Author Topic: Rude or reasonable?  (Read 4448 times)

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Night_owl

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Rude or reasonable?
« on: August 07, 2010, 05:12:01 PM »
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.


     

Hillia

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Re: Rude or reasonable?
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2010, 05:17:55 PM »
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?

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artk2002

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Re: Rude or reasonable?
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2010, 05:22:02 PM »
I think that you did nothing wrong at all.  I would continue the same way in the future.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Wavicle

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Re: Rude or reasonable?
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2010, 05:24:01 PM »
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

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Re: Rude or reasonable?
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2010, 05:28:45 PM »
  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.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2010, 05:34:53 PM by Merry Mrs Martin »

jpcher

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Re: Rude or reasonable?
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2010, 05:33:25 PM »
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.

Nothing rude about this at all. If you were to acquiesce to the "guest kids" demands you would also have to give in to your own kids desires.

You should treat the guest kids the same as you do your own.

TootsNYC

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Re: Rude or reasonable?
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2010, 05:35:22 PM »
It's really rude for the kids to:
-interrupt your planned activity because they didn't follow your clear instructions to eat
-demand that you spend extra money on them
-whine about your hospitality.

And you will probably find that they behave better, and are more gracious. I'd stick w/ what you're doing.

Tell your DH that this firm stance (it's not even tough!) is a favor you are doing them. They'll grow up to be someone people would like to be around. Ask him how he'd feel if a grownup, for example a colleague, did that to him, and does he want them to grow up to be like that?

Now's a painless time for them to learn it.

kherbert05

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Re: Rude or reasonable?
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2010, 05:47:35 PM »
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?


POD

If he is supposed to be paternal to them - treat them like your own kids. I bet this behavior would not be tolerated, if it was your kids.

My family has an expression You are not a guest you are family. With kids it meant that with a few exceptions for health reasons you were treated exactly the same as their kids.

I think you need to have a serious conversation with your DH about how your SIL and her kids owe you an appology. I also think next trip your DH should tell your SIL exactly what the kids need in clothes/equipment at least. If they don't have needed things they don't get to do actitivty.

You are giving your SIL aprox 35 days of 24 hour daycare a year. Does she ever host your children?
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sammycat

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Re: Rude or reasonable?
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2010, 07:19:01 PM »
You didn't do anything wrong at all.  To be honest, I almost let out a sigh of relief as I finished reading your post to discover that you didn't give in to the niece's demands/rude behaviour. :)

On the other hand, I feel SIL is wrong and rude to send her children to stay somewhere without adequate clothes and spending money.

Kaymyth

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Re: Rude or reasonable?
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2010, 07:30:39 PM »
PODding everything that's been said thus far, and I have this to add:

There's a certain amount of boundary-testing that's going to happen with any kid, especially when they're dealing with a set of rules that isn't their norm.  If you give in, they're going to learn that whiny, Special Snowflake behavior gives them what they want.  Stick to the rules, and they'll not only learn to follow and respect those rules, but be more likely to respect the rules of others in the future.

Their behavior, while technically rude, is also quite normal for their age and experience.  By holding the line, you're not just being a good aunt, you're giving them valuable lessons on how to behave as they mature.



Hanna

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Re: Rude or reasonable?
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2010, 08:41:20 PM »
Not one bit rude, and I think you did them a favor by being firm.

gramma dishes

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Re: Rude or reasonable?
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2010, 09:03:05 PM »
Personally I think you deserve the Medal of Honor for being willing to have two kids this age stay at your home for two whole weeks.  From what you describe, you plan events that are fun and 'different' from the ordinary stuff they do in their own home.

I think you handled this 'situation' exceptionally well and you should just keep doing what you're doing.  I know that your niece and nephew will remember all the fun things they did at your house for the rest of their lives -- and (hopefully) remember some of the social graces you taught them too. 

Stick to your guns.  You're doing it right.  You're a terrific Aunt!

BettyDraper

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Re: Rude or reasonable?
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2010, 09:12:55 PM »
You're the hostess.  Boundary-testing, spending money and the like are irrelevant from an etiquette point of view. You were clear about the plans for the day and the advisability of eating early; you had adequate emergency nourishment available and a plan for more food on arrival home. 

It's inconceivable to me that any healthy person can't go 4.5 hours without their specific preferred foods or beverages -- and I say that as a picky eater who spurns others' offerings 80 percent of the time and has often felt that I was starving, inwardly.  Good guests go hungry if necessary rather than criticize what the host offers.   

That said I would think a 15-year-old who's a long-time house guest should have some input into what's going to be available throughout the day, being in a quasi-family member position due to the length of the visit.  Were they consulted about the breakfast and snack menu? 

gramma dishes

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Re: Rude or reasonable?
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2010, 09:19:30 PM »
. . . When they visit, I take them food shopping and allow them to pick out familiar foods for breakfast, lunch and snack a
     
Were they consulted about the breakfast and snack menu? 

Night_owl

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Re: Rude or reasonable?
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2010, 09:33:15 PM »

That said I would think a 15-year-old who's a long-time house guest should have some input into what's going to be available throughout the day, being in a quasi-family member position due to the length of the visit.  Were they consulted about the breakfast and snack menu? 

Yup, in the original post, I mentioned I took them grocery shopping and let them pick out food (within reason) for breakfast, lunch, and snacks and buy my kids allergy free equivalents.  My kids consider their cousins' visit junk food heaven since they usually don't get potato chips, hot dogs, soda, or store bought cookies that often.

Thanks for responses.  Regarding, DH's paternal role, he supports me, but he's just as likely to cave with our own kids.  I'm the heavy with all the kids.  He feels very guilty that he's not as involved as he would like with his nieces and nephews because we live four hours away.  SIL and my ILs (who are also raising the kids) are more relaxed about structure and rules then we are.  DH feels it's important to give them time, love, and fun experiences when they are with us.  I think it's just as important to give them security, clear boundaries, and someone they can trust to be there no matter what.  I didn't think I was rude, thanks for the support.  Just for record, DH helped raised my two nieces and two step nieces for almost three years when we were first married.  And I was the heavy that time around too.