My fiance is 30 and owns his house, and I live with him. Many of his friends often drop by, or spend time over here playing video games/sitting on our deck/enjoying our hot tub. Sometimes they bring friends, and this has been fine for the most part. Recently, one good friend invited his girlfriend and a couple of his friends over as well. Both ladies in attendance happen to be mothers, although the children were not with them. We were having a pleasant conversation, when right in front of me, both ladies started talking about how large our yard is, and how they will have to bring all their kids up to run around in it next Sunday. What could be the problem, you ask? My fiance and I DO NOT like young children, and our house is not child-friendly (frequently a gun that is being cleaned is left out, there are fireworks leftover from the 4th, or sharp objects laying around from my fiance’s craft projects, etc). The kids are all under the age of 6. I told the group that while I thoroughly enjoy their company, perhaps they could have their children over to someone else’s home. One lady said, “Oh, but mine are so well behaved.”
I replied, “I’m sure they are, but that isn’t relevant. This isn’t really a safe place for kids.”
“I’ll keep an eye on them. I know they’d love all this room you have.”
“I’m sure you keep an excellent eye on them, but this house is kind of a child-free zone.” I am keeping my voice gentle and neutral, as I know how people can be about their kids.
“But you’ll just love them – they are so sweet!”
Finding that my protests were falling on deaf ears, I went inside to get my fiance. He came out and said that in no uncertain terms were any children to be at his house. They couldn’t believe it, and one lady said, “Well you’re an @$$hole.” I guess it doesn’t matter what his personal feelings are in HIS OWN HOUSE, we are jerks because we do not like kids. Please understand that I have many girl friends with children, and I have never told them not to bring the kids to a lunch outing, or to keep them out of my sight while I visit their homes. We just don’t want any children in our home, and don’t like when people think their little angels are welcome anywhere, regardless of what the homeowners think. 0714-10
The comments from readers on this topic could easily degenerate into a child-free/pro-child debate so be forewarned that I will edit or delete comments that head in that direction. The primary issue of this post pertains to the rights of the homeowner to establish their own house rules and the obligations of a host/hostess in how far they are to go in extending hospitality.
That said, I believe a home owner (or renter) has the right to establish the parameters which reflect the atmosphere they wish for their own home. Before anyone cheers in agreement, that “rule” is applicable for everyone which means your parents have the right to put your boyfriend in one bedroom and you in another when you come visiting overnight. It means your dearest friend from grade school has no obligation to make her four children disappear as if they never existed when you visit. And child-free adults have no obligation to extend hospitality to people who will bring their children uninvited.
The OP in this story has a little dilemma. The precedent has already been set that their friends can invite and bring secondary guests, apparently without even asking. From an etiquette standpoint, that’s pretty ballsy for a guest to presume upon a host’s hospitality and invite more guests the hosts may not be aware of. But the pattern has already been set by this couple’s friends and having breached that etiquette bulwark, the secondary guests feel no shame in inviting tertiary guests.
It is an honorable host and hostess that graciously extends hospitality to the unexpected secondary guests of friends. The reciprocal flip side is that good friends will not presume upon that graciousness excessively by assuming the host’s home and food are limitless commodities to be shared with everyone they know. They do make assumptions out of a laziness to not extend their own hospitality. Why should they when the OP and her boyfriend are so accommodating? When guests get to the point of repeatedly inviting their own secondary and tertiary guests, it’s time to encourage them to host their own functions in their own domiciles.
In the conversation with the mothers intent on bringing their children, I would have probably something said along the lines of, “Our hospitality is focused on entertaining our adult friends. Children would find this a very dull place/party.” If they persist… “I look forward to attending one of your parties at your home and meeting your children there.” And if they are obtuse and crass enough to ignore these obvious signals that their children are not invited or would be welcome, you stop them at the door with, “I’m so sorry. We are unprepared to accommodate child-aged guests today.”