Dear Annie: Last weekend, my husband and I invited a few relatives over for a cookout. There were three children under the age of 4. When it began to rain, we moved the party indoors. The parents let their kids run amok, and in a few short hours, the children completely trashed the first floor of our house.
My husband and I do not have children, though I understand that kids will be kids. But it’s the parents’ responsibility to watch their children. Bouncing on our couch, climbing on the coffee tables, spilling food in every room and throwing picture frames show a lack of respect, as well as ignorance of appropriate behavior.
This was the first time we’d invited the relatives over, and we had spent the entire morning cleaning our place to make it welcoming. I don’t understand how anyone can allow their kids to destroy a nice, clean house. I couldn’t wait for them to leave. My husband and I spent the next several hours cleaning up.
We are furious with them for allowing this to happen and will not invite them a second time. I wonder whether they allow this type of behavior in their own home.
What’s the best way to handle this in the future?
-- Upset and Exploited in Illinois
Dear Upset: Those parents abdicated their responsibility. When parents refuse to discipline their children in your home, you are permitted to do so. It’s OK to tell them they absolutely cannot bounce on the couch, climb on the tables or throw things. Remind the parents to keep an eye on their kids. If your home is large enough, set aside an area that includes toys for them to play with or a movie to watch. If they still cannot settle down, suggest to the parents that they “might want to go home since the kids are so restless.”
Dear Annie: My parents were blessed with five children. All of us have been successful. Dad died 15 years ago, and Mom died last year. Most of Mom’s funeral was paid for, but there was still a small balance, which I paid out of my own pocket.
My parents gave us everything we wanted in life. But as the oldest, I worked, cleaned and took care of my younger siblings from the time I was 14. Before Mom died, she told me she would give me a “little something extra” because I was short-changed growing up, and she left me a small insurance policy.
Isn’t it the responsibility of all the children to pay for the funeral? Since the service, I have not heard from any of my siblings. If they aren’t going to offer to pay for some of the funeral expenses, at least I deserve a “thank you” for handling it, don’t I?
-- Hurt and Taken Advantage Of
Dear Hurt: Do your siblings know that you received this insurance policy? No matter how justified, they may believe it meant Mom favored you, and it could create ill will for decades. Please nip this in the bud. Call your siblings. Explain the situation. Let them know their share of the funeral expenses and ask whether they can reimburse you. But also tell them you love and miss them.
Dear Annie: Like “Not So Home Sweet Home,” I was once a 20-year-old who was uncomfortable around my stepfather. But I figured I would soon be out of the house. How I wish I had confronted him and told my mother. He later molested my young daughter when she was at my mom’s house. My daughter is now 34 and has suffered greatly from what happened to her as a child. She had been told to keep the “special secret” between her and Grandpa. Grandpa was dead before this came to light, so the confrontation never took place.
Trust your feelings. Speak out.
-- Home Was Never Sweet Again
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