Dear Annie: There is a couple that socializes with us and our friends. They constantly drop hints that their adult children (living at home) should be invited to our events. They say things like, "Becky would really enjoy coming to your house. She loves the way you cook." Sometimes they just show up at the door with their adult children and say, "I hope you don't mind."
How do you respond to such requests? And how do we prevent future occurrences? These people can be rather insistent. They seem to feel that we would be missing so much if their adult children didn't attend. -- Hostess in Louisiana
Dear Hostess: These people want their children included in everything and have little consideration for their hosts. When they ask to bring Becky, it's perfectly OK to say, "I'm so sorry, but I can't accommodate her this time." If they say they won't attend without her, the response should be, "We'll miss you."
Showing up unexpectedly at the door is a more difficult issue. Since they do this frequently, you would be justified in turning them away, saying, "So sorry, but we didn't plan on an additional person. We'd be happy to host you and Becky another time." (We know someone who once sweetly and cheerfully directed an adult child to a playroom with 5-year-olds.) But you also can be gracious and accept that Becky will tag along whenever you invite this couple. Your choice is simply to invite them or not. If the constant tagalongs are a major nuisance, you can stop including this couple and they will undoubtedly figure out why.
Dear Annie: Like "Fed Up Sister," my brother was also a braggart. From his teenage years on, he always tried to one-up everyone. He was the youngest of six and didn't realize that the rest of us compared notes about his stories. We felt the bragging must be important to him, so we never let on. He was always the life of the party and fun to be around. He went through three marriages, had five children and still his claims of grandeur continued. We always believed that his bragging stemmed from not feeling as successful as his siblings.
When his last marriage dissolved, he didn't bounce back like he always had before. We received a call from the police one day that he had shot himself. He was dead at age 48. His life had been a series of stories about how great things were and how wonderfully he was doing. In reality, we learned that he was an insecure and lost person.
I wish we had been able to see through his stories to the insecurities underneath. But we loved him and didn't want to hurt his feelings. Maybe if we had called him on those stories, things might have different. We will never know. I want to tell "Fed Up" and everyone else in this position to just love your siblings while you can. You never know how long they will be here. -- Still Grieving Sister
Dear Sister: You have given kind advice. Please stop blaming yourself for not doing enough for your brother. You knew he was insecure, but confronting him about the bragging may have pushed him away from you altogether. You were loving and tolerant, which is what siblings should be. Our deepest condolences.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com or write to Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies.
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