Lei-d Back

5 May

Letterbalm Hawaiian LeiDear LetterBalm: My husband and I have lived in Hawaii for 10 years, and every year since we moved here my parents have come to visit. My husband and I could barely put up with them when it was only a week. But my father retired last year, and they announced they’ll be doing more traveling. They plan to stay a month every year with us! My parents are a handful – bossy and demanding. They expect us to drop everything, cater to them, cook fancy meals and show them around all day. In past visits, we’ve had to put everything on hold, from gym workouts and classes to planned activities with friends. We both work full-time, so this means we’ll have to spend all our leisure time with my folks. We’ll never last a month. How can we break this pattern?

–Aloha Already

You and your husband must form a united front. It’s time to articulate the guest rules to your folks. Don’t be hesitant or vague, and wean them from the expectation that the two of you will be their chef, tour guide and chauffeur. If they drive and you can spare it, lend them your car for excursions. If they don’t, they’ll need to arrange transportation or a car service, and give them some suggestions. Ms. L.B. also thinks you can leverage their desire to travel more to your advantage: A whole month every year with you will keep them from other destinations. Put these rules into practice whether your parents stay a week or a month, and repeat them as necessary. (If your parents get offended and don’t visit, well, it doesn’t sound like you and your husband will be heartbroken.) Stay calm but be strong, and make that phone call ASAP:  

Mom and Dad, Bill and I are so glad that the two of you are planning to see the world now that Dad has retired. But it would seem that staying a month with us every year would cut back on the time you can travel. In fact, Bill and I are very concerned that you plan to come and stay with us that long. This won’t work at all, and we have to say no. We work full-time, and our schedules have become so stressful and time-consuming that we can’t take time off or accommodate you for more than a week. Even then, we won’t be able to spend time with you, other than a quick dinner here or there. We’ll be happy to put one of our cars at your disposal so you can take excursions on your own. And, of course, Bill and I will treat you to the Hau‘oli for another of the luaus you like, but you’ll have to amuse yourselves during the week you’re with us. I’m afraid we must be firm about this.

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