Sister bringing uninvited grandchild for week-long visit

by Danielle
(Prescott, AZ, USA)

I have not seen my sister in years. We are close but live several states apart. I've invited her and her husband to come stay with us for a week. I've made plans, bought tickets to events and was really looking forward to spending time with her. She sprang on me in a text that they are bringing their five-year-old grandson. She didn't even ask if it was okay with us. We have dogs that have never been around little children, and this boy is very afraid of dogs. My sister and her husband spend a lot of time with their grandchildren, and I think that's beautiful. Her husband is interacting with their grandchildren they way he should have interacted with his own children, but didn't. He's a late bloomer, I guess. I don't think they know how to be around each other without having a third person to focus on. The bottom line is, I had wonderful plans for us. I don't have children or grandchildren, and quite frankly, I don't want this little boy here. The whole time they will be here it will be all about entertaining the little boy because that's all I hear about when I speak with her on the phone. I'm amazed that my reaction is so negative, but I'm not happy at all with this news. My sister is the type to bring uninvited guests to events saying "the more the merrier." In the months of our planning this visit, not once did she say anything about bringing her grandson. This is not a situation where they "need" to take care of their grandson because the parents cannot.

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by: Ms P Etiquette

Hello Danielle,

Your dismay is certainly understandable while your sister's behavior is inappropriate, but probably not mean spirited. There is a way to handle this for everyone's sake.

Please tell your sister that you are have prepared your home for a small child, that your dogs are uncomfortable around little ones, especially any child who is fearful and that none of your well laid plans can include a youngster. ​​Explain that you were looking forward to spending adult time with your sister and were, in fact, very excited she was coming. However, neither your home nor your plans are prepared enough for everyone to be comfortable and safe. Ask if she can find someone else to care for the child for 7 days? If not, if she would like to reschedule ​her visit for a time when she is not responsible for the child and you have not made plans, bought tickets, etc.

That is respectful and polite. Let her know you love her and hope she can come for her visit.

Good luck,
Ms. Practical Etiquette​

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