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Etiquette for Visiting Family?

September 3, 2020

Is it OK when family members just show up at your door anytime of day or evening without calling first? Even though we are house bound with this virus, some days I don't feel well or am too tired to receive company.

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I'm also a caregiver for my husband, it's only fair a curtesy call would be appreciated. Am I wrong?

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September 3, 20200 found this helpful
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Considering you are a caregiver for your husband your family members should respect this during this pandemic. You don't need anyone showing up at your home when they feel like it. You have no idea if they have been exposed to the virus and will bring this into your home. You need to take a firm stand and tell these people that you are not allowing any visits to your home unless they call first. If they coming knocking on your door just ignore them and don't let them in. I would post a sign on the door saying that you are not allowing visits to your home that are not prearranged first. You are worried about you and your husband getting sick and you already have your hands full taking care of him. Explain to them you are in no mood for a social visit and if they'd like to come and see you then they should call first and find out how you and your husband are doing before showing up. Plain and simple. You are not wrong. I do not allow visits to my home unless I know the person has called me first and asked me if it was fine to come over.

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September 4, 20200 found this helpful
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I have read the suggestions and generally agree with what everyone is saying/recommending but I'm wondering if any of us have gone through something like this and maybe if someone has, they could provide feedback on how things turned out.
I have never had any problems with anyone visiting without asking first, but then; I've never been confined to home (even during this crisis) so no one knows when or if I will be home.
I also do not have any in-laws to deal with so I believe just that would make a very big difference.
I was a family counselor for several years and during that time, I did have families trying to deal with similar situations and I do not believe there is a 'one solution fits all' in cases like this as there are too many variables in every situation.

I believe if this situation involves your family that you can discuss it with them and they will most likely understand and agree to follow your wishes with probably no hard feelings.

But - if this problem concerns your husband's family then I believe this creates a whole different set of circumstances and may have to be handled with 'kid gloves' to hopefully not create even bigger (maybe even more serious) problems.

Since you only say you are caregiver for your husband we have no idea as to how serious a problem this is (and we have no reason to have to know) so does this mean his family are visiting to see how their son/brother is doing or maybe showing him their love/concern?

I guess what I'm trying to establish is that you and your husband are not in a 'normal' situation where visitors are just dropping in to 'visit'.
As a general rule, situations can be handled by family members much better than if 'in-laws' present the same solutions to problems.
As an example; How would your family feel if your husband informed them of how/what they had to do before visiting you?

If at all possible, everything may work out better if you discuss how you feel with your husband and ask him to discuss it with his family members.
If, for whatever reason, this cannot be done then you may have to resort to other measures.
Maybe you could discuss this problem with whoever seems to be 'in charge' of his family's dealings and hopefully come to some agreement about times and notifications.

I would suggest that before you try any 'solution' provided, you try to reverse the situation with your husband as the caregiver and then that you give serious thought to how your family might feel if they were presented with that solution - a sign on the door - or notification telling them that they have to make an appointment to visit their daughter (even if you tell them your reason for doing this) and truly think about how your family might feel and how they would react to this 'solution'.

I do not know what kind of relationship you have with your in-laws but how you handle this problem may have lifetime repercussions.

Please give this very serious thought as with some families this could be an explosive situation.

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September 4, 20200 found this helpful
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During my 'growing up years' all of our guests were unexpected, and all of them were welcome. Neighbors were always dropping by, maybe to borrow a cup of sugar for a cake they had started and found out at the last minute they didn't have enough.

Or in the cool of the evening, a neighbor might walk across the street and sit with you on your porch for a 'spell' and catch up on the latest village news. These visits were anticipated and always enjoyed.

And of course, relatives never gave advanced notice. There was a very good reason for this. Most of them lived out in the sticks. They had no phone. If they had, it wouldn't have helped. We didn't have one either.

These unannounced visits were truly cherished. They were important. They took up the better part of a Saturday or Sunday. A big meal was prepared. After dinner, we all gathered on the front porch.

Here was the essence of the unplanned gathering. We learned who had gotten married, who had died, who had another baby, and seeing cousins for the first time.

Each visit was wonderful but we were a bit saddened when they drew near a close. Many of these visitors had to get up at three and be in the milking parlor by four. Late hours were for city folk.

We walked our guests to their car and continued talking with them after they were seated comfortably inside. Leaning over the car door, we rested a hand on the roof of the car as if we could somehow prolong the visit if just for a few more minutes.

There were many goodbyes and many Y'all come back'. We stood there by the curb waiving til the car was out of sight.
My, my, my. How times have changed.

In this day, everyone has phones. Not on a wall but in their pockets. Our lifestyles are so different. Nature doesn't plan our days, we do. We live by the clock. Disruptions in our schedule can sometimes cause real problems.

It's hard to fathom that anyone today doesn't know it's uncaring and downright rude to come unexpectedly for a visit. I doubt I could be a gracious host. Whose inlaws it is doesn't matter if I'm the one being inconvenienced.

At the very least when saying goodbye, I would add, 'Do come back, but be sure to call and let us know a day ahead. That way you wont catch me in the shower washing my hair or hubby moving all the furniture out of the living room so he can paint it. We can plan our day around visiting with you. Y'all take care now!

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3 More Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

January 3, 2020

Over the holidays my brother drove into town from another state. He did not call me to tell me that he was coming, he called our parents and told them he was coming, weather permitting. When my mother told me, I conveyed to her that we already had plans for people to come and stay at our home so it would be very rude of me to leave my guests to come to her house, which is only 20 minutes away, but that they would be welcome to come to our house. We have a home in the mountains that he's never seen and we had lots of snow as well.

He never called me when he got to town, and made no effort to contact me to come visit. I later found out that rather than make plans to see me and my family, he and his family went sight seeing. Keeping in mind we had not seen each other in nearly two years.

I was extremely upset and when I called him out on it he said I was playing the victim and I should have reached out to him that it wasn't his responsibility!

I find his response utterly confusing because when we (my husband and I) have traveled to another state where we have family spread out all over we make it a point to contact all of those family members and let them know when we will be there and do our best to make arrangements, even if it's only for half a day, to see our family while we are in that state. We don't call one family member and let them know we're coming and expect them to relay the information to everyone else, and then expect everyone else to call us to arrange for us to come visit them.

Am I completely bonkers?

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January 3, 20200 found this helpful
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Normally that is how it works. However, there are some people who just don't think they need to make any effort at all when it comes to family. It almost appears that it goes deeper than just coming to the state and not notifying anyone he was there. It appears that he did not want to see anyone and perfered to spend the holiday with his friends. I am sorry but to me he was rude and he and his friends could have showed up for dinner one night.

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January 3, 20200 found this helpful
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Life is too short. Just write it off to the season bringing out the crazy in everyone and move on. This is how life long grudges start and that is bad for all. Call it a draw and try again if you want to have a relationship.

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January 6, 20200 found this helpful
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I agree with Pghgirl that the more you think about and especially talk about family or any disagreement the more prominent it becomes in your life.

What I'm writing is just as a 'bystander' and does not reflex on you or your problem so I hope you will not feel that I'm really answering your question. I just hate to see families have hard feelings and distance themselves due to an incident that I feel sure neither one anticipated and most certainly did not plan.
I hope you will be forgiving and consider this incident as a misunderstanding and try to make good plans for a future visit.

You also need to understand that if your brother wrote to ThriftyFun about this experience - from his point of view - probably some of the responders might think that he was maybe in the right and that you should have made more of an effort to visit them since they were family and had not seen each other for 2 years.

All I'm saying is that complex situations with families can be more hurtful and may linger longer than the same situations outside the family because, as a general rule, you cannot just 'write off' family where you may be able to just move on from others and leave them out of your life.

Who is really at fault? or right? or rude?
This answer would probably change with who is telling the story (how do your parents feel about all of this?) and maybe even how many times they have told the story.

How good a relationship have your families had in the past? Do you talk often or keep each other up to date on what is happening in your families? Do you exchange pictures of events - such as your new home - or other family events? Do you and your sister-in-law or your husband & your brother have a good relationship?

These are the types of questions (and more) a family counselor might ask if they were brought into a situation like this. Probably some of the questions would have a good response but maybe not all.

Also, has your brother's family been to this area before? Maybe his family had a lot to do with where they spent their time as this seems like a short vacation for them. Did the grandparents go site seeing with them? If not, were they offended that all the time was not spent with them?

There are just so many things that could have affected everything that took place so I hope you can put it behind you and consider it was not intended to be hurtful - just his family's way of doing things.

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July 29, 2019

My sister was coming to visit me, I told her to ask our mother to come too so we could all spend the weekend together. My mother claims I violated etiquette and should have invited her myself.

Did I violate etiquette?

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July 29, 20190 found this helpful

Things are not the same as when I was growing up and etiquette is just about a thing of the past which makes me heartsick!

So yes, technically, in the old fashioned world, you should extend invitations to all parties to invite them to your home--whether by phone, email, text, or my favorite, paper. That is the old school of thinking. I know that because millennials tell me that all the time. SO SAD.

It sounds like your sister would be bringing your mom and maybe even talks to her more often than you do, so you suggested just to bring her along. That to me is fine in the new world of etiquette, but sometimes you have to treat people they way THEY want to be treated, not the way you want to be treated (this is called the Platinum Rule).

If you want to keep peace, I suggest you call your mom, tell her how much you love her and want to see her and that you feel bad if she took offense at you not asking her directly, but you had hoped to save a little time by asking (your sister) to extend the invitation.

Hopefully this will keep the peace and you can all have a nice visit!!

Post back with an update!! Blessings to all!!

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July 29, 20190 found this helpful

I like to get a personal invitation. That way I know the host or hostess really wants me to come.

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July 29, 20190 found this helpful

If she said that, her own etiquette probably differs from yours since you are asking. We all have our own views and she was probably hurt you did not invite her yourself. Just keep that in mind; we all learn about people and their ways eventually so you just learned about hers :) Next time, invite her yourself.

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July 30, 20190 found this helpful

It would be nice if you invited your mother also.

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August 1, 20190 found this helpful

Each generation is different. Remember not to bet yourself up over this.This is a lesson learned, next time mention you want to have family over, and I will need to look in to who else is available for the visit.

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August 4, 20190 found this helpful

Apologize and maybe say that it just happened on the spur of the moment and now realize you should have personally invited her.
Sometimes things are said that will hurt someone's feeling and it is difficult to make amends but a sincere apology will start the healing process.

It really does not matter about whose etiquette is right or wrong or past or current, it only matters as to how the individual people feel about the situation.
Perhaps something happened in the past that makes your mother feel this way but individual attention may be the only solution. Even the way your sister presented the "invitation" could be part of the problem but I'm sure she did not know it would cause this reaction.

What is past is gone so all you can do is try and make up for the 'violation' and move on to enjoying spending more time with your mother and maybe even be the one to pick her up in the future?

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September 27, 2014

So today my sister and mother did me the favor of picking my baby up from daycare. I asked if they could stay and babysit (at my house) until my husband came home from work. So while I'm at work I'm thinking it's just my sister, my mom, and baby at my house. When my husband got home he called me at work. He sounded upset. (My husband works 12+ hours a day.) So he asked me "How come you didn't let me know your other sister and her family were coming over too?" I was like, what? What do you mean? Not again.

This is not the first time this has happened. My mom always invites my older sister, my sister's husband, and their little boy over to my house. I just think it's rude her coming over without even asking me if she can come over. I think she should at least let me know. And the only way I find out is because my husband tells me. I just don't think it's right them coming over uninvited.

How would you feel coming home tried and you find all those people you didn't expect having over. Today my husband was sitting on our sofa and my mom, my two sisters, and my nephew went into our bedroom and closed the bedroom door. My husband got really upset cause they didn't even ask if they could go in. He felt violated in his own house. I just don't know how to tell them that I don't want them to come over if I'm not home. And she never tells me that she came over while I was at work. I always find out from my husband. I just think it's rude. I need help. Am I being mean? My mom thinks that just cause she's babysitting that she can have my sister and her family over too. I don't mine them coming over, but at least ask or let me know.

By Liz G

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September 27, 20140 found this helpful

This is a boundaries issue. Your boundaries are being violated. You're correct in thinking this is not normal.
You're really just going to have to sit down with your mom and tell her the new rules: No more inviting anybody that you, personally, didn't invite. No snooping in your bedroom. No dropping by unexpectedly herself, at least call first.
You'll also have to tell the others. You can call on the phone, but don't email. That way they can't say they didn't know.
This may be difficult and they may complain, call you selfish, etc. but in the end it's your home and this is disrespectful.

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September 29, 20140 found this helpful

You'll have to speak up as I did but the relationship will change. I have a Brother who used to call me saying "we're on vacation and we'll be coming for a visit". That was him, his wife and two kids. Their visit was for several days; they didn't pick up after themselves, didn't help cook and nearly ate us out of house and home. Next few times he called telling me they would be coming I told him it wasn't a good time. He finally got the message. I also have a sister that would come to visit when her small children had eaten candy in her car and she wouldn't even clean their hands of the chocolate. After speaking up about chocolate hand prints on the walls and furniture and a couple of burned holes in carpet from smoking the relationship has never been the same. I was told she didn't feel comfortable in my home because I was too particular. We may love our relatives but can't put up with them for any length of time, nor should be have too.

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September 29, 20140 found this helpful

You are not overreacting at all. While it was very kind of your Mom and sister to stay and wait with your little one till your hubby came home. It is inappropriate and a bit presumptuous for her to continuously invite extra family members over. I totally see why this would make you uncomfortable. Especially since your un invited guests don't seem to have any boundaries when over.

I think you should definitely talk to your Mom about this. You can approach it in a very non-accusatory way though, and she will be more likely to respond favorably. Start off by telling her how much you appreciate her kindness and help. Then explain how the extra house guests are putting a strain on you and hubby. If your Mom is sweet enough to help you with your little one when asked, she is no doubt mature enough to understand your point of view. Hang in there, wishing you all the best!:)

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