Advice from Amy: Unwanted Houseguests

By Amy Dickinson | November 23rd, 2021

“Should we have to host relatives who are slobs?”


couple greeting guests at the door Iakov Filimonov Dreamstime. For Ask Amy column on unwanted houseguests Image

Advice columnist Amy Dickinson responds to a couple who dread hosting unwanted houseguests – in this case, relatives who are messy and have children who lack manners.


Dear Amy:

My wife and I keep an immaculate home. It is our sanctuary!

We live in a different state from majority of family. My cousins have made it known that they anticipate staying with us as house guests while visiting our area.

This particular family chooses to live in squalid conditions.

They have four small children whose manners and behavior are also very challenging.

We don’t believe that this family will transform the moment they cross our doorstep.

Others say that we should accept hosting them. The theme seems to be that we should make the sacrifice and put up with painful house guests, because that is just what you do when it is your flesh and blood.

My position is that it’s unfair to make us the bad guys for wanting to spare ourselves the trial of hosting these folks in our home.

Envision being trapped in the role of manners cop/maid service for several days! What I see here is a recipe for resentment – definitely ours and probably theirs, too.

What are our options?

How would you respond to family members who imply that we’d be cold-hearted to turn the would-be guests down?

– Touchy Situation

Dear Touchy:

For people who have taken a tough stance, you and your wife seem especially vulnerable to the opinions of others.

I don’t know of many households that can easily accommodate a family of six for several days.

Regardless of your capacities, you are unwilling to host this family.

You don’t need to supply reasons.

You don’t need to explain yourself.

You DO need to be willing to appear inflexible or ungenerous to those who will judge your choice.

If the family wants to visit your town, you could research nearby short-term rental homes. It would be kind of you to spend some time with them and host them for a few meals.


Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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