Originally Published: May 31, 2016 5:55 a.m.
Dear Annie: When my wife and I took a trip to Canada, my granddaughter and her live-in boyfriend at the time called to ask for permission to spend a week in our house, which is near a beach. My wife said OK.
This upset me for two reasons: We had $100,000 in precious metals in the house and I was concerned about theft. I had never met this boyfriend. Also, to have someone stay in our house for a week without us there seemed like an invasion of privacy. I was not happy about my wife’s decision, but went along with it to prevent bad feelings.
This granddaughter later married the boyfriend and they had a child. It turned out he was an alcoholic and when drunk, he threatened to kill her and the baby. She brought the baby and our son-in-law (her father), and stayed in our house for a few days, again when we weren’t home. They didn’t ask permission this time. My son-in-law has a key. We knew she was escaping the potential abuse, so we said nothing.
Last Christmas, I brought up the subject of people staying in my house when I’m not there. Now, neither our granddaughter nor her parents are speaking to us. We’ve called them several times, but they don’t pick up and never return our calls.
My daughter is bipolar and has been hostile toward me for many years, mainly because I did not divorce her mother, whom she hated. When her mother died 25 years ago, she transferred that hatred to me, even though my current wife and I always have been friendly and kind to my daughter and her family.
So here’s my question: Am I justified, according to social behavior, in objecting to relatives staying in our home when we are not there? I would never stay in anyone’s home without their permission. – Joe in California
Dear Joe: Having people in your house when you aren’t home is a personal choice. Your wife gave permission the first time, which means your complaint should have been directed at her, not your grandchild. (It might also be a good idea to put highly valuable items in a bank safety deposit box.) And while we agree that no one should stay in your house without permission, running away from an abusive spouse is a pretty good reason to show up unexpectedly in a safe place to which you have a key.
Your daughter and her family are not responding kindly or rationally, but you also don’t seem to be dealing with them in a productive way. Ask your daughter whether she would be willing to go with you for counseling to resolve this and work on having a better relationship in the future. It seems worth a try.
Dear Annie: I have a different response to “Waking Up,” whose friend talks too much.
I have a friend who does this. She is a stay-at-home mom and needs to talk to an adult. The rest of her friends work outside the home and have social lives. So when I know I have an hour to spare, I will phone her and just let her talk. This is called “being a friend.” And eventually, she gets around to asking me about my life. – M
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