Unwanted Guests of the Little Variety

by admin on July 26, 2010

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.”

{ 101 comments… read them below or add one }

shiksagoddess July 27, 2010 at 1:55 pm

@Laura: You handled this much more calmly than I would. But I’m a smart-aleck who has a lifetime parking spot in e-Hell. In your reply to Maryann (#43) you stated that your fiance is emphatic about no kids in the house, but in your post #17, a woman dropped by unexpectedly with her 5-year old. Did you actually let them in? If so, why – knowing how your fiance feels about children? I’m not slamming you at all, I wonder if you’ve thought about why you feel obligated to be “nice” to entitled and rude “guests?”

By the way, I totally commend you for the way you treated the 5-year-old. It wasn’t her fault her mother has the brains god gave a rock.

Reply

Simone July 27, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Look right at the outset I’d like to say that I think the OP was well within her rights and the guests were rude. However I also don’t like the dismissive arguments to Lizajane’s point. There are many adults with difficulty thinking of consequences who require extra supervision, from brain damaged individuals through to substance abusers. And the point she was responding to was the ‘it is within your right to refuse entry to anyone who comes to your home’. I believe she was just pointing out that many of us would be less sympathetic with this view if it were a different minority group she was excluding.

In other words, in this specific case there is no problem whatsoever, but beware making generalised statements…they almost always lead to trouble and misrepresentation of your own views.

Reply

The Cat Whisperer July 27, 2010 at 6:31 pm

I was taught that when invited to someone’s home, as a guest you have certain obligations:

1. Arrive on time.
2. Thank the host/hostess for their hospitality upon arrival; a small host/hostess gift is a nice touch.
3. Treat their home with respect: do not touch things without asking permission, do not go into parts of the home that are not “public” unless invited (i.e., stay out of bedrooms, studies, home offices and other “private spaces). This includes private spaces within public areas: i.e., don’t snoop in medicine cabinets or drawers, do not open closed closets or storage areas unless specifically asked to get something, don’t start pulling books off the bookshelves or picking up knick-knacks out of cabinets without first asking permission.
4. Do not complain about the facilities or criticize anything about the home.
5. Find something to compliment the host/hostess about their home.
6. Enjoy the hospitality offered.
7. Offer to assist the host; if host declines, gracefully respect their wishes.
8. Thank host/hostess when preparing to leave.
9. Leave on time, sober, and without taking anything (left0vers, unfinished bottles of beverage, other property).
10. Follow up with thanks for the hospitality the next day.
11. Never bad-mouth the hospitality received to third parties: don’t complain about the host’s home, the refreshments provided, the entertainment or the other guests. If you don’t like what you got in the way of hospitality, then just decline further invites politely.
12. Never, ever, ever, ever bring over anyone/anything you weren’t invited to bring. This includes other people, pets, relatives, dependents. It also includes videos or albums of your most recent vacation or adventure, movies on DVD that you are not asked to bring, or anything of that sort.
13. Remember that you are a GUEST. Your only rights are those extended to you by your host. Respect that and remember that it’s their home, and that doesn’t change no matter how many times you go over there. It is their home and you are a guest.

Reply

LilyG July 27, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Childfree,
my SIL did the same thing at the rehearsal dinner plus the wedding. My fiace knew how livid I would be at the dinner (my SIL walked into the babysitter’s house with my 3 year old niece and then walked OUT with her and got into the car to drive to the restaurant!), so he rearraged the seating and sat next to her all night, distracting her and trying to keep her quiet. I missed sitting next to my husband to be all night and enjoying the occasion with him. I esentially hosted the dinner by myself.
I was in tears afterward. I couldn’t be mad-he was trying to fix what he thought was the problem; my anger. The real problem was the dinner became about keeping a 3 year old quiet, not about celebrating a liminal event in our lives.

Reply

amy July 28, 2010 at 2:58 am

Um, I have kids, but I know that there are places that are unsuitable for children……NEVER ever would I bring my “well-behaved spawn” over to invade someone’s house…..that’s asking for trouble. What do you do if your child breaks something…EEKK…..bad…..uncomfortable…….maybe an uncomfortable trip to a courtroom…..no thanks.

Reply

Lizajane July 28, 2010 at 8:51 am

Thank you, Simone. You said it perfectly.

Reply

Jillybean July 28, 2010 at 8:52 am

@simone – the difference is, children are not a minority group. They all eventually turn into teens and then adults. I don’t like having people with the flu or a contagious stomach bug in my house, does that mean I’m discriminatory? Perhaps, but eventually they’ll not be sick, and they’ll be quite welcome.

As it happens, I love children, so they are always welcome in my home, but, in addition to needing to be equipped to ensure their safety, many people own items that children would be curious about and could ruin/destroy. I think people are well within their rights to refuse people in their homes that could ruin their property (children or not), and certainly they are always in the right when refusing to entertain those who were not invited.

I wouldn’t be suprised if at some point in their lives the OP and her fiance have a cherished niece/nephew who they welcome into their home – but that wouldn’t mean they would suddenly have to welcome all children into their home, and they certainly don’t have to allow others to treat their yard as a park.

Reply

Laura July 28, 2010 at 8:53 am

shiksagoddess,
First, cool name.
Second, my fiance and I are both emphatic about our child-free zone. As to how the one woman with her kid got in the door, I was coming home from work at the time, and didn’t know there was a child in the house until I was greeted by an irritated fiance who informed me that “something that squeals is watching the Little Mermaid in my man-cave.” So I had nothing to do with that – HE is the one who didn’t want to upset his friend who brought the girlfriend & her kid over. I have repeatedly reminded the fiance that “no” is a complete sentence. He did, however, take his friend aside and explain exactly why that won’t happen again. But I guess the friend failed to tell that to his girlfriend. ugh

Also, last night I informed the fiance that our issue was posted to EtiquetteHell.com. He wanted to know what you all said. I told him that essentially, 40+ people agree that children aren’t automatically welcome everywhere, and he can sleep better tonight knowing that. :)

Reply

admin July 28, 2010 at 10:11 am

Well, Op, you lost me with this comment. At the point your fiance lacked the spinal and testicular fortitude to politely decline the uninvited child’s admittance to his domicile, he became obligated to be a gracious, courteous host. Being irritated (and taking it out on you) and referring to his guest as “something that squeals” does not qualify as attributes of a gracious host. He was the facilitator of this dilemma and he needed to suck it up and accept his responsibilities that he obligated himself to execute.

Reply

Laura July 28, 2010 at 11:09 am

Admin,
Understood, and I hope you don’t think that I was okay with this outcome. However, I had come home from work and everyone was already in the house – I felt it would have been in bad taste to kick someone out for a slight they didn’t realize they’d committed. I have discussed this with him, and he feels that if someone shows up, “it is not nice” to inform them that their child is not welcome, knowing how people feel about their kids. He thinks he’d lose that friend. What do you (or anyone else) feel I should have done? What if the people who brought their children drove 45min- 1hr to arrive unexpectedly (this happens more often than you’d think) – does that change your answer? I am very afraid to come across as The B!tch.

I’m fond of the “testicular fortitude” phrase; my younger brother uses that on a regular basis.

Reply

admin July 29, 2010 at 12:51 pm

To the OP (Laura),

While I understand that you were not condoning your fiance’s attitude, the point of my reply was to reject his behavior and not yours. What difference is there between telling someone at the door that their child is not welcome and pulling the friend aside later and informing him in no uncertain terms that bringing uninvited children will not happen again? Either way the message that children are not welcome has been conveyed and as his friends marry and begin having families, this will certainly begin to limit how frequently his friends feel welcome in his home.

The consequences of choosing to limit who one associates with is a decrease in the overall sphere of relationships. If a person would not condone persons of particular race or religion or political affiliation entering their domicile, they must accept the consequences of that choice which will mean friends who happen to be in relationships with those restricted peoples may eventually cease to include you in their sphere of relationships. It’s quite possible to happily live with those consequences but your fiance seems conflicted. He wants his child-free domicile but wants to keep intact the friendships of those who happen to either be parents of those children or in some relationship with them. Bottom line, he can’t expect to have an open door guest policy for the adults and a closed door one for children without consequences of potentially losing friendships.

Guests actually drive 45 minutes to an hour to your place without first checking to see if you’ll be home? When people arrive at my home unexpectedly and I’m working, I greet them, invite them in with the caveat that I cannot chat for long as I have appointments and work to be done. After 15 or 20 minutes at most, I stand up and say, “Well, I must excuse myself and get back to work. I enjoyed our visit and hope you can come again.” I edge towards the door if they don’t seem to be getting the hint. If people stop by while I am in the midst of gardening project, I keep right on working while inviting them to join me in the work. I think most people are attentive to not interrupting work in progress and I’ve never had much of a problem. And btw, I don’t answer the door when taking naps or getting frisky with the husband. They may see our cars in the driveway but that doesn’t mean I am disposed to entertain them at the moment.

Reply

Twik July 28, 2010 at 11:22 am

OP, you and your fiance are clearly hostile to children, to the point of calling them “things”, not human beings. But it’s not the children who are coming uninvited, it’s their adult parents. Why is your anger not directed at them? Your friends seem to be suitably obnoxious for you to hold it against them, not the children who have, essentially, to go whereever their parents take them. If your fiance had the anatomical fortitude to stand up to the parents, by taking a little of that hostility and putting it to good use, you wouldn’t have the problem in the first place.

Reply

TheBardess July 28, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Here, here, admin! I was completely on the OP and her fiance’s side until that last post. I understand not everybody likes children. I understand children are not welcome everywhere (nor should they expect to be). I agree that the OP and her fiance are perfectly within their rights to refuse to entertain children in their house, and I would certainly never bring my son to a place or event that was not intended or suitable for children (my general philosophy on parenting is to never assume that anyone else is going to find my children as adorable and talented and brilliant and fascinating as I do). I understand being annoyed and upset by an uninvited guest showing up with an unwelcome child. But “something that squeals is watching ‘The Little Mermaid in my man cave?” That’s just mean-spirited, nasty, and wholly uncalled for. You could have said no, but you didn’t, so suck it up and deal with it.

Reply

Laura July 28, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I see the last two are upset with me – please remember that in one of my earlier posts, I was taken aback by the child, but did tell her I was pleased to meet her, and offered her something to drink – I did realize it is not the 5-yr old girl’s fault that she was unwelcome in my home; as such, I wanted to do the right thing. I cannot control the actions of others.

Reply

badkitty July 28, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Unacceptable. Honestly, my first concern would be that these adults can’t be trusted not to steal or burn the place down – after all, if they have no respect for this rule what assurance do you have that the others will be followed?

And for the record, I have a child of my own who lives with me 100% of the time and even he knows that the house is a kid-free zone where he himself is the only exception. None of my friends even ask to bring the kids over and I have never assumed that anyone else would like my son in their home. I wait for him to be spcifically invited as a guest or he doesn’t go. Occasionally I encounter people who say “but of course I meant him too!” and in those cases I chuckle and point out that they didn’t *say* so and it would be rude of me to assume that children or pets would be welcome in someone else’s home. This usually makes the point nicely, and people who aren’t used to this basic consideration seem to appreciate it.

Reply

Mechtilde July 28, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I took the “Something that squeals” comment to be a humerous one. I make similar jokes to my husband. For the record, we are both very fond of children and have two of our own.

Furthermore it can be very difficult indeed to deal with a situation where someone just shows up at the door. Retrospect is a wonderful thing, and it is all too easy for those outside the situation to say “Well you should have none it this way”. The OP did state that her fiancee was irritated- nowhere was it stated that he was in any way unpeasant or rude to the child involved, or its mother.

I don’t think that we can necessarily infer rudeness from the OP’s latest comment.

Reply

TheBardess July 28, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Well said, Twik. Very well said.

Reply

carebear102106 July 28, 2010 at 3:15 pm

In OP’s defence she didn’t say he said it in front of his guests. It is entirely possible that he said it in private to his fiance just to vent his frustration and then went back to being a perfectly agreeable host.

Reply

ChildFree July 28, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Asharah, we used to have office parties as a way to enhance team building. My husband’s employee was embarrassed enough about the spouse’s antics regarding the children. Anyone could tell by the look on my face that the children were unexpected and by the fact that I had to find a place for 4 more people to eat. Because of this incident, we no longer host office events, meeting instead at a restaurant, where everyone picks up his/her own tab. Although our home is not child-friendly, we frequently invite friends with children over to visit, and make arrangements for the children to have food they like and entertainment.
Lily G, the childcare venue was within 20 feet of the wedding venue so the mother could have easily be found if there was a problem with her child. My nieces were part of the wedding party (ages 5 & 7 at that time) and did not expect to participate in all of the wedding events. We did something special just for them a few days before the rehearsal dinner. They made an appearance at the reception and then went off to play with others in the child care area. Everyone was happy, with the exception of the mother who would not leave her child.
Don’t get me started on children prowling and getting into things they shouldn’t. Let’s just say that my house is not child friendly – we have guns, swords, antique breakable items, etc. – and we put these items away when we expect children. If we are not expecting children, these items are part of the décor. We have had to physically take some of these items away from children who went into our bedroom and got them out of a drawer while their parents were visiting. Since they were family, we said nothing. (Although I did tell one relative that if his daughter broke my lamp, he was paying for it and did he want to see the appraisal.).

Reply

Simone July 28, 2010 at 4:33 pm

@Jillybean – I repeat I am NOT saying that anyone has to EVER have children over, or should expect their children to be welcome anywhere.

My point is that if the exact same post came on and you substituted the minority group of your choice for ‘children’ I don’t think that people would be applauding the OP for ‘standing up for her rights’ et al. Yet some of the posts here would seem to say that rejecting ANYONE form your hose for ANY reason, including ‘I just don’t like …’ is acceptable and objecting to said attitude always an ettiquete faux pas. I am certain that people are not really proposing that (or ever would), I was just suggesting that everyone, everywhere, should always be careful of making generalised statements.

Reply

TheBardess July 28, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Laura- I’m not “upset” with you, per se. It does sound as though you were polite to the child and understanding of the fact that she was not the one at fault. However, truth be told, yes, your fiance’s comment really rubbed me the wrong way. It’s fine to not particularly like children. It’s fine to not want children in one’s home. It’s fine to be annoyed when a guest shows up unannounced with an unwelcome child. But none of that makes it okay to talk about a child in terms more befitting a rat than a person. As I said before, my policy as a parent is to never, ever assume that anyone else will enjoy my children as much as I do. I understand that not everybody likes or enjoys kids, and I would never take my children some place where they were not invited or that was not child friendly. If I had friends I knew did not enjoy the company of children, I would plan all our get-togethers to be kid-free. But honestly, I think I would have to restart thinking my friendship with someone who referred (or saw nothing wrong with referring) to my son as a “thing that squeals.” You don’t have to like him, and I’ll keep him out of your way, but please- he’s a person, not a rodent.

Reply

Firecat July 28, 2010 at 9:08 pm

@Simone – but if it is a person’s home, then I would argue that they do have the right to exclude any would-be guest, for any reason. So if someone wanted to exclude people from their home on the basis of their status as a member of a minority group – then I would conclude that they are most likely not someone with whom I would choose to associate – but it’s still their home and their decision. I don’t get to make that decision for them, but I do get to decide if I want to continue an association with them.

I do think there is a difference between children and other minority groups, though – true, they can’t help being kids. But, that status is something that will eventually change. And when I was growing up, children didn’t have all the rights and privileges that adults do. There are places of business that don’t admit children, either, or only under certain conditions (such as bars, or movies with certain ratings not alloing children in without a parent) – does that make them dicriminatory?

Reply

TheBardess July 29, 2010 at 9:06 am

@Firecat- well said. I was trying to think of a way to say that same thing myself, but you nailed it.

Reply

badkitty July 29, 2010 at 10:20 am

I agree with firecat. My home, my rules; your home, your rules. I know without ever asking that certain of my friends are perfectly welcome in my father’s home and some are not, based on some of his prejudices and views. (Note that I still ask before bringing anyone with me, even when I’m just returning a borrowed item or whatever.) I think his views on certain groups are despicable and if we were not related it would certainly have a huge effect on our relationship, but it’s his right to decide who enters his home and who does not, and I honor these rules even though they’re embarrassing and baseless.

Reply

Bint July 29, 2010 at 10:39 am

Agreed with Firecat. I don’t want to be friends with someone who won’t let purple people in their house, but it’s their house.

Reply

Laura July 29, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Thank you, admin, for taking time out of your day to post such a lengthy, and helpful response.

Yes, people drive nearly an hour without calling/texting/emailing first. I have no idea why they do this. One did it last night, and was disappointed to learn that we were on our way to dinner reservations. I hope he learned!

Reply

Simone July 29, 2010 at 4:29 pm

@Firecat – I actually do agree with much of what you say and clearly I’m not expressing myself effectively because you have not taken my point, so I shall gather the shreds of my dignity and retire :)

Reply

Rachael July 30, 2010 at 12:48 am

I would agree with the host in this case, that it is their own right to determine who does and does not come onto their property.
As a possibility, though, perhaps the person’s kids actually were well behaved? I know myself as a child, when over people’s houses, would sit absolutely still and silent in a corner, refusing offered food and drink and hardly daring to move or speak, much less go off and get hurt playing with something I shouldn’t. This was due to a mix of shyness and strict parental upbringing, but I would definitely have fallen under the definition of ‘well behaved.’ If this is what the guest had in mind, then I could understand it seeming strange and harsh to have a kid like that refused.

Reply

Tina July 30, 2010 at 7:28 am

Years ago, my husband and I used to do a sort of open-house every Friday night where we’d order take-out and chat and watch whatever happened to catch our fancy; we encouraged our friends to invite whoever they wanted, and we met some great people that way. So one time when a guy we didn’t know called to ask for directions, we didn’t think much of it until he arrived…with his dog (which he had not mentioned on the phone). Now, we are cat people, and anyway, the weather was wet and the dog’s paws were muddy, so I was put in the awkward position of telling this stranger that while he was welcome, we could not let in his dog because of our cats. (We ended up putting the dog in our attached garage — which was sans car at the moment — with a bowl of water. The poor thing howled the entire evening.) The guy did not seem annoyed by my refusal to let in his dog; he even came back after that (without the dog)…but even if he had been angry, it was still our house and we are the ones who get to decide who enters.

This, to me, is the same sort of situation, except that at least these people actually said something beforehand. The guests in the OP were totally rude, not only to try to bring children to a stranger’s home uninvited, but then to call the hosts names when they tried to politely refuse. In their place, I would talk to the friend who invited these people and let him know that they are no longer welcome. And at the first use of profanity, I would have said, “I’m sorry, but I think you need to leave now.” No one should put up with being called names by guests in their own home.

Incidentally, I’m childfree, too, but as the original post says, this is not about children — it’s about basic host/guest etiquette. If these people really wanted to bring their kids, they should have said, “Wow, you have a big yard. Would it be okay if I brought the kids over sometime to play?” And then if the host replied in the negative, they should have let it go.

Reply

Altec July 30, 2010 at 8:56 am

Rachael – it doesn’t matter if the children were so precocious that they would have cleaned the OP’s house and made her drinks. The point is that if they want to declare their house a childfree zone, it is absolutely their right to do so and it was absolutely not the guest’s place to fish for an invitation, much less get offended when it was completely not forthcoming.

Reply

TheBardess July 30, 2010 at 12:51 pm

“Yet some of the posts here would seem to say that rejecting ANYONE form your hose for ANY reason, including ‘I just don’t like …’ is acceptable and objecting to said attitude always an ettiquete faux pas.”

In terms of people’s rights as regards their home- yes, it is acceptable to reject whomever you want from your house for whatever reason you please. As for others objecting to that attitude- objecting to the attitude personally is not a faux pas. If I knew someone who did not want to let purple people into her house simply because they were purple, she would be perfectly within her rights, just as *I* would be perfectly within MY rights to object to her exclusion of said purple people. That would not be a faux pas on my part. Where the faux pas comes in is when I insist on showing up at her house with purple people even though I have been informed that she wants her house to be a “Purple-Free” Zone.

In other words, it’s acceptable (though perhaps not always nice) to exclude whomever you want from your house. It’s acceptable for other people to object to or not like your exclusions, and to perhaps cease to maintain a friendship with you because of them. It is NOT acceptable for someone to show up at your house with an individual you have made clear is not welcome.

@Mechtilde- just out of curiosity, do you really never let your son have friends over?

Reply

TheBardess July 30, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Oops, I got my posters mixed up. That last question of mine (about never letting your son have friends over) was directed at badkitty. Sorry!

Reply

ginmar July 30, 2010 at 8:53 pm

God, can people please stop trotting out the ‘you might as well be discriminating against the disabled!’ line of thought? It’s not the same at all and it’s insulting to the disabled. Kids are not kids forever. While disabled people may one day be cured or whatever the appropriate word is, their condition is no fault of their own, is not a sign of their state of development and is not a consequence of their age which will change with age. Kids require supervision and can do damage. They can hurt themselves very easily and do incredible amounts of damage–not that I’d know, when I had a former friend bring her awful awful kid to my house against my express wishes. (Thank to her sterling parenting, he’s five years old and barely verbal, is not yet potty trained, and has no manners. No, wait. he has manners all right—-they’re horrible.)

Reply

ginmar July 30, 2010 at 8:57 pm

And trying to make it seem like keeping kids out of your house in on a par with racism—that, likewise, is either sloppy thinking or deliberate dishonesty. Barring kids from your door is a matter of barring the behavior, not the person or the group, really. As minority groups are not known to have hive minds or identical behavior, such an exclusion is bigotry. Kids, however, mature in stages. They exclusion is temporary.

I bet the parents trotting out these tired rationalizations would be the first to sue if their kid was hurt at someone else’s house, invited or not.

Reply

lisastitch July 31, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Ginmar–
I’m sorry, but choosing to keep all children out of your house is prejudice–it is prejudging all children, and assuming that all children are the same, and will behave in exactly the same way. While there certainly are common ways that children behave at different ages, any one child’s behavior will also be affected by the child’s temperament and personality, the upbringing that the child has received, and the particular circumstances of that visit.
I will agree totally that there are times and places when, as a general rule, the behavior that children are likely to have is not appropriate, and so, on the whole, children should not be invited. The prejudice comes in assuming that ALL children WILL misbehave, and so NONE of them should be invited AT ANY TIME.

Reply

Hellbound Alleee August 1, 2010 at 10:26 am

It would have been cool if another guest, perhaps a friend of the pushy Mommy, could have quietly encouraged Mommy to “let it go.” But people are so scared sometimes to speak up. Sometimes to the point of paralyzing fear. We want so bad to be liked, we’ll hope anyone likes us, no matter how little we’d really want them in our lives.

Mommy didn’t care about the hosts. Mommy wanted to use the hosts’ yard. Mommy is totally selfish. I fear for her children.

Reply

Shayna August 1, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Lisastitch – it boils down to one thing: some people do not like children, and therefore should not have to have them in their home. It isn’t prejudice, it’s “I don’t like children.” I love them, but I know of children that I would never allow in my home because their parents are too darned clueless to have raised them properly. And quite frankly, in my experience, every.single.parent who makes the claim “My kids are sooo well-behaved” are lying to themselves. Parents whose children really are well-behaved don’t make that claim, and don’t generally show up with their kids when they weren’t invited in the first place.

That said, the OP and her fiance should be prepared to lose friendships, or at least will find themselves spending less time with friends who have children.

Reply

Kendra August 1, 2010 at 10:51 pm

Simone, I think you are right for the most part, but I also think that in this (as in all things) there are grey areas. I have been the “guest of a guest” several times in the past, but they were for events. For example, a friend of a friend has a regular game night where a popular card game is played on the same day and time each week. The attitude is the more the merrier, and friends are actively encouraged to bring as many people as they can get to come. I have been in several other situations where the attitude is the more the merrier, but they are all “special” or “weekly” events for a specific purpose. In my daily life, not only would I never dream of being the “guest of the guest” just dropping in on someone. In point of fact, I wouldn’t dream of dropping in on my own friends without calling first or having it prearranged. It’s just good manners. (You is being used as the generic anyone, not directed at anyone specifically). When you drop in on someone unnannounced, even good friends and family, you are implying that they couldn’t possibly be doing anything important, and able to drop everything just to entertain you. Or are you convinced that you are such a spectacular conversationalist, that you are worth dropping everything for, whenenver you are moved to shower your presence on your friends and family.? As for the LW, maybe it’s time you & fiance reclaimed your space and time and started encouraging friends to call first and stop bringing extras. You can be firm and refuse entry to anyone and STILL be polite. Just because people show up at your door, does not mean you have to let them in. This is really something you and fiance need to sit down and talk about and find where each of your comfort levels and boundaries are. Another thing you might also want to talk about is since you are betrothed, even though it is HIS house, it is actually supposed to be both of your home, so why are you uncomfortable with enforcing boundaries in your home.

By the way, the best of luck and future happiness to you both in your life together. May you live long and joyfully.

Reply

Bint August 3, 2010 at 11:10 am

The more I think about this, the more I think the boyfriend of the OP has been cast as a pushover and is being treated as such. Turning up from an hour away without asking first is rude. The man is thirty years old and engaged to be married, and his mates are rocking up to use his hot tub pretty much whenever they fancy, bringing whomever they fancy with them and not checking first if it’s convenient? It sounds more like a frathouse.

Whether he wants children there or not (and many people who don’t like children still host parents with no problems on either side), he should set some boundaries with his friends. Ring me first, don’t bring people I don’t know. At the moment it’s an open house and people are taking rank advantage. You can expect several more rude mothers and uninvited children if this continues, because they’re thinking hey, the host lets anyone in whenever already, he won’t mind.

My husband is thirty and I would not appreciate his being treated like a teenager who’s just got his first pad by his friends or anyone else.

Reply

Lizajane August 3, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Bint,

This is a great post from a fresh viewpoint. I hadn’t formulated the thought, but you’re right, they’ve cultivated the atmosphere of , “Everyone’s welcome, all the time,” but can’t understand why people don’t get that some people aren’t welcome.

Again, I absolutely defend their right not to host anyone they don’t want to and am appalled at the rudeness expressed to the owner in his own home.

Reply

Dear! August 6, 2010 at 12:44 am

One of my ultimate pet peeves has to be when parents bring their kids to innappropriate places. I’m a particular person. I love kids, my nephews are my heart strings and they know not to bother certain things because they can get hurt or its something that they are not supposed to play with.

I think children are great, but there is a time and place for them. Fancy weddings, adult shows, college classes, dinner parties etc. are not the place. I am happy to deal with the children of my family, but I too do not usually like the children of strangers to invade my space. And, it’s usually not the children, but the parents. So many parents don’t watch their kids or respect your belongs and space by allowing their “little angels” to do as they please and run amuck.

A person’s home is their castle, and if they want walls of glass and white sofas they shoyld have the right. You also don’t invite yourself and your family to someone’s home. Wait for them to extend the invitation.

Reply

ginmar August 6, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Lisastitch, apparently you don’t understand what prejudice actually is. While other conditions and identities do not change, childhood is a temporary state. While all kids are not the same, they all go through stages of development, and whether or not, in fact, they’re all alike is irrelevant. It’s reasonable to assume that a six month old baby will be in diapers. It’s not discrimination. Frankly, trying to make it seem like the special little snowflake is being discriminated against makes me think the affected kid is going to have a huge sense of entitlement akin to that of the pushy non-guest in this post.

I hope everybody who freaked out over the OP’s sarcastic boyfriend is likewise so exquisately sensitive when their child is being a horror show to others. I kind of doubt it. God forbid the poor guy not be Miss Manners when confronted with an unexpected guest and a kid at that.

Kids are defined by their state of development and age, which is why we refer to somebody having a tantrum as childish. Actions change as the kid matures and becomes a recognizable adult. Defining people by their actions is a perfectly acceptable means of risk assessment. Some people don’t like kids. That does not mean that they dislike them, it just means that they don’t exist in a state of ‘liking them’ which is apparently required today.

Reply

TheBardess August 6, 2010 at 9:34 pm

“I hope everybody who freaked out over the OP’s sarcastic boyfriend is likewise so exquisately sensitive when their child is being a horror show to others. I kind of doubt it.”

Actually, I AM. My son is not quite one year old, so he isn’t too much of a problem yet, but when he is fussy or cranky, I don’t let him inflict that on other people. I have no problem taking him out of a church service or leaving a restaurant early if he is being fussy and distracting to others. If he does disturb someone, I apologize and remove my son from the situation. I do not bring him to places where he is not welcome or that are not child-friendly- I find a sitter, or I don’t go. When he gets older, that will not change, and I will have no problem doing what is necessary to ensure that he behaves well in public and at other people’s homes.

So, yes, you can be a conscientious parent, who enforces good behavior and doesn’t inflict their children on people and places where they are not welcome, and still take offense at hearing a child described in terms more befitting of vermin than of a person. Because a child (even a badly behaved one) is still a person, and deserves to be treated as such- which means, among other things, not referring to them as “things that squeal.”

Reply

T. Nielsen Hayden August 8, 2010 at 11:07 pm

What very exacting standards people have about language that’s being used to say things they disagree with.

Onward. What I found striking was the number of times the householder had to explain that they ought not bring their children to her home. I’ll give them the first repetition; they could have been making sure they’d understood what their hostess was telling them. After she said “their alleged good behavior isn’t relevant; this isn’t a safe place for children,” her meaning was clear. That should have been the end of it.

“I’ll keep an eye on them” is no reassurance. Have you ever met a parent who didn’t think they kept a sufficient watch on their children? I’d be more inclined to trust one who instead stopped to think about the implications of “not safe.” I’m less inclined to trust one who combines “I’ll keep an eye on them” with “They’d just love all this space.” How much running are the parents prepared to do? Are they going to leash their children together so they can keep track of all of them at once? Because one of the implications of “not safe” is “bad things can happen fast.” Guests who would be grossly offended if their hosts required them to sign a waiver before setting foot on their property ought not complain about how their hosts manage liability issues.

Coming back with “But you’ll just love them — they’re so sweet!” is the moral equivalent of “Oh no, just wait until you meet my ferrets — they’re different!” If this were still a live thread, I’m sure someone would jump in to denounce my talking about children as though they were animals, and another would suggest that I substitute some other kind of unacceptable person in that statement. To this I would respond that if there were some other kind of human that’s known for having infinite curiosity but no prudence whatsoever, I’d happily agree with their objections. Until then, I’ll stick with the comparison to ferrets: they’re tireless, they’ll come up with ways to get into trouble that you could never imagine on your own, and it takes one full-time adult to keep one of them under constant observation and hence out of trouble.

It’s not up to the householders to catalog all the hazards in order to prove that their home isn’t a safe space for children. It should be enough for them to simply assert that it is.

Reply

lisastitch August 11, 2010 at 1:06 am

Ginmar, I looked up “prejudice” in the Oxford English Dictionary. It is defined as “unreasonable dislike, hostility, or angtonism towards, or discrimination against, a race, sex, or other class of people”, which is the basic definition I was working with. I think it is unreasonable to dislike–or to not like–all children as a class on the basis of their age. Yes, a six-month-old will be in diapers, but their responses will be different. One baby may howl when the diaper gets the slightest bit damp; another can have the diaper so wet it’s practically falling off from the weight and still not be bothered. I think the fact that childhood is “temporary” is irrelevant, when it lasts a number of years.

I am a children’s librarian, so I work with kids. I generally like them, as I generally like most people. I see a lot of children who are well-behaved, and whose parents are working hard to make sure they are. That said, there are people of all ages, children and adults, that I don’t like, and would never invite into my home.

Part of my response is coming from an on-going conversation with my 23yo daughter, who has been working jobs in which she sees the worst side of children and their parents, and says she dislikes kids. I keep telling her not to judge all children by the bad examples she’s seeing. This summer, we had a family reunion, where she had a great time playing with her cousins’ children (ages 5-12). She was really touched when one cousin emailed her afterwards to tell her that the cousin’s daughter was missing her. She then went to visit her brother and SIL and their 9-month-old daughter, and came back raving about how cute and sweet and active and alert and intelligent her niece was. It’s getting to know individuals, rather than tarring them all with the same brush based on one characteristic.

As I said in an earlier post, there are times and places where children are generally not appropriate, and certainly one of those times is when the host doesn’t want them. Their home, their rules–no questions. And I strongly suspect that any child being raised by someone who would swear at her host is not going to be a child who is well-behaved.

The OP and her fiance have every right to say that they do not want children in their home. There are very good reasons why children are not always welcome or appropriate. But children are still people, and any time someone does not like a class of people based on one characteristis they share, it is prejudice. I hope–for their sakes’, not because it’s any skin off my nose–that they will meet some well-brought-up children, and realize that children are people, and it’s as silly to make decisions based solely on someone’s age as it is to make decisions based on any one facet of a person, whether it’s age, race, sex, height, religion, national origin–the list goes on and on!

Reply

Chelsey August 13, 2010 at 4:35 pm

I could just see little junior getting hurt and then you have a lawsuit.

As for the guns, lay off. Even if you don’t agree that she should have guns lying around, it’s their house. They can have whatever they want lying around.

Reply

Mabel August 22, 2010 at 10:26 pm

I think Bint made an excellent point. The fiance has allowed everyone to treat their house as a gathering place. When the guests start saying things like “I’m going to bring my kids over to run in your yard!” then it’s time to put some boundaries in place. Even though I like kids, if someone said this to me, I would think it was incredibly rude. You don’t invite yourself or anyone else to someone else’s home.

I also like my friends, but I really prefer they call or text before they come over. I might be gone; I might be in the middle of something. It’s not about the kids. It’s about setting limits with the adults. There are none here. There need to be.

Reply

MeganAmy August 25, 2010 at 12:56 am

OP, I just have to say that I feel for you and your fiance. You were being gracious and were treated rudely. I have little kids and love well-behaved children, but that doesn’t mean that everyone must. Even so, there are several of my friends’ children who, after having behaved horribly in our house (while their parents watched), will not be invited back to our house, nor will their parents be invited back either. In the future, when we want to socialize with them, it will be on neutral territory somewhere in public.

Reply

Donna Evans August 31, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Given the atmosphere that would be in your house with regards to children, I doubt anyone would bring their kids back after the first time anyway. Maybe try a no-smoking style sign with a pic of a child in it by the door.

Reply

Kayliee August 10, 2011 at 2:24 am

I don’t see anything wrong in someone saying something along the lines of “My house is a child-free zone, please do not bring them here”. If you had a guest at a party, that was excessively loud, messy, got into arguments, didn’t respect the house or the furniture and broke things you would not want them in your house. I’m not saying a child would/could do this, but even the most sweetest little Bobby can have a bad day. Sometimes it’s the homeowners personal opinion that they do not want to be around little children, sometimes it’s because the house/surrounds are not safe/child friendly and they don’t want risk to the child/surrounds. Either way, as the homeowner, host, etc, it is their decision and I don’t see why they should be vilified for it.

Reply

Kate October 5, 2012 at 2:56 am

Yes, I know this is a very old post, but I still want to respond to this ridiculous comment.

I think the focus on the boyfriend’s “something squealing” comment is ridiculous. Even if it weren’t meant jokingly, he had every right to say it, and it doesn’t mean that he “considered children to be vermin, like rats” or whatever. I don’t like children, or dogs, but love cats. Do I get up in arms when people call cats “disgusting things”? No, because that is their right to think, feel, and speak that way. The OP’s boyfriend made a private comment to his girlfriend. He didn’t say it in front of the kid or her parents. Second of all, if you are going to complain about people insulting children, well then, you had better not insult anybody ever! Because if you call a politician an idiot, why, you are being cruel and treating him as less than vermin, as a rat. If you talk about someone’s table manners as disgusting, well that would hurt their feelings, you are treating them as if they have none, and are thus less than vermin, rats. What does it matter if it is a private comment, not said to them, if it is what you are thinking and feeling? It doesn’t matter that it is in private, about a personal belief or feeling of yours! You don’t matter, the idea that someone, somewhere might disagree with you and be offended is more important!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: