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Monday question: Enough, already!

Posted by Robin Abrahams  July 11, 2011 06:29 AM

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Here's today's question, a variation on themes we've encountered before: 

I am out of ideas. I have a sibling who continually shows up uninvited at my home (and the homes of others) with his hungry, bored, restless brood and then camps out all day until we have to tell him we are going to bed and they need to leave. Over the years, we have all taken turns explaining to him and his wife that dropping by without calling is rude, showing up at mealtimes expecting to be fed is inconsiderate, expecting other to supply the entertainment, never mind the diapers, snacks, changes of clothes, and outer wear that they never bring is not being "family," it is being a parasite. If we leave to go to work or school or errands or activities, they simply stay at my house and we return to find their child has ravaged my kids' rooms, taken clothes (which they don't return) or eaten what I had saved for dinner "Oh yes, we get it," they say when we bring this up, and then resume their behavior. Either they are both being deliberately obtuse or they are incapable of change. Short of locking my door and hiding -- which, I have to admit, I have done a few times out of sheer exhaustion -- I am at my wits end. This is preventing all of us from seeing whatever their good qualities might be. 


Boundaries, boundaries, right? But let's take the LW at her word that every reasonable, polite alternative has already been tried. How should she enforce her entirely reasonable boundaries, especially when hungry, bored children are right there in front of her?
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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