DEAR AMY: I recently hosted my sibling and their spouse at my home for three days. It had been several years since we’d seen each other. Because I live in Hawaii, we get a lot of, “Hey, I’m coming out there on vacation” from family and friends, with the unspoken hope of staying with us. My sibling and spouse had come as part of a package tour, which had three “unscheduled” days at the end, and they didn’t want to spend the money to stay in a motel, without a car, when there is so much to see and do here. They had booked their trip last year, so it wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment thing. They were very good guests, but I find that as I get older I’ve grown intolerant of anyone but my spouse in my home. I’ve become set in my ways. I can’t sleep when someone is snoring. I don’t want to have to turn the television up loud for my hard-of-hearing guests. I don’t want to have to explain why I don’t have cable or a dishwasher. I don’t like folks insisting on eating dinner in front of the TV, or having the television on all the time. I don’t allow shoes or smoking in the house. And anyone who’s been to Hawaii knows that there are bugs here. I am a gracious host, and invited them to stay. But behind their backs I was gritting my teeth and seething with unwarranted resentment. I love them, but that old saying that guests are like fish in that they begin to stink after two days holds for me. How do I politely and gently tell my family, in-laws, and friends coming from far away that I do not want to host them or let them stay here? I am more than willing to pay for their motel room and shuttle them around in my car, but how do I say that?
DEAR KHUTULAN: The minute you start being honest and clear about your limitations and your willingness to host, your life will start to change. When you are conveying your point, don’t make the mistake of piling on lots of explanations regarding your own capabilities. Simply say, “I will love to see you while you’re here, but unfortunately I cannot host people in my home. Here is the name of the closest motel, and of course I will enjoy showing you the sights and shuttling you around while you’re here. I hope you can block out a few days while you’re on the island for us to spend time together.”
Your offer to pay for a stay in a motel is a generous one. If you tack that on to your statement, I assume people would love to take you up on it.
DEAR AMY: Many times we know the right thing to do, but are paralyzed by doubt. Thank you for being there to give us a gentle push in the right direction! Our grandkids frequently spend the weekend at our house. My granddaughter sleeps in the upper bunk in our younger daughter’s room. She’s almost 12, has exhibited some precocious behavior, is starting to develop, and wants to sleep wearing only panties to bed during the summer. My husband and I feel that’s not appropriate, and said bra and panties are OK. My older daughter says we’re “body shaming” her, and that she should be able to sleep in whatever makes her comfortable. My younger daughter says it’s not a problem, but it’s our family culture, as well as common sense, to be wearing something in case of an earthquake or other emergency. What do you think?
DEAR PRUDISH: I fail to see the “body shaming” aspect of this. I don’t think it is at all unreasonable to ask a grandchild — boy or girl — to exhibit some minimal modesty while at your house.
However, I do agree about the importance of comfort while sleeping. Sleeping in a bra seems strange (and uncomfortable, at least to me); perhaps your granddaughter can keep a special “sleep shirt” under her pillow, in case of an earthquake?
DEAR AMY: “Wondering Woman” couldn’t figure out why the man she had been seeing suddenly demanded that she delete all of his contact information. This happened to me. As it turned out, the man I was casually dating was married! Truly, I had no idea. The delete request came from the man’s wife.
DEAR BEEN THERE: Yikes.