15 answers

Handling 'Disrespectful' Nephew and Niece When They're at My House

Hello hello! I am not a mother, however, I have moved in with my boyfriend in a neighborhood where his ENTIRE family lives. It isn't a problem - I love his family. But when his niece and nephew come over (with their parents there) they have no respect for our house. They wear their shoes on the new couches (our house is a no-shoe house to begin with), make a mess everywhere, put their greasy hands on everything and their parents don't say anything - am I allowed to 'parent' them while they are at my house?? Again, since I don't have kids I try to be very understanding, but I feel like I shouldn't let them ruin my brand new furniture & antique furniture because I'm afraid to say soemthing. Thanks for any advice!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you so much for the advice! I'm going to talk to my boyfriend - You ladies are right, we should discuss our 'house rules' and he should be the one to say something since it is his family. He knows them better then me and will hopefully know exactly what to say :) And yes, kids will be kids (as it should be)! Thanks again!

Another Update: Remember how I said his WHOLE family lives in the neighborhood? My BF asked his mom to bring in a package so it wouldn't get rained on/stolen while we were out of town for the weekend. Very nice of her to do but not only did she do that, she decided to put a nail in our front door to hang something and hung a picture up in our bedroom. AH!... Oh what did I do to myself :)

Featured Answers

HI, I have 2 kids myself 2 and 4, when going over to my sisters or a friends house I always appreciate them getting after my kids when they are not behaving. When my sister or friends do get after them, they always listen. As a mom, I do not think they are stepping on my toes at all, simply just helping since I do not know their specific likes and dislikes while we are in their home.

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I would just politely state the rules. "In our house, we don't put shoes on the couch" or "we don't allow food in the living room" should be sufficient. You're stating that these are the house rules, not trying to discipline the kids. And it's OK to ask their help cleaning up. (My SIL asks all the time that my kids help clean up the bedrooms after they've been playing. Now it's just a habit. And I realize it's only polite.)

I agree that you and your boyfriend need to talk and be on the same page as far as the house rules. It may be better for him to bring it up with his family first, but after the subject has been broached, I don't think there's anything wrong with you being the one to state the rules - people sometimes just need gently reminders.

2 moms found this helpful

That is a tough situation. You should definitely be able to have boundaries in you own home, and it's frustrating when people don't consider our feelings and our things when they're in our home. I would definitely talk to the parents about it first, to see if they are willing to cooperate and set the boundaries with their children- always preferrable when the parents are present- And actually, since it's his family, it would be even better if HE did this! If the parents don't seem to care or act 'helpless' (which drives me crazy!!) then I think it's ok to start to talk to the children about you expectations and rules, perhaps also with your boyfriend being part of this. I don't know how much disciplining you can truly do with parents sitting there if they are unwilling. If firmly telling the children to stop certain beahiors doesn't work, you may have to resort to meeting them somewhere outside your home in order to protect your things. Hopefully simple communication can resolve most of this. I hope that helps!

1 mom found this helpful

Why not buy them their own 'shoe' basket to put their shoes in when coming to visit...also, kids love playing with those hand wipes...keep some by their baskets and 'let' them get one to clean their hands...(then put the rest up in the closet to avoid them becoming a toy!) I used to do home day care and found when you give the child something as a gift, it changes the way they look at things....Hope it helps anyway...you might also want to buy an afghan and use it as a cover on your couches while they visit....

1 mom found this helpful

HI, I have 2 kids myself 2 and 4, when going over to my sisters or a friends house I always appreciate them getting after my kids when they are not behaving. When my sister or friends do get after them, they always listen. As a mom, I do not think they are stepping on my toes at all, simply just helping since I do not know their specific likes and dislikes while we are in their home.

1 mom found this helpful

Oh man, I hate it when other kids come over with goop on their fingers and proceed to wipe them on the walls or carpets. Since you're not a parent, I'm sure its an even worse feeling :-)

The best defense is usually a good offense. Meaning, as the family begins to walk into the house, thank them for taking off their shoes. Maybe leave a towel out on the floor with a pair of shoes on it where they know they can leave theirs. Firmly insist.

When the kids eat, politely remind them that the table is where they eat. Buy some wipes and make sure they wipe down their hands when they're done. Or buy a stool so they can reach the kitchen sink to wash up.

When they make for something that you don't want touched, re-direct them to something that is OK. "The shelves have lots of interesting things I know, but there are some pretty neat things in this cabinet I've set aside just for you." (And having a few toys, crayons and things in a credenza for them would be a nice touch)

Its not OK to discipline other kids, ever. It is very acceptable to establish rules of conduct in your own home. You might be a little cleaner than most parents, but that's your privilege. However, beware that the parents won't like that you've stood up and announced that your house is your home and that you want it treated with respect. And to keep the peace, some things might be better noted and cleaned up after the kids have left...they are kids after all :-) GL!!!

1 mom found this helpful

If the parents of those children are there, I wouldn't try to parent them. I recommend explaining the rules to the inlaws and asking them to enforce them with their kids while in your house. It is a respect issue and if they can't respect your house and your things, they are not respecting you.

I also recommend talking this over with your husband and getting his view on the topic and find out how to approach it with his family. Good luck!

Have a GREAT day!

S.

1 mom found this helpful

If it really bothers you, ask if you can hold family gatherings at thier home. Here is the thing. My brother has been married for three years to a very nice girl. For a brief time before they were married she was a nanny (we are only talking months here) and she is the oldest of five kids. They do not have kids yet, but she feels that her "experience" gives her the right to parent my kids with me standing right there. I was a parent before she reached puberty. It makes me crazy and I do have to say that she has gotten better at how she talks to my kids. Now if my kids were doing something dangerous and she saw it I would have no problem with her stopping them...but we are frequently at my home. When I am at my parents home and my parents ask my kids to stop doing something that I wouldnt necessarily think is a problem, I expect them to stop because they are expected to follow the rules in someone else's home. I dont think it would be a bad thing to remind the kids of the rules and expect them to follow them (such as no shoes on the couch) but leave the actual parenting to the parents. If problems persist, you can certainly have your boyfriend talk to them. I have a bran new set of couches that my kids know they are not allowed to touch...at all. They are not even allowed to sit on them because their butts are frequently dirty. Remind them of the rules in your house, put up what you dont want broken, and meet at thier home more.

1 mom found this helpful

We have the same problem. My brother recently got on my case about talking to their kids in front of them. He asked me to come to him first. I said, "Alright, I'll back off, but you're going to have to step it up a knotch". He agreed that he would discipline his kids more. It has worked, to an extent. But this way you're not stepping on toes and your house just might be saved. You may want to let him know what behavior you expect at your house. They may not be aware. But be understanding too. Kids are kids, after all.

1 mom found this helpful

Well girl, for one it's YOUR house and YOUR furniture. You have several choices right now. Choice one, tell the family that the nieces & nephews are NOT allowed in the house, unless they follow the rules (Might make for some family irritation), Choice 2, tell the KIDS, shoes OFF in the house, absolutely NO feet on the furniture, do not sit or use THESE particular chairs/couch, and WASH, WASH, WASH those hands before you touch Anything, ANYTHING!! Choice 3, talk to the parents of said kids, remind them of the rules, and if they don't keep on top of the kids, kindly send them a bill for any cleaning, repairs or replacements that you need to make to carpets, and furniture. Choice 4, simply don't invite them over to YOUR house any more. You and your B/F pay the bills, and it's YOUR furniture, YOU choose who gets to plant their butt on your couch. Most of this depends on how sentimental any of the furniture is to you, and how much of an irritation, and time consuming task it has become to clean up after the kids.
But in the end, whatever you choose, Be FIRM, don't buckle under the "But, we're only dropping by to say Hi," when they typically leave after an hour, Make the rules and make EVERYONE follow them. PERIOD

1 mom found this helpful

Your house, your rules. Simple as that. You don't have to be mean by bringing up issues, just matter of fact.

1 mom found this helpful

Your boyfriend needs to stand up to these people and lay down the rules. They will be angry and not come by anymore. If he isn't brave enough to do this, this is a picture of what your entire life together will look like.

Better to find out today whether he sides with you or sides with his family, or is just weak, than to find out later after you have children and are sort of stuck with him.

1 mom found this helpful

Some parents, when they are at another person's house and are not sure what the home rules are, tend to default to the person whom they are visiting. Meaning, they will rely on you to tell them or their children directly what is and is not acceptable behavior in your home. If you are uncomfortable dealing directly with the children then you should have a chat with the parents. These parent's may be very permissive in their home but it is not very thoughtful of them to allow their children to destroy your house at the sake of their parenting style. After you have spoken to the parent's, if the children are still disrespectful of your home and things and the parent's are still not handling the situation then it's up to you to direct the kids or do what it takes to protect your belongings, even if that means the children are only allowed to be outside when they are visiting your home.

1 mom found this helpful

I have a sister-in-law with 5 kids and they destroy everything in their path when they go visit with mom looking on and not carrying. When they come visit us and they are doing stuff they shouldn't be I just tell them that in our house we do it this way and that they can go outside if they don't want to do it our way. I know you don't want to "parent" someone elses kids but it is your house and you don't have to let them destroy your house. If your boyfriend or his family have a hard time with it then put it on them and say well you either deal with the kids or put my house back the way it should be. Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

Totally agree with Althea S on this one. And maybe discipline isn't the right word choice in your situation. I think redirecting and guiding is perfectly acceptable even if the parents are there. However, I do think that you should mention to the parents the rules you have (no shoes, no feet/food on couches, etc...). Also, having your boyfriend do it is ideal since it's his family and to them, you're probably just "the girlfriend." As for the greasy hands... well... they're kids. It doesn't matter if they've just washed up, their hands are going to seem greasy, sticky or goopy. It's a kid thing. Having no kids yourself, you're probably extra sensitive to the mess of fingerprints that's left. As a parent, we tend to get used to it, and clean up as stuff happens. Personally, I would have my kids wash up and take shoes off, etc at someone else's house, especially if it was a kidless house. But that's just me. Maybe the other parents are not as considerate, or don't realize there's an issue. But as far as disciplining them... probably not a good idea. Especially if the parents are there. Easiest solution: Tell mom or dad to ask little Jack or Jane not to do whatever it is they're doing. That way the parents are aware of the problem, and the kids' behavior is curbed. From the opposite perspective, though, when you know the kids are coming over, take some precautionary measures to make the visit easier and more enjoyable on both sides. Put away things you don't want touched or broken when possible, close doors to rooms that can be off-limits. As you greet them at the door, point out where they can leave their shoes. Maybe even buy a little basket or box that you get out just specially for kids' shoes to put by the door. It can be the shoes' home while at your house. They can get together and have a party in the basket while the kids play at your house or something. Kids like stuff like that, and it makes it fun to follow the rules. Make a game out of staying away from restricted items. Like if you have an antique lamp or table, you can tell the kids that they get a jelly bean for each half hour they stay away from that table or whatever. Anyway... just some ideas for making it easier all around so you can still enjoy his family without beginning to resent the mess or the kids. Just remember though, kids will be kids. They aren't going to have anywhere near the appreciation for nice things and cleanliness that you are. No matter how hard their parents try to teach them (or don't.). Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I know this is very late-coming, but I wanted to tell you that I understand completely. And before I had kids, I had this same issue, and now that I have 3 kids, I still have these same issues with guests. I thought I needed kids to change me to be more relaxed or something and that it was my flaw for wanting a nice, clean home. But I find that is not the case. I am more understanding, but that is no excuse for guests to trash your home. Different guests have different rules and parenting styles. I have found that I DO need to take charge and step in because the parents just don't. I think it is okay to tell the kids directly what is expected of them. Sometimes kids will listen to you more than their own parent. Also it can be a relief for the parent to have someone else do it. I also try to stay on top of the kids and wipe their hands for them or ask them to wash their hands after they eat or I have grease or crumbs or goop all over my home. They also are only allowed to eat in the kitchen or outside. It makes family dinners harder for me, but I find the effort worth it. And I try to serve foods that are not too messy. It can be frustrating at times to me, but I am glad to have family and friends in my home and I want them to feel welcome and loved. I do like the suggestions already given to talk to the parents. Sometimes actions speak loudly too. Best of luck. And please don't be made to feel you are not justified to make these changes with your company.

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