45:05 PM
I bet if you send the nephew the 3 grand that you spend on the trip you would be the best aunt ever.


PeaNut 18,334
July 2001
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:48:29 PM
So no matter what, I can't win....

Don't answer, but what are your trying to win? You'll never do it right according to your mom no matter what you do. So stop trying to "win" with her.

"win" with your kids by being there for them. That IS a win for all of you.

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PeaNut 262,876
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:50:41 PM
megmc-I almost spit my wine on my computer!

If $3000 was that easy to come by, I would send it....wouldn't we all


PeaNut 262,876
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:53:53 PM
Oh and I don't actually know my kids schedules for May yet. The only thing I know about is the daddy daughter dance. Sports wise I have no idea yet for the play offs and the All Stars for baseball. So that part isn't passive aggressive, but me not wanting to go and not telling her is. I totally own that.

Canadian Girl 77

PeaNut 33,042
March 2002
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:54:00 PM
It's high school!

I don't get the big thing about graduations. I skipped my high school graduation to write a University exam. I would have skipped my University graduation but my parents wanted to go. And I did skip my post-graduate degree graduation.

Perhaps I am just weird?


PeaNut 262,876
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Posted: 4/14/2012 10:55:09 PM

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PeaNut 294,429
January 2007
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Posted: 4/15/2012 12:23:52 AM
Here's what I tell myself when I get all tangled up in people trying to lay the guilt trip on me: We aren't close in the first place. Who cares if I do something that they don't approve of? I'll save my chips for close relationships that do make a difference in my life.

Easiest guilt to walk away from on the planet. You say no, hang up the phone and move on. No loss to your family or lifestyle or anything.


Gia LuPeaA

PeaNut 416,889
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Posted: 4/15/2012 12:39:48 AM

When I was in HS we were only allowed to have one parent attend

Wow! There must have been a lot of pissed off parents.

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PeaNut 857
June 1999
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Posted: 4/15/2012 12:40:29 AM
Call your sister and nephew. Tell him how proud you are of him and that you wish it was possible for you to be there, but you can't. Send him a nice gift, and don't feel guilty.

None of my kids' aunts, uncles, or cousins attended any of their graduations. Not because of any family dysfunction, but because it simply wasn't practical. We weren't upset or offended in the least.


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PeaNut 109,127
September 2003
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Posted: 4/15/2012 1:04:53 AM
I live less than an hour away from my cousins and I never thought about going to the graduation. I'd go to the party, but not the graduation. It would never cross my mind to go to a graduation that far away and that expensive.

I say you don't go, but then don't expect them to come to your kids' either.

(oh and even if the $3000 came easily I still wouldn't go)

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PeaNut 198,220
March 2005
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Posted: 4/15/2012 1:22:13 AM
Don't listen to the whining. Figure out a set speech you will give your mom every time she brings it up.

Mom, we have already discussed this and you already have my answer. I have my own family to take care of and cannot justify coming out there. If you continue I will have to get off the phone now.

And then if she doesn't stop say bye and hang up. Behavioral consequences.

If it is by email or texting then tell her if she doesn't stop you will have to block her until the event is over, than do it.

She continues this behavior because you allow it. What would you do with your kids if you told them no and they kept whining about it? You will have to learn to stand up to your mom and give her consequences for her behavior. Once she finds out that the behavior no longer works she will stop.


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PeaNut 29,331
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Posted: 4/15/2012 2:06:58 AM
Tell her you will chip in for therapy if he needs it to recover from the trauma of you not being there. Too funny, he could probably not care less if you came.

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PeaNut 27,168
January 2002
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Posted: 4/15/2012 2:29:19 AM
The only way on earth I would do that is if my nephew had been born with some severe disability or been part of some serious accident and this graduation was basically a miracle and also the last major life milestone he would ever have because he was unlikely to live more than another year. In other worlds...on hell no. Get him a card with $50 a $100 if you feel generous call him up say congratulations the day after and call it done.

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 290,201
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Posted: 4/15/2012 2:54:19 AM
My family is close and we still don't attend all the graduations and school events. A card and a gift are the norm. Most of the schools around here have tickets for graduation anyway, and the kids usually only get a couple of tickets each.

Just remember that people can only make you feel guilty if you let them. I like Cara's version of the "no whining" rule for adults!

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 154,236
June 2004
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Posted: 4/15/2012 6:30:42 AM
My Mom and Sister tried the guilt trip with me for my nephews graduation 3 years ago. After dancing around the invitation, I finallyI said "No, we would not be able to attend."

Your nephew is not going to care if you are there or not.
My DS is "scheduled" (that's another story) to graduate in May. We invited both Grandmothers. My Mom said she probably wouldn't make it. Last night she asked if I was upset about it. I told her "No. It's at 8am on a weekday morning." I told her it would be unreasonable to expect her to take off of work and drive 3 hours in traffic for a few moments when (and if-that's another story) he walks on stage. I'm not going to invite any Aunt's, Uncle's or cousins. DS could care less. He's not one for pomp and circumstance.

Just say, "Thank you for the invitation. We regret we will not attend." Then, get on the internet and plan a great vacation for your family. After all, you have to spend the $3.000 on something!!!

Thrift Whisperer

PeaNut 114,407
November 2003
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Posted: 4/15/2012 6:53:06 AM
I wouldn't go. I really think graduation is an accomplishment that deserves accolades and fanfare but not necessarily a spectator event.

I would not go. I would send sincere regrets, a generous card/gift and express how much we look forward to seeing them at a less hectic time that we can really visit.

As for the rest. Your mother appears to behaving exactly as expected and true to form.

Suggested key phrases "I'm sorry you feel that way" said
Cheerily as you change the subject.

A firm "this is not a negotiation" may be required as well.

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PeaNut 43,061
July 2002
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Posted: 4/15/2012 7:02:48 AM
Well, according to your mother, I should probably be prostrate with grief because my sister did not attend my high school graduation. Of course, she lived across the country and had three little kids and it just wasn't feasible.

I don't even remember thinking, man I wish she was here. I was more of the "is this nonsense over yet?'. High school graduation is important, but not for the periphery of the family... just for those directly involved.

I went to my niece's and nephew's graduations because I was invited and I lived in the same city. I did not attend another nephew's graduation because it's clear across the country. And everyone's fine with that.

Tell your mother that you're not going, end point. If she whines about it, shut her down. This is her problem, not yours.


PeaNut 521,942
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Posted: 4/15/2012 7:52:20 AM
Tell your Mom you'd rather spend the $3,000 plus in the summer when you and the family can spend a week with the cousins etc, not a 2-day whirlwind!


PeaNut 15,108
May 2001
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Posted: 4/15/2012 8:23:25 AM
Totally reasonable for you not to go. "I am sorry, but we will not be able to make it" is enough.

I do think that by making it sound like you are not sure when you are sure, and by throwing in the "well, who knows what might come up for my kids that weekend," you are making it worse than it needs to be.

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 198,401
March 2005
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Posted: 4/15/2012 8:30:05 AM
If it were me and one of my nieces or nephews graduating, I would go just by myself. No one says your whole family has to go.

Your niece/nephew is only going to graduate once. Your children are involved in activities and will probably be for many years. Missing one or two events is not going to kill them or you. Just by the way you "say" it in your post, I see you using this more as an excuse to your mother.

That being said, you state your family is not close. So, that changes what I would actually do.

Like others have stated, you need to stop being so wishy washy with your mother and just state you cannot make it. In fact, I would send a card out now to your nephew, wishing him congratulations and sorry that you will not be able to make this event in his life. They now know you will not be attending the graduation.

Then, when mom calls, you should be firm. Sorry, cannot make it. No further need for explanation. Rinse, lather, repeat. And if mom continues on, "sorry mom. I will nt discuss this any further. You can use your guilt trips all you want. They no longer work for me. Gotta Go. Love ya, Bye" and hang up. Start being firm each and every time with mom.

The old saying, "You cannot change the person, but you can change how you react to that person".


PeaNut 183,504
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Posted: 4/15/2012 8:41:11 AM
I stopped reading at $3000. Unless you are independently wealthy, it's ridiculous to spend that on a two or three day trip.

Send your nephew $200 for a grad gift, tell him to send back some pictures of his special day, and stay home with your family.


PeaNut 146,748
May 2004
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Posted: 4/15/2012 9:20:03 AM
is she sure she will get enough tickets to graduation for everyone??? in my experience, they have to limit the number each grad gets for those things, and usually there is barely enough for immediate family, and sometimes then people are scrambling.

i certainly wouldn't expect family to fly across country for a graduation and definitely not take their kids out of school!

send a really nice gift - he appreciate that more than you being there i bet!


Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 408,684
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Posted: 4/15/2012 9:29:04 AM
Seriously, unless you have some sort of 'special bond' with that nephew, he could care less that you won't be there. Send a gift, and a card of congratulations, and move on.

I would call him and tell him that you can't be there, but you're proud of him. Then call your mom, tell her you're not going but that you've already talked to Little Johnny and he's perfectly ok with it, and tell her to enjoy the day with him.


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PeaNut 479,777
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Posted: 4/15/2012 9:42:31 AM
I wouldn't go and wouldn't waste a second thought on it. My nephew graduates this May, and we will go, but he lives in the same city we do!

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PeaNut 181,836
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Posted: 4/15/2012 9:46:31 AM
Your nephews broken heart will quickly be repaired by some cash. I am sure your nephew really doesn't "care" if you and your kids are at his graduation. If anything, it will be a relief because then he can hang out with his friends. No way would I spend over 3K to see a high school graduation. I'm sorry, but these days you are EXPECTED to graduate high school.

A member of the 53%.

PeaNut 184,708
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Posted: 4/15/2012 9:48:29 AM
I've had 3 kids graduate high school with the fourth about to and I've never expected extended family that lives in town to attend the ceremonies much less anyone out of town. Heck, I only go because it's my kid and I kind of have to. Graduation ceremonies are painful...long and painful. I'd feel bad if I guilted folks into attending. Grandparents attend, but I've never asked them to nor implied they had to.

I'm taken a bit aback that your mother expects you to spend quite a good amount of money to attend a ceremony for a nephew that is pretty much not a huge accomplishment. Graduating high school, while being something isn't the be all and end all of ceremonies that are important to attend. Tell your mom matter of factly that you cannot afford to attend and you have important conflicts (father daughter dance). End the conversation there. If she wants to continue it, lather rinse and repeat. End of story. You can only be made to feel guilty if you allow it to happen.

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PeaNut 44,871
August 2002
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Posted: 4/15/2012 9:52:28 AM
It's not a wedding or something of that nature. A hs graduation is a lovely event but puh-leeze, let's not over elevate it! Definitely don't go. Send your nephew a generous gift and a heartfelt card. I doubt a hs boy cares - he is mostly concerned with his friends, I bet.

Gail OH
Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 108,385
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Posted: 4/15/2012 9:54:41 AM
Talking to HIM and sending a gift...he will be fine....as for the others...they are suppose to be adults...


Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 274,935
August 2006
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Posted: 4/15/2012 10:18:27 AM
I'd call him, send a little cash gift and some tape for his motar board.
You know he'll use it to write something on it and piss your mom off as well.

Ok, don't take that last advice. I think I'm getting cranky as I get older. I hate guilt trips.

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PeaNut 113,321
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Posted: 4/15/2012 10:33:35 AM
My son graduated from high school last year. If the ceremony had been outdoors, my mom and my sisters were planning to attend with us as they live in the same town. However, it rained on the day of the graduation which meant we only had two tickets, so only my DH and I went, even my two other sons did not attend. Does your nephew's school do anything like that, where you might travel all that way and then if it rains they might not have a ticket for you?

Also, another thing the schools around here do is "project graduation" which is a party for the graduating seniors to celebrate with their classmates in a safe environment. My son's graduation ceremony ended at 7pm and the bus taking them to the party left at 8pm so there is not much time for picture taking and congratulations before the kids leave.
Does your nephew's school have anything like this that he is going to? If so, you will hardly even see him at all.

I don't think your nephew will be upset if you can't make it. I say just send him a nice card with some money in it.

Take Care,

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 497,090
January 2011
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Posted: 4/15/2012 11:46:31 AM
Can you offer your nephew a trip to come see you for a couple of weeks?

Thrift Ninja

PeaNut 226,011
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Posted: 4/15/2012 11:57:49 AM

I don't get the big thing about graduations.

Me either. I thought the celebrations surrounding my graduations were a little ridiculous (HS and college x 2). I went along with the high school thing because my family was excited about it. I went along with my first commencement ceremony in college because I had a lot of exchange student friends who were geeking out over it. When it came to the second one, I just put my foot down and refused. So silly.

Anyway, send the kid a couple hundred bucks and call it good. No need to lay down thousands or make your own kids miss their activities.

What if everything is an illusion & nothing exists

PeaNut 82,319
April 2003
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Posted: 4/15/2012 12:37:10 PM
I would not spend $3000 to go to a high school graduation for anyone, let alone my family that I am not close with. Don't go, spend the time with you family making memories that are important to you. Send your nephew a nice gift, and call it good. I promise that your nephew will not be heartbroken, unless you two have some kind of very close and special bond.

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 465,849
April 2010
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Posted: 4/15/2012 1:32:38 PM
Send your nephew a congrats card with $100 and I'm sure he won't be heart-broken in any way, shape, or form.

3K is a great deal of money.
Not to sound crass, but I also don't think he will be broken up about it. I'd call and congratulate him and send a nice card w/ a check or pre-paid VISA card.

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