Family Vacation House

28 Jun

Letterbalm Beach HouseDear LetterBalm: Every year all of us summer at the beach house our family has owned for three generations. The beach is wonderful and the house is big and rambling, so everybody can do what they like. We’ve worked out schedules for food shopping, cooking and cleaning over the years, and everybody pitches in, even the kids. The problem is my youngest brother’s girlfriend. Last summer, she wandered around in a skimpy robe and sunbathed topless on the deck in front of our teenage nephews until my brother said something to her. She didn’t help with the chores, and their bedroom and bathroom were a mess. I’m caught in the middle – I don’t think it’s my place to confront her, but somebody needs to deal with this.

–Low Tide

You’ll have to band together and gently lead the princess to chores, one chore at a time. A sit-down with her won’t work unless her boyfriend is moved to do it himself, which is unlikely. Address her directly and ask for her help. Ms. L.B. says you should stay cheerful and focused. Take the lead; keep up the training. Have a quick chat with your adult family members before she arrives:

Listen guys, Elsbeth will be with us again this summer, and I have a little plan. Let’s address her directly, asking her to help with chores, like: “Elsbeth, would you please come in the kitchen and help take the food to the table?” “Elsbeth, could you please set/clear the table for us?” “Elsbeth, could you go to the bathrooms, gather the dirty towels for the laundry and put them in the bin in the basement?” “Elsbeth, before you and Will go to the beach, would you please run the vacuum over the living room?” Keep it up, stay cheerful, don’t confront her and don’t judge her. Summer at the house is a special time for us all, and it’s not worth ruining the season if Elsbeth doesn’t participate. But if she and Will are still together next year, we’ll reconsider what to do. Two years are long enough to get the hint.

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