October 20, 2010 in Features

Carolyn Hax: Critical sister still accepts hospitality

Washington Post
 

Dear Carolyn: Our extended family is gathering to celebrate a dear cousin’s 70th birthday, with people driving and flying in from all over. My husband and I and my two adult sons (plus one son’s girlfriend) plan to meet up in my cousin’s hometown. I reserved three hotel rooms just to be sure we had enough space.

My sister has asked to stay with us so she can save money, and of course I agreed. My husband and I decided to put my husband and one son (he’s 27) in one room, my sister and me in another, and the son and his girlfriend in the third. My son is 23 and the girlfriend is 20.

I am catching a lot of grief from my sister over this plan, as she does not approve of the son and girlfriend sharing a room.

We have a great relationship with both our adult sons, love them dearly, and also love our younger son’s girlfriend. Any advice for how to preserve the peace? – Anonymous

Your sister’s entitled to her opinion, but to voice such a critical opinion – particularly in the form of an ad hominem attack – while also accepting the gift of your hospitality says she’s socially tone deaf at best.

Had she merely said to you, “I’m not comfortable being part of a group that includes an unmarried couple sharing a room,” she at least would have allowed room for discussion, compromise or even just civil disagreement. But she bypassed the high road.

She also could have taken the live-and-let-live road, by saying no thank you to your hotel room, without elaborating, and getting her own room on her own dime. She passed that one, too.

Just tell your sister, politely, that you meant no offense. You merely operated on the understanding that you’re all adults here (ahem), and so a pragmatic solution made sense. Then say you’ll understand if she no longer wants to stay with you, but that she’s still welcome nevertheless.


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