In-law Overload: When Your Hospitality is Taken Advantage of

Dear Ms. Demeanor:

I have a sister-in-law who is ill and I have offered that she come stay with my family (I have a husband, three children and a live-in maid). When I get home from work at 6pm, I find our family room crowded with her friends, my husband lying in the bedroom, my children in the kitchen with the maid. I understand her need for the company of her friends, but the problem is that they are always there in the evenings. We seem to have no place in that room. My kids can't watch TV. How do I deal with this situation without sounding like I don't want her friends checking on her?



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Dear Gloria:

Hindsight is always perfect, isn't it? You should have set some house rules before she arrived. Now your only choice is to backpedal a bit. And that's just the way to play this one. Just say something like, "We're all really pleased that you can be here while you recuperate. And it pleases me and (your husband), especially, that you have so many thoughtful and caring friends who visit you. The truth is that I should have anticipated that and prepared the rest of the family better. Would you mind if we set certain days for your visitors and certain ones for the family to use the family room? I'd really appreciate your telling me what would work best for you."

Since her pals probably are working, too, it's doubtful they can show up during the day. But it's worth asking the question. And if you can find some other place in the house to entertain, by all means suggest that -- perhaps the kitchen or outdoors. Only you know the answers here.

Before you say anything, be sure to run it by your husband. And, after your talk, let your children know the new house rules. Good luck.