Can We Leave Now?

by admin on July 19, 2012

During breaks from college, I always go back to my parents’ house and due to some happy planning, their house is located very close to my uncle’s house. Many times he, my aunt and their 11 year old daughter drop by unexpectedly just to chat.

It’s always pleasing to have them over since they’re family, but my main issue is the way my cousin acts. Even though her parents sit down, she continually hovers near the door and reprimands my uncle and aunt if they stay too long or start watching TV with us with something along the lines of, “We have a TV at home, why are you watching TV here?”

I understand that kids have a short attention span but she’s in 6th grade and still acts much younger, and consistently asks when she can go home, to my poor parents’ faces. The worst was when my mom set a meal out for her and instead of sitting down and eating it, my cousin ran out of the door saying that she was going to eat dinner at home.

I have grown irritated by my cousin’s actions after many years and have realized that I act a bit frostier towards her even though in my mind I try to convince myself that “she’s just a child.” However when both my sister and myself were that age, we had more decorum when visiting my aunt and uncle’s house.

Is there any way I can fix this problem by either changing my own mentality towards her or employing a passive-aggressive way of making her sit down and behave? 0629-12


Other than buying her something to capture her attention (I am under the belief that grandmom’s house should have a wealth of intriguing things for grandkids to do), I don’t see where you have many other options other than learning to tune her out until she is an adult.

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Lexie July 19, 2012 at 5:46 am

If her parents are letting her get away with this, there really isn’t much you can do. Your best bet is to draw her into the conversation, ask her about school and things she might be interested in to keep her occupied.

At 11, I know I got super bored super fast at the house of people without kids my age, but I had the foresight to carry books or drawing pads with me everywhere, and would settle myself in the corner for hours. The few times I forgot weren’t much fun for me – I would be treated like the wallpaper for hours on end, which was incredibly frustrating for a kid.

I don’t know how you could encourage her to bring things to occupy her when your aunt and uncle visit, perhaps get one of your parents to drop it into conversation.

My other thought is that maybe her parents might be bargaining with her to go? The way she hangs around the door makes me think there might be a reason she wants to get going. Promising to got to the shops or get ice cream afterwards would definitely have had me getting antsy about leaving at 11.

Most of this problem seems to be her parents not teaching her how to behave and plan appropriately for these visits, so I’m afraid there’s not much you can do.


jena rogers July 19, 2012 at 6:31 am

She sounds terribly bored. If the conversation is adult-centered, yet she’s expected to participate, it may be asking too much. OP talks about visits where she and her sister went along; I would think that having her sibling there cut down considerably on the tension and alleviated the potential for boredom. To a certain degree, I can understand the expectation of maintaining a sense of decorum. But after awhile, something’s gotta give here. Does anyone do anything with her, e.g. play board games, go for walks, engage in a craft project, etc.? Is she expected to just sit there quietly? She’s rebelling for a reason. She might be spoiled, but given the apparent frequency of these visits, she may have a legitimate gripe here.


The Elf July 19, 2012 at 6:42 am

6th grade might be old enough to leave her at home, depending on how close home really is and the length of the stay. It doesn’t fix her rudeness, but imagine the peace and quiet for everyone else!


Bint July 19, 2012 at 6:51 am

This is down to bad parenting. My mother would have killed me for acting like that, and told me off right there to shame me, with words afterwards.

My SIL used to be a bit like this right up to about 16. It was embarrassing to witness and it did come down to poor guidance. Luckily she has grown out of it, but nothing we did stopped it. It was up to her parents to tell her to stop, although I’m surprised your parents haven’t spoken to your uncle. My sisters would not let my children act like that, and they would certainly speak to me about it and vice versa!


Green123 July 19, 2012 at 6:54 am

“Is there any way I can fix this problem by either changing my own mentality towards her or employing a passive-aggressive way of making her sit down and behave?”

No. You, and your mom and dad, are doing nothing wrong here, and have been VERY patient in facing up to a very rude and spoilt little girl.

11 can be an awkward age, but however old or young she is, HER mom and dad are letting her behave terribly. THEY need to take responsibility for parenting their child, and that means teaching her how to behave in company. This means teaching her to politely sit down when invited, to take part in conversations and group activities such as watching TV or eating a meal, and under no circumstances questioning when they’re going home – that is a decision for the adults to make, not the child.


Justin July 19, 2012 at 7:27 am

I would think just about any form of passive aggressive behaviour would only escalate the situation and make the OP part of the problem, not part of the solution.

One simple solution would be to visit at the Aunt and Uncle’s home so that the cousin can participate or go to her own room as she sees fit and the adults can enjoy time together. The OP and her parents could bring food or entertainment to be good guests. I am sure that the Aunt and Uncle are frustrated as well so this may be a compromise and a benefit not an imposition.


Shannon July 19, 2012 at 7:33 am

She’s a bored tweener, they’re usually horrors to deal with. (Anyone who says, “I had manners at that age!” is looking through the fuzzy glass of nostalgia and not being honest with themselves.)

She’d probably prefer to be home gabbing on the phone with her friends than hanging out with her lame aunt and uncle. But she’s a kid and it’s not her call, so I agree with admin that it’s best to just ignore her. It can’t hurt to put out some magazines for her to read, though.


AMC July 19, 2012 at 7:47 am

Not that I condone the cousin’s behavior, but I wonder if there’s more to this story. Does Cousin act this bratty and entitled all the time everywhere or just at your parents’ house? If this is her typical behavior, then it’s probably just the result of her parents not taking the time to teach her how to act like a good guest in someone else’s home. However, if her behavior is isolated to just your parents’ house, then perhaps there’s a reason for it. Is she made to feel welcome? (You admitted that you inadvertantly act frosty to her.) Is she included in the conversation or just plopped down in the corner and expected to be quiet while the adults talk? As admin said, kids have short attention spans, so perhaps it would be a good idea to have some books, games or kid-friendly movies on-hand. (It really is your aunt and uncle’s responsibility though to make sure Cousin has items with her to keep herself entertained.) Also, 11 is kind of a tough age as it’s the cusp of puberty. If your cousin is ever going to learn how to act polite and courtious NOW IS THE TIME.


Kimberly July 19, 2012 at 7:51 am

Why is a 12 – 13 year old child regularly be dragged to chat with adults that live a few houses down? Why isn’t she allowed to stay home to chat or text with friends, do her homework, read a book, watch a movie, or better yet go out and do something with friends? Then she could be told we are eating with aunt and uncle be at their house at 7. Your cousin would be happier, and more pleasent to be around if she wasn’t being smothered.

For the love of trueth DO NOT come back with it is too dangerous. We are living in the safest times since recorded history. Violent crime is DOWN again across the United States. Throughout the whole economic down turn violent crime has been sprirling DOWN. Don’t let the we must fill our screens with danger 24 hour sensationalist news industry and must defeat my opponent at any costs lying power hungry sociopaths woops politicians fool you into thinking otherwise.


Chris July 19, 2012 at 7:54 am

Do you have anything there to interest an 11 year old? My aunt & uncle’s place was boring to me. All the adults did was sit around and talk abut there was nothing for the kids to do. The adults commandeered the TV, they had no internet, we couldn’t play video games, etc. I didn’t like being there any more than it sounds like your cousin appears to.

Or is there another reason why she might not like to come over? Do you have dogs that frighten her? Did she hurt herself there when she was younger?


Hemi July 19, 2012 at 7:58 am

An 11 year old child reprimanding her parents? Um, no. That would not have gone over big with my parents.

At 11 years old, isn’t she old enough to spend an hour or two alone while her parents visit the OP’s parents? Or maybe visit with a friend while her parents visit the OP’s parents? It would also be a
good time for her to learn the world does not revolve around her and at 11, sometimes you have to do things your parents want to do, whether you like it or not. Presumbaly, she would know when they are going over to visit so she could bring a book, laptop or something else to occupy her time, since she is obviously not interested in communicating/visiting with the family.

Or maybe she just really prefers to spend time at home. Nothing wrong with that but she should be taught more manners instead of standing at the door whining about going home and running away when someone prepares/offers her a meal?


PM July 19, 2012 at 8:16 am

There could be a couple of things going on here: The daughter could have anxiety issues you’re unaware of. She could be a big old brat. Or she could just feel really uncomfortable and unwelcome in your parents’ home. And given your perception/attitude towards her, I can’t really blame her.

It’s a bit of a cyclical self-fulfilling prophecy. You expect her to behave abrasively before she comes over, so she senses she’s not welcome, so she behaves abrasively, and the next time she’s coming over, you expect her to behave abrasively…

I remember going to visit the home of one of my mom’s friends and feeling like I would be more comfortable waiting on a bench outside the front door. I was 9. Mom’s friend, DeeDee, would invite Mom over, telling her I was welcome to come too, since Mom didn’t have alternative childcare, and then make me feel like an unwanted burden. She was sweet as pie in front of Mom, but when Mom went to the bathroom or was out of the room, DeeDee would hiss my “instructions” at me.

Don’t Touch Anything. Don’t Sit In The Parlor. Don’t Go Into Her Teenage Daughter’s Room. Don’t Go Into The Den Where the TV Was. Don’t Talk While She and Mom Were Talking.

So basically, I was allowed to stand in the hallway and wait until my mom was finished socializing. Mom never understood why I was perfectly comfortable and well-behaved with her other friends, but turned into a sullen lump when DeeDee was around. When I was old enough to stay home alone, I wouldn’t go near DeeDee’s house with a ten-foot pole.

The point I’m trying to make is that if adults invite children into their home, they should make some effort to make them feel welcome. Even if that means adjusting their attitudes and accepting that immature behavior from a child is sometimes just a reaction to what they’re picking up from the adults in the room. Offer the girl a book to read or maybe pick up a magazine or craft kit you think she might be interested in. Have a conversation about what movies, TV shows or singers she likes. If she rejects those efforts, at least you know you’ve done your part.


Kim July 19, 2012 at 8:30 am

I’m of 2 minds about this. Yes, at 11, she’s old enough to not behave like this. There must be some other solution. Some 11 year olds can stay home alone, even babysit. Others can’t. If she’s one of the ones that cannot, can she go to a friend’s house?

I see absolutely no problem with a kid that age reading a book while visiting a bunch of adults. Or some other solitary-ish-type activity designed to keep her occupied.

If she’s visiting she should at least show a minimum of manners by eating food given to her (or politely demurring) and not standing at the door.


--Lia July 19, 2012 at 8:37 am

I agree with the others that note that 11 years old is the right time to accustom this young lady with staying by herself for short periods during the day and that she’s probably bored. The only thing I can add to the suggestion that fun ways for her to amuse herself should be provided is that one of the choices should be chores. As in: “I’ve got some great new (age appropriate) books you might enjoy looking at, a video, and the yard needs to be raked. Which one would you like?” And don’t be surprised if raking the yard or doing the dishes is the preferred activity. If you don’t present it as a punishment for complaining but rather as something that you’re glad to show her how to do (don’t assume that it’s so easy that every 11 year old already knows how or should feel stupid if she doesn’t), if you present as something that you can do together and as something she can do because she’s growing up, it might be just the ticket. No passive-aggression involved.


livvy17 July 19, 2012 at 8:41 am

You’re the much cooler, older cousin. If anyone can engage her, it’s you. And, during those times, playing cards, games or whatever, you can be giving her tips on how to be “cool” like you. Perhaps encourage your parents, aunt and uncle to all join in too….In my opinion, family – particularly family that hangs out together frequently – are allowed to help in the etiquette training of the younger family members, particularly when its done subtly, and with love.


Harley Granny July 19, 2012 at 8:42 am

Plain and simple…she’s bored!!!!!!!! And at 11 years old she doesn’t know how to say it out loud.

I’m sure all the people who were perfectly behaved at 11 will disagree with me. Are there left over things from when you were 11 that might entertain her?

I can’t think of anything more boring for an 11 year old than to have to sit around with a bunch of old people.


lkb July 19, 2012 at 8:48 am

Kimberly said, “For the love of truth DO NOT come back with it is too dangerous. We are living in the safest times since recorded history. Violent crime is DOWN again across the United States. Throughout the whole economic down turn violent crime has been sprirling DOWN. Don’t let the we must fill our screens with danger 24 hour sensationalist news industry and must defeat my opponent at any costs lying power hungry sociopaths woops politicians fool you into thinking otherwise.”

While it’s understood what Kimberly was saying, it may be that the parents were taking her because they don’t trust her to not get into trouble (“adult” websites, illegal substances, less-than-wholesome friends/activities, running up the phone bill/data plan, etc.) If she acts like this in front of the OP, she may be behaving even WORSE elsewhere. (Or she may not, we don’t know.)
Like others have said, it may be the result of bad parenting (Veruca Salt, anyone?) or she may be bored. It may help if the OP tries to engage the cousin — talk to her about the cousin’s interests etc.


Gloria Shiner July 19, 2012 at 8:58 am

How about the direct approach? Ask her why she doesn’t want to be there: “Cousin, is there something about this house that really bothers you so that you don’t want to be here?” Maybe she’s allergic to something in the house. Maybe there is something else, but if not you could at least bring it out in the open and maybe make things easier for everyone.


Andie July 19, 2012 at 8:59 am

Unless your aunt and uncle are seriously afraid that you cousin will burn the house down while they’re gone, 11 years old is plenty old enough to be left alone for a few hours in the middle of the day.


Lychii July 19, 2012 at 9:04 am

The poor child sounds desperately bored, and with good reason!

How would any of you polite adults feel if you were forced to spend time with people who ignore you and/or talk about things that are of no interest to you? You’re just expected to sit there quietly on the sofa, for hours and hours. Now, repeat that twice a week, every week, and see what gives.

As for OP’s question, the situation can probably be remedied if the child is given a laptop/tablet/playstation to play with. Maybe she’ll even start liking coming over to your place once she has something fun to do there.


Magicdomino July 19, 2012 at 9:10 am

Like other posters, I think the girl is being rude by whining and complaining. At the same time, I can sympathise with her. When I was around that age, vacations consisted of a week of visiting my mother’s brothers and sisters. All of my cousins were much older (college-aged perhaps?), there weren’t many toys to play with, I wasn’t allowed to bring library books, and didn’t have many of my own. Booorrring. 🙂

The best thing that the OP can do is to interact with her niece. Teach her how to play poker, listen to her talk about her interests, tell her about college life, be the cool aunt/uncle. If nothing else, maybe you’ll find out why she prefers her own home so much.


Goldie July 19, 2012 at 9:25 am

Joining the chorus of those saying “leave the kid at home”. While I understand the need for a child/tween to behave during an occasional family gathering, it sounds like we’re talking daily visits here, that last for hours. That is way too much. I’m in my 40s and I would die of boredom if I had to visit my aunt every day for hours at a time, and had no say in when I arrive and leave. I agree, though, that she needs to be taught to politely ask, “May I please be excused?” “May I please go home now?” etc. and then she needs to be granted her request, or given compelling reasons why it cannot be granted at this time.


Lisa July 19, 2012 at 9:37 am

11? I can tell you that my experience from being the oldest of a gaggle of cousins, I would have taken her into the next room and let her know that she’s acting like a brat!

I am 40 years old and I have had absolutely no qualms about letting my younger cousins know when they are out of line…even now! Keep in mind, I do not do it in front of everyone.

We always (since before I was born) had Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house. My great-grandmother (mother of 10) lived with her. In lieu of my ggm visiting all of her kids, they all came to my gm house. Of course, they included their kids, then their kids, kids, etc. This became a HUGE gathering. As the oldest cousin, (the next was 7 years younger), I was always in charge of hearding the younger kids. Of course, time went by and people passed away, we got older and so on.

Fast forward to 3 years ago. My gm and two of her sisters were the only ones left of that generation, however, the tradition continued on Christmas Eve but was much smaller. My cousin (7 years my junior) has 3 VERY ill-behaved children (7,4,2) and when she arrives, she goes directly towards the buffet and lets the children run free. On this particular night, one of her kids hits the panic alarm. (ie. “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”) Now, this child created a tower of various objects to be able to reach said alarm as it was mounted to the wall in the bathroom, high enough to (supposeable) be out of a child’s reach. In the mean time, one of the other kids has managed to crawl under a piece of furniture and get stuck, all the while the 2 year old has taken off her diaper and proceeded to “water” the floor! As one person was getting the child un-stuck, another person was cleaning up the mess left by the 2 year old, there was a loud knock on the door and the EMS service came in! After explaining to them that it was a false alarm, (and later being charged $250 for a false alarm), they left. Now, where was my cousin during all of this? Sitting at the table WATCHING! After things had calmed down a bit, I walked behind my cousin and whispered in her ear that I needed to chat with her in private. I told her that it was inappropriate for her not to mind her children ESPECIALLY when she was in someone else’s house. Her response? “Well, I was eating!”

My point? Speak up. It may or may not make a difference, but being silent does nothing.


Vermin8 July 19, 2012 at 9:49 am

Cousin is behaving very rudely but I have sympathy – I remember going to visit relatives with the family and I was the only child. I would be bored stiff. OP doesn’t say how long the visits are but having the girl sit there for an extended time without anyone to whom to talk or any entertainment (book, tv, computer) really is Hades on earth for a child.
The parents should provide her with entertainment (eg a book ,which was my remedy as a youngster); since they aren’t doing this, perhaps OP can engage her in conversation and find out what she likes and help provide it for her within reason.

I wonder if the parents are “training” her to get used to visiting family since that is what she will be expected to do as an adult, same as they do. It may have the opposite effect – if she associates these visits with unpleasantness she may avoid them when she’s old enough to make the choice herself.


MiseryLovesYou July 19, 2012 at 9:59 am

Age 11 was probably when my social awareness and self-centeredness started blossoming, to later peak in my late teens, and thankfully subside by my mid 20s. So, it is a great opportunity to drop a little enlightenment on the girl that will help her greatly during her progression through this period. Specifically, she probably doesn’t know how her actions are percieved, and would probably be a little embarrassed to learn that when she is bored, it comes across in some very unattractive ways. I recommend a three piece solution.
1.) leaving her at home more when possible
2.) ensuring that if she comes, mom brings something for her to do (and teaches daughter how to prepare things for herself to do so mom isn’t coordinating that forever)
3.) taking the daughter aside in a private way NOT at the aunt and uncles house, and delicately pointing out that “although everyone loves you and knows you are not this way, some of the things you do come across as rude.”

Had someone invested in me more as a young person with constructive feedback on social norms, instead of just cringing at my behavior, I would probably have a very different life right now.


Wim July 19, 2012 at 10:16 am

My cousin’s daughter is 7 and an only child, so not at an age she can be left home on her own yet, and no siblings to play with. Yet at dinner parties or other family occasions, she’s never any trouble… provided she has something to keep her occupied.

As she’s always showed a great interest in (and aptitude for) technology even as a toddler, her parents have now bought her an iPad, which is the perfect way to keep her amused for hours, even at long (and for children understandably boring) dinner parties. Granted, it was an expensive gift for a 7-year-old, but she’s by no means a spoilt brat and really appreciates it, so in my view, that was money well spent.


Gena July 19, 2012 at 10:38 am

This reminds me of my own nephew. My sister and her son (now 9) go on vacation with us. After the dark the adults will sit around and talk, and the kids can do whatever – play, watch TV, etc. When her son gets ready to go to their room, he will badger his mother until she leaves. She accepts this and so when he’s ready to go, even if she is not, they go.


gramma dishes July 19, 2012 at 10:47 am

This reminds me uncomfortably of when I was a kid and got dragged every other week to both of my grandparents houses. If there were cousins there, it wasn’t too bad. But if I was the only child there, it was awful.

The adults always sat around in a circle and talked about weather, politics, religion, people totally unknown to me, medical problems, etc. The children were systematically ignored. (Apparently in the forties and fifties, the “children should be seen and not heard” concept applied.)

Yes, I did usually take a book or something else to do to occupy my time, but I will admit that I absolutely HATED going there unless I knew in advance that there would be other children.

It sounds like this girl is just simply bored silly and is being forced to visit with adults who don’t have any interest in her and who, in fact, act like they are annoyed by her presence. If this were a one time a year event and she behaved like this I would think the child was a spoiled brat. But this sounds like something that happens often — very often. I can honestly see how the child is tired of this.

I must admit that my experiences colored the way I treat my grandchildren. If anything, we ignore our own adult children and pay a lot more attention to the kids. We have age appropriate toys, books, games and videos for them. We cook food that we are pretty sure children will like and we serve it very casually. AND they also always have each other for entertainment, which I think makes a huge difference.

Maybe if she were not required to do this so frequently, she would behave more politely on those rarer occasions when her presence was necessary. Also, maybe if the adults included her in their conversation, let her help prepare meals, and provided something to entertain herself with when adults were having their conversation it would indicate to her that her feelings were respected and she in turn would be able and willing to show a little more respect toward them.

I think the situation described by the OP sounds like hell on wheels for this girl. My sympathies are with her, not the adults, whose attitudes and unreasonable expectations in my opinion are the cause of her misbehavior.


Rae July 19, 2012 at 10:48 am

I certainly agree that her behavior at her age is uncalled for. However, I would suggest that to help with the issue of boredom, offer to pull out a game and play with her. You could possibly even get the other adults involved so that everyone feels incorporated in the fun and conversations.


Huh July 19, 2012 at 11:44 am

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I gotta say, I feel for the kid here. As an only child, I was regularly dragged everywhere my parents went, which included visiting their friends, most of whom did not have children. I would be allowed to take one toy to occupy myself for the 2 hour or whatever visit. The friends of my parents I liked the most, and have nice memories of today, are the ones that would talk with me and joke with me, have snacks ready and have a selection of kid-friendly movies on hand for me to watch in one room, while they watched their movie/played cards/chatted. They always made me feel welcome. My dad had another friend whom he would work on electronics with, everytime I they went over there, I was pretty much told to sit on a couch and play with my toy. For hours. I hated it and would always be asking my mom, “Can we go home yet?” (This couldn’t have been fun for HER either!)

Look at it this way: Imagine being stuck at a meeting at work for hours. No one is talking about anything that is the least bit interesting to you or really even talking to you period, yet you’re supposed to sit there quietly and not complain. There are other things you could be doing, but you have to sit there because your boss tells you to. That’s what being a kid and going to adult functions is like.

I have an 11-year-old daughter now, and trust me, part of the attitude is just the age group. But it also sounds like she’s bored as heck, being drug along to her aunt and uncle’s house while her parents chat/watch some TV show she’s not interested in. It doesn’t sound like anyone (her parents included) is making an effort to engage her or to find something to occupy her with.


A July 19, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I have a lot of sympathy for the poor girl. I remember being very bored visiting relatives when I was that age or even a few years older. I’ve always been very quiet so I just sat around with, probably, a bored look on my face but it was awful at times. If there is nothing to do and the adults are all talking about their adult topics, how can you blame her for acting up? While I agree that it’s the parents responsibility to teach her manners (so she isn’t standing by the door whining), everyone else is an adult and all of you are family so why not just take charge and engage her in something? Ask if she like to check out your latest downloads or what-have-you. Just be honest and open with the “little cousin is bored” situation (instead of everyone chastising or ignoring her) and I’m sure a good solution can be found.


Emmy July 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm

I do think the girl’s action of complaining and asking to go home are rude and childish. The OP was not clear whether the adults tried to interact and specifically include the child in the conversations which would affect how I feel about the situation. There are kids who are just spoiled and rude not matter what. Most people seem to assume this was not the case. The girl’s behavior was rude, but I don’t think it is any less rude of adults to bring a child somewhere and ignore them for hours. It would be similar to my SO bringing me to a party with his co-workers and having them talk only about work, people I didn’t know, and other topics that do not interest me. I don’t think a child should be treated exactly like an adult, but I don’t see any justification for treating them in a way that would be disrespectful to to treat an adult.

I think it is mainly up to Aunt and Uncle to deal with the problem. They should allow their DD to pack things that would be interesting for her and limit the length of the visit. They should also talk to her about acceptable behavior and correct her when she gets out of line. Maybe the next time Cousin comes over the OP can talk with her and see what kind of things she would be interested in doing when she comes over. Play a game with her, set her up in another room with a movie or a computer game, or take a walk with her while the rest of the family talks. She might really appreciate that somebody is thinking of her.


A July 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm

I would also like to add, I’m really glad to see that others had the same experience as I did growing up with the boring relative visits. I was worried that maybe my parents just wanted to torture me or maybe I was just a ingrate. :O


Elizabeth July 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Age 11 is old enough to entertain one’s self: puzzles, games, solitaire. Why is this tolerated by the adults? She isn’t the center of the universe. Perhaps she’s acting rudely so she won’t have to go next time.


Cat Whisperer July 19, 2012 at 12:43 pm

My knee-jerk reaction to this posting is to sympathize with the 11-year-old. I used to be dragged along when my mom wanted us to go visit her brother and his family, and I absolutely hated it.

This 11-year-old obviously doesn’t enjoy visiting. For gosh’s sakes, why doesn’t someone ask her what she wants to do to make the visits more enjoyable for her, or why don’t her parents make whatever arrangements are necessary to leave her at home? Why is she being dragged along when she obviously hates being there?

OP, whether you like your young cousin or not, she’s a real human being with a life of her own and likes and dislikes of her own. Why don’t you try communicating with her as an equal, instead of as a kid you obviously don’t care for? Ask her why she hates visiting, and actually LISTEN to her with being judgemental? She has a point of view, and deserves a hearing. She probably resents having her time squandered on a visit that is pure unmitigated boredom to her. Especially if she feels like the people she’s being dragged along to visit really don’t care for her.

If you don’t feel like you can talk to her, then why don’t you talk to her parents and make the case to them for not bringing her along since she obviously doesn’t enjoy the visits?


Ann July 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm

She’s being raised by parents who think it’s okay to drop by frequently and unannounced, and not to take the feelings of their child into account. So, perhaps either she got her manners from them, or in fact, she’s embarassed by their rudeness.

In any case, 20 is not too old and sophisticated to say “Hey, coz, let’s go over to your house and watch TV while the grown-ups talk”.


Miss Raven July 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Jumping on the boredom bandwagon. Do you ever see your cousin in any other context? Out to dinner, or with other cousins her age? Is she bratty and difficult then, also?

I was many things when I was younger. I was precocious and got along well with adults, I was terrified of authority and therefore extremely well-mannered, and I was fairly easygoing. On one side of my family, I am the eldest of cousins fairly close in age (the youngest is 5 years my junior). On the other side, I have two much elder cousins (9 and 12 years my senior, respectively) who were out of the house by the time I was 11.

Having children around your own age (and their toys and activities) makes ALL the difference in the world when you’re young. I never had trouble entertaining myself around cousins my own age. On the other side of the family, my aunt and uncle were wonderful, but quiet empty-nesters with a house full of lovely things and not much to do. I didn’t start to really appreciate just sitting around and talking with my family until I was a teenager, so at age 11 or so I would wander their place, bored out of my skull.

I would bring a book (which I would inevitably finish), use their internet (with permission – dial-up!), or my aunt would set me up with a film or cable TV in the basement, which was a treat as we didn’t have cable in my house. Despite all that, it was boring. Boring, boring, boring.

It sounds like your cousin needs two things: 1.) Entertainment, and 2.) a lesson in manners. No matter how bored I was, I can’t imagine throwing a tantrum and whining until my parents left. They wouldn’t have it, I guarantee.


Margo July 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Could you suggest to your parents that they visit your aunt & uncle more, rather than vice versa? Your cousin sounds bored, and/or shy. In her own home she can be polite when visitors arrive then go off to her own room, or garden.

Also – consider asking her if there’s anything she’d like to do.

What is there for her at your parents home? Games / TV/books/ garden – are there any things which relate to her interests?


Rap July 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Does uncle and aunt, or granddad and grandmom ever correct the kid? Do you? If no one is saying “cut it out” then she may not realize she’s irritating you. And if its been going on for years and she’s 11 now, why isn’t your poor mother correcting the kid? Isn’t that having a polite spine or something?

And to a point, I do come down on the kid’s side in that if aunt/uncle are making frequent visits (I define frequent as once a week) where the adults take her to “drop by to chat” and there’s no defined start or end to the meeting – ie she won’t know if she’s eating dinner at home or at grandma’s house until her parents decide to tell her, and mom and dad can randomly decide to settle in for a tv show… then maybe the kid just doesn’t like the lack of structure coupled with a house full of adults. Now in fairness, the OP hasn’t clarified if this is a situation where the child is essentially required to sit silently while the adults chat, or of there’s activities and such for her – I’m a lot less on the kid’s side if poor grandma is making her special meals and setting up an activity center for her to entertain herself, lets say…. but kids do have feelings too, and the fun of a visit may have worn off when its an hours long visit where there’s nothing to do.


Cat Too July 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Not for nothing, but I have to think it’s possible this girl is a tortured introvert. If the aunt and uncle are showing up “unexpectedly” many times showing up, how many times are they showing up expectedly? And how often does “many” indicate?

How much down time in her own home is this girl getting? How often is she being asked to be social and use her “company manners”? And what’s up at home? Are there MORE visitors there on the days when her parents aren’t bringing her along to visit?

OP, what I suggest you can do, is offer to bring the girl home once in awhile and hang out with her if your parents want to keep visiting. If she’s bored out of her skull by people talking above her, it will get her out of it, and if she’s an introvert, it’ll get her out of it. Then ask her what *she* wants to do when you’re there. Whether it’s hanging out reading in the same room (which can be very companiable), or watching tv, or going up to her room to listen to music or use a computer.

Don’t do it all the time – but do it once in awhile to show that you actually think that what she wants to do counts too. If for no other reason than that I think at this point she is completely disgruntled over having to keep going over to her aunt and uncle’s house, because the cousin who doesn’t like her very much is in town.


anonever13 July 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Like some of the commentators above, I too was put in situations like this girl. It was fine if I had warning ahead of time that my parents and I would be visiting for an extended period of time because I would bring a book or something else to do. However, it sounds to me like the parents of the girl are telling her, “Oh were just going to stop by aunt and uncle’s place to say hi,” leading her to believe they won’t be there long. They aren’t giving her a chance to bring something to do along with her. In those situations I would be pretty antsy too. She may have homework she needs to do, she may be missing a tv show she had planned to watch, or, like another commentator suggested, they may have been on their way to do something else she was looking forward to when they stop and spend, what she sees as an inordinate amount of time, at someone’s house whom they see on a regular basis.


PrettySticks July 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Y’all are giving me severe flashbacks! I agree with all who say that while of course the girl was rude, this sounds like a horrible situation for her and no one (including the OP) seems to care much about her, just that she might be interrupting their good time.

I will never in a million years understand why adults insist upon dragging their kids along to social gatherings like this. Once they’re there, anything the kid says or does is considered an irritant because “the adults are talking.” I think it’s especially weird, because she said the cousin ran out of the house to eat dinner at home, so clearly she lives within walking distance, and the parents STILL make her come? I mean, obviously there are times when parents don’t have options and have to bring their kid, but this doesn’t seem to be one of those situations.

My mom was always a social butterfly, and I was not, from an early age. I didn’t have social anxiety disorder or anything, and I had friends and played sports and was in Girl Scouts and stuff, but if at any given time you asked what I would most like to be doing, chances are I would want to be alone in my room reading a book. But the fact that I was not super social really bothered my mom. So when I was dragged along to these grown-up get-togethers, I was not even allowed to read a book. I HAD to sit with the adults and… I don’t even know what. Like Gramma Dishes said, they were talking to each other, about topics that I didn’t understand and that didn’t interest me, and they certainly didn’t want me to talk. Sitting in the corner with a book would have been heaven.

I also suspect (based on nothing really) that cousin was getting the ol’ “We’ll just be a minute,” a favorite of parents. So they’re on their way home from somewhere, cousin’s looking forward to watching tv, reading, talking on the phone, whatever, then they pull into the OP’s parents’ driveway… “Oh, we just want to say hi – we’ll just be a minute!” Every child knows that is the kiss of death. I’m thirty, and my mom just pulled this on me! I was home visiting for the weekend and she had made some brownies for some new neighbors that had just moved in. We were on our way to go shopping and she wanted to stop and drop off the brownies. And I was kind of teasing her about it. “Really, Mom? Just dropping them off? We’re not going in?” “No, of course not! Just dropping them off!” You have to know this story ends with the neighbors giving us a 45 minute tour of the house. Which I mean, that’s fine, I’m a grown-up, it wasn’t the end of the world (and I saw it coming!), but it’s very different for a kid. Oh, and to make this a little relevant, these neighbors had five kids. Most of the kids were playing outside, but the middle one, Janie, who was eight, decided to follow us on the tour. So my mom and neighbor are talking, and every now and again something would come up that Janie knew about, and she would get really excited. Like her mom mentioned the dog their old neighbors had. Janie: “Oh, I remember that dog! He-” and her mom would completely ignore her and move on to another topic, and Janie’s face would just crumple. This happened several times, and I felt so bad for her. I’m not great with kids or anything, but I would turn to her and ask her about whatever it was, “Hey Janie, what was that dog’s name?” And her face would light up and she would answer me – it was so obvious that the kid just wanted to participate, and her mom couldn’t be bothered. For the record, I don’t think she was necessarily a bad mom or anything, I think she was just harried – five kids, just moving in, etc. – but a kid can’t read that.

Anyway, I think it’s likely that not only is cousin not having any fun, but she’s very aware that no one especially cares if she’s having fun. Yes, she could bring her own entertainment, but I also think it’s very possible she’s not allowed to (like I wasn’t) or she’s being blindsided by these visits so she’s not able to prepare for them.

Wow, that was long-winded… I think this struck a nerve with me;)


Queen Medic July 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I agree with Gloria that you should be upfront and ask her if anything’s wrong. Maybe she doesn’t understand how rude she is being? As for all the people saying she’s old enough to stay at home, fair enough, but then what? ‘Oh, Aunt and Uncle, why don’t you leave her behind next time? She’s old enough!’ This coming from nowhere would seem immensely rude!


Joni July 19, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I was just talking about this the other day with my brother. We have cousins, but they are much younger than us – so you can’t really ‘play’ with them, you are more forced into a ‘babysitter’ role. But the adults don’t want you around because they want to have adult conversation which may be too spicy for little ears. And if you go off by yourself and read a book, you are sullen. There’s really no good situation.

My advice to the OP: talk to her like an adult. I know that’s what I would have wanted when I was 11.


nk July 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Being bored is no excuse to be rude. She can watch TV with everyone else or make conversation, or at the very least she can talk to her parents beforehand and agree on a time to leave so she’s not begging to leave in front of her hosts.


KitKat July 19, 2012 at 5:44 pm

@Rap: I’d just like to add on that everyone needs some sort of structure no matter what age. I think I’d be that antsy too if I wasn’t told when the visit started and ended.


girl_with_all_the_yarn July 19, 2012 at 6:14 pm

I’m joining in the chorus of sympathy for the kid. While it doesn’t excuse rude behavior, I can definitely see where she’s probably bored.

When we first moved to the town where I went to high school, my parents accepted dinner invitations from *everyone* at church. I was about 12-13. I also am partially deaf, so it can be difficult for me to be included in conversations because while I talk and sound normal, most people forget to face me so I can read their lips. Some people who knew about it were uncomfortable with it and would either shout in exceptionally simple speech to try and engage me in conversation (which doesn’t work, btw. I’m not an idiot) or they’d ignore me completely. The latter of the two is more common. Thank goodness for my cochlear, since this doesn’t happen anywhere near as often anymore.

The trouble was that my parents would stay and talk for hours. Two, sometimes three hours after dinner everyone is suddenly looking at the time and oh look, it’s time to go. My mother had a serious prejudice against anyone – especially younger people – who did something else while people talked. So basically I had nothing to do, no one would talk to me and if they did it was incredibly insulting – like I was some kind of idiot who couldn’t comprehend intelligent speech.

I’m sure there were complaints when I wasn’t around about me being weird, and possibly rude as I would start to slouch in my chair as I got more and more embarrassed about not engaging when my mother was obsessed with trying to get me engaged in conversation.

So, the fact is that at 11 she’s young, likely bored, doesn’t much care for the television her parents insist upon, and is possibly being told that doing something else while everyone around her is socializing is impolite so she’s just getting frustrated.


acr July 19, 2012 at 6:28 pm

I can’t help feeling sorry for this girl. Clearly, she is bored out of her skull. Also, if I were trapped in a boring house and then my parents started watching TV – I would have been climbing the walls! It strikes me as very rude and inconsiderate to the child to make her hang out for hours on a regular basis with nothing to do.


Kate July 20, 2012 at 1:59 am

OP probably coped as a child during family visits because there was a sibling present. I used to be fine with visiting my grandma or other relatives as a child, so long as my sister or cousins of a similar age were around. If I was alone, and I didn’t have a book to read, I was bored out of my brain. Once, after three hours at my grandmother’s house, I went outside to lie flat on my back on the footpath for ‘something to do’. I hoped someone would come past and, I don’t know, rescue me or something.

The level of rudeness really depends on how often these visits are taking place. If it’s a once every two months deal, then yes, the cousin is being really rude. If she’s forced to come over every other weekend and sit around for hours, when she could be doing homework or playing with her friends, I can understand why she has resorted to acting out as a way to express her boredom and frustration. I suggest having a chat to her parents to sus out the situation. Perhaps you could take the cousin out for ice-cream or to a nearby park during these visits, or encourage her to bring homework or a book? If you try to help her out and she’s still acting bratty, then some discipline from the parents would not go astray.


Piratelvr1121 July 20, 2012 at 8:50 am

I can sympathize with the girl here too. As much as I loved my maternal grandparents house, I didn’t really enjoy going there for extended stays during the colder months, as warmer months at least meant being outside and playing in the river. Plus it was a small house, so being cooped up in there got old. We had no cousins there, and while my aunts were nice and I got along with them alright, I would get kinda bored when all the adults would be chatting, napping, or watching tv. If I didn’t bring something to read (which was rare) or finished a book, I’d pick up one of my grandfather’s books.

Visiting my other grandparent’s house during the year was fun, partly because I had cousins and my aunts and uncles were the type to engage kids in conversation, and my grandmother would usually take my cousins and myself somewhere, either to a playground or a movie. That and my grandmother had a LOT of things available for kids of all ages (she had 16 grandkids with an age span of 22 years) to be entertained by.

When we visit my IL’s, they don’t have a lot of room to hold onto toys for kids, and with DH being an only child, so they have no cousins, so we have ours bring their toys/books with them when we visit so they won’t get bored.


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