Meet the Parents
September 16, 2013 9:11 AM Subscribe
My parents are terrible house guests. How do I make it better? Snowflakes inside.
posted by mrfuga0 to human relations (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My parents are terrible house guests. They are simply, objectively awful. I will attempt to illustrate with this narrative of their most recent visit:
Upon arrival, I ask what they are most excited to see (I just moved to a different country in a fairly large city). My dad relies: "We didn't do any research. This is your city. You are the tour guide." He repeats this (with gusto) many, many times during the trip. When I lose my cool and tell him I could do lots of work instead of just showing them around, he laughs like I am Groucho Marx.
They awake every morning with no plan and expect me to make all the decisions. ALL OF THEM. I have to take two weeks off of work to chauffeur them around. I have to explain every sight, as they did not do any work. They will not take a train, a taxi, or walk anywhere on their own, even though these things are easy to do. They do not offer any suggestions for dinner, sightseeing, activities, etc. When I ask what they'd like to do, they shrug and say "whatever." For everything. Lunch. Dinner. Activities. If they want a cup of tea. All of them. I have, for the past three weeks, made every SINGLE decision.
An example: today I had to work. I was woefully unprepared because I wasn't able to get anything done because my parents needed me to be with them every moment of the previous 20 days. I'm exhausted and tired, ready to just sit for an hour. But I sent them on the train (I had to drop them at the station, find out the times, buy the tickets and give them money for the fare) to downtown, with the expectation that I would pick them up to go see another sight. After my long day at work, I call my mother and tell her the sight we were going to go to had closed early. I ask if she wants to stay in the city, finish her sightseeing and then take the train home. She tells me that I can pick them up and they will meet me in 30 minutes.
One day I asked them to organize their own entertainment as I had to work. I left home at 9 and came home at 5 to find they had never left. They both acted mad at me the rest of the night and the next day because they "lost" a day of their vacation. We live near a train station, by a taxi rank and they could have taken our car. I gave them several guidebooks, some maps and I even gave them money.
To "pay me back" for my work over the past three weeks (I also organized an 8-day safari in four different countries without any input from them), they bought me dinner on two nights and my mom swept the kitchen floor one day.
They have visited me at my home in US before and it is the same story. They expect me to drop everything and entertain them (let me clarify that "entertain" in the US is more along the lines of "spend massive amounts of time chatting with them"). My brother experiences the same thing: my parents complain that they don't see their grandchildren enough (my brother's children), but won't visit my brother's house unless he clears his whole schedule to be at home while they are there.
If they have job, then they are great -- they helped me move in January and were fantastic. When they just come to "visit," they become these horrible succubi who won't decide anything and expect me to figure everything out for them.
I love my parents and I know I'm lucky they want to visit me. But I can't possibly have them over again when this is the case. To make matters worse, I'm expecting a baby in March and I can't imagine how to deal with this with a newborn and a job, and I know they will want to come visit when the baby is born. Another example: when my brother graduated from grad school, he lived in a tiny two bedroom apt with his wife and a newborn. My parents refused to come unless they could stay at his house, but then while they were there, they did not help out, did not take the baby so he could relax or go out, did not do laundry, did not cook, did not decide what to do, did not go out on their own.
To add to the mix, talking seriously to my parents about anything is impossible. My mom is defensive and refuses to see that her decisions affect others and my dad is passive-aggressive and will go on sprees of not talking to people and acting butt-hurt if he doesn't like what you have to say.
I don't want some sort of payment. I want them to make decisions and I want them to figure shit out on their own and I want to be able to have my life instead of putting it on hold for them when they are here.
TL;DR: What can I do with parents who are completely dependent on me when they visit my home? In what ways can I either encourage their independence or make it clear that I'm not a tour guide? Is there some sort of script I can follow?