When we found out that we were pregnant with twins, we went into straight PANIC mode. We were more than 10 hours from our families and only had friends and church members within an hour’s drive. We wrestled with the idea of moving back to my husband’s hometown or staying where we were. We packed up the entire house, determined to move somewhere else, whether it was closer to our church family or to my husband’s family, and eventually decided to move closer to our church family.
One of the questions that came up multiple times was, “Should we be this far from family with twins?” We knew that we were capable of raising the girls on our own, but should we do it? We had already lived away from our families for over 5 years, so we were already used to not having them there on a consistent basis to visit and talk with on a daily or weekly basis. But that’s when it was just the two of us. Now there would be four. Could we really handle it? Now we live a whole 16 hours away from our families (with the exception of my mom) here in the United Arab Emirates!
The Pros and Cons of Raising Kids Away From Family
One of the biggest pros is that you don’t have to deal with the unsolicited advice from aunties, cousins, and other family members who feel that they know better than you do, whether they have kids or not. Now, our families are not the type to do this, but I know for many others, this is a constant issue. People feel like when you have a child, you open the door to them to give you all of their Google, Facebook article, Wikipedia, best friend’s cousin’s auntie’s advice. They become pushy with what they think and how they feel your child should be raised and handled. We have been given the opportunity to raise our twins however we choose to, without people interjecting what they think and believe on us.
Another great thing is that we don’t have to deal with judgments and comments about how we choose to raise our children. As a mother, we already endure a lot of ‘mom guilt’ on a daily basis, so to receive more judgment from someone who has no idea of what’s happening behind closed doors is an insult. Now I’m not talking about people who are looking out for your child’s well being. If they see your child’s arm hanging backward and suggest you take them to a doctor, that’s one thing. But when you take your child out in public and they have on a 3-day old superhero outfit, you get these eyes from people to say “Why doesn’t she make her child dress properly?” But they don’t even realize that you were up all night with your child, who is sick, you needed to get their cough medicine from the pharmacy, and that your child would not leave the house without the outfit and you COULD NOT handle one more situation so you said, “Okay.” Nobody knows those stories, but everyone has an opinion about you and how you choose to mother.
When we moved to be closer to our church family, we were happy to be closer to people we knew well. But they still weren’t our blood family. We couldn’t have the same comfort level of what we could ask of them as we would with our own family. So we didn’t go out on a date after they were born, when my family came to visit.
With family, there’s a trade when people take care of your kids. Grandmothers get to spend time with their grandkids. Aunts and Uncles get to get to know their nieces and nephews and they also get to play with their cousins. It’s also a known rule that when they keep your kids, at some point you’ll keep theirs.
So being around family gives you some moments of relief when you need it the most, even if they’re just visiting for a moment, you can go and take a shower, fix yourself some food, and even make a run to a store or two while they’re there.
A few months ago, one of my twins had a high fever that would not go away. We eventually got up in the middle of the night and took her to the hospital. In that moment, I wanted to be around family. My mom was there to take care of our other twin, which helped to ease any worry about where to take her. But I wanted to be able to call family and let them know what was happening. I wanted them to have the option to come and take over if me and my husband needed to go to the bathroom or grab some food or sleep. But we didn’t have that. We only had each other in that moment. We have friends here, but once again, you don’t have the same level of comfort there that you do with family. Calling a friend to come to the hospital at 1 am versus calling your sister or aunt at 1 am to come to the hospital are two totally different phone calls. Having family down the road helps to ease chaos in an emergency situation. You know for a FACT that their support is available.
This is a reason my husband brings up all the time, but isn’t new to me. One of the disadvantages of not raising your twins about family is that when you visit them, especially in their early years, they are strangers to them. They’re having to build relationships over again because they don’t remember them too well from the last time they were together. They don’t know each other’s names yet. They aren’t “cousin-friends”. They’re just kids who play together when their parents are in the same place.
When it comes to living close to family or away from family, the choice is yours. I don’t want you to feel like you absolutely have to be around family. You don’t. It makes life a lot easier, but it can also make it more complicated. The decision is ALWAYS up to you and your spouse when deciding what’s best for you, your spouse, and your twins. If a new job away from family comes along that has amazing benefits and can set your family up for success, take it! Your family may be great baby sitters, but they aren’t your bill payers. Always do what’s best for you and your children, not what other people think is best for you.
Allyson Robinson had no idea she had twins in her genes until Kayla and Kamilah showed up and changed her life for the better. She and her husband, Quincy, are expat teachers in the UAE. She is the author of “Where Are My Panties? The Truth About the Morning After”, a book on sexual purity. You can follow her adventures on allysonarobinson.com, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.