Not A Hotel

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Each summer my daughter and granddaughter come to visit for two
weeks, with he husband joining them for the second one. It’s a lovely
time to see how my grandchild is maturing. While we connect weekly
on Skype, it’s not the same as playing a game together or teaching
her cooking. I enjoy the time with her, but my daughter treats the trip
more like a vacation than a visit. She flops around, rarely offers to
help, and takes long breaks to “go work” (she’s a freelancer),
assuming I will babysit at the drop of a hat, even though I have a full-
time job. I’m self-employed so I can arrange my schedule around their
visit, but not around her daily whims. Her husband is slightly more
responsible, but when I walk into the house after a busy day, I don’t
expect to see it over-run with toys and dirty dishes, while two adults
are watching a DVD. Should I say something now or wait till next
summer to lay down the law?

Not A Hotel



Dear Not A Hotel:

You should say something now and later. When people visit their
parents there is always a tendency to revert to the behaviors of their
childhood. That includes issues related to who gets the last vote, who
cleans and does chores, and how various generations treat one
another. When parents visit their adult children’s’ homes there are
different issues of tension, including indulgent grandparents wanting to
spoil children in ways that contravene the household rules.



Start with a light touch: That was a great visit. So wonderful to see
[grandchild] growing up so nicely. Next year I want to have more time
together as a group, and also clearer responsibilities identified so we
can have more fun and less work. Avoid details and stay upbeat. Next
year, when your daughter informs you about her timing and
reservations, get a little more parental: I’m delighted to see you but I
want to set down some house rules. Last year you acted like this was
a hotel. I’m happy to give you a ___-day vacation when you land, but
starting on the next day we’re going to share responsibilities for
cooking and cleanup. I’m happy to babysit when my work schedule
allows so you can go work. But I cannot do it at whim. Let’s all sort it
out like adults so we can concentrate on enjoying one another. It’ll be
uneven and she will probably test you to see if you mean what you
say. But everyone grows up eventually and this is just one more stage
of parenting.