Dear Annie: Several years ago, my brother and his wife moved several states away. When they visit, they stay with us because we have plenty of space. They always offer to pay for groceries and help with meals, so it’s a pleasure to have them.
Their three children are now young adults. I am willing to accommodate them because it makes my parents happy. But these kids are not nearly as gracious as their parents. They seem to think I run a hotel and will provide three meals a day.
The last visit, my nephew came with his 7-year-old son. When the boy wanted a snack, I told him to ask his father to fix him something. He replied, “Daddy is taking a nap and told me you would have food.” When I suggested to my nephew that he go to the store and get something, he simply said “no.”
Last month, my brother came with his other son and daughter-in-law. After several exhausting days, I suggested we all chip in for a pizza. When it arrived, my brother paid me, but my nephew just took his share and walked into the living room.
Now my niece and her husband are coming for a week’s visit. She said she’d be happy to cook a meal. Annie, there will be 21 meals. I know I’m being taken advantage of, but I don’t want to cause hurt feelings. – Auntie’s Bed and Breakfast
Dear Auntie: You need to set some house rules. Stop preparing three meals a day. Have cereal, yogurt and other food available, and tell them to help themselves. Suggest they go out for dinner – without you. If you stop being their cook, they will find other ways to eat. You also could tell your brother that his children need to be better guests or they won’t be welcome anywhere.