Visiting my parents


I am spending a few days visiting my parents at their mountain house with my husband and two young kids.

This has always been an emotional rollercoaster for me but this summer I have thought work to support me so I’m trying to use it as a learn ‘n grow experience.

My negative thoughts about spending time here are:
– My parents are very inflexible (set times for everything, eat what they always eat regardless of what we might like to buy and try that’s different, turn down any idea or suggestion we have that’s outside of what they’re used to doing)
– I feel like they want to control me/us so we’ll fit into their usual daily structure, as I always had to growing up — no room to express a preference or feel acknowledged as a separate human being
– They say they’re happy we’re visiting but then when we get here they seem inconvenienced by us being around the house
– I feel torn between who I am as a grownup and what I like to do with my family on the one hand; and what they expect of me as a daughter and a guest on the other hand.
– I’m making it mean that my parents don’t know who I am as an adult and don’t care to know

I feel caught in what I perceive is their manual for me, and what I see is my manual for them.

Let’s call it The Clash of Manuals!

I know they have a right to say and do absolutely everything they want in their own house. I know they can have expectations for us and we don’t have to meet all of them. I know I can’t change them and I want to feel welcome and relaxed here, but the truth is I’m tense and walking on eggshells about everything, lest I do or eat something that’s not part of the routine and they’ll be inconvenienced.

Example situation:

C Mother says “please don’t buy anything at the village market, I have all the meals planned out.”
T Here we go again / she is inflexible and controlling.
F Annoyed and restricted
A Explain that husband might like to buy some local cheese (i.e. negociate)
R I flex her rule (?)

Not sure what a good intentional model would be here, or even a better action.

When visiting with people, is it best to just accept their rules and find accepting thoughts of “I’ll switch back to my way of doing things when I’m back in my own home”? Is it an “I can have my way or I can be happy” situation?

This whole thing is compounded by the fact that my husband resents (what he also perceives as) their inflexible behavior, and i feel stuck in the middle: embracing their rules would mean trying to get my husband to follow them also.

This feels like such a mess in my head (this is probably my messiest Ask Brooke submission ever) and I can see that I focus on this perceived trait of theirs and completely miss the good things about them and our time here.

I’ve toyed with the following alternate thoughts:
“I can only control myself”
“I know exactly who I am”
“I am myself wherever I am”
“They do them and I do me”
“Sometimes I feel like a rebellious teenager around my parents and that’s ok”
“I’m learning to love my parents without trying to make them more like me”

Would love your guidance on how to approach this. I have just two days left here turn things around. 🙂

Thank you!