Author Topic: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag  (Read 4656 times)

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Knitterly

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'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« on: April 14, 2013, 12:36:10 PM »
To start with - the person is question is my brother.  Close family. 

Generally, we get along pretty well.  He, like most people, dislikes being nagged.  I don't want to be a nag.  However, whenever he comes to visit, he does several things that drive me a little crazy and my poor Mr K just about ready to rip out his (own) hair with the sheer thoughtlessness of it.  I guess I'm looking for a nice way to say "Dude, seriously knock it off or I won't invite you over anymore" without nagging over every little thing he does.

These are all pretty minor in terms of thoughtless guest behaviour, but they happen so frequently.  Also, he is currently bemoaning his singlehood status.  His will date, but it pretty much fizzles after the third or fourth date.  Basically, once a date invites him home, they rarely go back out again and he genuinely doesn't seem to know why.  So I'd also like to help set him straight because I *KNOW* that some of these things are going to be dealbreakers for the other person in the relationship.

1 - When he comes in, he takes his shoes off.  This is awesome, as this is how we do things in our house.  We have a *big* mat area in our front hall along with a bench to sit on to take shoes off and a shoe rack.  I also have a bin of slippers.  Regardless, once his shoes are off, they invariably end up halfway down the hall.  He does not borrow the slippers I make available.
Please note, I am aware of the shoe/no-shoe controversy.  Our shoes-off-ness is partly ethnic culture and partly regional culture.  Shoes on households are rare, and so the question is not how to I make him take off his shoes, but rather once his shoes are off, how do I 'train' him to put them on the mat?

2 - When he comes in, he will take out his wallet and keys and phone and put them on my kitchen counter.  This is fine.  HOWEVER, I have a small drying towel on the counter near the sink for LK's bottles and clean bottle nipples.  He invariably puts his things on top of this towel.  THAT drives me NUTS!  I feel like I should not have to say, "please don't put your wallet where my daughter's clean bottles go".  I feel very much like that should be a common sense thing.

3 - Mr K and I often eat our dinner in the living room after LK has gone to bed.  It is an enjoyable way for us to reconnect.  For this reason, I have placemats on our coffee table.  The placemats take up about 1/3 of the space of the coffee table.  They are easy to fold up and put away.  Usually I do this when I have guests, but if I'm not expecting guests, I may not remove them.
He put his feet ON the placemat.  Even typing that, I just hung my head going "why would I have to say 'don't put your feet on the placemat'?"  These are actually OBVIOUSLY placemats.  He's been over before and has eaten with us in the living room, so he does know that those placemats are where the food goes.
I said nothing and threw them in the wash.
If he had moved the placemats to put his feet up, I would have been okay with it.

4 - I offered him a drink.  He wanted a cold pop.  Mr K grabbed the pop.  I handed him a coaster as Mr K handed him the pop.  He took the pop and the coaster.  He put the coaster on the table.  Then he put the pop on the table.  Then I picked up the pop and put it on the coaster.
He is almost 30 and has a fairly well paying extremely professional career.  He's not some mannerless bum.
Although at the same time... he rather is.

His empty pop can and beer bottle were where he left them when he left.  He did not ask about recycling or where they should go.

All of the above happened in the first 60 minutes of his visit.  If he was a date and not my brother, this behaviour very early on would be a dealbreaker. 

These are examples and far from a comprehensive list.  They are little things.  I do know that a past girlfriend got very upset with him about shoes on her coffee table and they broke up shortly thereafter, so I have a strong suspicion that he does not do these things just at my house, but does them in general.

Is there anything I can do about this, either as a hostess, friend, or sister, to alert him to the understanding that his behaviour is thoughtless bordering on rude? 

Zilla

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2013, 12:51:01 PM »
I just don't understand.  Have you ever verbally told him about these things? Or been proactive?
 
Oh hey, let me put your shoes here with the others.  I keep all our shoes here.
 
Can you put your wallet over here? That's where I put the baby's clean bottles. Thanks.
 
Let me move these placemats, we use these for eating. (I would think they would be a foot rest too BTW)
Dude, that is a coaster for your drink! (said jokingly)
 
As for recycling, that's a bit much IMO but if it's important to you, just say, "Oh are you done? That goes in the recycling bin in the kitchen on the right..." etc.
 
But in the end, you may have to use your words to express how you feel.  And if you have and he still ignores it, then try once more said firmly.  You don't need etiquette with your own brother and as you mentioned, close family..
 
« Last Edit: April 14, 2013, 12:53:52 PM by Zilla »

Ohjustlovely

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2013, 01:09:36 PM »
When we were kids, Mom said "No feet on the furniture!" Perhaps you can say that. Even say the "Mom says 'No feet on the furniture'" part.

My mother used to wrap a napkin around a cold beverage. Since you knit, maybe you can knit one of those slip-on things.

Somebody else on this forum on another thread said they put out a basket or bowl for people to put their keys and other stuff near the door. Sounds like he needs one of those.

I don't expect my guests to take their glasses, much less their empty bottles and cans, to where they go afterwards. But if that's your house rules, then it's on you and your husband to tell him.

That's it: it is your house, your rules, so it's up to you to tell him. Every time he comes over, as he is doing them.

It is not nagging. Nagging is saying, "Gee, when are you going to lose weight? Are you working hard to get a raise at work? How organized is your garage? Why aren't you married yet? Etc. Nagging is that going on about his personal stuff. Asking a question is not nagging, even if you asked that one before, in my opinion.

But telling or instructing someone while they break or forget one of your house rules, even though they are one after another is not nagging.

Nagging is like worrying. Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair, going on and on and on.

Perfect Circle

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2013, 01:12:35 PM »
You just need to tell him what you want to happen in your house.

On the recycling thing - we recycle everything but I don expect my guests to do it, I do it for them.
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NyaChan

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2013, 01:20:04 PM »
There is a difference between Nagging and sharing your preferences.

Nagging:  "Would you like a drink?"  Brother says yes.  "Ok, but you have to keep it on the coaster."  "Here's your soda, make sure you put it on this coaster."  Brother takes a sips.  "Put it on the coaster when you put it down, not the table!"

Sharing preference:  "Would you like a drink?"  Brother says yes.  "Here's you soda and a coaster.  The table gets marks if you put it on the surface so please be sure to put it on the coaster."  Brother puts it on the table.  "Doofus! I just said to put it on the coaster." (in the nice sisterly way of course)

perpetua

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2013, 01:33:27 PM »
Sounds like you're expecting him to be a bit of a mind reader, to be honest. Especially if as you say all these things happened within the first 60 minutes.

camlan

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2013, 01:55:29 PM »
Even though the two of you grew up in the same house, clearly you have both developed your own set of house rules.

I grew up with 5 brothers, so here's how I  see things from your brother's point of view.

1. Shoes off. That's the main thing. He probably doesn't have a set place to put shoes, so your nice large mat simply doesn't register in his mind. He's done the important thing--taken his shoes off. Since he's leaving in a couple of hours, it doesn't matter where he leaves his shoes.

2. Drying towel. If the towel registers on his brain at all, it's simply a towel spread out to dry things on. If he's never had a baby, the need to keep baby things cleaner and separate from other things is not something he's ever thought about.

3. Placemats. I'll bet he thought the placements were on the coffee table to protect it from feet--that the placements were where he is supposed to put his feet.

4. Coaster. This one, I have nothing. Sheer cluelessness.

5. Not taking his glass back to the kitchen. Does he leave things like this around his own living room? Because it seems to me as though he is very comfortable in your house and is treating it the way he would his own--shoes where they drop, no coasters, glasses left in the living room until he gets around to cleaning up.

 I think a conversation is in order. Just tell him, "Look, I'm happy you come to visit and that you feel at home here. We think of you as one of the family, too. But since you are family, there are a few family rules you need to know about." Then go into shoes, coasters, placements, glasses and the like.

If, at a later date, you decide to address the girlfriend issue, you could maybe point out that immediately treating someone else's home the way he does his own home could be a trifling off-putting, and that maybe using his best guest manners for a while would impress his date.
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Sophia

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2013, 03:08:42 PM »
I can see why you would be frustrated.  You shouldn't have to TELL someone "use a coaster", when the coaster is handed to them.

If it were me, I'd have a frank talk about his clueless level.  I'd probably also have a written list of Things People That People Who Want a relationship Do Not Do.  It is like he needs a remedial etiquette class.  I wouldn't do this for anyone I wasn't extremely close to.

Zilla

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2013, 03:12:55 PM »
I can see why you would be frustrated.  You shouldn't have to TELL someone "use a coaster", when the coaster is handed to them.

If it were me, I'd have a frank talk about his clueless level.  I'd probably also have a written list of Things People That People Who Want a relationship Do Not Do.  It is like he needs a remedial etiquette class.  I wouldn't do this for anyone I wasn't extremely close to.

Other than the coasters, everything else is a matter of preference.  OP, I would not do a list or lecture on his clulessness.  instead give him a chance and give him a verbal heads up.

Knitterly

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2013, 03:18:22 PM »
Yes, he's pretty comfortable here.  He comes over fairly often.  He lives about 6 hours away, so not *really* often, but often enough.

The recycling thing isn't something I expect of a normal guest.  However, so many of my friends/guests ask about where to put their empties that it kinda sticks out when my brother doesn't.  I usually ask about where to put empty glasses and containers when I'm in someone else's home, too.  At the very least, if I don't know, I put them near where I know the garbage is (ie with the dirty dishes or by the kitchen sink).

Does he leave his own garbage around?  Having never seen his own place, I don't know.  He does it at our parents' house, too. 

The shoes thing I made a joke about right away.  His response was "Oh" then he moved his shoes.
By the time we got to the coaster (not actually the 3rd thing, just the third I mentioned), I just moved his pop without saying anything.  Again, his response was just "oh".  It seemed to have genuinely not occurred to him to use the coaster or the mat, etc.

I'll try put out a basket the next time he is coming over.

Please note, the things I mentioned are by far not a comprehensive list.  Other things include wiping his dirty popcorn fingers on my couch,  blowing his nose and leaving the kleenex on the coffee table... etc.  There are other things, too.

I love him, but... :(


Surianne

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2013, 07:37:26 PM »
I agree with what the other posters have said so far about how to be clear without being naggy.

One other piece of advice I'd suggest is to address just the most important issues with the next visit.  He's got a better chance of remembering them that way, and you'll sound less naggy than if you have to tell him to do X or Y every 5 minutes  :)  Which issues are actually damaging versus which ones are preferences?

So, for example, decide that shoes aren't a big deal, because he took them off, and it doesn't really matter whether they go on the mat or not.  Similarly, putting away recycling isn't a huge deal, because you can do that fairly easily.

Do tell him about the towel being for baby things, and that putting other items on it can transfer germs and be dangerous, and redirect him to a bowl or something else.  Do tell him that he has to use a coaster, because a glass can damage the table. 

As for the dating advice, I think that depends on how close you are with your brother, and whether he's asked you about that in the past.  I wouldn't go near it with a ten foot pole with my family members, but you might be closer with your brother.  If you think he'll appreciate it, you could try opening it up the next time he complains about his dating life.  Ask him first, before giving the advice: "I have a couple of thoughts, would you like to hear them?"  And if he says no, respect it.

cass2591

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2013, 08:24:19 PM »
OP, you said he's pretty comfortable at your house, but what I'm not sure is if you've said anything to him about what bugs you other than making a joke. You said "I feel like I should not have to say, "please don't put your wallet where my daughter's clean bottles go".  I feel very much like that should be a common sense thing." but obviously you do have to tell him.

And why did you not say "dude, please don't put your feet on my placemats"? Why do you not say something when he wipes his greasy hands on your couch or ask him to throw away his used Kleenex He's your brother for heaven's sake, talk to him.

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sammycat

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2013, 08:33:45 PM »
He's your brother for heaven's sake, talk to him.

Exactly. Barring any toxic realtionships, if people can't talk directly and plainly to their own sibling/s, spouse, child or parent, then who can they talk directly to?

As for the tissue thing, that is so absolutely disgusting, I wouldn't care who it was, even a complete stranger, I'd be telling them in no uncertain terms to pick it up and put it in the bin immediately, and to clean down the surface it had been on.  There's zero excuse for that one.

Luci45

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2013, 08:42:31 PM »
I'm actually focusing on the wiping his hands on the sofa. That is permanent damage!

I would start there.

Knitterly

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Re: 'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2013, 09:28:58 PM »
I'm actually focusing on the wiping his hands on the sofa. That is permanent damage!

I would start there.

Actually, it's not, really.  Both sofas have removable, machine washable covers.  They are a pain in the bum to remove and wash, but they are that way on account of the toddler factor.  But still... we have machine washable furniture for our toddler (and planned future sprog), not because I would anticipate my almost 30 yr old brother to wipe his fingers down.

Most everything is actually directly address with "Dude, can you not do that?"  or "Dude, can you do it this way?"  After saying it to what feels like everything he does, it feels more like I'm a mom than a sister or friend.  Honestly, I'd rather relate to him as a friend even than as a sister.  We deliberately worked on changing that dynamic to make our relationship healthier and more durable (see previous posts on my rather screwed up family).  Eventually it just become "Dude!  Really?!"  Then it becomes silent as I silently seethe and fix the situation myself.  Because...dude... really?  :(

Part of me wonders if I should have left out the brother part and just tried to address this as "this is my friend", but then, the fact that he's my brother is also pertinent, because I'd just stop inviting over any friend who was so careless in my house.

I'll try have an actual conversation with him *before* he comes over next to say something along the lines of "Hey, when you were over you did X, Y, and Z.  You probably don't realize it, but we do A instead of X because ___ and B instead of Y because ___ and we do C instead of Z because ___.  I'd really appreciate it if you did it that way next time."
How does that sound?