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House Etiquette for Homeowners

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Homeowner etiquetteDo you have an etiquette question about house guests, throwing a party, neighbors over-staying their welcome, or other homeowner etiquette concerns?  You've found the right place.  Submit your question to Stage of Life's resident etiquette expert, Jay Remer.  Jay and the Stage of Life team will personally review your question, send you a response, and then post the Q&A below for others to benefit.

Take a few minutes to read some of the questions, tips, advice and articles from Jay on important etiquette topics specifically tailored to homeowners below.

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Ask Jay a homeowner etiquette question I Have an Etiquette Question - Ask StageofLife.com...ask us a home etiquette question now.  If you're a homeowner or a house guest and have an etiquette question, contact us and we'll post your question and Jay's reply here.

Read below for real-life etiquette advice submissions from our homeowner members, and don't forget to check out all 10 of our etiquette advice pages for the other stages of life.

Etiquette Tips for Homeowners

Man Child Husband and Bully Mother In-Law

How do I address the fact that my mother in law throws things away without asking me while she visits even if my husband takes her side? 

Dear Jay,
My in-laws typically come to visit every 3-4 months since we moved from our home state.  Although my family tends to be more private and do not need to see each other frequently (we actually live in the same city), I respect that his is different. 

Since getting married 5 years ago, he has yet to plan a family vacation for just us. It always has to be with his entire family. My husband is very much the man child in that I do everything for him and our 3 children (including all preparations for his parents’ visit while he plays X-box), nothing is ever his fault; he will not take responsibility for anything, but more importantly I often feel I lack his support in most things. 

What is bothersome is that once they do arrive, in typical fashion, his Mother will commandeer my kitchen, which I still keep quiet about out of respect for him, them and my sanity. However the last 2 visits I have found something that bothers me, she throws things of mine out. I'm not talking about large things, I'm referring to small things like sponges, or sink strainers and although these items are indeed small, I find it incredibly disrespectful to come into anyone's home, and assume it's ok to throw anything away. 

On my Mother’s advice, I said nothing until they left. I then mentioned it to him asking him to address it. His automatic response of course was to take her side, and make up excuses. Needless to say, that upset me and hurt me even more. Am I overreacting? Is it appropriate to throw out items in someone else's home, even if they are family? Also, how should I handle this? Any help is greatly appreciated!!

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Your husband’s lack of responsibility shows that he never grew up. He really is not ready for a relationship, let alone a marriage and three children. But, here you are and what do you do? His mother is a bully and has him under her thumb. I would suggest that you need professional counseling in order for your relationship to endure. He needs to clearly understand that now that he is married to you, you and your children take precedence over his mother. This will not be easy, but without this, you are doomed. The next time his mother tosses anything of yours, call her on it and tell her that it’s your house and you will be calling the shots from here on out. If she doesn’t like it, don’t allow her back. 

Your home is your castle. You must lay down the law, for if you don’t, no one will understand that you have respect for your own house and how you manage things, including your children. Your husband needs to take on the full responsibility the head of a household should. You have a big problem here. I wish you the best of luck, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you can handle this one alone! I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Bedroom Off Limits

Is it okay to lock my bedroom door to keep guests out of my room? 

Dear Jay,
I live in a rancher home, and the bedrooms are right off the living room.  When I have family gatherings, certain family members always end up in my bedroom.  They are playing hide-n-seek with the little ones or the little ones wander in there and they go to retrieve them.  I don't feel they should be in my private space.  Is it ok to lock and shut our bedroom doors to keep guests out?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Yes. Your home is your castle and you can do whatever is necessary to maintain your privacy. A simple request should work, but if not, locking the door will work. I hope this helps.

-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Mom's Dating Life Getting Out of Hand for Daughter and Fiance

How do I break it to my mom that her recent overzealous dating is making me uncomfortable? 

Dear Jay,
My fiance and I just recently let my mom move in to our house because she fell on challenging times (IE, divorcing her husband).  She's been here for a month and has decided to go to school.  

The issue is she started online dating a week and a half ago. She met someone and immediately fell for him. The problem is, she keeps bringing him to our house for her dates.  My partner was mortified when he walked in on them having sex while I was out grocery shopping.  And she keeps inviting friends over. I love my mom, but it’s really uncomfortable when my partner and I are watching t.v. in our bedroom because my mom is on a date in our theatre room.  

She's more down to earth, but my partner and I are hardworking corporate people who kind of like to come home and have some peace and quiet.  We are 30 and 34 and my mom is 57.  Is it rude to say, “No problem with dating, but can you do your dates at his house or a restaurant?”  

I don't even really want to meet someone my mom just met.  It’s fine to move on, but don't introduce him to me until its been a couple of months.  Make sense?  How do I tell my mom not to do this when she's going through a hard time and this is helping her move on?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Your home is your castle. You must have your privacy and making house rules shows you have respect for your home and for yourselves. Just explain to your mother that she needs to be more sensitive to and respectful of your privacy and to use some common sense. I hope this helps.

-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Annoying Friend Invites Herself To Vacation House

How do I let my obnoxious friend know that she isn't invited to come with me to my vacation house? 

Dear Jay,
I have a friend who keeps trying herself to my family vacation. We rent a house for just two weeks of peace and quiet near the seashore. This friend is a difficult person -- loud, boisterous and full of complaints, and she suffers from a personality disorder that makes it exhausting to spend time with her. She is also the sort of person who goes around behind one's back to find out if someone else has been invited, so if I try the most polite response I can think of, "It's just going to be family," I know she will find out that I have in fact invited other nearer and dearer friends to visit us.

I don't want to hurt her feelings, but it seems to me that in inviting herself she has forced my hand. What do you say to someone who imagines she is entitled to be part of your brief vacation even though you have never even remotely implied that you wanted her there?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  I would ignore her requests. If she needs further clarification, let her know that when you want to invite her, you will let her know. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Vacation House Rules

Should I send all guests who aren't familiar with our vacation house rules a list of our allergies and expectations for their visit? 

Dear Jay,
My husband and I just bought a vacation house and will be inviting family on both sides to visit.  Most of the family knows I have serious fragrance allergies and can't have any scented products around, and they're also aware of our house rules such as no dirty/wet shoes inside.  My brother-in-law will most likely bring his adult stepson's family with him, which is okay with us.  However, I've never had any interactions with the stepson, and I don't want to rely on my BIL to inform him of my allergies and the house rules.  Should I send the stepson a note welcoming him to visit and also outlining those rules?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Yes. All guests should be aware of the house rules and of your allergies. Perhaps you might send out a joint email reminding everyone. I hope this helps.

-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Speak English, please

Is it rude for my husband and brother-in-law to speak in Spanish all the time together when in my home even if I don't understand them? 

Dear Jay,
My husband speaks Spanish and English. When one of his brothers comes over to our place, they exclude me and even if his wife comes we are excluded, too. I’m not sure if they realize it is rude to do that and it seems like they are hiding something. They do work together sometimes but still. If his wife is not there, I have left the room or if I am in my room and I hear him coming into the apartment I stay in my bedroom. I had heard, also, from my niece, his daughter, that he does not like me so then I should avoid him if I am able to. I want to confront this issue with him, but that would affect my niece’s trust since her dad did not tell me himself. Please help.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Speak to your husband about your concerns. It is rude for people to speak in a foreign tongue when with strangers for exactly the reason you state. As far as him not liking you, that may be untrue. There is certainly no reason for you to feel like a stranger in your own house, so clear this up with your husband. House rule - when you are present, please speak in English. Occasionally there will be thoughts or concepts that they may feel are expressed better in Spanish. So be flexible. Have you considered learning Spanish? It’s an easy language and a beautiful one, too. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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No dogs allowed in new home

Is it an unreasonable request for us to not allow our friends to bring their dogs to our new home? 

Dear Jay,
My husband and I take possession of our brand new home in two days and we had invited a couple in our family to come stay with us to see our new place and spend some time. The arrangements were set and they were going to come stay for 3 nights over the weekend. My friend assumed it would be OK to bring their 3 dogs or possibly leave 1 behind and take 2 dogs.

We allowed them to bring their dogs to our last place, but this house is brand spanking new and I know this sounds pathetic, but the carpets are upgraded and so nice and fluffy, not to mention very light in color so they would stain so easily. The dogs would randomly do their business in our last place and we're worried they'll do it in our new one as well.
I told my friend that unfortunately we just can't have their dogs come, and asked her if she understands where I'm coming from. She didn't seem to understand and seemed offended. I told her it's nothing against her dogs and nothing against them, it's just that this is a brand new home. Am I being unreasonable with this request? They sure make me feel like I am.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You are not being unreasonable at all. You can establish whatever house rules you want. Your home is your castle. Your friend knows perfectly well the reason. If she didn’t, she does now. Your mistake came in asking her if she understood your train of thought or line of reasoning. She’s not a psychic. You don’t really need to explain, but if this is a new rule, which it sort of is, then you need to explain the obvious. Do not take this personally. This is about them, from their perspective, not about you. Everyone needs to be responsible for their own feelings. No guilt trips! I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Daughter's Dog and Additional Guests Not Welcome

How can I get the message across to my daughter that I don't want her to bring her dogs or invite other friends and their dogs to stay at my home? 

Dear Jay,

My adult daughter in her mid thirties and her high-energy bulldog live two hours from us. When she visits she stay one or two nights for a weekend and brings her dog. We also have a 90 pound house dog.

In the past she has invited and brought a friend with her and also the friends dog. She just informed me she will be coming for Easter and once again bringing a friend and her dog to also stay. How do I handle this?  

When I say something she gets angry and doesn't see what the big deal is.  Her response was "I don't tell you not to bring your dog to my house". I tried to tell her I don't invite my friends and their dogs to her home.My husband doesn't like to "rock the boat" and doesn't like for me to either.

How do I handle this with her?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Not rocking the boat has resulted in a daughter who has no respect for you or your household. Somewhere along the line neither you nor your husband taught her that your home is your castle and that the house rules that you set are the ones everyone follows. You will need to explain this to her. She has every right to set her own house rules in her own house. This will be especially helpful to her when she begins raising a family of her own. Having said that, if the dogs all get along and there is no issue with any personalities, it is difficult to see why you would not welcome your daughter home with her friends with open arms. You have no idea how many people would cherish the opportunity to spend Easter, or any holiday, with their family. If this is simply a matter of control, set some house rules, but make them based on safety. For example, please be sure to clean up after your dog poops in the yard might be a rule. I hope this helps. 

-Jay

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Dinner Guest Insists on Bringing Her Own Food

Is it rude for our friend to bring her own food to a big dinner party that we have been planning for months?

Dear Jay,
My husband and I have a group of friends and we all get together for a big dinner party a couple of times a year. Another friend, Molly, has not been at these parties and told me she would like to start attending.  My husband and I are hosting the next party this weekend and I made sure to include my friend Molly when we started planning the dinner 2 months ago. Today I  emailed everyone the menu and Molly emailed me back to say she started a diet today and my menu doesn't work for her diet so she will just bring her own food. I was a little miffed but wanted to be a good hostess, so I asked her for a list of foods allowed on her diet, so I would be able to accommodate her needs. She refused because she said it would be easier for her to just prepare her own meal. My husband thinks having Molly bring her own food is rude, especially when we have offered to change the menu for her. What should I do?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Accept her offer. I am a big believer in preparing only one meal per evening. You already have a meal planned. Without knowing what her dietary considerations are, or even why she is on a new restrictive diet, you may inadvertently open a can of worms unnecessarily. Make this party about your guests. If Molly has concluded that bringing her own food is what’s best for her, honor her decision. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Little Sister Rules the Roost

How do we resolve the situation with my girlfriend's little sister staying with us and always inviting her boyfriend over when we don't like it? 

Dear Jay,
My girlfriend and I have been together for almost 7 years now. We have been living in a house that we share for the past year and a half. My girlfriend’s little sister needed a new place to live and her father asked if she could stay in our basement if he paid to renovate it for her. The agreement was for her to live there rent free for around a year until she finished school and the father would pay for all the basement renovations. Everything was going fine with this arrangement until she starting dating this guy and he started coming over every day and staying with her. Both my girlfriend and I have said something about this to her and asked her to not bring him over all the time and she accuses us of trying to control her social life.

My girlfriend and I are both becoming very resentful of her and we feel taken advantage of because having him stay over every night was not part of the arrangement we had both agreed upon with her and the father when we agreed to allow her to move in. He is using utilities that we are paying for, and also has his truck parked in front of our house. The father is taking the little sister’s side telling us that we cannot control her life and she can do whatever she wants. What steps can we take to resolve this issue?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  First of all, the house you are living in is yours to govern. Your rules are the ones everyone must follow. As far as the boyfriend and any rights little sister may have, they are at a distinct disadvantage here. Your father wants everyone to be happy, but is ignoring the fact that your home is your castle, not his. I suggest that you charge the boyfriend a small rental fee to cover any utilities he may use. I would not worry about the parked truck. I would also suggest that you consider being as charitable as you can be. Who knows. One day, the shoe may be on the other foot. Following the Golden Rule never does any harm. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Boyfriend's Buddy Needs to Move On

How do I deal with my boyfriend's friend staying with us too long when my boyfriend does not see it as a problem? 

Dear Jay,
My boyfriend and I recently purchased a place together and moved in a month ago. His friend was supposed to stay over for two days, but he has since extended his stay as he recently lost his job. I understand his situation and what he is going through, but it seems as if he currently has no plans and I have no idea how long he will stay. We recently started a new chapter of our life together, and I want some time to settle in. I have spoken with my boyfriend about it and he says that he needs to help his friend out. It might just be me with the problem, but I do not want his friend here. How should I approach this situation and what should I do?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  It is in fact just you with the problem at the moment because your boyfriend is placing the basic needs of his friend ahead of yours. As an equal partner (I trust you are an equal partner), you need to have your feelings heard and understood. Perhaps they have been heard, but they have not yet been understood. You need to speak with your boyfriend and explain to him that this is a very important matter to you and that you feel intruded upon and cannot live this way. Acknowledge that his feelings are valid as far as wanting to help a friend in need. But, so are yours of wanting privacy. Your boyfriend needs to be on your side, otherwise you will be bullied into anything he wants. You need to learn to operate as a united couple when it comes to running your household. You will need to do that, and do it well before you can successfully rear a family. Have a civil conversation and come to an understanding or compromise, but be sure you both are satisfied. This will be a great opportunity for you to test your resiliency as a couple and as individuals. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Mother-in-law Uses Toiletries When Visiting

Is it disgusting that my mother-in-law uses my toiletries when she visits, or should I just let her use them because she is family? 

Dear Jay,
Is it wrong to not want my husband's mother using my hairbrush, toothpaste and reordering my things when visiting? I think it's disgusting. He says were family.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  It is a matter of personal choice. If you do not want anyone sharing your toiletries, be firm. Your husband needs to be more respectful, so don’t back down. I hope this helps.
-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Need a Night Off From Mom

How do I tell my mother, who now lives with us, that we want to have friends over and we want her to stay in a hotel for the evening? 

Dear Jay,
My mother moved in with my husband and me a year ago. She really has no other place to go and doesn't have many friends or activities to keep her busy.  My husband and I would like to host a dinner party for some friends, but do not want my mother around. She sits around in a house coat and can be somewhat rude. I think she would eat dinner with us and probably go to bed early. Is it wrong to ask her to stay in a hotel for one night? My husband and I would certainly pay for the hotel. I don't want to upset her or make her feel unwelcome, but I also don't want to make our friends feel like they have to leave early or be quiet because they don't want to wake her. Any advice on how to approach my mother on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  I hope there was some sort of understanding between you and your husband and your mother about how your mother would fit into your household. If your mother is essentially a guest in your house, then giving her a night or two in a nice hotel would be a real treat for her (and for you). If this scenario has never been discussed, let alone experienced, then it may be awkward. My hunch is that she’ll welcome a change of scenery, too. This act is out of respect for her privacy and for your own respect as well. If she protests, let her know that if she stays, she is more than welcome, but that she also is clear that she has no leg to stand on if things upset her. Give her a couple of days to digest this concept. Time can be magical. I hope this helps.
-Jay

Contact Stage of Life with your Etiquette QuestionIf you have an etiquette question and would like a personal response from Jay and StageofLife.com, please contact us and we'll post your question and the answer in the hopes that it'll help others in the same life situation.

Rude Sister-in-Law

Am I being too critical by wanting my sister-in-law to not make herself so at home when she comes to visit? 

Dear Jay,
I have concerns in regards to my sister in law. The first being that my husband and I purchased a home 3 years ago and we recently began furnishing it. When my sister in law comes over she sits with her feet (shoes on) on our new sofas and her children do the same. My husband has asked the kids to please put their feet down in hopes my sister in law will get the hint, but it doesn’t seem to help. It gets frustrating because we work hard and would like our furniture to last is a while.

Also, my sister in law tends to really make herself at home when she visits. She will take over the kitchen, feed herself and her family , use the washer and dryer , use all sorts of dishes and all without asking, and at times I am stuck cleaning up a mess a didn't make. Am I being too picky? Growing up I was taught you always ask before you do anything. Please help.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: This is a simple matter of communication and respect. Your SIL has no respect for your house or for you. Putting feet on furniture, especially with shoes on is rude and basic bad manners. I would simply tell them in no uncertain terms to keep their dirty feet off the furniture. Embarrass them if need be. As to her using your house as her own, your husband should explain to her that she’s a guest in your home when she and the kids come over and not to just feel free to help herself to anything without asking. If you do not show respect for yourselves, no one else will either. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Bringing Wine

Do I need to bring a bottle of wine to every event that I am invited to attend? 

Dear Jay,
Whenever there is an informal family gathering/dinner/BBQ/whatever, is it obligatory that I bring a bottle of wine? Thank you.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  It is never obligatory to bring a bottle of wine, unless custom dictates that it’s a BYOB arrangement, which is actually growing in popularity. In that case, you’d be drinking the wine you bring. If you bring it as a hostess gift, it’s not for you to consume. I do think you ought to bring something to everything you go to. It does not, however, need to be a bottle of wine. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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No Warm Greetings

Is it rude of my son-in-law not to greet me when I go to his house? 

Dear Jay,
My son-in-law never comes out of his man cave to greet me when I come over. I feel he should at least shout out a “HELLO.” My daughter defends him, saying I am not there to see him.

Which of us is correct?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  It sounds as though your daughter invited you over, in which case she is the host and he has no obligation. If you just popped over, he is definitely off the hook. Whatever he is doing does not matter. He did not extend an invitation and so he does not have to come out. However, it is discourteous not to welcome all people into your house upon their arrival. But with family, rules are more flexible. I am siding with your daughter this time. I hope this helps.


-Jay

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Party's Over

How do I politely tell party guests that they are not welcome to stay past the end time of the party? 

Dear Jay,
I sent an open house invite for next Friday, but my invitees would come and not leave until way after the party hours, like if I say 4-8, they would stay until 12, with kids and craziness running around. How can I politely send a text message to all explaining the concept of an Open House Party, especially to those with kids?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  If people cannot read an invitation and understand that 8 O’Clock is when the party is over, then you as host simply explain that at the party at 8 O’Clock. We often start removing food 15 minutes before the end, or shut down the bar ahead of time. Thank your guests for coming and ask if they enjoyed themselves. If they still don’t get it, just say that the party is over now. That is not being rude. They should get the idea loud and clear. I hope this helps.


-Jay

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Houseguests Invites Her Own Guest While Host is at Work

How do I let my houseguest know that I feel violated and used after she invited someone I don't know into my home while I was at work? 

Dear Jay,
Is it appropriate for my houseguest to assume that I wouldn't mind that she entertain her friend (whom I never met) in my apartment when I am not there? She made tea, didn't even clean up, and hung around the place with him while I was at work. It made me feel violated. Was she just ignorant of manners? Or, am I wrong to feel used?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  She should have asked your permission. Many people are not taught such basic manners. But remember to never give people the power over your feelings. Ultimately the responsibility for how you feel about the situation is yours. Tea and a few dirty dishes is not much of a deal. In the future, if having surprise visitors bothers you, which is not unusual, simply make sure that if you leave people in your house alone that they know it’s not OK to invite people over unannounced. That is not an unreasonable request. Respect for yourself precedes gaining respect from others. I hope this helps.


-Jay

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My Mother-In-Law Interferes With My Parenting

Even though I live with my in-laws shouldn't I still be able to dictate how and when I spend time with my own daughter? 

Dear Jay,
I am married and have an almost 2 year old daughter. My in-laws have been completely interfering from day 1. We had to live with them because of financial problems, but they are still trying to control EVERYTHING and INTERFERING. My husband works afternoons/ nights and my father-in-law is only free at nighttime. Even though we have moved out since the last 5 months, they are still dictating when I can and can't have my own daughter.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You need to have a chat with your husband and have him speak to his mother. She needs to back off. It’s very gracious of her to have housed you while she did, and for that you must express your gratitude. However, that does not give her any rights to how you and your daughter interact. If your son can’t face up to his mother, you will need to. This is for the safety of your child. She notices everything and will grow up with very mixed messages if you don’t draw the line. Your daughter is your and your husband’s responsibility - not your MIL’s. You may risk an estranged relationship with your MIL, but your self respect is far more important. She’s a bully. Time for her to back off. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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New Grandmother Needs to Establish House Rules

How do I deal with my teenage son and his girlfriend staying with me especially now that they have a new baby? 

Dear Jay,
My son and his girlfriend live in my home. They just had a baby. The first day they came home with the baby the mother-in-law was there when I got home from work and stayed until 10pm or after. They were in the kid’s room the whole time and I never got to see the baby or hold it. I feel very offended and disrespected by both her mother and my son, but when I told my son who is 19 he didn’t see anything wrong with it. What is reasonable and am I being overly sensitive? How do I handle this? The whole situation, them becoming pregnant, having to stay with me, him still in school paying her bills, her family expecting me to pay for everything…the whole thing has been very stressful on me and I’m a wreck.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You have, as they say, created a monster. I’m afraid you need to take full responsibility here. First of all, it’s your house and you made the choice to allow your son to start his new family under your nose. Your son does not see anything wrong because he was never taught right from wrong, about respecting other people including you, and for not understanding the huge responsibility of bringing a child into the world. You need to teach him these things now. It’s not too late. There is no need to ask them to leave, but you need to establish some house rules. You first need to sit down with your son and his girlfriend and explain how you feel. You need to explain that you no longer can tolerate this and that things will need to change immediately. Anything that is inappropriate to you needs to be addressed. They will need to follow your rules. If they don’t like them or don’t want to, then they should set up their own household elsewhere. Since this is unlikely to happen, they will need to be grateful for what you offer them. There needs to be mutual respect here. You will need to make a plan though because you don’t want to abandon this wonderful opportunity to bond with your grandchild and with its mother. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Guests Leave Things Behind

Is it my responsibility to return the items that all my house guests leave behind when they visit? 

Dear Jay,
We have many house guests throughout the year and often they leave things behind. This past Thanksgiving I had 19 people (family members) spend the night. So far I have found 6 items left by different people who live out of my town. Each of them would like me to ship the item to them. That could cost me up to $100.00 not to mention the time and effort. I just spent two days cleaning up after everyone. What should I do and say to these people?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You have two choices. You can bite the bullet and return the items and either pay or send COD. Otherwise, you can invite them to come collect their belongings at their earliest convenience, or you will hold them for when they can come by. Frankly, I’d go with the former, and realize that this sort of thing can happen with a house full of guests. Maybe next time, you’ll ask everyone to check carefully, as your personal post office is now closed. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Son Wants Mom To Back Off

Is it okay for my son to tell me that I need to give my daughter-in-law her space with her family even though they all stay with me when the visit? 

Dear Jay,
My son and daughter-in-law live with me and her mother is visiting at my house from out of town. My son suggested that I let his wife and mother-in-law enjoy quality time alone and I not join them. Her mom and dad always stay at our house when they visit. I was offended at that suggestion.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Have a chat with your son to find out what the intention was behind his suggestion. Never give anyone the power to offend you. You are a very generous woman, and I fully understand your not liking to be told how to behave in your own house. But everyone likes their private moments. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Unwanted Holiday House Party

How do I tell my boss that I do not want her to invite people to my house for a Christmas party that I was not informed about until after the inviting was done? 

Dear Jay,
I work in a retail shop in a building with 8 other shops in it. Yesterday I was not at work. When I got to work today my boss and a lady from one of the other shops told me that yesterday they decided to organize a progressive Christmas dinner for all the people who work in the shops. To make a long story short, they decided that the ones of us who moved to different houses this year are the ones who will host the meals so that everyone can see their new houses. I am one of the ones who moved and my boss and the other lady told me they've decided my house will be one of the stops and that they have already invited the other people in the building to my house for that evening. I knew nothing about this until that moment.

I know this is true because I heard them inviting 2 other people in the building before they told me about it, and I couldn't understand what was going on at the time. When they told me this and expected me to be all happy, I was so flabbergasted I didn't know what to say, so I just said that I need to think about it, and was careful to not sound favorable. My boss laughed loudly and said, "What's to think about - it's a party!" leaving me feeling extremely uncomfortable and pressured into feeling like I will have to say its okay in order to please her.

It is not okay. I am angry that she would invite anyone to my house without even asking me first, including herself and other workers from other shops whom I hardly know and don't consider friends I would want to invite into my home. I also do not want her in my home, or to hang out with her outside of work hours. How in the world do I say all this to her and make it plain that I will not participate in this without getting into an awkward situation with my job? Is it wrong that I feel violated about this?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  I completely empathize with you and understand clearly why you feel violated. You in fact have been violated. I suggest that you schedule a private meeting with your boss, a chance for you to explain to her exactly how her actions make you feel. This will no doubt feel awkward; you have a lot at risk potentially. The most important thing for you is to establish the fact that you have self respect and that she has inappropriately crossed over a boundary. Inviting herself and other people to your house is never acceptable. By explaining that you keep your private life and your work life separate by choice, and though you appreciate the offer to participate in the holiday festivities they have planned, you’re going to regret the invitation. If she cannot accept this line or reasoning and respect you for it, then you may want to consider working elsewhere. A culture of disrespect at your place of work is a toxic bit of energy you do not need - not now, not ever. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Wife Doesn't Want Husband's Best Friend to Stay

Am I being rude and selfish for not wanting my husband's best friend to stay at our home now that we are married and have a newborn? 

Dear Jay,
I’ve been married for almost 1 yr and half, and we live in our own house alone. My husband's best friend visits us and he chooses to stay in our house for a couple of days. I don't want to be rude, but I feel uncomfortable and I feel like it's improper to have a guest staying in our house since we’re already a married couple and we have a newborn baby in the house. 

I told my husband how I feel, and he made me feel like I was rude and selfish, because it's his best friend who just wanted to stay with us for a couple of days. My point to him is that I'm the wife and I do have feelings. I feel like if there's someone in the house I can't do all the things I normally do. I'm breastfeeding my baby also, so I'm so uncomfortable if there is another person in the house. How come my husband couldn't understand my feelings? 

I told him if it was reversed my friends would never think of staying in our house because they know it's so improper since I'm married already plus we have a newborn. 

Am I really being selfish and rude for not letting his friend sleep and stay in our house? I feel so depressed because of this.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  I side with you on this, to a point. You and your husband need to have a talk and agree on guests coming into your house, as well as a whole lot of things, no doubt. You must agree on house rules. Your husband’s best friend may be welcome in your husband’s mind, but it is your home, too. He should have asked you about this first, without question. It appears that you have each come from different backgrounds with different ways of doing things. This is fine, but you must both recognize that there will be challenges that will arise. Be kind to one another - always. Both of you will need to be flexible and respectful of one another. Both you and your husband are on the defensive, each needing to “be right”. You are both being inflexible and unwilling to listen to each other. This sort of communication is important for your relationship to weather what lies ahead of you in your future together. Relationships are not easy and require give and take and mutual respect. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Giving up the Master Bedroom for Guests

Should I give up my bedroom with en-suite bathroom for my in-laws when they come to visit? 

Dear Jay,
I'm recently divorced and still on relatively good terms with my ex and in-laws. My in-laws are visiting from out of town and they want to stay with me for a couple of days while my kids are with me which is fine, but do I need to give them my master bedroom with the bathroom?   There is a guest bedroom upstairs and they would need to share the bathroom with my two kids.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You do not need to give up your bedroom. Although this is considered gracious by some people, I am totally against it. Your hospitality is more than sufficient. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Dad Won't Let Them Stay Because of Dogs

Is it appropriate for me to be resentful towards my dad because he won't let us stay with him even after we drive 21 hours because of my dogs? 

Dear Jay,
I have two small Italian Greyhounds and 1 small Sheba Enu. We don't board our dogs when we travel; we rent a car and find pet friendly hotels. We drive 21 hours every year to visit my aging dad and mom. Our first choice on that trip is to stay with them in their home. It’s the home I grew up in and always had pets. My bedroom as a teenager is a huge room upstairs where we could keep the dogs when necessary. They won't let us stay in the home because they detest my Italian Greyhounds. My Dad is a dog lover, but not a lover of my Italian Greyhounds. We have to stay in a hotel because of this. I am resentful, because we drive a very long distance to visit for a mere 4 days.  We would much rather stay with them. Our dogs are well behaved, and I think my dad should at least give it a try.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Your father gets to call the shots here. He is “hosting” you, or would be. A man’s home is his castle. Your resentfulness is inappropriate and disrespectful of him. It’s his house, not yours. Being a former international dog show judge, I understand your view about boarding dogs. It may be worth considering hiring a dog sitter and save yourself a whole lot of aggravation. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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One Bedroom Apartment Not Good for Guests

Should I go back on my invitation for my friends to stay with us or should I convince my husband that they should stay with us? 

Dear Jay,
My good college friend and her husband are visiting the city for New Years and staying for 3 days to see the city. My husband never met her or her husband.

As much as I want to have them stay over at my place, my husband says that we only have a one bedroom apartment and he doesn't want to wait to use the bathroom after three people finish. He explained that it’s a new year starting, and I agree that it’s understandable.

But I remember mentioning to my friends casually that I will host them if they come to the city. Now, I am stuck between allowing them stay with us by convincing my husband or making them stay in a hotel even though I mentioned they could stay with us.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  The important piece of the puzzle here is that you and your husband need to come to an agreement. I think three days of sharing one bathroom can be a challenge, and I can understand why your husband would resist this. Perhaps before you invite people to share your apartment with you, you should clear it first with your husband. It’s his apartment, too. I suggest that your friends stay elsewhere. Invite them over for a meal if you want, but hosting them in a one BR apartment is not likely to be comfortable for you or for them. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Messy Houseguests

How do I get my houseguests to understand that even though my house is messy, I still expect them to clean up after themselves? 

Dear Jay,
I'm not the best housekeeper, but I do clean up after myself. I know my house needs a deep cleaning. My siblings or boyfriend come over a lot and they leave their mess all the time - like fast food containers left open in the bedroom because that's where everyone hangs out, or drink containers and trash in general. My bedroom is more like the living room. I constantly tell them to clean after themselves, but it's not working and they look at me like I'm crazy because my house is not always clean. They do not seem to care or understand that they should still clean up after themselves. How do I fix this without just being a mean person and not letting anyone else over?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Setting house rules does not make you a mean person. It makes you a person who has respect for your house. In your case, this respect seems to be a moving target. I would begin by cleaning your house and keeping it clean. People are more likely to follow your guidelines if you follow them yourself. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Boyfriend Wants to Abandon Houseguests

Is it inconsiderate to leave a houseguest alone and go to another function without them? 

Dear Jay,
Last week my brother who lives several hours away from me called and said he was on vacation and would like to come visit for a day (arrive Friday night, spend the night, and leave Saturday afternoon). I hadn't seen him in four months because our schedules don't allow us to travel and visit each other much, so I wanted him to come. The problem was, my boyfriend and I were planning on attending a birthday party for my boyfriend's two-year-old niece (his sister's daughter) on Saturday as well. His sister lives close and we see them quite often (and had just seen them two weeks prior at someone else's birthday get-together), and I told him there was no reason for him to miss the party, but that if I told my brother it was alright for him to come then I would not attend.

My boyfriend suggested that I do both, leaving my brother at home for 2+ hours while I went to the party. He suggested that my brother could go get lunch or find something else to do while I was at the party. I said I thought that would be rude because my brother was coming to visit me, not the town. He wasn't vacationing and staying over with me, he was coming to see me specifically and since he was only going to be here for less than 24 hours I wanted to make the most of our time together.

Do you think I'm right in thinking that it's rude to leave a guest alone when they're visiting for such a short time? This is the second time this type of situation has come up between my boyfriend and me. Another time I had an out-of-state friend (who was not a family member) spending the night with me, and my boyfriend wanted me to go for a drive with him that night, leaving my friend in my house alone. My boyfriend got upset (and still doesn't understand) why I said I didn't want to leave her there alone because it would be inconsiderate.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  I see two different situations here. In the first one involving your brother, you had previously accepted an invitation to your niece’s 2nd birthday party. While I don’t put a lot of weight on 2nd birthday parties in general, the fact of the matter is that you accepted an invitation and you have some obligation to attend. You could have explained this to your brother before arrangements with him were settled. This is similar to accepting an invitation, then receiving a better one and trying to back out of the first one. If he agreed, your boyfriend could have gone to the party alone, with a simple phone call explaining the change in plans once the new plan had been set. You and your boyfriend need to be able to communicate well enough to settle this sort of issue easily and amicably. There will be bigger issues to face in life. 

As to the second situation involving your visiting girlfriend, you are in the right. It would be rude to abandon your houseguest to go for a drive. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Partner's Nephew No Longer Welcome

How do I convince my partner that his sister and her son are taking advantage of us? 

Dear Jay,
My partner’s nephew came to live with us during his senior year of high school because he thought that he would get more exposure in basketball and secure a scholarship. After actually seeing him play, we realized that he was embellishing his ability and was not very good. From the beginning we told his mother that he could stay, only if she assumed ALL financial responsibility for him, as we already have one teenage son and could not financially support another at this time.  

Needless to say, his mother did not hold up her end of the bargain for the entire school year, and acted as if we were somehow wrong for asking her to support her OWN child. When the basketball season was over in February, we told him that he needed to get an after school job. School is out at 1:15 and we did not want him just sitting around our house doing nothing.  

Instead of finding a job, he found a group of friends that he hung out with daily until late in the night during the week, and sometimes 3 or 4 in the morning on the weekends. I told my partner that once school was out that he had to go back to his mom's house - which is out of state. He somehow manipulated that situation with his mom and my partner and ended up staying for the summer - not working - just hanging out with friends. I dealt with it knowing that the end was near. He was accepted into a college here in the city and we told his mother that he could absolutely not stay with us and that she must secure a room on campus for him. 

Thinking, that they would manipulate the situation again, she missed the deadline for campus housing and his room was not available when school started. When she saw that we wouldn't give in, she then comes here and takes him to a school two hours away and is able to get him in. I told both his mother and my partner that he is not welcome for school breaks, and/or the summer. Now, they are asking if he can stay for Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks because his mother lives on the other side of the country and can't afford plane tickets.  

How is this my problem?? His mother would NEVER do for us with our child what we are doing for her. He is not an asset to our household. His mother does not contribute financially. He does not help out by at least cleaning, taking out the trash, walking the dog, etc. Am I being too harsh for demanding that he go back home to his mother on school breaks?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You and your partner need to have chat and come to some agreement as to terms under which his nephew can visit. Come up with house rules, including chores, if necessary. Your partner will then impart this information to his sister and he can deal with her. But remember that you and he must first agree on the terms and you must have one another’s back and don’t give in to her. Perhaps you will come to understand that this dynamic is a generational thing in his family. Being flexible and inclusive around holidays is important though. Have compassion and gratitude. No one knows how many more holidays we have to celebrate. Enjoy them while you can. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Worry Over Where Mom and Dad Will Sleep

Is it appropriate for my mom and dad to ask to sleep in the master bedroom when they come and visit? 

Dear Jay,
My parents are coming over to my home for a night. They always complain about the air mattress, but recently we bought another bed; however, the only other available space to put it is in the basement. My mother has said this is okay, but my fear is that when she arrives she and my father will complain about being put in the basement. My husband is out of town so I worry that they will request that they sleep in the master bedroom. Is it appropriate to tell them no? If they really can't go to the basement, my mom has two sisters in the area she could stay with that have their separate guest facilities.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Take your mother at her word. No need to invent stories about events that won’t be happening. It’s only for one night. Abandon your fears. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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In-law's Thanksgiving Intrusion Frustrating

Why do I feel so offended that my in-laws decided to visit us over Thanksgiving and cook the meal for my husband? 

Dear Jay,
My husband and I just moved to a new house in another state. His parents invited themselves for Thanksgiving and fully plan on cooking for him. Why do I feel so offended?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  There could be any number of reasons, but I’m going with lack of respect on the part of his folks, and frankly on your husband’s part as well. Even seemingly small decisions like cooking a meal should be discussed and agreed upon before plans are set, especially when the situation is so “new”. You both need to discuss this and make it clear to his folks that you will be cooking the meal. Or, that you look forward to spending time and preparing the meal together. Or, thank you so much for offering to cook the meal. I look forward to learning some tricks to cooking a delicious turkey. 

You have choices, all of which depend on your situation. The bottom line is that you do not want to play second fiddle, and you are well within your rights to be included in decisions. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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In-Law's Last Minute Trip Unwelcome

What can I do about the fact that my in-laws will be coming to visit with very little notice? 

Dear Jay,
My husband's family lives out of state. I was told on a Wednesday that they were coming in from out of town on that Friday or Saturday and would like to stay at our house for the weekend. Am I wrong for being frustrated with such a short notice?

Before answering this question, please note that this was not an emergency, nor a last-minute trip.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  For many people, short notice is frustrating, and understandably so. If your husband delivered the news, and it was fresh news to him, then he wouldn’t have had any choice. If he knew about this impending visit for some time, you need to make sure it doesn’t happen again. You may want him to let his family know that such short term invasions are unwelcome if this is their way of going and is likely to happen again. I also think it’s best for such arrangements to be made in agreement before signing on by either one of you. This can form the basis for a more respectful relationship. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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What Can I Bring?

Is asking "what can I bring?" just a silly gesture? 

Dear Jay,
Am I expected to ask "what can I bring?” when invited to dinner at a friend’s home?  My husband and I have friends over for dinner and they most always ask if they can bring something and I always say "thanks but just bring yourselves". I ask the same when invited to friends for dinner and get the same answer, "just bring yourselves". It only takes a minute to ask, but I find it useless as most people, including me have taken the time to organize and prepare a nice meal. Another dish or desert is not really wanted. I might mention that we do always bring wine and perhaps flowers or candy. This may be trivial, but I'm curious.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: The rhetorical question in question here is more a force of habit than a real request. It’s really a kindness, and yes, it’s a waste of time if that’s what kindness can be reduced to, which would be sad. So, not trivial at all. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Uncomfortable Around Brother-in-law

How do I get my husband to understand how uncomfortable I am around his brother? 

Dear Jay,
My husband announced to me that his brother is coming to visit from out of town.  Because I feel uncomfortable around his brother, we had an agreement that my husband would go visit his brother any time he wants but his brother would not come here. This went out the window when his brother announced he wanted to come. I am not allowed to tell the brother how I feel about this or even discuss why I feel uncomfortable around him without my husband getting angry.  

I FINALLY accepted the fact he was coming, but have been distressed to the point of distraction. My husband says he doesn't understand this, but is sticking to his guns. I finally said 3 days, and he agreed, but when the brother in law told him he was staying for 5 days it became law. What is the etiquette for this type of situation?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: You and your husband have a very serious problem. Your husband is a bully and has no respect for you. I don’t know what your issue is with your BIL; it doesn’t matter. Your feelings are valid and need to be both respected and understood. Without this, your relationship is going to continue to be very one-sided, and will likely only become more challenging. You may want to consider seeking professional  counseling if you cannot resolve this through open honest communication. I hope this helps..
-Jay

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No Couch for Me, Please

Who should get the bedroom and who should get the couch when multiple guests are visiting from out of town? 

Dear Jay,
I'm 21 years old and married. My husband and I are in town on a year long planned vacation. We are staying at my parents’ house in my old room. My husband will be leaving to go home ahead of me in a few days and then my uncle will be flying into town for a family wedding. We have three bedrooms in my parents’ house - my parents’, my sister’s, and my old room. I really don't want to sleep on the floor of my sister’s room or the couch since my family stays up late and I'm the total opposite.

I'm assuming I'll get kicked out of my room since my uncle is coming. Is that fair? I know I'm younger, but I'm also a female, and we planned our stay at my parents’ long before my uncle did. Does gender or age matter? Who should get the couch?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  A year long planned vacation? Seriously? Not a bad gig at 21. You are still a guest in your parents’ house. They’ll let you know where you’ll be sleeping. Be grateful. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Husband's Adult Son Needs Boundaries

How do I create expectations for my husband's adult son who seems to be taking advantage of us? 

Dear Jay,
My husband and I are newlyweds of 3 years. I have two adult daughters (26 and 21) who live with us because we are helping them get on their own feet. My husband has a 26 year old son who from time to time brings his 3 year old daughter and new girlfriend who also spends the night almost every night now. 

Please help me set ground rules for expectation on bringing boyfriends/girlfriends over. It is becoming a frustration on my end because he never tells me when he’s bringing a girlfriend over and my husband seems to be okay with it. His son is allowed to smoke HTC while staying with us because we were trying to help him get over his heroine addiction. It’s driving me crazy right now, though, and I can't sleep. I want what is fair for me and for him as well since my two daughters live with us too. Please help.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You need to sit down with your husband and communicate to him what your concerns are, and how his indifference makes you feel. Together you need to draw up a set of house rules for everyone to follow. When things begin to get under your skin, it’s best to tackle them right away. You are very generous people; have some compassion for yourselves and establish some boundaries. This shows your children, by example, what respect is all about - respect for others and respect for self. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Time Share Over Share

Was it okay that I invited another couple to my boss's timeshare? 

Dear Jay,
My boss gave me a week in Aruba as a perk to my job at his own personal time share. I invited anther couple to join us that week. Is that rude to have invited someone to this timeshare? Or should I have been happy that they offered it to us and go alone?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You may have wanted to ask permission before inviting others to his time share. He may well have agreed to your request. He may not be bothered by your actions, but you are opening yourself up to unnecessary stress. Hope this helps.

 -Jay

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Setting Boundaries for Vacation Home

Was it wrong of me to tell my sister that our vacation property is for adult guests only because I find having to entertain children exhausting? 

Dear Jay,
My husband and I are in our mid sixties and after a lifetime of hard work we are fortunate enough to live a luxurious lifestyle. We recently bought a winter home in the Florida Keys. During our first season there we had guests at least 70% of the time and as enjoyable as it was, it turned out to be a lot of work, making it nearly impossible for me to do any writing. I am an author with deadlines to respect. We promised ourselves that from now on we would limit the number of guests that we have. Having said that, we have extended an open invitation to our immediate family.

A few days ago one of my sisters sent an email asking if she, and her new husband can come for a week, and bring her ten year old daughter (my niece). I hate to say this, but I find having children around very stressful. Spending time with this little girl in particular is extremely difficult. She suffers from ADD and is hyperactive. She jumps around, and interrupts adult conversations constantly. Part of the problem is that the mother has always enabled this behavior. Basically whenever the child is present, all attention focuses on her all the time. It is impossible to have any normal conversation. I can handle a few hours, as can my husband, but a week would send us to drink.

I sent my sister a reply stating that she and her husband are more than welcome, but that we want to keep our vacation home adults only.  She no longer speaks to me.  What should I do? 

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  I applaud you for establishing house rules with your husband and sticking to them. If your sister is offended, that frankly is her problem. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “You cannot offend someone without their permission.” This laces responsibility for our feelings with us, not elsewhere. Given that she is an enabler, this dynamic may not register with her. Your generosity should be appreciated. Stick to your guns. She will likely run up against this again in another situation, and hopefully one day she will come around. You are in fact showing her by example just how self respect works, and what it looks like. I hope this helps.

 -Jay

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Guests Can Stay Here, But I Can't Look After Them

Is it okay for me to allow people to stay at my home when my daughter gets married even if I can't really provide them with food, etc. while they are here because I will be working on the wedding? 

Dear Jay,
My daughter is getting married next year and we are having the wedding in our garden. All guests will be from out of town. We have room to put up four couples and the rest will have to see to their own accommodations. I do not want to be cooking and looking after eight extra people for food etc. because I am doing most of the planning of the wedding .

How can I tell the people staying in my house they are responsible for their own food, etc.?

I will be 64 years old and I don’t have strength nor inclination to be running after people.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  I understand your position and would advise that you be sure those people staying with you know of this arrangement before they accept your invitation to stay. This way they have the option to stay in a hotel if they’d prefer. I hope this helps.

 -Jay

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Proper Wording for Signs at an Outdoor Wedding

How do I politely word signs at my outdoor wedding to let guests know they may not enter the home on the property? 

Dear Jay,
I'm planning a backyard wedding for Oct. 10, 2015. The homeowner wants signs placed on all doors to the house stating that wedding guests may not enter. There will be a tent, catered food, drinks, a fire pit, games, D.J. and a dance floor and deluxe port-a-potties - everything I think a guest might need. I would like a few suggestions on how to politely word signs that will go on the doors of the residence. I want to respect the homeowners and be hospitable to the guests.
Thanks so much!

Jay's ANSWER...
A: This is a great question. I find a sign that simply says PRIVATE usually does the trick. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Worries Over House Guests Mistreating the Dog and Home

How do we handle a family staying at our home while we are away for Thanksgiving when we know they are untidy and don't like dogs? 

Dear Jay,
We recently were asked by another family if they could use our home for Thanksgiving because we will be away during their visit. Our dog will be here, and we already have his care taken care of. What is the proper etiquette here?  

In the past, while we are present, they have mistreated our dog (he is very well trained and easy going and 8 yrs old). By mistreat I mean, chased into rooms and then slammed the door closed, chased outside in a torrential downpour and didn't mention to us that they ran him out there (he's trained not to bark outside of security, so he was out there unbeknownst to us for over an hour), the wife and children are afraid of dogs so they just get rid of him any way they can when we aren't there to prevent it.  

We are type A personalities and highly value a clean home, whenever we have visited this family at their home, we leave feeling filthy because they maybe clean their bathroom and floors every other month?  What is the etiquette here? Clearly, we will not be home to prevent anything from going wrong and we will likely be welcomed home to a significantly dirtier home than how we left it (and for vacation I leave it spotless). I'm also concerned that I will be stressed out during our vacation for concern for my home-locked doors, how high are they increasing and leaving our heat, did they use our stove and turn it off, if they use the laundry will they leave the washer open?  Do we need any legal work done in advance in case he is mishandled and bites (never bit before and we trust him, but we take good care of him too).

Jay's ANSWER...
A: The simple solution here is to let them know that your home is not available to them. I suggest you explain to them exactly why. This is unfair to you, and especially unfair to your dog. There is definitely a potential safety issue as well, given they are afraid of dogs. In the future, you must have house rules clearly articulated. Your home is your castle, and intruders are no longer welcome. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Pushy Sister-In-Law's Party Expectations Too High

Is it too late for me to tell my sister-in-law that I don't want her friends staying at my home for my brother's party? 

Dear Jay,
My sister-in-law from out-of-state is having a surprise birthday party for my brother while they will be visiting here. At first, she asked me to host the party at my home. I suggested that we have it on a train instead, and she liked the idea. But now, she has my mother doing most of the leg work and housing all the guests.

My sister-in-law also asked me to put up two of their friends (who I met once maybe 10 years ago) plus their two kids overnight at my house. I suggested a hotel, but she said her friends are on a budget. I feel burned out and told her so, but it fell on deaf ears. So, I said yes with much hesitation.
Personally, I would rather just pay for their hotel room than have to host them at my house.

I love my brother, but find his wife to be clueless and always trying to get everyone else do the heavy lifting. I'm sure her friends are nice, but she is imposing on me. Is it too late to offer to put them up at a hotel? I'm tired of taking the high road and sucking it up and going through the motions with family members and all the high maintenance that they require.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: It is not too late to not only offer, but insist that her friends stay at a hotel. Taking the high road does not mean being a doormat. You must, above all, have respect for yourself. Your home is your castle and you must lay down the house rules. If your SIL is “clueless”, taking the high road would be raising her awareness to an acceptable level, not stooping to her disrespectful level. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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My New Husband's Family is Always in Our New Home

How can I get my new husband to establish boundaries with his family for when they can and can't come to our new home? 

Dear Jay,
My husband and I just bought our first home in April and we have been married a month tomorrow. His family is always here. We lived together for three years in an apartment, and during that time we never saw his family. I am so mad and it's making me not want to come home.  His brother lives near us and he is always at our house. His mother lives 8 hours away, but comes in every two months and stays for 3 weeks. We were married for 2 weeks and she came in again. I know this is going to cause some friction between my husband and his family for him to address it, but it has to be done. I kind of wish I still had my apartment because at least I had my privacy then. Isn't it okay to expect my new husband to put some boundaries in place with his family?  If not, we are definitely going to have some major issues.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: You are absolutely correct! Your home is your castle and you and your husband must agree on the house rules. He must speak with his family and make it abundantly clear that they are no longer welcome without either asking or being invited. No just showing up unannounced. They are demonstrating that they have no respect for you or your husband - or themselves for that matter. By laying down the law you will be showing that you have respect for yourselves. They may come to realize that this is an important part of maintaining healthy family relationships. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Wicked In-Laws Cause High Anxiety

How do I deal with my the rude and disrespectful behavior of my in-laws? 

Dear Jay,
My in-laws are overbearing and controlling. They live 1000 miles from my husband and me. My husband is a farmer / rancher with extremely long hours.  My career takes me 10.5 to 11 hours per day, I then take care of our shopping, large home, pool and yard. We live where my mother-in-law grew up and has 3 sisters still in our community.  

For many years we will receive a phone call announcing they are coming to visit because she wants to see her sisters. My sister-in-law does the same thing - inviting herself and family to come to our home and vacation. There have been many insults slung at me by each of them.  

One Saturday after I served lunch (no help from anyone) to my sister-in-law and her family, my husband ate then went back to work. My sister-in-law, her husband and kids got up from table, put on swimsuits and went out to swim.  As I was clearing the table my sister-in-law walked by on the way to the door, paused and said, “My husband said the only reason Tom married you is because he wanted someone that worked hard.” She laughed and was out the door.  I was appalled and angry!  

I did as I have done for many years and told myself to let it roll off, because my husband doesn't get to see his family all that often and I should  just let them enjoy themselves. I could write a book with all the outlandish crap that has been said to me by these people. I have felt horrible giving them free reign of our home while my husband and myself have been at work.  

Of course, nothing is ever clean enough, neat enough, or decorated quite good enough and this has been expressed to me. I finally got to my breaking point and told my husband I was done with putting up with this. His sister phoned on his birthday, and he told her she owed me an apology. Of course, she said she did not do anything I had told him and gave no apology. The same thing happened with his parents. Their response was, "Tom you know us and know we would not do this". Then they proceeded to point out my flaws in their opinion.  My father-in-law actually opened my bedroom door early one morning and walked in. I awoke to him standing over me asking me a question. I was mortified and couldn't even speak. He finally turned and left my bedroom. I demanded that my husband install a door knob that he could lock with a key when he left in the mornings.  

Again in the trying to get along with everyone, we just let it go.  After several other offenses from my father-in-law my husband brought up him letting himself into my bedroom and my father-in-law denied it. 

They were not allowed to stay in our home for a couple of years then my mother-in-law had a sister in the hospital so she phoned telling my husband she was coming. He said she could stay here,and then she said we needed to have a vehicle for her to drive while she was here (she flew in to the nearest large airport which is 3 hours away, so I had to go pick her up). My husband knows all this has pushed me beyond my limit, but he wants to spend time with them.  

I'm a wreck; even if they just phone it upsets me. I don't want to be around them, but my husband says he wants to see his parents, and they are getting old and will not be here that much longer. He says he wants me to go with him to a wedding that they will attend as well. I don't know that I can go and act like nothing happened when his father has called me a liar to everyone that would listen to him. My heart rate increases just thinking about it, and I cannot sleep. My husband has told me he will deal with anyone that is rude to me, but he will have to see it to deal with it. I think he is wanting everything to smooth over, but I really don't know how I can forget. How do I deal with these people that I do not think deserve the time of day from me?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: This is a very serious problem for you, and your husband does not appreciate how this actually makes you feel. He needs to be your number one ally, even above his family. If he cannot do this, you must lay down the law. Your home is your castle, and people who do not respect you and how you manage your home, or your life for that matter, are no longer welcome. Your husband will need to make this more clear to his parents, otherwise he will have to visit them alone. You must stand your ground and be sure to never lose respect for yourself. Otherwise people will continue to be disrespectful of you. Their behavior is unacceptable and needs to be banished from your life. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Smokers Refuse to Follow Smoking Ban

How do I handle guests who refuse to follow our rule against no smoking on our property because it make my husband and me sick? 

Dear Jay,
Is it wrong for me to ban smoking on my property?

My husband and I are very sensitive to cigarette smoke to the point that it gives me a terrible headache and makes my husband throw up. We have relatives who are smokers. We made very clear that there is no smoking in our home and that when they come to visit they are not to go out and smoke then come back in. This obviously brings the smoke and smell which causes issues for me and my husband.

We were told this was ridiculous, even after I explained the reason. My husband - ever the practical one - said if they are staying a full day and must smoke then he would spray their clothes vigorously with febreeze to kill the smell and would put a cover on the sofa to stop the smell transferring.

We were told again we were ridiculous and cannot dictate when they can smoke. They told us it is our duty as hosts to just 'deal with it'.

Are we being unreasonable?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Your home is your castle. Intruders cannot be accommodated. It is the guest who must follow the house rules, not the other way around. If your relatives cannot honor your rules and have respect for you, don’t invite them over. You are not being unreasonable or ridiculous. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Couch Surfer's Manipulation Hurts Friend

What do I do about my university friend who lied to me about visiting friends and excluding me from the visit while staying with me? 

Dear Jay,
A very old uni friend of mine (of thirty years - I am close to other members of his family as well) who stays with me on and off for months on end, almost every summer, secretly went out to lunch with mutual friends (a couple) by pretending that he was just seeing one of them for a quick drink "in the city".

The four of us had already discussed how we would meet up before he left and although they were making the hike in order to give him a farewell, they were fully expecting to see me as well and looking forward to a leisurely lunch with the four of us.

In the end though, it was the couch surfer who made arrangements, and he deliberately led me to believe that he was just seeing the man of the couple for a brief drink "somewhere in the city" (never mind that the city is all of 200 metres away). I felt a little left out, but rationalized it by thinking "it's just the boys - they might want to spend some time together".

Anyway, what actually happened and had been the plan from the beginning, was that they went out to a three-hour lunch practically on my door step at my favorite restaurant. I told the couch surfer how hurtful that was and his response was "they're my friends and I wanted to spend time with them.” Bear in mind that they are very much my friends too, that they were expecting, and looking forward to seeing, me as well, and that he spent four whole days alone with them a couple of weeks ago at their holiday house just a couple of weeks ago. They told me they wondered where I was, and had assumed I had too much work to come, but also felt a bit uncomfortable about being a two minute walk from my flat and not seeing me.

The worst thing is that the couch surfer (who comes and goes from my flat as he pleases and has a key), manipulated me into thinking that the arrangements were other than they were, and in effect lied to our friends as well. He is actually renowned for his occasional selfishness, and I suspect he has done something like this before with the same friends (leading me to think that they liked his company so much more than mine, but "never mind, they have the right to feel like that". Now I wonder whether he'd just told them that I couldn't go...).

I feel like I've been stabbed in the back and the whole thing is still making me cry. The mutual friends are saying not to worry about it, and the three of us will go out another time after he's gone and have a great time etc etc, but I still feel betrayed and manipulated. Am I right to feel so?
I should point out that the couch surfer is also funny and good company and although often selfish and inconsiderate, sometimes sweet and generous (at least when it's easy for him to be so).

Jay's ANSWER...
A: The time has come for you to have a chat with your friend, the couch surfer. Your feelings are clearly hurt, and although we are responsible for our feelings, we also have a right to be respected. Communication about awkward moments is uncomfortable, but necessary. I suggest you sit down with him and explain exactly how his actions make you feel. He needs to be told that once trust is jeopardized, it is very difficult to regain it. In fact, there is nothing really wrong with him spending time alone with anyone he wants, but lying is unacceptable. In most cases, raising his awareness of this dynamic will help him to change his ways. If this doesn’t do the trick, limiting your time with him is a logical alternative. After all, you must maintain your own self respect. Without that, respecting others will always be a challenge. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Including More Guests For Beach House Vacation

Is it rude for us to ask if our children can bring their significant others on our vacation at a cousin's beach house? 

Dear Jay,
A cousin and his family invited my husband and I and our two 30 something year old children to spend the weekend at their magnificent beach house with them. Both of my kids have long term 3 and 5 year+ relationships, but are not yet engaged or married. It would be rude for my kids to say “see ya later” to their significant others for the weekend at the beach, but is it rude to ask if we can bring the girlfriend and boyfriend with us? Or would it be better to just get a hotel nearby for our kids and their significant others to stay?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: It would not be rude for your children to spend a weekend away from their significant others. It would be rude to ask if they could be included in the invitation. Perhaps an alternative suggestion that would work for you is to explain the situation to your host and let them know that you and your husband would love to stay with them, but you will put your children, etc up at a hotel. This gives the host the opportunity to extend the invitation to them with no obligation. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Concerned Friend Wants to Help But Doesn't Know How

How can I help my disabled friend deal with her sister's unwanted intrusion in her home? 

Dear Jay,
I am inquiring this question for a friend. She has a sister and her husband and a baby I believe all living with her in a small one bedroom apartment.The sister does nothing to help clean,and just pretty much just exists there. Can you tell me how I might be able to help this friend in giving suggestions? She is fed up. She has disabilities, and she fights with depression and can't take much more of the stress this is causing her. What would she be able to do? I mean it's not like her life is in danger from her sister, but I think you can get my drift. She wants the sister out, and apparently either the sister won't go or I don't know. What does one do?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: The most important thing to happen is for your friend to speak directly with her sister and explain how the situation is making her feel. Her home is her castle, and she must set boundaries and house rules. Her extended family must find a place of their own. They are not your friend’s responsibility. If she needs her privacy, she must say so. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Husband's Greeting Not Enough

Am I old school for my belief that my husband should greet me right when he gets home from work? 

Dear Jay,
I'd like to know whether it's proper for my husband to greet me or my guest first. When he gets home from work, as soon as he walks in the door, now understand, he ONLY does this when I have my friend over, but he says, "Hey!" Then he goes and sets his things down, and THEN he comes to me and greets me. Maybe I'm wrong, or I'm still old-school, but I thought a man was supposed to greet his wife first.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: I see nothing wrong with your husband putting his things down before making any formal greeting. He should greet you before your friend, but saying ‘hey’ is hardly an infraction. In the big scheme of things, this is a very trivial matter. If a small matter like this raises red flags, I wish you luck when something serious happens in your lives. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Unwanted Roommate

How do I demand higher rent from my unwanted roommate and make her understand this is non-negotiable? 

Dear Jay,
A friend of mine moved in with me. I did not invite her, but she needed a place to stay and I am allowing her to stay with me. She has been with me for several months. I don't have her on a lease, but I provided one so that she could prove that she lives in the city. Due to her having an additional family member that is now with her, I told her that I would be increasing her rent for the next month (more than two weeks before the next month). I told her we could talk about it.

She felt that I was making a rash decision by increasing the rent, and then she shared that she's not comfortable.

I believe that she is a bit displaced and trying to find herself. Because of that, I decided to help her and allow her to stay with me. However, because of that, I believe she is projecting her current insecurities onto me.

When I tried to talk to her about it, I asked her, “What is it that you would like from me?" She told me that she didn't know and she had to think about it.

She seems (or seemed) to be settled in. I believe that my informing her about the rent increase, triggered some insecurities. This is my house. I don't care how uncomfortable she feels. I am not going to be uncomfortable in my own house. So, if anyone has to leave, it will not be me.

I'm not sure how to handle this.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: You need to sit down with your friend and explain the situation and how you feel about it with her. The fact that she moved in without being invited does not indicate that you have any boundaries or rules regarding your home. This also shows a lack of self respect, a quality you do not want to perpetuate, let alone have. The best thing you can do for your friend is set a good example while being compassionate. She needs to become independent. You are being an enabler, which only makes things worse. If she is unsure about how to go about this, help her find another place. She will be grateful in the long run, if not in the short term. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Not Welcome Niece

How do I tell my niece that it's time for her to move out of my house without sounding rude to her? 

Dear Jay,
My husband's niece came to our place for holiday. She has stayed for 4 months and isn’t showing signs or plans of going. The annoying part is she enters my room without knocking whether I am in there alone or with my hubby. How do I tell her her time is up and that she should leave without sounding rude?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: You must speak with your husband and explain that his niece’s behavior is unacceptable. You and he must come to an agreement as to what your house rules are. You will need to let her know that she must find her own accommodations as quickly as possible. This is not rude. Your home is your castle. This is an issue that should have been dealt with before she even arrived, so now it will be awkward, but nonetheless, if you speak with kindness, all will be well. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Uninvited In-laws

How do I handle the fact that my in-laws invited themselves to my home for the holidays and I was never asked? 

Dear Jay,
My parent in laws have invited themselves to stay for the holidays. I was never asked. This is the second year. I do not want them at the house my parents worked so hard to get us and they never lifted a finger to help.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: You must have a chat with your husband and explain that no one can invite themselves to your home; they must be invited. You must be clear that decisions of this nature must be agreed upon. Open communication is essential to a healthy relationship. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Declining Gracefully

How do I tell guests who basically invited themselves to stay at our home that we have reconsidered and we don't have room for them to stay? 

Dear Jay,
I have family with children who invited themselves to stay at our home next year. Startled at their bluntness and without thinking, my husband already told them it would be fine. We clearly don't have room for 2 adults and 2 children. How do we decline their visit gracefully?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  I see a couple of issues. First of all, it is always best to confer with one’s spouse before making arrangements like this. It’s respectful. Secondly, allowing someone to invite themselves into your home is inappropriate. People should be invited. My advice is to have a chat with your husband so that this never happens again. Then you should call these intruders and simply explain that your husband hadn’t thought this plan through carefully and that there is not enough room to accommodate their request. Your home is your castle and you must establish boundaries which others must respect. If you do not enforce these rules and protect your boundaries, people will come to realize that you have no respect for your home or yourselves. You were right to be startled. To me that shows you do have respect. Be sure to stand your ground and don’t let anyone trample over you. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Rude Sister Won't Be Invited Overnight Again

Am I being fair to tell my fiancee that his rude sister, her children and grandchildren will not be welcome to spend the night in our home ever again? 

Dear Jay,
My fiancée and I just bought a new house, but it's only in his name. Recently, we invited his sister and her husband for a weekend visit, but her husband couldn't come due to his work schedule. So, she took it upon herself to come with her 2 grown daughters, teenage son, and 2 grandkids.  They stayed 2 nights. We provided dinner upon their arrival, and breakfast and dinner the next day. Not once did anyone of them offer to help clean up anything. They would leave the table and go straight to the t.v. They treated our home like a hotel. My fiancée's oldest niece even had an attitude toward me. I, the host, gave her a gift and she didn't even say thank you. 

Then, 2 weeks later, the same rude niece called and asked my fiancée if she, her mom, and 4 more relatives could stay at our home while they attended a family event. Per my request, he told her that I was having family visit that same weekend. Not to mention, they have other family members in our city, but they all want to mooch off us. As it stands, I don't want that crew to ever stay at our home again. Am I  being fair for feeling this way? I'm not refusing them as 'few-hour visitors' when they're in town, but never again as over night guests.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  If you don’t like having overnight guests at your house, then yes, you are being fair. If it’s because they are ungrateful guests, then you need to speak with your fiancee and ask him to speak to his sister and explain how such behavior makes you feel. Hopefully, he understands and shares the same feelings. I don’t think alienating family members without some explanation is a good idea. See if you can work things out. And remember that not everyone has the opportunity to spend time with family. Perhaps being grateful for this is something to consider as well. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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New Roommate's Strange Men Aren't Welcome

How do I address my new roommate bringing men that I don't know to our apartment? 

Dear Jay,
I own a house and to help pay for bills I recently got a roommate. I always lived with my exes, but never with a roommate. We’re both females; we met and conversed for a month prior to her moving in. I thought we were on the same page, but now that she is here I am very surprised and don't believe we are on the same page now. I guess what I consider as common courtesy is different from hers. 

She has moved in and I expected for her to have guests over, but she has only been here for exactly 1 week and in that time she has had 2 separate men come over and stay 3 nights. These are people I haven't met prior to staying. I guess to me I figure I let you meet people I know, including my boyfriend of 2 years and let you get comfortable around him prior to letting him stay since you are a female living with me. The man my roommate is dating she met off the internet. She has known him for less than a month, and already having him stay. 

Am I wrong for being uncomfortable about him staying so soon and how can I politely address this issue? I don't mind him staying after I get to know him, but this is a person I never met who shows up in the middle of the night and she doesn't really know well. I don't know if he will rob us, rape us, or who knows what else. It's a safety concern to me, so how can this be addressed? Thanks.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Explain to your new roommate exactly what you have explained to me. This is a real safety issue. Perhaps you might suggest she meet her new friends at their place and get to know them before bringing them around. Make sure you are comfortable with her having friends over at all. If this is the real issue, you need to reconsider your agreement. I understand your concerns and so should she. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Noisy Renters Upsetting the Dogs

Am I within my rights to tell my renters they need to give me notice when they have young children coming over? 

Dear Jay,
I am a home owner that rents rooms to college students. Students share the kitchen living room and dining room with me while I live in the basement bedroom and they live upstairs. I have two small dogs that renters know about when they move in. I have no problem with renters having guests over unannounced when they are reasonably quiet in their room or the living room. My main concern comes from when a renter has their pre-school nieces over unannounced. Not only are the children running around, jumping and creating a lot of noise on a Sunday night, but my dogs are not child friendly and get excited easily from the noise. Is it an unreasonable expectation that the renter gives me a heads up when children will be in the house?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Not unreasonable at all. Simply explain the situation and tell them that there is a real safety issue. Make it a house rule. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Don't Call Me "In-Law"

How do I tell my daughter's father's family that I don't want them to call me their "in-law"? 

Dear Jay,
I am not married to my daughter's dad. Our daughter is 10. Her dad and I have had a relationship for over 24 years. We are very close friends. We do family vacations, spend all holidays together with his family and my family.  We do not live together. My mom calls him her son-in-law, and my siblings call him brother-in-law, and my nieces call him their uncle. I do not like this, but he doesn't mind so I live with this (at least to me) annoyance.    His new sister-in-law has began to call me her sister-in-law. I do not like it. I am not her sister-in-law. It is great she thinks of me this way, but I am her niece's mom or a family friend. How do I let her know this without sounding rude? To me, a privilege of being married or marrying into a family is the title of in-law.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You are in fact common-law spouses, so the title is not out of the question. If you don’t like it, simply say I’d prefer to be called “blank”. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Hot Head Son Won't Understand Boundaries

How do I communicate with my adult son about my aversion to his crashing at my house every weekend? 

Dear Jay,
How do I tell my 25 year old son that he can't bring his girlfriend and baby to my house every weekend and crash here. He doesn't have his own place yet but stays with his father during the week and comes with people in tow every weekend. I feel this is disrespectful and he is taking advantage. I would sit down and talk to him but that won't do any good because he's a hot head. What should I do and how should I approach this issue?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Disrespectful hotheads are a big problem, not only for you, but for his girlfriend and especially for the child! He needs some counseling. Is there a chance that you can speak with his father? If not, you’ll need to lay down some rules. Explain how this behavior makes you feel - i.e. disrespected, used, etc., and that this can’t continue. Explain also that you need your privacy. He’s an adult. If he throws a fit, call the police. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Adult Son Not Welcome Unexpectedly

Is it okay for me to not want my new husband's adult son to come over unexpectedly about once a month to spend the night? 

Dear Jay,
My husband and I married last year and he has a 23 year old son who rents a room in a nearby city. His son stays over one night about once a month, without notice. My husband wants to keep a spare bed available for his son so he can stay over night anytime. I feel like I don't want to clean up, cook and feed him on this regular and unscheduled basis. Any advice?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Without knowing why you don’t want to do this, it’s difficult to give you advice. Perhaps some ground rules set up between you and your husband would help. For example, maybe the son could give you a couple of days notice. Another perspective would be to be grateful for the opportunity to spend time with this young man. One never knows how much time one has, does one? I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Busy Football Mom's "Vacation" Agenda

Should I opt out of taking a vacation to see my friend now that she informed me that most of our time will be spent at her son's football games? 

Dear Jay,
My girlfriend and her husband moved to Florida (we are from DC) and invited me to come stay with them for a weekend. They discouraged me from staying in a hotel or getting a rental car. We made plans to go see a baseball game, go to some restaurants, etc. She just called and told me that her son is now playing football and that I should bring shoes I don't care about because we would be at the very muddy field for practice on Friday night and all day on Saturday for scrimmages. It is very hot., humid and rainy in Florida right now. She also said she volunteered to be a team mom, so she and I would need to get snacks. This does not sound like a vacation to me! Is it okay for me to postpone the trip? Or should I just grin and bear it?


Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You are always free to postpone your vacation. I agree with you on this one, but can understand “Mom’s” enthusiasm. I would opt out, too! I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Soap Allergy

How do I let my mother-in-law know that the soap she uses is causing me to have an allergic reaction in a tactful way? 

Dear Jay,
My elderly Mother-In-Law moved in with my husband and I several months ago. She has been using a particular brand of soap bar the majority of her 80+ years of life. I am extremely allergic to perfumes and colognes and apparently I am having a strong, adverse reaction to this soap she uses daily. I have tried to politely tell her about my sensitivity to perfumes, colognes and even that my husband had to change his deodorant brand when we started dating 34 years ago. I am finding it more unbearable (coughing, sore throat and headaches) to inhale this soap smell when she is with me or has been in a room I need to be in. She is a person that has her feelings hurt easily so I have not pushed telling her specifically about this issue.  How do I tactfully let her know I can't take it anymore, especially now that we close the house up on these hot summer days?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  This has become a safety issue, not just a preference. Easily hurt feelings or not, if this soap could send you to the hospital, it needs to go. Do not hesitate to bring this to her attention. Perhaps your husband could take on this task. It’s good to remember that we alone are responsible for our feelings - no exceptions. You are well within your rights to deal with this head-on, but in a kindly way. Also remember, your home is your castle. You do have the upper hand here. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Family Allowed to Destry Grandparents' Home

Is it okay for guests to leave huge messes around and refuse to clean up after themselves? 

Dear Jay,
My brother, his wife and two children visit a couple times a year for 2-3 weeks. They stay with my parents when they are in town so they can enjoy their company. However, it ends up being more stressful for my parents than enjoyable. My parents provide everything during their stay, but my brother and his wife never clean up after themselves or their children. I am talking about everything from leaving a food covered highchair/floor behind once they are done eating to toys strung across the house all the time. My parents have a nice home and enjoy keeping it at least picked up when the grandkids are over.

It was awful last Christmas (which is also my mom's birthday). My brother's children broke one of my dad's decorations that he brought back with him from Germany when he served in the Army. They also were permitted to deconstruct the tree.

When my parents confronted them about picking up after themselves and watching their children closer they were told "We are guests in your home. Guests don't clean." and "Maybe you shouldn't have so many decorations out for the boys to get into."

So who is right? Should my parents accept that they are guests not children with chores or should my brother and his family help out and watch their children more closely?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Your brother’s family are way off base. Of course they should help, and be responsible. I wonder who taught him this unacceptable behavior? It’s time for it to stop, but that directive should really come from your parents. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Guest's Gloves MIA

Do I need to replace the gloves that a guest lost at my home? 

Dear Jay,
Am I responsible for the possessions of guests who visit my home? Someone who came to my home to pay respects after a funeral could not find her expensive gloves upon leaving. She said she was certain she had them upon arrival. I searched for them but to no avail. What is the proper etiquette in this situation?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  In this sort of situation, you are off the hook. They were more than likely picked up inadvertently. Your guest will have to absorb the loss. She’s the one who put them down and forgot to pick them up on her way out. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Sister's Visits Unwelcome

How do I tell my sister that I don't want her to visit as often because she is overly critical? 

Dear Jay,
I have a sister who has visited us from out of state 5 times this year and is hinting about a possible sixth time. I love my sister, but she has this judgmental attitude that she passes on everything from TV shows to how clean my car is. The house is thrown into complete disarray with every visit with everyone feeling like they are constantly walking on eggs. I still want her to visit but not every two months. How can I tell her not to come without hurting her feelings?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Rather than worry about the frequency of her visits, you may want to consider having a chat with her about her superior attitude. In the end, if that doesn’t change, no visit will be a welcome one. Simply explain to her that her judgmental attitude makes all of you feel like you are walking on eggshells, just like you have described to me. Let her know that her dismissiveness and lack of humility are no longer welcome in your house. She is a bit of a bully, from the sounds of things. Bullies bully because they can. Someone just needs to let her know how she affects the people around her. Often when people are made aware of these things, they change their behavior instantly. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Husband's Family Doesn't Understand Boundaries

Am I really an ogre or is my husband's family totally disrespecting my requests? 

Dear Jay,
I work from home and have a dedicated office with a great deal of phone time involved. My adult stepson lives with us right now to get back on his feet.  He is generally quiet and tries not to make noise in the home. He's not an issue, but our home is very small as it was an empty nest purchase and we only have 2 bedrooms. On most weekends, he has his 2 year old here, too.

The issue is with my husband's other family members, mainly stepdaughter.  She is 18, with a baby, and her boyfriend. She frequently wants to come visit and "get away" as they live with her Bio Mom. She has a history as a wild child, and has even stolen things like makeup from me while visiting. When she wants to come down, she texts my husband and "invites" herself the same day she wants to come down. She always plays the "I miss you Daddy" game, but she manipulates and everyone knows this - sometimes she visits to ask for money. This event happens about once a month. We also visit - she's 2 hrs away - but we take day trips.

I have asked for more advanced notice multiple times; her visits create a big crowd in a very small home (1300 sq ft, stepson, and 3 cats). Sometimes I have plans, and sometimes I don't have enough food (they want us to take them out and drop $100 on dinner anyway. My husband always caves and says at least I don't have to cook).

My husband has requested that she wait to arrive until after I get off work, but she shows up several hours before my work ends, and it is a disruption.  She really tries to be quiet, but will come in and start mouthing silent questions when I'm on the phone, doors opening and closing, you get the picture. My husband's Mom also arrived an entire day early (planned trip) in the middle of a workday without calling first and stayed for 4 days. It was supposed to be 2 nights. This seems to be a trend with the people that do not have jobs in our family!

I  get upset when receiving texts in the middle of the day from my husband about this, and I have begun responding the same grump and "inflexible" way.  It always seems that I am at fault for having problems with this behavior and feeling like my time is not respected. I know that I have become rigid, and I'm actually getting worse and worse. My husband says that I put him in the middle of all this.

It's frustrating to get anyone to understand that I NEED people to plan ahead if they are planning with my time, money, and home. I also do not want people to show up at my home in the middle of a workday. I told my husband that maybe they need to go to his office and hang out until he gets off work?  No matter what any plans I make are ruined because even if they don't show, he will come home and not talk to me the rest of the night. We've been married 10 years.

Am I wrong?  Is there a better way I can handle this without becoming an Ogre each time we are asked and I get the dreaded text?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: This is a classic case of the person being bullied (you) being turned into the bully (in their eyes, and in fact). You and your husband need to have an honest discussion about how these intrusions make you feel - disrespected, used, etc. He needs to make you his number one priority. If he is unwilling to do that, then you may have a much bigger issue on your hands. A solution is for you to design a set of house rules together and to enforce them. Your home is your castle. If you do not treat it and yourselves with respect, no one else will either. If you don’t speak up for yourself, you are demonstrating that you have no respect for yourself. Others pick up on that. Take a stand. It’s your house, too! I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Inhospitable Hosts

Is it okay for my step mother-in-law to much so many demands when the family comes to visit? 

Dear Jay,
My in-laws (father-in-law and step-mother-in-law) moved to their cottage in retirement. They live 3 hours from our main city. They are often unpleasant company when we visit as individual families (tense, irritable, bickering, micromanaging and being rude to family guests). Many of the adult children have young children and a baby. For a major holiday, they invited most of the family to visit the cottage for a holiday weekend. In addition to driving 3 hours, the step-mother-in-law asked the adult children with young children to help with the meal preparation, pay for/bring food. Though they have 3 guest rooms and can easily accommodate the small family group via beds or additional air mattresses, they stated that some family can stay at the cottage and others can pay and stay at a local bed and breakfast/hotel. Is it rude for them to expect guests with young children to drive a long distance, bring/prepare and pay for food and pay for lodging? It seems quite stressful, inconsiderate and inhospitable. What do you think?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  It sounds like she’s very predictable. She is acting as host, but not fulfilling the duties associated with hosting. She’s in essence a bully. So yes, it is stressful and inconsiderate. And as long as she is allowed to get away with this, she will. That’s what bullies do. So you have a couple of choices. Regret the invitation or resign yourself to her quirkiness. If you regret the invitation, she may get the message, but not necessarily. I doubt changing the spots on this leopard is possible. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Never Invited to Friend's House

Is it rude of me to suggest to my friend that she invite me to her house since she is always coming over to mine? 

Dear Jay,
I have a friend who I've been friends with a very long time. She is generally a nice person and caring. The problem I’m having is every time she wants to hang out, she always invites herself and her family to my house. I would love to go to her house sometimes, but she usually never invites us and always wants to come to my home instead. Should I say something to her or just forget it and have her come over?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Perhaps there is a reason why she does not invite you to her house. Depending on how close a relationship you have with her, you might consider asking her. It is not uncommon for reciprocation to be extended. But keep in mind that there may be a reason that is difficult for her to express. If this is the case, don’t pry unless asked. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Son-in-Law Driving her Nuts

Should I suggest to my daughter that she visits me without her husband because he drives me crazy? 

Dear Jay,
My son-in-law has been a constant irritant since the day I met him. When my daughter brought him over to meet me, I had just finished dressing but was still in my bedroom. She came into my room- which is natural and fine- but trailing in behind her was my son-in-law (then new boyfriend)! I politely told him to have a seat in the living room, but was immediately turned off by his lack of manners. I blamed her for not giving him the obviously needed instructions to just sit down and him for not knowing any better.

Seven years later, it's just been more of the same. When they come over with my grandsons- he walks the diaper bag all the way into my bedroom. When he wants lotion for his eczema, he walks through my bedroom, into my bathroom and goes through my vanity drawers! He'll ask, but rather than wait for me to get it, he helps himself and I just run into him coming out of my room. He's always opening up and looking trough my cabinets too. I ask, “What are you looking for." He smiles and says, "Nothing. Just looking. When I'm coming in with my groceries he'll get them out of the car, but insists on putting them away, even if my 17yr old son brings them in! I've asked him to just leave them, but he ignores me and does it anyway. I then have to go behind him and put my things where I want them or go crazy trying to find where he put something. My daughter says he just wants to be helpful, but I tell her, if I ask him not to, I expect him to respect my wishes. I also don't like every one that visits me to have their hands in my fridge. Weird huh?
I've told my daughter that I'm her mom not his and that he takes a lot of liberties with me that even she does not; that he has no boundaries and I have no privacy from him. It made her very sad. My family does not behave this way and it's really driving me crazy.

My mom tells me to not say anything for fear that they will stop coming to see me. My daughter and I are very close and I truly don't think she would keep my grandsons from me because I'd rather she come alone. But you never know. I find that I'm stressed every time I know they are coming because he makes me angry and nuts and I'm advised not to say anything in my own home. What happened to, 'my house- my rules’?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You ask the key question yourself - what happened? For example, when you ask him what he’s looking for, and he tells you he’s just looking, that would be an obvious time to tell him that your bedroom is off limits. It’s your bedroom - your rules! Ditto, everything else you’ve mentioned. It’s up to you to make the rules and to stand by them. Your guests are not psychics - not even your daughter. You must let people know in a clearer voice what is expected of them and what is not. This will clearly demonstrate that you have respect for yourself and your house. They will then have respect for you, but not until then. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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She Won't Take No For an Answer

How do we handle a relative who wants to rent our vacation home even though we have already told her no? 

Dear Jay,
A relative of mine keeps asking if she can rent our family vacation house. She would like to use it along with her other cousin and her family. We have decided that if we let her stay she will want it at other times of the year and we don't want that issue. We just want the place available for our immediate family to go when we want to. If we wanted a timeshare we would have bought one! We have been telling her that it's not available, but she keeps insisting on going no matter the obstacles we put out. How do we deal with her lack of understanding?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  It sounds to me like you must speak in a clearer voice. This is a very simple and easy matter. You do not rent or loan out your vacation home, period. There is no discussion - not now, not in the future. No “yes buts”. No means no. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Sharing Dad's Home Proves to be Upsetting

Am I wrong to be upset about my dad bringing his young girlfriend and her child to his home all the time when my husband and I live there? 

Dear Jay,
My father in law moved in with us just a few months after we were married and stayed for a year and 1/2. He bought a house and we moved in with him just recently to save money for a house. He has started bringing his young girlfriend and child to our house every day or every other day. Our house only has room for the people in it. Because of all this I'm upset and wanted to move out. Do I have a right to be upset? I know it's his house, but after having to share my home this long and having to share it with more people I'm overwhelmed and think it's king of rude.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: You refer to the house you all live in as our house. It’s his house, not your house, too. He has every right to do whatever he wishes in his house; just like you will be able to do when you buy your house.  Isn’t it time you had your own place? Maybe this is a message that the time has come to move out. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Saggy Mattress Woes

How do we bring up the uncomfortable guest room mattress without sounding rude to our friends? 

Dear Jay,
My partner and I visit good friends once a year at their weekend home.

They are the such warm people, and the perfect hosts.  However, the mattress in their guest room is horribly uncomfortable.  Specifically, the bed sags in the middle so two people in the bed end up sleeping butted against each other all night.

I know they host several others throughout the year. Is this something we can mention to them?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You might ask them if they have a board they can place under the mattress because you prefer a firmer mattress; or perhaps you could offer to bring such a board. You could even offer to buy them a new mattress as a house present to thank them for all the years of hosting they have done. In any event, you are certainly entitled to a good night’s rest. They may be totally unaware of the mattress issue. Let them know, but temper it with humor. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Uneasy about Foreign Family Members Taking Over Home

Am I being unreasonable by not wanting my sister-in-law (whom I've never met) taking over my home while I am out of the country? 

Dear Jay,
My husband and I live in a country that isn't our birthplace. He is from one country in South Asia, I'm from another in Latin America and now we live in this new one.

His niece (from his birth country) has gotten the opportunity to come to our city to study and I agreed to let her stay at our place because I felt it was the right thing to do. We both are very lucky to be in a first world country and have so many opportunities, so I felt it wasn't fair for me to deny it. She is planning to stay for maybe a few years (yikes!).

The niece is coming, but now I got the news that her mom (my husband's sister-in-law) is coming to accompany her for a bit and help her settle (which I understood), but not only that; we are planning to go to HIS home country (which I've never been) after a month of the niece coming here, and now the plan is for the 'mom' to stay until we return from our trip, so the daughter doesn't stay alone.

The thing is I feel so uneasy about it. I don't want anybody to be in charge of my place, and even more a person I don't know. The girl will be busy, but the mom? What is she going to do all day in my house? She speaks not much English, doesn't know anything about this country and doesn't drive. Am I supposed to be OK with them staying here while I'm away? I'm really picky when it comes to my things and it makes me feel uneasy to leave my house in the hands of someone I don't even know! My husband says I'm being unreasonable, and when I bring up the topic of changing the trip for another time he says it’s not up for debate.

Am I really being that unreasonable?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Since this is your husband’s family, naturally he is going to be perturbed that they are not welcome, whether you know them or not. I suggest that you let them come and just see how it goes. You and your husband must lay down some house rules that you can both agree upon. Your guests must understand these rules and agree to follow them before they even get on the plane to come visit. You will both need to give in on this or the situation is going to be very stressful. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Husband Wants to Unwind in Peace After Work

How do I get my girlfriend to understand that I need I don't want people in the house other than her when I get home from my physically demanding job? 

Dear Jay,
I asked my girlfriend to not have anyone at the house when I get home from work. I work on a drilling rig from 3pm to 11pm. It is a physically demanding job and I am often worn out when returning home near midnight. She said she doesn't believe it is a problem. I told her it is a problem. What do I do??

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You will need to express to her why her not understanding that refusing your request is a problem. It is in fact dismissive and disrespectful of your feelings. You need to come before her friends. I don’t think being dictatorial about this request will be helpful however, and you may want to consider loosening your stance, so maybe she could have friends over a couple of nights a week. Coming home and unwinding in your own house without having the obligations of chatting with other people is a very reasonable request. This is a very simple matter. I hope you two can work this one out, because you’ll be in for some big surprises down the road otherwise. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Mom's Visit Demands Driving Daughter Crazy

Am I wrong to be so annoyed with my mother's attitude towards visiting me and her grandchildren? 

Dear Jay,
When my mother, who is now 66 years old, wants to visit me, it usually is a very stressful process. When my husband and I moved 20 kms away, she always insisted that my husband or I pick her up her house. But when my brother, who lives in the same area as her and doesn't have a car either, is invited, my mother and brother insist we pick him up at his house as well. My husband and I asked if they would be able to meet us at a location that was half-way between our homes. They balked and complained, saying they couldn’t understand the whole commotion. So, feeling they were ungrateful, we refused to pick them up at all. We explained that owning a car cost money and just because my brother chose not to buy a car (my mom doesn't know how to drive), that that was his choice just as it was ours to buy a car. Also, we have two young children to take care of as well. So, now my brother rents a car, but you can feel that there is tension.

My mom never a visits us unless she can get a lift. It does take an hour and a half to get to our house by bus, so I told my mom that I would love her to visit, but I will meet her at the half-way point. She refuses. So, she never comes over.

My mom recently asked if she and my brother could come over for a visit. I said that would be wonderful. We set the date and I asked that they come over around 1pm because one of our two daughters had a soccer game (a year-end soccer BBQ) and that we would be eating there. In other words, I wouldn't be making a lunch or supper this time (which normally I do). My mom insisted on having a supper. So, reluctantly I agreed. I then asked her what she felt like having for supper. She said hamburgers. I asked her if she could bring something for supper and then she got upset. She couldn't understand why she always had to bring something. She said her mom never brought food to our house growing up. But my grandmother stayed at our house for 3 days a week and cooked all the meals.

I always feel like my mom looks at coming over to our house as if she is a guest and not my mom. My mother-in-law never comes over empty handed. And, although my mom now helps out with preparation a bit, and she always enjoys playing with the girls, I always feel that the visit was to benefit her and is not for the well-being of everyone else. She has never invited us to her apartment, but I do understand that her place is small for all of us. But we can fit around her table and then go out for a walk or to the park across the street from her.

Am I wrong in asking her to bus it half-way? Am I wrong in asking her to bring food? Shouldn't mothers do more for their kids? I feel like the roles are reversed.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  There are no shoulds. Perhaps being grateful that you even have a mother would be a good place to begin. She is bonding with your daughters - that’s a wonderful experience that is priceless. Be grateful that you can help out. If transportation is an issue, take the high road and be happy about picking her up. Be glad that you have a washing machine that she can use. Perhaps by showing this side of yourself, she will loosen up and be more grateful herself. In any event, she won’t be around forever and you don’t want to be kicking yourself down the road wishing you had been kinder and less self-centered. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Diapering the Dog For Safety

Is it okay for us to demand that my mother-in-law's dog wear diapers to prevent it from soiling the floor and creating sanitation issues and safety hazards while she lives with us? 

Dear Jay,
My husband's mother is 94 and recently broke her arm and hip. She is willing to stay with us until she is fully healed, but wants her small dog to come too. The small dog is partially paralyzed and tends to urinate and have bowel movement's when excited. The dog is excited very often and is not neutered. We would like to put a diaper on the dog since we have 3 other dogs and worry about both sanitation and safety. For example, what if the dog soils on the floor and his mother slips and falls again? (This is how she broke her hip and arm in the first place) His mother does not like the idea of a diaper and thinks it's ok and can just be cleaned up. How do we tell her the dog is either wearing a diaper or not welcome?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Explain to her that for everyone’s safety and health, the dog needs to wear a diaper. Frankly the dog will adjust to this quite easily and will be more comfortable possibly, too. It’s your house, and you have every right to make the house rules. This seems like a small concession for her to make to be able to live at home with family rather than to stay in a hospital or other healthcare facility. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Sister Doesn't Like the House Rules

Are we being unreasonable by telling my sister if she lives with us that she can't have overnight guests in our home? 

Dear Jay,
My fiance and I have bought our first home together and will be moving in a month. My younger sister who is a college student would like to rent a room from us. We found this to be advantageous as it will help cover some of the cost of the mortgage plus we have a very good relationship. My fiance and I decided that we would not like there to be overnight guests. Upon informing my sister of this she became very upset with me and is now reconsidering moving in. Are we being unreasonable by disallowing overnight guests?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Your home is your castle. If your sister is not comfortable with your house rules, she needs to find another place to live. Your house, your rules. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Brother and Sister-in-law Need to Pull Their Weight

How should I tell my brother and sister-in-law that when they stay with us they need to help with meals especially when we are preparing parties? 

Dear Jay,
My brother and sister in-law live six hours away from the rest of our family and typically, when we have a birthday party or any other large family get together they ask to stay with my husband and I. Usually, I try to ask them in advance if they will be staying with us because I like to prepare ahead of time as we are busy with three young kids, but they always give us a "maybe" until about the week before. (This time they told us they were going to take time off work and come early even though we will still be working and have other engagements!) They have a family of five, so I feel like on top of planning a large family party at our house, it's hard to plan meals for them for their extended weekend as well last minute. How appropriate is it for me to ask them they need to help plan meals since we are busy hosting a party and don't have time to plan meals for 10? Is it okay for me to ask them to contribute to the food costs since they stay with us so frequently?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Yes, yes, yes. You should have this discussion with your brother before they arrive. Just explain that you cannot afford to carry these expenses, nor do you have the time to deal with meal preparations and that you would really appreciate the help. They will more than likely be delighted to help you out. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Adult Son Not a Good Guest

How do I let my adult son and his wife know that when they come to dinner at our home they should bring something or offer to help? 

Dear Jay,
My adult son and his wife frequently come to dinner at our house (they are recently remarried). They don't come without being invited, but when they do come, they never bring a bottle of wine or ask if they can bring anything. They show up, enjoy our food, wine, beer, etc. and then leave. She never helps to clean up. They recently bought a fixer upper house for their first house and they are on a very strict budget.

My husband argues with me every time after they leave. He says they should bring wine or offer to bring something. I don't want to alienate my children and I don't know how to tactfully talk to them about this.

What do I do?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Somewhere along the line they were taught, as were most children, that when you go to eat at your parent’s house, it’s somehow different than going to anyone else’s house. You need to explain the concept of a hostess gift and the fact that lending a helping hand is a good thing. I assume your son is from a different marriage, otherwise his father could explain this to him also. 

You could also subtly ask if his wife could give you a hand in the kitchen for a few minutes. You might also be able to show them by example, by taking a bottle of wine to their house when you’re invited and offer to help clean up. But more times than not, parents like helping out their children, and this can last until their dying days. So from another perspective perhaps your husband needs to adjust his thinking and be grateful for the precious time you have to spend with your family. A bottle of wine is symbolic, as is helping to clean up - symbolic of gratitude. We all slip up from time to time in showing gratitude. A gentle suggestion is all that may be needed. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Landlord Inflexible About Unscheduled Visits

Is it fair that my landlord kicked me out just because I didn't plan for someone to spend the night? 

Dear Jay,
I moved into a place three months ago I had a friend come visit and stay the night. I live with my landlord who owns the place and rents out a room to me. Also another room is rented out. I was confronted about the guest I had come to stay and that I did not ask and that next time I would need to. Another 5 weeks went by and another student came to my place to pick me up. It was late when he got back in and he had been drinking, so I offered for him to come inside and he stayed the night. 

The next day all my things were packed and left at the front door. Does this seem fair? It was not planned to have him stay. It was late when we arrived back to my place and it just happened that way. In the past I have asked to have a friend come visit and a family member also stay on both occasions they did not end up coming over, but this was not planned.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  It sounds to me like the landlord is inflexible. This is his choice, even though it does seem unfair. If communicating with him doesn’t work, you’ll obviously need to find another place to live. Be sure to have a clear understanding with your next landlord. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Home Is No Longer Her Castle

How do I tell my sister-in-law that although her mother lives with us, I don't want her to come over all the time? 

Dear Jay,
My in-laws moved into our house. Unfortunately, my father-in-law passed away shortly after. Prior to and after his passing my sister-in-law and her children seem to be over every weekend. In addition, two of them always want to eat everything in sight and even though I occasionally say no, there have been times that she let them. Sometimes they come over actually expecting to be fed, without bringing anything to contribute. This, in my opinion, is rude and unacceptable behavior. In addition, while I know her mother still lives with us, I would still like to have some weekends where we can just enjoy our house without ANYONE else coming over. It's getting very stressful and I'm trying to be polite, but I'm reaching the end of my rope. I want to be able to enjoy my time off without having a house full of people all of the time.  What do I do?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You need to lay down some house rules. Your home is your castle and at the moment you are not in charge. You are actually demonstrating that you have no respect for your own house, so why should anyone else? People like structure in their lives. This is a time for you to provide that as far as your house is concerned. When everyone knows the rules, life is much smoother. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Dinner Guests Stay Too Late

How do I tell my dinner guests it's time to leave without sounding rude? 

Dear Jay,
My friends love to visit me. We sometimes cook in the house and have dinner together, but they stayed longer in the house until late  at night which annoyed my husband. How can tell my friends without hurting their feelings to leave the house after 2 to 3 hours? I always have an arguments with my husband regarding this matter. He wants to spend time with me and wants his privacy.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Communication is very important in any relationship. You need to simply tell your friends that you need to wind things down. You might also consider letting them know ahead of time that tonight is going to be an early night. Remember that your husband’s feelings are valid, and arguments are not necessary. Your friends’ feelings won’t be hurt because you are not placing any responsibility on them. The invitation, in whatever form it may be delivered, will let them know ahead of time what the time parameters are. Real friends should understand your need for private time. remember the Golden Rule. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Husband and Friend Need a Different Hang Out Time

Am I right to be angry that my husband invites his friend to our home at 11pm at night? 

Dear Jay,
I have a husband who invited a guest to our house around 11pm for two consecutive days. He left around 2 in the morning. I find it it rude for the guest knowing that I talked to him and told him that it’s super late, and I wanted him to leave. I should have been sleeping with my husband because it’s past our bedtime. 

My husband wants to hang out more even though it’s easy for them to see or hangout with each other during the day. I just find it so disrespectful for his friend to stay late in our house. I tried talking to both of them that what they’re doing is wrong. He said that my husband invited him over and that he believes that he has the right to stay. Am I wrong to be angry?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  The fault is not with your husband’s guest, but with you and your husband. You would do well to speak with him about how these late night visits make you feel. In this case, your husband is the host. Perhaps you need to convince him not to issue these late night invitations. Communication is one of the most important ways we connect with other people. It’s never too late to hone this skill. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Guest Takes Advantage of Hosts

Am I right to be upset about my guest and her daughter taking advantage of my hospitality? 

Dear Jay,
We live by the sea and my friend asked if she could come over to visit and bring her 8 year old daughter. We have never met the daughter and only ever socialized with them as a couple. We were really looking forward to it as she is a very nice girl, but what happened has left us feeling slightly taken for granted and used. She turned up for the break empty handed ie no contribution of food or drink or even a bunch of flowers.

On arrival on their first night we gave her daughter quite a few nice gifts, and we fed them and she drank our wine and her daughter our soft drinks etc. We provided them with breakfast and evening meals but they bought their own lunches while out and about. When we have visited them I've always taken drinks, gifts and paid for a meal out. When we went out with them during the day we ended up paying more for things as they held back when it came to queuing. Some meals that we had out we went Dutch and she did pay for fish and chips for us one day, but didn't pay enough so we paid the rest and she never offered us the money. 

While staying with us we waited on them hand and foot even though we had to work as well while they stayed with us. On the third day she went and bought herself some alcohol but then continued to drink another bottle of ours with no thought of contribution. While staying she did her washing so she didn't have to do it when she got home also used our shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and also my mascara which I wouldn't normally mind if she had contributed in other ways.  

On her last day she bought me a small gift as a gesture, but it was only probably worth a couple of pounds which sounds like I'm ungrateful, but I was feeling quite hurt by this time at the lack of thought or contribution. On her last day (day 5) she was then asking me if she could come again in October for 4-5 days and bring her daughter again during school holidays. I don't know if I've been used or if I'm over reacting but I'd appreciate your thoughts.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Although your friend is clearly taking advantage of a situation, perhaps she has no choice. You may want to have a conversation with her and let her know that you are not in a position to pay for her food, drinks, etc. but that if she could pay for her expenses, she is free to stay with you. Even if the money is not an issue for you, your feelings are very valid, and they alone are sufficient to fill the “not in a position” part of the deal. People need to be grateful when others put themselves out. The Golden Rule comes to mind. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Dog Damages Door

Should I expect my neighbor to pay for the damage to my back door as I suspect her dog was the one who created the mess? 

Dear Jay,
I recently went out of town for two nights. I asked a neighbor if she could feed the two indoor cats I have once while I was gone. I left late Friday, returned early on Sunday. She said no problem. Upon returning home, I found my back door torn up from what appears to be a dog. This neighbor does have a large dog, and I have seen it a few times loose in the neighborhood with no supervision or leash. I have spoken to her about it, using the excuse that I thought her dog had "escaped" from her home/yard. She was very polite, and assured me the dog was kind, old, etc...my door is not completely destroyed, but both door and frame need to be replaced now. Paint is gone, and huge gouges from what appears to be a large dog's claws....similar to her dog. She has not mentioned anything. I feel that this is rude and she should at least offer to replace the door or some of the cost to do so. Before I confront her about this, am I wrong?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  You do not know for a fact that her dog had anything to do with this damage. You could ask her if she knew anything about the damage. If she says no, you’ll have to deal with the repairs yourself. If she says yes, she should also offer to make the repairs. Since you weren’t a witness, you have little to stand on but her honesty. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Dilemma Over Pre-wedding Guests

How do I break it to my daughter-in-law to be that I would prefer to have my sons stay in my home the night before the wedding? 

Dear Jay,
My future daughter-in-law wants to stay at our home with her bridesmaids the night before her wedding. I would like my two sons (groom and best man) to sleep in their own home the night before the wedding, but don't know how to tell the future bride. Any suggestions?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Have your son deal with this. He can tell her. But you must first have a conversation with him about why this is the case. You two must come to an understanding. This should not be a complicated matter to solve. By the way, how does anyone get away with inviting themselves into your home with guests? Your home is your castle, you make the rules. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Feeling Guilty for Collecting Rent

Should we ask our tenant to clear out her things since she now lives with her boyfriend or should we continue to have her pay rent even though she is never here? 

Dear Jay,
Two years ago my brother-in-law and his girlfriend moved in with my husband and I. We get on well and are happy to help them out. So we charge a low rent to cover costs to help them get out of debt and start saving for the future. A year ago they split up, but his girlfriend had nowhere to go and was happy with us so she moved into our spare room with minimum rent again, all was well. I do have one more spare room which I use to workout in and can be turned back into a bedroom for visiting guests. When family visits - which is only three or four times a year, it is hard to fit a family of 2+2 into one room, but we make it work. 

Recently, my brother-in-law’s ex-girlfriend has moved in with her new boyfriend, but she still keeps her room with us containing the remainder of her things. She continues to pay for the room. Both my husband and I explained if she moved out but had problems with her boyfriend she could happily move back. My husband is happy saying we get money for nothing. I agree but somehow however I feel used. I feel guilty for taking any of her hard earned money for basically storing her things. We hardly see her except for an hour or two once a week when she drops off the rent. I would ideally like our second spare room back - although it wouldn't be used often by family visits it would be nice to have it. 

Is my husband right to keep taking the rent money for her to have a key and peace of mind? Am I selfish for wanting the room back for it to be just a spare room and hardly used?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  If this woman wants to store things in your house, perhaps there is another place she could use. Otherwise, maybe when she’s not in residence, you could ask her to use her room for family spill over from time to time. If the income is useful, and she is happy to pay it, carry on. You are in control of this situation. Your husband and you need to reach some sort of understanding between yourselves. You need not have any feelings of guilt. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Champagne and Cookies for House Closing

Is a house closing a private occasion for the home buyers? 

Dear Jay,
My daughter and her partner are closing on a house within the next two weeks. Is it customary for people to visit them on their closing date with champagne and cookies or should they wait to be invited. I'm  not sure if it is a private occasion for them or if we should visit them.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: There is no rule on this. Ask them if it would be alright if you came over to help them settle in. They don’t need another job or time obligation, so don’t think they’ll just drop everything to have champers. It’s a great idea; just clear it with them first. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Friend Needs to Back Off on Inviting Too Many Guests

How do I tactfully tell my friend that she can't invite guests or too many pets when she comes to stay with us? 

Dear Jay,
I have a good friend that lives in another state that occasionally comes to visit. The problem is that she always wants to bring somebody or pets with her. We have said that we don't feel comfortable with her bringing multiple pets, but that she can bring one. Of course we said that she could bring her teenage son and even his friend, but now she is bringing her 3 year old niece. We don't want to spend our weekend entertaining or hanging out with a three year old no matter how good she is. Are we being selfish?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Your home is your castle. If something needs to be a rule, make it so. If other people don’t like it, too bad. It’s your house. This can be done nicely without need of an argument or awkwardness. There is a reason why you don’t want a three-year-old around, maybe several reasons! But the basic reason is how it makes you feel. Once you figure out what that is - and I can help you with that, if necessary, simply explain that to your friend. This dynamic places full responsibility for your feelings on you, not on some outside entity, i.e. your guest. Friends generally don’t want to make their hosts feel uncomfortable in any way, but more times than not, they have no idea they are doing this. Why? Because no one ever told them. Having an open and honest relationship is what friendship is all about. Do not worry about hurting other people’s feelings. If you deliver your message from the perspective of “the problem lies with me”, then you’ll be just fine. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Overstaying Their Welcome?

Should I feel upset that my husband allowed his step-son and his family to stay a week longer than he was scheduled to stay without really consulting with me? 

Dear Jay,
My step-son, his wife and his twin girls have come to visit before they move to Germany for 3 yrs with the Army.  They stated they would be staying a week.  They announced 4 days into their visit that they will be staying an additional 5-7 days. My husband immediately said, “Sure, no problem.”  We are paying to kennel our very protective dog while they are here. I have cooked all of the meals and my husband has paid for all of their snacks, entertainment and souvenirs so far. I am not happy about this. What can I do? I miss my dog and I want my house back.

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  My suggestion is that you be grateful for the opportunity before you. Providing this sort of hospitality and family bonding before this major life transition for your family is not something all of us will ever have, and most of us would cherish. If you miss your dog, go visit him and take him for a walk everyday. You’ll have your house back soon enough. Practice gratitude everyday. Life is short. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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No Room For Guests

Am I wrong to not want my fiancé's daughter and her ex-husband staying at my house?

Dear Jay,
I allowed my fiance's daughter to spend a night in our home while she was visiting her son incarcerated close by. After the visit she commented to her dad on the telephone that she and her ex-husband (the boy’s father) would like to come visit him and she stated that she already told him he could stay at my house, too.  Then she said "Oh, maybe I should have checked with Renee first."  My fiance who has a hearing problem said, “Why yes, you can come."

My fiance knows I have a 4 bedroom home with only one bed in it, and I am not used to having guests. I think it was totally wrong for her not to ask permission first. It was one thing being comfortable enough to wear my house dress around the house before either of us got ready for the day, but with a man who I do not know in the house I will feel I have to be totally presentable when I step out of the bedroom in the morning. The only place he can sleep would be the living room couch and it is the open main room of my home. How do I now tell her she can not bring him?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  If you have a four bedroom house with only one bed, you have a one bedroom house. Tell Renee you have no way to accommodate her and her ex-husband. They will have to stay elsewhere. You might consider purchasing a futon or an air mattress and sleeping bag if buying more beds is out of the question. Being able to accommodate guests is a good thing! I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Not Willing to Share Beds with Visiting Family

Am I wrong to not want my in-laws staying in our home since none of us really want to give up our beds and I don't want them on my couch? 

Dear Jay,
My mother-in-law called and asked if she, her niece (50s), her sister (70s) and sister’s husband can stay a few nights while in our area. We have a 4 bedroom house.  All of the beds are taken in our home by our family, and I do not allow anyone to sleep on my sofas as they are new. I myself do not and will not sleep on them and the rules are for everyone including myself. My two kids alternate a month here and a month with their dad, and my husband wants me to offer my kid’s rooms to his family that have not met my children. My children do not want strangers in their bed.  What should I do?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  If you have asked your children if they are willing to share there rooms, and they have said they feel uncomfortable doing that, your husband needs to respect their stand. On the other hand, it is your and your husband’s home, and you need to reach an agreement, regardless of how your children feel. You two make the rules. However, you say your children don’t want “strangers”, even family, in their beds. Seems a bit stiff to me, but to each his own. If you can’t accommodate the guests, they will have to stay elsewhere. Asking to put up four people for a few nights is a big request. Saying no is not unreasonable. But if you can find a way welcome them, that’s the best. Surely an 11 year old boy can be taught the value of The Golden Rule. Your 24 year old certainly should. He’s an adult living under his parent’s roof. He must make the occasional sacrifice. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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The More the Merrier?

Is it selfish of me to want my vacation time with just my sister-in-law and her kids without her inviting other guests to join us? 

Dear Jay,
We have a beach vacation home about 45 min from where we live. Every summer we stay for about a week and invite my sister-in-law and her family to join us. They also live in close proximity to us back home and we see each other regularly. We have children the same age, and it's fun to get the kids together for beach activities and family time. 

Over the years my sister-in-law has slowly started to invite other guests for the day. Sometimes these guests are adult friends or friends of her children to spend day at the beach, which sometimes results with her guests coming to our home part of the time. 

My children and I love this special family time with them but are hurt that she invites her own guests, especially children as now they will have to share their cousins. Some of the people she is inviting we don't even like so it puts a damper on that vacation day.

My husband isn’t bothered and thinks the more the merrier. He doesn't want to cause drama with his sister. I'm more of an introvert and find it exhausting. It's tougher to relax if I’m worrying about the condition of house and dealing with my kids and their hurt feelings. The worst part is seeing my kids feeling hurt. They wonder if they are not fun enough or not special since their aunt feels the need to invite others.

I tried to explain this to my sister-in-law but she doesn't see what the big deal is. Sometimes she will not tell us about the guests until last minute or we just happen to run into their friends. If she does ask me and I'm not enthusiastic she gets upset. She knows my husband won't say no. We have not invited others during their stay to focus on our family time.

Personally, if someone invited me to stay at their vacation home I would NEVER think of inviting others. I think it is just plain rude. My husband thinks the kids and I are being selfish and should just go with the flow. I’m trying to teach my kids that party/ vacation crashing is rude and insensitive. Am I being selfish?

Jay's ANSWER...
A:  I don’t think selfishness is what you need to focus on here, because that isn’t what the problem is. The problem is that you don’t want your vacation time compromised, yet are unable to communicate successfully with your husband or his sister. I’m not sure why you would be hurt, and I am very surprised to hear you say your children’s feelings are hurt simply because guests arrive. That makes no sense to me at all. I think you’re using that as an excuse to bolster your own insecurities. The way to gain some control in this situation is to actually invite people over yourself (after consulting with your husband), and be welcoming. The fact of the matter is that you see your children all the time - at home or on vacation. I do understand your point about strangers just showing up unannounced. You and your husband will need to reach an agreement on house rules that everyone must follow. This conversation does not need to turn into an argument as long as both you and your husband are open to listening to one another, and not simply focused on having your own ways. It’s never too late to develop this very important skill. I hope this helps.
-Jay

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Guests Taking Advantage of Free Stay

How can my friend politely ask her guests to pay for their stay? 

Dear Jay,
An elderly and very generous friend of mine has been providing a holiday destination for her friends and family for years and to date the majority of them have not contributed financially to the cost of their stay - save for one meal out. My friend believes that many guests are making the assumption that she and her husband are wealthy because they live in a lovely villa in a lovely area; however, the property was purchased when house prices were low and they have spent a lot of time and money restoring it, and of course, maintaining it.

This elderly couple now live on a fixed and modest income and are finding it difficult to support guests who do not contribute. Matters are further complicated by the fact that some of the family are from her husband's first marriage and she doesn't know how to approach them without offending them or her husband even though she enjoys a good relationship with both parties.  Needless to say, my friend now wishes she had done things differently from the outset therefore avoiding this very delicate and stressful situation.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: It’s never too late to set things right. There is no rewinding events, so what’s done is done. However, moving forward, the elderly couple who host guests need to explain that from here on, vacations are Dutch Treat. This is not an unusual request. Some guests may not be able to participate; but, that’s just the way it is. Honesty is the best policy. No need for apologies or explanations. Friends understand these situations, and the last thing they would want is for the hosts to be stressed out. You’ll be surprised at how quickly this situation can be resolved with a simple conversation. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Guests Expect Owners to Pay

How do we explain to our vacation home guests that they are responsible for many of the expenses without being rude? 

Dear Jay,
We have a vacation home in Colorado. We have invited guests out that have paid and offered to pay nothing, as far as groceries, liquor, etc. We are then left with paying for everything. My husband and I are not in a position to be paying for our vacation as well as our guests. How do we ask for people to pay for their part upfront? How do we appropriately divide expenses? What is proper?
We would also like for our guests to pay or at least split the maid service.  How do we go about asking for this without being rude?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: It is not uncommon for hosts to ask their guests to chip in for expenses associated with vacations. This should be done in a matter of fact way before final arrangements are inked. It is not rude; it is a practical matter. Most guests would expect to pay their fair share in many situations, but these wishes must be conveyed verbally, otherwise people may conclude that you are paying for everything. There are any number of ways to share expenses. I suggest that you ask guests to be responsible for a meal, or meals as the case may be, which includes the shopping, cooking, serving and cleaning up. If the tasks are shared, everyone feels a certain ownership in the vacation. You are very generous to share your house; you do not have to pay for all of the food, too. But make a plan together with your guests and eliminate any questions around finances. Sharing in maid service is fair, too. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Mother-in-law's unexpected trip

Am I right to be bothered by my mother-in-law planning a trip to stay with us without even mentioning it? 

Dear Jay,
My mother-in-law lives out of the country. My wife informed me the other day that my mother-in-law just bought airline tickets to come stay with us for a month, without informing us beforehand of her plans. My wife is not bothered by this, but I find it an incredibly rude thing for my mother-in-law to do. I'm just seeking confirmation that I am not alone in this belief.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: You are absolutely correct. But what’s worse is that your mother-in-law has enough power over her daughter that you take second seat. You do not need to allow this to happen again. This is an intrusion and makes you feel uncomfortable. You must show some respect for yourself in order for others to do the same. I recommend that you and your wife have a meaningful discussion about this - civilly. Decisions about visitors need to be discussed by you both before invitations are extended. Welcome your mother-in-law and be grateful for her visit. You never know what surprising joy she may bring with her. Next time, just make sure such a visit is better planned. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Step-daughter in the Bedroom

Is it unreasonable for me to NOT want my house sitters to sleeping my bedroom when we have a nice guest room for them? 

Dear Jay,
My adult step-daughter and her husband house sit for us when we travel. We pay them to water plants and feed the dogs. They bring their dog also. We have a beautiful guest room for them, but they insist on using our master bedroom although I don't like them in my personal space. My husband thinks I am unreasonable. This is the house his children grew up in, but I have been here 10 years and find my personal wishes are ignored. Is it wrong to want to keep our bedroom out of bounds?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Your request is very reasonable. What is more worrisome is the lack of respect shown by your husband for your feelings. Perhaps you are not communicating clearly? Sharing how you feel about these issues is important, because it is your feelings that are bothering you; yet they are valid and should be respected. House rules are something both partners must agree upon. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Brushing Aside my Wishes

Is it unreasonable for me to NOT want my house sitters to sleeping my bedroom when we have a nice guest room for them? 

Dear Jay,
My adult step-daughter and her husband house sit for us when we travel. We pay them to water plants and feed the dogs. They bring their dog also. We have a beautiful guest room for them, but they insist on using our master bedroom although I don't like them in my personal space. My husband thinks I am unreasonable. This is the house his children grew up in, but I have been here 10 years and find my personal wishes are ignored. Is it wrong to want to keep our bedroom out of bounds?

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Your request is very reasonable. What is more worrisome is the lack of respect shown by your husband for your feelings. Perhaps you are not communicating clearly? Sharing how you feel about these issues is important, because it is your feelings that are bothering you; yet they are valid and should be respected. House rules are something both partners must agree upon. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Son Mad at Mother For Not Sharing her House with Him

How do I explain to my son that I care about his situation even though I refuse to share my new home with him and his dog? 

Dear Jay,
I have a brand new home and it's paid for. I bought all new furniture and also have some 100 year old pieces that were my Grandmother's and passed down to my Mom. My 29 year old son has been married for the last 5 years, and is now getting a divorce. He just moved out of the house they were renting, and moved into a new apartment that was just built, and it's a pricey $1,034 a month. It's very small, a one bedroom, and he's stayed there 4 nights, and also has an 80 pound Rottweiler with him. 

My son has never lived by himself; he was with his wife 10 years, even though they were only married for 5. He has been having panic attacks because of being alone and his place being so small, even though he picked it out. He also said that his dog hates it. So now he wants to live in my new house with the dog and his dog will ruin my new house. I only stay there on the weekends because I had lived with a roommate at her house before mine was built, (I inherited a house, sold it, and bought a new house) and have 6 cats that I won't even let in my new house. I still stay at roommate’s house sometimes too. 

My son is now upset with me because I don't want him staying at my house with the dog, and he acts like I don't care about helping him, even though he signed a year lease on his new place. Don't I have the right to expect him to respect my new house? I've had dogs, and even my cats tear things up, so that's why they're not even at the new house. My son and I were extremely close and now all of a sudden it's like he feels like I'm this selfish person who cares more about her things than him. I told him he's not the problem, the dog is. Thank you.

Jay's ANSWER...
A: Your home is your castle. Your rules are the ones everyone follows. That is a basic common courtesy that you failed to successfully teach your son. So the problem is not with the dog; it’s with you. This would be a great chance for you to sit down with your son and teach him about respecting other people, including or perhaps especially his own mother. It’s never too late, but without this your adult son will go through life with a false sense of entitlement, with little gratitude, taking everything for granted. Your son needs to take responsibility for his choices. He needs to be prepared for life’s surprises. Help him emotionally, and even financially if appropriate, but don’t be trampled. You must show others that you respect yourself before they will respect you. Follow your intuition. It will not lead you astray. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Upset about the Temp in Friend's House

Should I have a say about the temperature in my friend's house? 

Dear Jay,
I have 2 friends who are a couple living together. I have known then since 2008. They used to be gracious in regard of air conditioning. They keep their A/C at 84. They used to turn it to 79 when I came by to visit. Now they completely deny ever even doing that and say that I have to accept their home as it is. Visiting them has become literally unbearable. It could even be 80 degrees outside and they keep their windows closed, and their home is so incredibly humid/stuffy that they threw away large decorum pillows I gave them 5 years ago because the pillows began to mold. One of them is a heavy smoker,too. I’ve never complained about the smoking because I know that’s her choice. They say I have no right to speak my opinion and that it’s their house.


Jay's ANSWER...
A:  Your friends are correct. It’s their home; their rules. If it’s so unbearable, why not invite them over to your place every once in a while. You needn’t subject yourself to their place if you don’t want to. You are under no obligation. But you have no business suggesting how they should adapt their home to suit you - not now, not ever. I hope this helps.

-Jay

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Meet Stage of Life's House Etiquette Coach

Meet Jay Remer - etiquette expert on StageofLife.comOur Etiquette Expert

Why Jay?  It's simple...Jay knows etiquette. 

For years Jay has planned and managed royal, corporate, political and social events and parties, some of them for up to 500 people.  As a graduate of the Protocol School of Washington, he offers workshops on business, social and dining etiquette, as well as international protocol for a variety of audiences.  From teenage students to corporate clients, Jay teaches everything from the basics of a handshake to the subtleties of developing a business relationship during a networking dinner.  His course on self-esteem in youth, in particular, has been encouraged by Dr. Piet Forni, founder of the Civility institute at Johns Hopkins University.  Originally from Delaware, Jay now lives in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada  where he has written a weekly etiquette column in the National Post and is a current columnist in New Brunswick’s Telegraph Journal.  He is a Social Etiquette and Good Manners expert on allexperts.com and has answered over 1,000 questions from people around the world...and he's now ready to answer your questions here on Stage of Life. 

Just let us know your question, your stage of life, and we'll post your question and Jay's official etiquette response on this page.

Ask Jay a Question

You can read more about Jay on his website, EtiquetteGuy.com

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