Overstaying a Welcome

>> Sunday, June 28, 2009

funny pictures of cats with captions
I wish I could write something clever today, but I'm a little drained. So, here's a bonus lesson learned.

Last summer, my husband and I (with the two youngest) drove up to Kansas to help a cyberfriend move. The story on why our help was needed was long, but the need existed. We drove up Friday night, moved her Saturday and planned to leave no later than Tuesday, but we were coming up on the Fourth of July weekend and were invited to stay through Saturday.

It was a mistake. Staying with people you don't have much in common with for days on end: uncomfortable for everyone. They were nice. We tried to be the same, but it had an adverse effect on our relationship. Pity.

I think this can happen in families, too. There's nothing wrong with having your mom come down for a couple of months after your baby is born if that's the level of relationship you have. But if it's not, no one will end up happier. Instead, one or both will end up resentful or angry - hardly healthy for the long haul.

If you're visiting your old home town and staying with your mother, it might work to stay for a week or two - you'll be seeing old friends and not dependent on your parents for all of your entertainment. When I was married to my first husband, I would frequently go to his home town. He'd wander off to visit his own friends and haunts and I was left alone with his mother, a woman who I had nothing in common with. Both of us found the visits irksome.

But, if the relationship is uncertain or not close, days quickly become oppressive and everyone ends up uncomfortable and awkward, even if everyone has done their best.

That doesn't mean you can't visit people you care about, even if you've grown apart, but I can't but recommend leavening the length of time appropriately. Understaying a welcome is often far more pleasant (and far more conducive to the long term relationship) to overstaying.

The sister I'm closest to is coming in August for a week. I love her dearly and we have tons in common. She's staying for a week and I think that's just about perfect, especially since my kids adore her and my husband thinks she's great.

A visit in small doses, doses appropriate to the relationship, I think that's what works the best.

Now, if I could just calculate those appropriately...


  • The Mother

    Is this why I always want to send my in-laws packing after an hour or so?

  • Richard

    We think of visits with family as the annual dose of contraception. There's nothing quite like spending a week with nieces and nephews crawling all over you to remind you why you haven't had kids of your own yet...

    My family has always been close. Emotionally, if not always geographically (we lived about 10,000 miles away from my parents for two years and I'm not sure Mom has forgiven me for it yet). Both of my sisters (and their husbands and kids) have lived with my parents at one time or another, post-college. My wife and I? Not so much.

    Summer visits with my family always involve long lazy days hanging out around the house, taking the pontoon boat out onto the lake, relaxing at home, and card games that last into the wee hours of the night after the grandkids have been put to bed. It's always nice to see everyone and compare both the similarities and differences between our lives. But after 4-5 days, my wife starts to go stir-crazy from the lack of activity and the kid-centric social interaction.

    I make sure to limit our visits to her patience threshold, rather than mine. Hey... it beats sleeping on the couch when we get home! ;-)

  • flit

    there are lots and lots of people that I love - including my own kids - and I STILL don't want them in my house for more than a week or so - if that.

    I am just not. that. sociable.

  • Stephanie B

    That may be part of my problem. I'm not sociable either. I'm dull as dishwater.

  • Roy

    Yeah, my Mom and I can only tolerate 1-week intervals. After that things get weird.

  • musingwoman

    "Doses appropriate to the relationship." I couldn't agree more!

    P.S. thinking of moving--our lease is up and the rent was raised more than we can afford, so we're moving in 2 weeks!

  • Quadmama

    A week seems to be my limit. Eventually I want to be able to sit around without feeling like I need to constantly entertain.

  • Stephanie B

    I think about a week is about optimum even for the closest relationships (unless there is a mitigating circumstance: new baby, helping someone recover from an illness, considerable ability to entertain oneself outside the host).

    But I'm not sure a week is always appropriate. Sometimes an afternoon allows all the interaction necessary. Sometimes a couple of days is optimum. I don't think there's just one measuring stick.

  • Stephanie B

    Good luck, musingwoman!

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