Tag Archives: Family Advice

Dear John: Extended Family Takes Advantage Of Open-Door Policy

I have three sisters-in-law. I have been a part of their family for 15 years. We all get along (for the most part).

Recently, my husband and I purchased a home. We have an open-door policy for people to come and use our pool. We also host family gatherings.

At our latest gathering, I noticed two of his sisters wearing my clothes. One volunteered: “We were wet from the pool, and found these in your dryer.” I was assured that I would get the clothes back that night, but they were never returned to me.

Last weekend there was a birthday party. They made off with some towels.

I went to their home, and found a blanket that was given to me by my mother being used as a curtain in one of their bedrooms.

One sister asked me if she could borrow a shirt, and I obliged. She wore neither of the two options that I lent her, and has not returned them.

I prefer not to be confrontational. I know this is petty because at the end of the day, those things do not really matter. I feel frustrated because people are violating my kindness and my space.

People come over knowing that they’re going swimming. Is it my responsibility to provide them with clothing and towels?

– Put Upon

Dear Put Upon,

Step one: Get your shit back. Whether it is behind their back or directly confronting them (which sounds like it might not be your favorite option), get it back. They are taking advantage of your hospitality.

Step two: Close your open door and set rules for when people come over to use your pool. You can still be hospitable but be firm with your guests and let them know that you have towels to use but it’s best that they bring their own. As far as the clothing, that’s on the guest. You’re not a department store carrying multiple sizes and looks of clothes. Screw them and make them bring their own clothes!

Whenever I go over to a friend’s house to swim I always bring my own towel and clothes to change in to. What is wrong with these idiots??? Ah, yeah, they’re idiots.

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“Jaw With John” – Grandma Been Drinkin’ Na Naaaaaa

I need your help with a very sensitive situation with my in-laws. My mother-in-law drinks too much at family functions. We recently celebrated my son’s first birthday party (her first grandchild) and she (again) had too much to drink. She was slurring her words, wobbly on her feet and was having uncomfortable conversations with our other guests.

When my wife confronted her about her behavior (at the party), she became defensive and immediately responded that my wife is too judgmental. She used profanity at my wife and said she was never coming to our house again. She also began to act like a teenager and stomped up the stairs and slammed doors, etc. We are concerned for her safety as well as the safety of our son.

This has been a pattern for her over the past 15-plus years. I am only just coming into this situation within the last four years since marrying my wife. It seems to be a cycle where these situations occur, my mother-in-law backs off drinking for a few months and then she starts back up again.

How can we address this issue without having her feel like we are having an intervention or attacking her?

When she is not drinking she is the best mother-in-law and grandmother in the world. She is very helpful and always goes above and beyond for the family. — Concerned Son-In-Law

Dear Son-in-Law:

What kind of response did you expect from a drunk person? Of course she’s going to throw a tantrum, call you names and swear at you! That’s what drunk people do when they get defensive! There’s no point in trying to talk to them.

You answered your own question. When she’s sober, she’s great. Ergo, talk to her about her behavior then and bring up your concerns.

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“Jaw With John” – Out Of Town Family Treats Host Family Like a B&B

We have family members who like to stay with us every time they are in town. They live about five hours away. Typically when they come to stay, most of our other family members (who live only an hour away) will come to stay too.

We love that our young kids get to see their cousins, but it is a lot of work! This last time, we were informed just days beforehand that 10 people would be spending the weekend with us. We decided to send out an email telling everyone to help with a meal since it gets expensive for us (we’re a young family!) and it is hard to cook eight meals for 18 people!

The relatives who live five hours away have told us twice now that they won’t be bringing anything or could maybe bring water or chips. They have a family of five so it would be nice for them to contribute (since we are doing everything else). Am I wrong in still expecting them to bring a meal to share? I don’t think packing a cooler is that hard! — Exasperated

Dear Exasperated:

You made a reasonable request and were met with people who are unwilling to lend a hand. Chips? Water? Really? This is stupid. Are they the family from Little Miss Sunshine and don’t have time to pick up stuff along the way because they have to get their daughter to a beauty pageant? Didn’t think so.

If they are so disinclined to contribute then maybe you should suggest they stay elsewhere. If not now, then for future trips. You’re not a B&B.

They do realize that they can buy groceries and such THERE, right? They don’t have to haul them 5 hours to your home. There is a Safeway, Trader Joe’s or a Kroger in damn near every city. It’s not hard to pick up some stuff. You’re already doing enough by housing them and feeding every. single. one of them. The least they could do is prepare, serve and clean up one damn meal.

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“Jaw With John” – She’s Unreasonable AND Hates Harry Potter…Yikes

My husband’s sister-in-law’s posts on Facebook are extremely offensive, insulting and aggressive, often personally directed at those who do not agree with her. She is bigoted, mean and always angry.

After multiple gentle attempts to explain how her words made her sound, I eventually “unfriended” and blocked her. I am not alone in our family in doing so. She now pointedly snubs me and these others at family gatherings. As she was always unpredictable and occasionally offensive in person as well, I feel no loss, but my husband is uncomfortable and wants me to “make up” with her.

This is a woman who has called me a “witch” for allowing my kids contact with Harry Potter books/movies, says my gay friends are inhabited by “familial demons,” accuses my daughter’s Muslim employer of being a terrorist, proudly calls herself an anarchist, says she is ready to shoot anyone who is not “on her side of the fence” with her gun (she really has one) and so on.

If anyone actually tries to engage with her, she will spam them with emails and text messages. I believe she may be mentally ill. My husband says, regardless, “family is family.”

When we have visited his brother and her in the past, he would go off with his brother and have a nice time, leaving me alone with this nut job to walk on proverbial eggshells. Since the Facebook incident, and her ensuing snub, I am relieved to be unburdened of the connection. I have told my husband he is welcome to visit his long-suffering brother solo. Am I being unreasonable? — Free at Last

Dear Free:

Muggles. Am I right????

You’re perfectly within your right here. Now it’s time for you to step back, and away, from her. If she is that important to your husband then he can go and spend time with her. You’ve done your part and frankly, the people who think that exposing a child to Harry Potter is a bad thing deserve zero in return. That’s asinine.

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“Jaw With John” – Aunt Is A Regular Sue Storm

In yesterday’s mail we received a birth announcement of a new great-nephew, addressed only to my husband.

Christmas cards, wedding announcements, birth announcements, thank-you cards — anything coming from his sister and her children all are addressed only to him.

The most mention I ever get is “and Family.” One wedding invitation actually came to “Uncle John and Family.” Our children are grown so presumably I’m the nameless “Family.”

I buy the presents and sign the cards and checks. There’s no animosity between us. I’ve known the kids since birth and they are all nice people. But each omission makes me feel, well, a bit unwanted.

I’m tempted to have only my husband sign the card that I bought before the announcement arrived. I want him to tell his sister that this makes me feel sad and left out. He doesn’t see it as an issue and thinks I should ignore it, but he also says that since it bothers me, I should tell her myself.

What’s your take? — The Invisible Aunt

Dear Invisible:

Listen to your husband here and talk directly to his sister. I know what it’s like to be slighted, albeit in a different manner.

It was Christmas, the family was opening presents and we had decided to open gifts from a certain friend all at the same time. All the gifts were neatly and elegantly wrapped and there was a note saying that the gifts were all from a recent trip to Africa … except for me. I got a calendar. I looked around and said, to myself, There was nothing in Africa that could be for me? Not one thing? I moved on and now it’s a pretty decent joke I can tell. Your situation is different but similar.

You know you need to bring this to the attention of your brother’s sister otherwise it will continue. Being passive aggressive with the notes and gifts won’t solve anything. Ask your sister-in-law “What’s up?” because unlike my calendar, your feelings won’t go away after January 1st.

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