Dear Annie: Last weekend, my husband and I invited a few relatives over for a cookout. There were three children under the age of 4. When it began to rain, we moved the party indoors. The parents let their kids run amok, and in a few short hours, the children completely trashed the first floor of our house.
My husband and I do not have children, though I understand that kids will be kids. But it’s the parents’ responsibility to watch their children. Bouncing on our couch, climbing on the coffee tables, spilling food in every room and throwing picture frames show a lack of respect, as well as ignorance of appropriate behavior.
This was the first time we’d invited the relatives over, and we had spent the entire morning cleaning our place to make it welcoming. I don’t understand how anyone can allow their kids to destroy a nice, clean house. I couldn’t wait for them to leave. My husband and I spent the next several hours cleaning up.
We are furious with them for allowing this to happen and will not invite them a second time. I wonder whether they allow this type of behavior in their own home.
What’s the best way to handle this in the future? – Upset and Exploited in Illinois
Dear Upset: Those parents abdicated their responsibility. When parents refuse to discipline their children in your home, you are permitted to do so. It’s OK to tell them they absolutely cannot bounce on the couch, climb on the tables or throw things. Remind the parents to keep an eye on their kids. If your home is large enough, set aside an area that includes toys for them to play with or a movie to watch. If they still cannot settle down, suggest to the parents that they “might want to go home since the kids are so restless.”