Mrs. McVeigh's Manners
a division of Elise McVeigh's Life Camps
Elise McVeigh Life Camps

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Stay at Home Mom Troubles

 Dear Mrs. McVeigh,

I recently quit my job and decided to stay at home with my children.  Last night my husband’s mother called him and said his sister needs a babysitter for her son, who is having trouble in daycare, and asked if I could watch him. He told her no.  I am upset that my sister-in-law did not ask me directly, and I feel like she and my mother-in-law never include me in anything, unless they need something from me. Should I speak up or drop it? I am also worried that they may get upset with me because he said no. What do you think?

Anonymous

 

Dear Anonymous,

If you think your in-laws take advantage of you, do not worry if they are upset with you.  I think your husband was correct to tell his mother no, and I would be grateful that you did not have to tell your sister-in-law no yourself.  If you were put on the spot you may have told her yes without thinking it through, then regretted it later. 

If you feel like they do not include you or take advantage of you, either accept it and keep your distance, or take steps yourself to help improve the relationships.  To help improve things try inviting your mother-in-law and sister-in-law to do things with you separately, so you can hopefully build a better relationship with both of them as individuals.

Disrespectful Children

 Dear Mrs. McVeigh,

My daughter is moving out of my house and back with her father (again), and has gotten very rude and disrespectful to me and to the man that I am going to marry in two weeks.  My son (who currently lives with my husband) is even worse.  This is unacceptable to me, but I am unsure what to do about it as this point.  My ex-husband and I do not get along, so enlisting his help is not an option.  Should I keep on trying to turn their behavior and manners around, or give it a rest for a while?

Anonymous

 

Dear Anonymous,

First I would tell your daughter that this is the last time that she can move out.  Choose a house and stick with it.  Also I would continue to communicate with your children about their bad manners and demand that they treat you and your new husband with kind and respectful words.  It may take them a long time but if you stand your ground and do your best, they will come around in the end. Make it clear that you are the parent, and no matter how old they are, they are the children.  They will treat all adults with respect and keep their rude thoughts in their heads. If they are disrespectful to you they are probably rude to other adults as well, so keep on top of the situation no matter how unpleasant it may be.  Remember you are their parent and not their friend, so do not worry if they are mad or dislike you. They will be grateful when they are grown adults.

Funerals are more for the living than the deceased

 

My college roommate’s dad recently died.  Her mother died just the year before.  Over the past year we have occasionally discussed how we handle death of a close relative and how the people around us react to it.  For example, Karri said that she was always uncomfortable around a co-worker when he had a death in the family because she was unsure if she should say anything or not.  Once her mother died she took great comfort in her co-workers and acquaintances in her office who confronted the issue head on and gave her their sympathy.  In our culture death is an uncomfortable subject and we are often at a loss of what to say and what to do.

I recently came across a woman who said she has a close friend who became widowed before she knew her, and this woman’s late husband’s mother recently died.  The widow is the last living relative of the mother-in-law and made all of the funeral arrangements.  The widow has school-aged children and never remarried. Her widow friend asked her to attend her mother-in-law’s wake, and she was unsure if she should stay there the whole time, or just go and pay her respects. My advice to her was to plan to go the whole time.  Without a spouse or any other relative around the friend needed support and comfort.  The woman obviously did not know the deceased mother-in-law, let alone her friend’s husband, but staying at the wake the whole time would give her friend the emotional support that she needed. Just knowing someone is there who cares about you is so important during difficult moments.  This is something that goes beyond “good etiquette.”

My sweet husband Daniel goes to a lot of funerals.  I used to tease him and tell him that he must love going to funerals.  After his father died I was amazed at the friends who traveled over 45 minutes to attend the funeral.  Friends who never even met my father-in-law, and ones who we had not seen in a long time showed up.  I told Daniel that this meant a lot to me and I really appreciated their support of our family.  Daniel then told me that this is why he always goes to funerals – when a family member dies having people there for you is so comforting. 

         Funerals are typically not very fun, but rather sad and uncomfortable.  Next time you have a friend or even a co-worker or acquaintance lose a loved one, suck it up and make the effort to attend as many of the events tied to the funeral as you can.  It will cost you a few hours of your life, but mean so much to this person forever.  It goes beyond “doing the right thing.”

 

 

 

What does Reading Have to do with Good Etiquette?


              Etiquette comes in different forms, and my friend Courtney had a great example of this last month while my Bunco group was eating dinner. Courtney explained to our table that she feels like guests are being polite (and low maintenance) when they have a book with them.  If you are a houseguest, and your hosts need to get some things done, you need to let them feel like they do not have to worry about you.  She said this is accomplished by saying, “Don’t worry about me, I have my book.”  Burying your head in a book anytime and anywhere is showing that you are happy, content, out of the way, and do not have to be entertained 24/ 7.

Anyone who has ever had a houseguest knows how exhausting it is being “on” the whole time.  It is a lot of work making sure your guests are fed, comfortable, and are having fun.  A good guest is one who understands that though he is on vacation, his hosts are in their home, and maintaining a household is challenging and time consuming.  Anytime I have houseguests, I feel like my life is on hold.  Laundry does not get done, mail does not get read, and we are constantly on the go.  You seem to drive from place to place sightseeing, going out to eat more than usual, and doing things that you routinely do not do.  A break in this routine is nice, and as a good houseguest, offering the break to your host is a very generous and gracious gesture.  If your host panics that you take a break so he can get some things done, assure him that you have a really good book that you would like to read, then curl up on the couch or in your room, and let him off the hook for a couple of hours.

As a houseguest, you may need a break as well.  How many times have you ever felt like you needed a vacation after your vacation?  Reading can be relaxing and a great escape, and it can rejuvenate and reenergize you.  Not a big fan of books? A magazine or newspaper is great too.  Reading a newspaper while you are on vacation is a great way to find out about the city that you are visiting, and your hosts will be impressed and flattered if you start a conversation about what is happening in their community.

Next time you go on vacation, pack your Kindle, I-Pad, books or magazines, and become an ideal low maintenance houseguest, and you will be showing your great manners!

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