Ask Amy: Pop-in guests drive family crazy

August 29, 2013 

Dear Amy: For a few years now, I've been getting bent out of shape about two close relatives who show up without warning on many a weekend and expect to just hang out at our home for hours.

These relatives live 90 minutes away. They claim they cannot call to let us know when they're coming "because we never know when we're coming."

Once in a while, I manage to miss them by being away on a weekend when they drop in, but honestly, I cherish my weekend time at home to clean and cook for the coming week, catch up on bill-paying and freelance work, read novels, take baths and such.

We live out in the country and can't even pretend we're not home. I don't know of any way to basically send them away when, suddenly on a Saturday or Sunday, there they are at our door, be it 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. or 6 p.m. (often with food or drink in hand) ready to socialize at our house! Other times, there might have been a family dinner planned that evening, but they come hours early and hang out with us.

When I want (or expect) to see them, I genuinely enjoy their company.

What can I say? I've already asked them many times to give us some notice or perhaps even a choice in the matter.

— Bent relative

Dear Bent: Have you gotten visibly angry or expressed your extreme frustration in the moment, or do you do what many of us do and express your hostility by being coldly tolerant at the time and furious later?

One minitantrum directed toward your relatives might get the message across that they should respect your right to privacy.

The next time this happens, stop them at the doorway: "I've asked you many times to give me the courtesy of a heads-up before you show up here. You don't seem to care. So tell me, what would it take to get your attention? I genuinely like to see you, but not like this. This is driving me crazy."

Dear Amy: "Hurting" suffered the loss of her only child and was shocked that her friends didn't express their sympathy.

I've been there. I was shocked at the way some people basically seemed to run away after my loss.

I recommend the group Compassionate Friends for its work with bereaved parents.

— Also hurting


Dear Also: Compassionate Friends has helped many grieving family members (including mine). Check for local support.


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