Amy: Drop-in relatives drive host crazy

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • August 31, 2013 - 2:00 PM

Dear Amy: For a few years now, I’ve been getting bent out of shape about two close relatives who show up without warning on many a weekend and expect to hang out at our home for hours. These relatives live 90 minutes away. They claim they cannot call to let us know when they’re coming “because we never know when we’re coming.”

We live out in the country and can’t pretend we’re not home. I don’t know of any way to basically send them away when, on a Saturday or Sunday, there they are at our door, be it 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. or 6 p.m. ready to socialize at our house!

When I want (or expect) to see them, I genuinely enjoy their company.

What can I say? I’ve already asked them many times to give us some notice or perhaps even a choice in the matter.

Amy says: Have you gotten angry or expressed your extreme frustration in the moment, or do you do what many of us do and express your hostility by being coldly tolerant at the time and furious later?

One mini-tantrum directed toward your relatives might get the message across. The next time this happens, stop them at the doorway: “I’ve asked you many times to give me the courtesy of a heads-up before you show up here. You don’t seem to care. So tell me, what would it take to get your attention? I genuinely like to see you, but not like this. This is driving me crazy.”

Blowup at wedding

Dear Amy: My nephew’s wedding left a bad taste in my mouth. My sisters and I worked intensely to help make his rehearsal dinner, wedding and day-after brunch fairy-tale events.

My sister “Barb” supplied the wine and Champagne for the reception, and after the brunch, she told me to take home a bottle. When my nephew saw this, he yelled that I was “stealing from the bride.” He wouldn’t let it go, not even when my sister intervened. After more verbal abuse, I snapped. I told him that I had worked hard for weeks to make his event a success, and I thought he was being ungracious. His response? “There’s nothing I can do about how you feel.”

This nephew has yelled at me before, but I wrote it off to his youth. Now I think I just don’t like him. Any advice, besides avoiding him for the rest of my life?

Amy says: Because you two are on the outs, you have nothing to lose by trying to clear the air. Say to him, “I really do expect to be treated the way I treat you — with respect. I may not be your favorite person, but can you manage to be civil toward me?” His response will be revealing. It may lead you to choose avoidance.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

© 2018 Star Tribune