General Etiquette > Family and Children

Rude or reasonable?

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BG Our 15 year old nephew and 11 year old niece, Tim and Sara came to stay for two weeks.  Between school breaks and summer vacation, they spend 3-5 weeks a year at our house and have since they were 5 years old or so.

BG 2  Due to my own kids having various food food allergies, we eat a pretty simple diet; mostly fruits, veggies, meat and limited grains.  Processed allergy foods are both expensive and tasteless, so I make most food from scratch.  Sara and Tim are use to a very different diet.  When they visit, I take them food shopping and allow them to pick out familiar foods for breakfast, lunch and snack and get my own kids the allergy free equivalent.  Side note, my kids love it when they visit!  SIL sends them with little or no spending money. DH and I pay for their activities and give both of them to do a chance to do yard and house work so they can earn extra money like we do with our kids.  Sara chose not to do any, Tim did.

Problem:  I took Older Son, Sara, and Tim out for an activity from 8 am to 1230 pm.  Before we left the house, I reminded Sara and Tim to eat breakfast.  I stated very clearly I wouldn't be stopping to buy fast food.  In the past, they have refused to eat and then complained of being hungry 30 minutes later.  They didn't eat anything.  Sure enough, at 945am, they were starving.  I offered them water, juice boxes, granola bars, dried fruit, and nuts all of which I have in the car for my own kids.  They didn't like the choices and wanted to stop the activity to go get fast food.  I refused since Older Son and I wanted to finish what we were doing (kayaking).  Eventually, they both ate something, but especially Sara was very unhappy.  We cut the activity short.  On the way home, a ten minute ride, they asked again to stop for fast food.  Sara had no money and Tim didn't want to spend his money.  I reminded them of what I said earlier and that we would be home soon and they could eat any of the food they had picked out earlier in the week.

Was I rude?  My feeling is we are are defacto parents when they are at our house.  I treat them the same as I do my own kids.  They know the rules, they are old enough to understand and be responsible for their actions.  I provided them with adequate access to food through out the time we were kayaking and in the car.  DH feels I should have given in because they are guests, though he doesn't approve of their behavior.   Their mom, who heard about the story from Sara, felt they were rude, but told me next time to stop and she'd pay me back later.  Since, in the past, she's sent them without money or adequate clothes and expected us to purchase clothes for them, this seems unlikely.  In DH's culture, it is expected for the maternal uncles take a paternal role and SIL's expectations are fine within their culture.  I love Sara and Tim and support DH's role in their life, but feel they are under my care and are treated like my own kids, with exceptions made for ages and circumstances.  Older Son, who is 9, was pretty shocked by their behavior.  Tim did apologize to me later.  No one left the house until they ate for the rest of the visit.


I think you're living up to cultural expectations by purchasing special foods that your family normally doesn't eat, and by paying for all of their fun activities and clothes with no expectation of payback.  I would be beyond furious if I found that DS refused to eat what a relative provided, and then demanded a special stop for that relative to purchase expensive fast food.  I agree that expecting them to follow reasonable rules in existence in your household is not rude, nor is refusing to cater to their every whim.

Your DH's cultural expectation is that he take a paternal role to his sister's kids, right?  So ask him...would their father be expected to allow them to refuse the food at home only to demand a special side trip later?

I think that you did nothing wrong at all.  I would continue the same way in the future.

Even without thinking of yourself as parents for their visit you weren't rude. You gave them multiple chances for food, you denied them nothing. You don't even deny them their normal diet for the whole trip, and as host I think you are fine to say "We will feed you what it is in the house. If that isn't good enough, bring some extra snacks. If that isn't enough we will miss you"  I think it is a bit ridiculous to be expected to give into any guests demands because they are guests. You are being very gracious by providing them with so many treats already.

They are rude to demand a certain treat that requires money and effort from you, though since they are kids I would be more forgiving than if it was an adult pulling this.I can understand being frustrated because you aren't hungry for what is available, but either fill up on the food that is available or keep your discomfort to yourself.

shhh its me:
  you were not rude.  I'm not sure your SIL meant that you were wrong by offering an alternative it may have been " You can make things easier on yourself when they are being obnoxious. IF they're being a bit bratty I'll cover any extra expenses it causes"

I'm not sure if that make sense  if my mom was watching my son and was having trouble getting him to bed,  I could see myself saying "well if it's easier for you to let him stay up go ahead." I'd rather he go to bed early but your doing me a favor so if your life better feel free.


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