When we think about the perfect wedding, we focus not so much on all the aesthetic details, but on the people whom we’d like to witness the celebration of love. If you get along with your family members, it’s only natural to expect your parents and siblings to show up, alongside your nearest and dearest friends. Yes, the aisle and table decor is important, but it’s not the priority.
If you realize that your parents have decided not to attend your wedding, it can be absolutely devastating. So much so that any other compromise on the table seems like a pale shadow in comparison when all you want is to have your loved ones with you on the Big Day. Redditor u/Designer-Pay8281 opened up about an upsetting situation going on in her family. She’s planning on getting married this year, but her parents have made it clear that they won’t be attending the ceremony. They’ll be going on a 2-year vacation instead. Read on for the full story, in the bride-to-be’s own words. You can share your thoughts about the situation in the comments, dear Pandas.
Bored Panda got in touch with Suzanne Degges-White, a Licensed Counselor, Professor, and Chair at the Department of Counseling and Higher Education at Northern Illinois University to hear her thoughts about sibling rivalries, jealousy, familial favoritism, and how to reconcile with someone if they’re remorseful, even though we might initially not want to.
“The best revenge on those who have hurt us in the past is a life well lived. Our parents do the best they can—but their best may not be what we most wanted. Learning to accept the shortcomings of others is sometimes the best thing we can do for our own mental health. This person’s parents will miss an important day in their daughter’s life, and the best thing the daughter can do is to make the day as memorable for herself and her new partner as she can,” she explained to us. “You’ll find our full interview with the professor below, dear Readers.
Many people who are close to their parents expect that they’ll show up to their wedding
Image credits: Nathan Dumalo (not the actual photo)
One bride-to-be shared how frustrated she felt when she realized her parents prioritized their vacation over her ceremony
Image credits: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen (not the actual photo)
“Sadly, sibling rivalry tends to begin early in life and can outlast a parent’s lifetime. Sibling rivalry is natural as kids learn at a young age that parents have a limited capacity to give their kids the attention they crave and when it feels like a sibling is getting more than their fair share, that can give rise to resentment, jealousy, and rivalry for the parents’ attention.”
Professor Degges-White, from Northern Illinois University, explained to Bored Panda that some parents actually do actively one child over another. As such, this can give rise to a “deeply ingrained sense of injustice” in some siblings that can last a lifetme. It’s important to recognize that our parents aren’t ‘perfect,’ they’re flawed just like any other human being on this planet.
“As adults, we need to recognize that we need to feel that we are ‘enough’ regardless of how we feel others see us. If we continue to fall back into childhood rivalries, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and allowing the past to color our present. While we may never be able to right the wrongs, real or imagined, that we experienced in our childhood, we do have the choice to consciously move on from the past and just accept that our parents are human and, by nature, flawed—and we cannot ‘fix’ anyone else but ourselves,” the Licensed Counselor said.
“When we continue to feel ‘less than’ a sibling—and evidence seems to affirm that feeling—we have the choice to carry the negative feelings that are engendered or let them go and rejoice in the presence in our lives of people who care about us and want to spend time in our company.”
We were also curious about how to proceed when our loved ones try to reconcile with us, yet we might still be greatly upset at them for what they did or didn’t do. “It’s a hard situation when someone is genuinely remorseful about prior bad behavior and admits their mistake and offers apologies to the one they hurt but their efforts at reconciliation are rejected. Some people take a long time to let go of past injustices and some folks live by a creed of ‘never forget, never forgive,'” Professor Degges-White said. She highlighted the fact that we’re all human, and as such, we all make mistakes.
“If we cannot make room for another’s attempts at reconciliation in our lives, we are setting ourselves up for a lifetime of needless losses and a shrinking support network. Seldom do the people who care about us intentionally harm us—and we should be able to step back and recognize that when someone puts themselves out there with a heartfelt apology, that they are putting another ‘investment’ into the relationship. Screwing up is easy, admitting and making attempts at atonement is not.”
According to Professor Degges-White, from Northern Illinois University, it can help to take a long view of the relationship you have with someone in order to accept someone’s remorse. Here are some questions that you might ask yourself: “Has the person been there for you when you’ve needed them? Have they been loyal to you even when you might not have deserved it? Is this the first time they’ve done something that has hurt you? If not, maybe letting the relationship go is the best option. If it is the first time, remind yourself that everyone deserves a second chance.”
The expert said that while we can’t ever undo the past, we can make different choices going forward. “Trust is hard to rebuild, but if it’s a longtime relationship, it might be harder to replace that person in your life than you realize.”
As a compromise, the idea of an intimate wedding reception just for the family was floated to see where the redditor bride-to-be might be interested. However, the OP was so upset about not having her parents at her wedding that she refused the idea time and time again.
That’s actually what made her ask the AITA community for their opinion in the first place. She wanted to know if she was wrong to be so stubborn. The majority of Reddit users thought that the OP did nothing wrong. However, the verdicts weren’t unanimous.
Quite a few members of the AITA community were a tad confused by the entire situation, including why the bride-to-be’s parents’ vacation was supposed to last for 2 years, and whether they knew the specific date of the wedding. Some also thought that the OP should have communicated her feelings more clearly so that her family knew where she stood better.
The author of the post shared some more information about what happened with her family in the comments
A while back, we had a chat about communication within families with parenting blogger Samantha Scroggin. “I think when establishing boundaries with family members, being clear and using good communication are the best routes,” the founder of ‘Walking Outside in Slippers’ told Bored Panda that clarity helps avoid situations where someone can misinterpret your actions for rudeness or for a lack of appreciation.
The blogger pointed out that all families are different: some are very close, others are more distant. Though in both cases, good communication can help set the ground rules for how everyone interacts, and what expectations they have. This way, everyone can feel comfortable in a familial setting.
Meanwhile, childhood independence expert Lenore Skenazy, the mastermind behind the Let Grow project and the Free-Range Kids movement, told Bored Panda during an earlier interview that parents have to “keep the lines of communication open” with their kids as they grow.
While some parents might be far too detached from their children, others are far too controlling, which also isn’t healthy.
“Gradually give them more freedom as they get older and earn it by being responsible,” she said, adding that love requires trust.
“Taking all independence away for their ‘safety’ is a way to teach them that you don’t think they can handle anything on their own— how deflating!—and that you don’t trust them. Would you appreciate a spouse who tracked your every move? Would you feel trusted?”