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Carolyn Hax: Friendly invite gets out of hand

Washington Post

Dear Carolyn:

I invited a friend and her family (husband and two children) to vacation with us at my parents’ home this summer. My parents were willing to host all of us, four adults and four children in their home.

While at a party at my friend’s home, she began discussing the trip in front of her party guests. One guest, a friend of hers, commented that our summer plans sounded like fun. In response, my friend invited her friend and two children. My friend turned to me in front of everyone and asked if it was OK that they join us.

I felt as if I were backed into a corner and had to be amenable to the invitation or risk upsetting and/or angering anyone.

Including my parents, there will be 13 people staying at my parents’ home for five nights. I want to put stipulations upon the visit – for instance, guests provide their own food, beverages, linens, etc. I am not sure how to handle this situation without upsetting or angering anyone.

– A.

The rudest thing here was a guest’s presuming to invite people to join her at your parents’ home when your parents weren’t even there to say no.

Because of this plain violation of good manners, you could easily have said no without risk of upsetting anyone. “My parents can barely host eight of us as it is.”

You could also so easily have punted: “I can’t speak for my parents – let me ask.” Then you’d be out of the “in front of everybody” corner and able to spike the idea privately the next day.

Still. No form of “no” would have been rude because the only rude answer was “yes”: It was rude of you to impose extra guests on your parents just because you didn’t want to look like the bad guy.

Fortunately, your parents – and you on their behalf – are fully entitled to rescind the (non)invitation: “As I talked to my parents, I realized I’m asking way too much of them to host so many people. My mistake. They feel terrible, but I assured them you’d understand.”

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