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Missy, Missy, Oh My!

My youngest son is graduating high school this year and wants to invite all the family. The invitations have been sent except for one, my brother “Steve”. My son would like to invite his Steve, his wife “Missy” and cousin “Madison” (Madison is Steve’s daughter from his first marriage). The reason for the hesitation is Missy.

Whenever you invite Steve and Missy anywhere, Missy’s adult daughter, grandson, neice and cousin “Martha” and Martha’s husband “Jimmy” also come. That’s 5 additional people that come, even though the were not invited. It does not matter what event is it, they always come. Every. Single. Time. Missy’s adult son will occasionally show up. Also, Missy will get upset over the slightest things. Several examples:

1) When my mother, sister and nephew went to visit my father out of state, they also visited with Steve. Missy wanted them to arrive at a certain time. They departed early from our hometown so they arrived early. When Missy came home and found my mother, sister and nephew had already arrived, she was mad. According to my mother, Missy spent the entire time they were at her house being short-tempered and rude. If Steve got out of Missy’s line of sight, she would immeditately seek him out and ask what they had been talking about and why they were sitting on the deck, instead of sitting in the house. She also kept asking my mother when they were going to go back to the hotel(!).

2) My sister invited Missy, Steve and Madison out to dinner the night they arrived. Mother, sister and nephew arrived at the restaurant. Steve and Missy were nowhere to be found, even though the left at the same time. 45 minutes later, Steve and Missy arrive and another car pulls in right beside the truck. Out of the truck steps Steve, Missy, Madison, Missy’s daughter and Missy’s grandson (daughter’s child). Out of the car steps Martha, Jimmy, Missy’s adult son and Missy’s niece. That’s 9 people, when sister had only invited 3. The additional 6 were not at the home at the time the invitation was issued. My sister ended paying for dinner for 12 people. Yes, she should have spoken up but said she was in shock and did not want to be rude. My mother said the adult daughter and son made a spectacle of themselves in the restaurant, talking very loudly and making inappropriate comments about the waitress.

3) At my father’s funeral in December of 2014, Steve, Missy, Madison, Missy’s adult daughter, grandson, niece, Martha and Jimmy came. Normally, I would think they were there to express their sympathies and support Steve. That’s not what happened. Missy’s daughter, grandson, niece, Martha and Jimmy stayed in the fellowship hall during the services. I saw them before the service and at the graveside. (Actually, my father had never met Missy’s daughter, grandson, niece, Martha and Jimmy. Steve and Missy had to reschedule their wedding due to a hurricane bearing down on the East Coast, so none of Steve’s family were able to attend due to evacuations and they never brought any of the extended family when they visited my father). My brother asked if I wanted to go to them to eat before they left for home. I don’t think Missy wanted us to come and barely spoke to me or my family during the meal, but was quite animated while talking to her family. I paid for my family’s meals and he paid for theirs.

There are more examples, but I think you get basic idea. Missy has never been overtly rude to me, but she is not exactly warm. I would have no problem hosting Steve, Missy and Madison, but I simply do not have room for 5 additional people. I would even pay for Steve, Missy and Madison a hotel room, if they would prefer. My mother would probably want to host them, too or at least have Madison stay with her. I fear that if I invite them, they will bring the others. I have nothing against Missy’s extended family, but I do not know them and I would not understand them wanting to attend a high school graduation ceremony for someone they don’t know and have never met. If the outdoor ceremony gets rained out, we only get 10 tickets for the family. Between grandparents, aunts, and the 2 older siblings, the tickets are gone.

So… is there a polite way to communicate that Steve, Missy and Madison are more than welcome, but I would prefer they not bring the rest of the family? 0427-15

It is quite appropriate to specify who exactly is invited.

“Husband and I would be delighted to invite you (Steve), your wife Missy and daughter Madison to Junior’s graduation ceremony.   Tickets were very limited in number so we are happy to be able to include you, Missy and Madison for this special occasion.”     It’s irrelevant, imo, that the ceremony is planned for an outdoor venue because the secondary rain plan certainly does necessitate the limitations of tickets.

Ditto for offers to host them as house guests:  “If you need an overnight place, we can accommodate three people at most.”

There is nothing wrong in asking them to verify (rsvp) who is coming to the ceremony and who will be staying as a house guest under the truthful pretext that you need to confirm your plans.   And if you discover they are bringing extra guests, you firmly state that you cannot accommodate that because the truth is, you can’t.

And if crashing the after ceremony party is a concern, state on the invitations that a reception will be hosted after the ceremony with location information forthcoming at a later date (like to the people who are actual guests at the ceremony).


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Redneck Gravy May 8, 2015, 10:12 am

    While I think this is tacky, it might be a problem solver, enclose a note or write it on the invitation:

    While we wish we could invite everyone, our guest list is limited to you. Please do not make us embarrass extra guests you bring along that we are unable to admit to the party.

    I have actually seen this printed on an invitation to a very special event hosted by a local business celebrity (because the previous year an extra 50 people managed to get in to his seated/catered event).

    • Angel May 8, 2015, 4:40 pm

      RG, that is brilliant! yes it is tacky but in these situations you gotta be as direct (blunt) as possible. Missy has shown that she has no regard for the guest list and brings whoever she feels like, so in this case I wouldn’t have any problem doing this.

  • Jane May 8, 2015, 1:34 pm

    Hey OP, why can’t you just invite Madison? At 13, she’s old enough to travel by herself and would probably enjoy the vacation. That way you’ll avoid the entire family drama and give the kid a break and get to know her and have some quality cousin time

    • Anonymous May 9, 2015, 12:27 pm

      That’s actually a really good point. Steve and Missy may be a “social unit,” and therefore a package deal according to etiquette (with the obvious exception of one-on-one or single-gender activities, or gatherings of groups that only one of them belongs to), but Madison is her own person, and she’s old enough to be “unattached” in some circumstances. A graduation party held by extended family members seems safe enough for a thirteen-year-old to attend alone, even if it’s out of town. That’s actually a better idea than my idea of “exclude the whole family from the party, but invite Madison for a different activity another day.”

  • bern821 May 8, 2015, 2:09 pm

    So glad OP wrote an update – because I think a lot of commenters missed the fact that she can almost never have a conversation with her brother on the phone, so it’s nearly impossible to have a frank talk with him about the uninvited guests. I think OP may need to accept the fact that Missy wants Steve to be part of her family, but has zero interest in building a relationship with anyone in his family. I’ve seen this situation happen many times and I can’t comprehend why someone would want to pull their spouse away from his/her family. But it happens, and there’s not much you can do about it. Especially since Steve doesn’t seem to care (his refusal to answer your messages and his reaction to the news of your father’s death says it all).
    And about that dinner that your sister paid for – there is no way on earth I would have paid for all of Missy’s uninvited guests!! That would have been a good time to drop the hammer on Missy’s habit of showing up with her entire family when clearly only Steve, Missy and Madison were invited. Plus they kept everyone waiting for 45 minutes while they rounded up the troops. Jaw-droppingly rude, I’m just floored by this part of the story.
    Hope the graduation goes really well for your son! Good luck w/the Missy situation.

  • twik May 8, 2015, 2:27 pm

    I think the obvious solution is to tell Steve and Missy (together) that there are three tickets. Three. Tickets. No more. No less. Three is the number of people who will be admitted. Four shall not sit down. Five is right out.

    With luck, they will be resentful at the school, not to you.

    • Cat May 8, 2015, 11:00 pm

      Or I shall bring out the sacred hand grenade.

      • Caitlin May 9, 2015, 9:14 pm

        Run away!

  • Cheryl May 8, 2015, 3:27 pm

    At this point, send the invite, but call your brother immediately. Inform him that an invitation will be coming for your son’s graduation party, it is a small gathering for mostly immediate family. If you have any type of honest relationship with your brother, then you inform him that the invitation will be for 3 and you mean only the 3 of them. Then warn him, if more than Missy, his daughter and he show up to your house, you will promptly ask them to leave. This may seem like this is over the line, but enough is enough. When you are married into a family doesn’t always mean that their family gets to come with. If dinner is done again, next time, pay for the people you came with and Steve can pay for his own, soon he will either get the hint, which someone should have spoken to him already about this subject or it will get to expensive and he will decline from now on. Being nice and cordial is great, however, there are times and this is one of them, where a swift kick in the ass is so necessary. Be brutally honest with Steve, it seems like Missy isn’t liked and for good reason, so even though you will Steve and his daughter, the absence of Missy will be a relief.

  • InTheEther May 8, 2015, 8:38 pm

    I don’t know if this suggestion is viable, but have you considered only inviting Madison out/over via her mother? I think you made some kind of comment implying your brother’s 1st marriage was kinda rocky, so there might be too much baggage between your family and the ex to contact her directly. If not though, this might at least be a viable way to get some family time with your niece without her being used as an unpaid nanny.

    Sorry to say I can’t think of a good way to salvage anything with your brother. If he’s determined to be a doormat there’s no good way to inject him with a spine, and I don’t see how you can manage to extract him from his prison guards without a fight.

    Personally, I’m the kind of person who’s happy to describe myself as mean and would straight up warn bro and SIL that if the entourage shows up they (the entourage) will be locked out on the porch. This option would require actually sticking to the threat though, which is guaranteed to lead to a blow up fight.

  • Denise May 9, 2015, 11:21 am

    So, your brother is impossible to get a hold of to have a private conversation, he doesn’t text, email or communicate regularly and he doesn’t object when his wife brings children from her previous marriage/relationship.

    I get that he’s your brother, but honestly, he seems happy with his blended family. Content and full. Whether it’s Missy putting her foot down or not, when they married, they joined families. I may be in the minority, but just as you wouldn’t enjoy her family excluding your 13 year old niece, she likely doesn’t enjoy her children (adult or otherwise) being excluded in your family situations.

    Invite all or nothing. If you invite none, I doubt your son will truly be missing out. It sounds like he doesn’t have much of a real relationship with uncle and unless he’s communicating with cousin on his own, they are unlikely to have a real relationship as well.

    • Ergala May 12, 2015, 7:34 am

      These aren’t step kids…these are Missy’s brother and sister in law and their kids. I’m sorry but I don’t invite my sister’s in laws and they don’t invite us. There has never ever been any suggestion that we were included in any event. In fact I don’t know about anything going on with them on that side. It’s really none of my business. I would be turned off if my sister’s brother-in-law and his wife and kids showed up an event I was holding. I wasn’t invited to my sister’s baby shower her sister-in-law threw for her (the wife of my brother-in-law’s brother). I was upset about that you better believe it…it was the only baby shower she had and it was my first niece/nephew. Nobody from our side was invited. But I didn’t feel as though I was entitled to an invite. It was THEIR event and it was huge and catered. I get that space was limited.

      Not to mention someone else’s family dynamic doesn’t trump your own dynamic.

      • Heather May 12, 2015, 11:19 am

        You weren’t invited to your sister’s baby shower? I don’t care how limited space is… you invite the sister!!

    • OP May 14, 2015, 2:32 pm

      Here’s the thing about her adult children- they don’t live with her and they don’t invite her to all of their family events. She doesn’t get to go out to eat when they are dining with the in-laws, she doesn’t get invited to the in-laws at Christmas or birthdays, and she doesn’t get invited to all the same baby/wedding showers as her adult children. She brings them/invites them to things that she and/or Steve only are invited- they are literally the uninvited guests. We don’t purposefully exclude them and we couldn’t because they come anyway. I admit I was angry that people who did not even know my father came to his service only to sit in the fellowship hall DURING the ENTIRE service. And why would they want to come to a graduation ceremony where they do not know one single graduate? It’s like a roving band of moochers.

  • OP (again) May 9, 2015, 7:58 pm

    Hi, I just wanted to give everyone an update. After reading through the comments again this morning, I decided to call Missy directly and address the space limitations. I called her cell and after she picked and we exchanged pleasantries, I said “One reasons I wanted to talk to you is about ‘Junior’s’ graduation. He really wants you, Steve and Madison to be here. I mailed you an invitation and I want apologize for it not coming sooner. I was procrastinating and did not get them to post office as soon as I had hoped. The thing is, space is very limited but I was able to get 3 extra tickets from a friend who has a small family. I know your family is very close and do a lot of things together, but I wasn’t able to get tickets for them. You know we converted the attic to a room with private bath and sitting area, so I want to offer that for you & Steve to stay in, if you can make it. Madison can sleep on the pull-out sofa in the sitting area or the boys can bunk together and she can sleep in one of their rooms. We have wifi, too, so you check emails or Facebook or maybe even video chat with your family.”

    There was about a 15 second pause and then she asked for the particulars (time, date, location) and said she would check with Steve, check their calendars and get back with me.

    So, maybe things will workout. I tried to be apologetic, but firm and always put her first (you & Steve & Madison, you & Steve). I hope the private bath and sitting area will be a little incentive, too.

    What I didn’t tell her is that we have about 10 kids in our neighborhood who are graduating, so the families got together and we rented the community room and pool area for a block-party type celebration after the ceremony. We all pitched in and were able to get a great price from a caterer who lives in our neighborhood for heavy hors d’ oeuvres and sandwiches, so we don’t have to worry about getting a lot of food ready and dealing with graduation preparations. This is actually got finalized earlier today- we had the room, we were just waiting on a quote from the caterer. One of the dads works in the corporate office of Coca-Cola, so he is getting us a great deal on drinks. I just hope Missy doesn’t get to the party (if they come) and get upset thinking she could have brought the whole family and no one would have noticed.

    I will give another update after graduation. Keep your fingers crossed for us for good luck! 🙂

    • cdubz May 13, 2015, 10:05 am

      I think you did a good job on the phone call. If she does ask about the party, just tell her you invited who you could afford. She doesn’t need to know the particulars of how much everything cost. For all she knows, you paid for X number of people to attend the party.

    • O May 27, 2015, 5:01 am

      That’s great! I hope things keep going smoothly!


  • Paddington May 10, 2015, 10:19 am

    I have a relative who is very like this. The most recent incident was that, upon being told by Mr Paddington that we had booked our first just-us holiday (as opposed to a shared family holiday as we usually do) to a very special location, this person promptly invited along herself and the entire extended family (in total about ten people). We are by no means unfamiliar with the polite spine but on this occasion we couldnt really tell them no; they were paying and organising everything independently and we hardly own the hotel or the travel agent. So our first ever special just-us holiday was soon totally overrun by extra relatives. And yes, she was well aware that it was our original intention to have a break away without everyone else for the first time in our long married life.

    Somehow, however, our schedules during that holiday week just hardly ever seemed to fall in line with theirs. We barely saw any of them in the end. 😉

    • O May 27, 2015, 5:02 am

      Good, I’m glad your schedules were so incompatible.

  • Teresa May 10, 2015, 4:01 pm

    Here, there is a limit on the number of tickets that each graduate gets for family to attend the graduation ceremony. I would either put a note on the invitation stating something along the lines of, “Tickets are limited. Please RSVP to me so I know if the three of you will be able to attend.” Or, if I were hosting a party at home, after graduation (also common here), I might just invite Brother and his family to the party at my home, expecting that there might be added guests.

  • GeenaG May 11, 2015, 8:05 am

    For people this brazenly rude I’m not sure if any of the suggestions would stop them. I vote for not inviting them at all, for me at least, it just would not be worth the hassle. Eventually the brother may ask why they are being excluded from events and I would tell him the whole truth when and if you are able to talk to him alone.

    His wife is determined to alienate and separate him from his family. Hopefully he will come to see her for what she is and dump her.

  • kylynara May 11, 2015, 9:16 am

    I see that you, OP, have decided what to do, but I wanted to throw my 2 cents in in case it helps someone else (possibly future you). I think given that this is behavior that Missy should have long since been called on, I would call/text/email relentlessly (2-3 calls, a couple texts, and an email each day) for 2-4 days telling him to need to discuss something with him on the phone. On the outside chance he responds, discuss the issue with him. If he does not, then include a letter with the invite saying you tried to reach him by phone to discuss it and couldn’t, so you had to put it in writing and risk the misunderstandings inherent when you can’t hear tone of voice.

    You could send it separate from the invite, but then you risk them claiming they never got it. If it’s with the invite then you know they must have gotten it.

  • KimB May 12, 2015, 6:57 am

    OP, I saw your additional update, your call to Missy. PLEASE let us know what ultimately happened.

    And, a 15 second pause? That’s a little awkward. I think you did very well on that phone call.

  • Enna May 19, 2015, 5:56 am

    I think if I had a relation who brought extra people along I would have to talk to that relation and say that it isn’t fair to bring along extra people. If he insisted on doing so then I would seriously consider inviting him along – if I couldn’t cater for the extras and include them for the even then I wouldn’t invite said relation along.

  • Audra May 25, 2015, 9:51 pm

    Op good luck and please let us know how it all turns out.