Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Relatives Always Asking for Stuff

I've come to find you have to be really careful who you invite into your life and how friendly you are to them. I guess that is a lesson in life we all have to learn. But I mean even with family. As some of you may know I live far from my immediate family. As I was relaxing and eating some kristollen yesterday, I thought about my disappointing experience with a cousin ...

When I still had a Facebook profile with my real name about 3.5 years ago, a cousin I had never met messaged me. She said she was going to be driving through the state the next evening. She wanted to meet me and asked if she could sleep over too. It seemed a little rude but still innocuous. I felt like it was rude because she gave me a one-day notice, and she assumed I wouldn't already have plans in place. I did not let her stay over. I told her I was out of town. In addition, I didn't like the idea of having a single chick stay over with my man in the house, especially when I hadn't secured my ring yet (wasn't married). I probably should have said it was short notice and I wouldn't be able to accommodate her.

She ended up settling in the area. After I got married and had a home I figured it would be nice to have a relative in the area I could get to know. I thought of my experience with her as a one-off kind of thing, but she ended up asking for favors more than I would like. When she first came over for a dinner I was hosting, she asked if she could bring her boyfriend. I said that was okay. Then she asked if her boyfriend can't find a babysitter for his THREE kids can they bring them along. My husband and I reluctantly said okay. Thank goodness they ended up not coming along.

Then she asked when her and her boyfriend were moving if we wanted to buy some furniture from them. We said no. Finally this past September she asked what I thought took nerve: while she teaches abroad could she park her car at our house until she comes back at Christmas or next summer. She didn't even offer anything in return. My husband was taken aback at the suggestion. First, it's going to take up space on our property, second it's a liability, third, as my husband put it, "What if she has a piece of sh*t car? I don't want neighbors seeing that in my yard. And I don't want to see it staring in my face everyday either" That made me crack up.

She told me she could park the car at a friend's house if we couldn't do it. I told her she couldn't park her park here because it is both a liability and we don't have room anyway. We did have room, but whatever. I didn't want to do this favor. I've also seen court shows where family ties like this get broken because a person's car gets ruined or stolen while in the hands of a relative. Then they get sued.

These favors were asked by a cousin I had at my house only once for dinner. We had an e-mail relationship mostly. She told me she would e-mail me and let me know before she leaves the country for her teaching abroad. Haven't heard from her since. My mom sent me a picture of her in the new country. Don't think I'll be hearing from this chick again because I didn't let her park her car at our house for months or until Baby Jesus knows when. Doubt she will be moving back to the area because she and her boyfriend broke up that she lived with here.

I would expect maybe someone who is really young, like 21, to ask for these favors, but this chick is 28. I wouldn't have a problem if she was immediate family, someone I was close to my whole life. But I still have Victorian manners. I try to pay attention to the delicacies of communication and relationships. But I notice more and more people aren't paying attention to those things anymore. The things in our society we consider unwritten rules of civility or relationships are often ignored now. I feel it has gotten really bad in the past 15 years or so. Being just out for yourself or using people is just way too common.

I'd like to hear of any similar experiences you have with friends or family asking for favors you don't feel comfortable with, or whether you agree or disagree with my feelings I've stated.


Diane Giese said...

I was partially raised by my great-grandmother who was born in 1901. So I was steeped in old-fashioned manners and values from birth until she passed when I was 15. She taught me to be kind and courteous to every single person I came across. Even people I did not like. That is such a rare thing these days that people sometimes are taken aback or think I am really weird! When did what used to be normal niceties become weird?

The Quaint Housewife said...

Oh Diane, I totally agree with you. And it must have been nice being raised by someone from that generation. I was raised to be mannerly as well. I really can't stand it, for example, when I see people paying more attention to their cell phones than the people physically in the room with them. But I recall in the 1980s people still seemed mannerly. I think that is when your great-grandmother and her generation were elderly but many were still alive and their children and grandchildren had their influence. I hope all has not gone out the window!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you.

We attended a religious ceremony of DH relative's son.
We gave him a very nice gift for the occassion.
His grandmother said to us: You can afford to give
nice gifts because you don't have any own children.

I find it very offensive.
Yes, we don't have any own children but it doesn't mean
that we are so rich that we can
and should give expensive gifts to everyone else's

Mrs. K.

The Quaint Housewife said...

She should have just been happy that you gave such a gift. Making comments even about people's good fortune is not tasteful!

Fishcake_random said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a lovely comment :)
X x

Anonymous said...

Maybe it isn't so much of a manners issue, but I think that people define "family" in very different ways. And with that, there are expectations of what you can ask of "family". Some people really are taught that "you do for family, because they are blood". Maybe it is more of a southern thing? Maybe it's something that is defined by growing up with a large family, and a large extended family? My mother is an only child, had one aunt, and 2 cousins. She didn't understand the dynamics of a large family, because she didn't experience it until after marriage. So... because you are asking for feedback, and out of honesty and not judgment, nothing I read would offend me at being asked to do. I'm not saying I would have done these things--with someone comfortable asking, the way I see it you can be someone totally comfortable with saying no, but without judgement or offense for being asked. I will agree that the dinner invitation was a bad situation-- you wound up extending more hospitality that you potentially wanted to, but she had already been invited and then tagged on to her invite. I sympathize with how awkward that must have been, because she pushed the boundaries, and put you in the compromised position (which is a classic manipulation). Consider this thought: there is the possibility that people sometimes just don't connect with the magnitude of their request, with the 3 kids part of her world, but kids not a part of yours. So, perhaps she also might not have thought of the peripheral issues surrounding the storage of her car. She probably thought your house would be safe and that if she could just park it there, no big deal. In these situations, you don't have to be guilted into agreeing, but taking offense might not be the best reaction either, because you are stuck with feeling offended, while she has happily gone on her way. That's the thing about most stuff in life that sticks in our craw... if it is something small, we can let it slide off our back, because it doesn't matter anyway. Lucky for you, she has again become a distant cousin, and you can breathe easier.

The Quaint Housewife said...

Dear Anonymous, I appreciate your perspective. Perhaps she does feel this way because I'm family. I know I feel favors are more to be given/expected with my immediate family. So maybe she felt this way about all family. The whole thing about being stuck with feeling offended is that I am like this somewhat often, more so about more involved issues than this one. My mom has given me advice about forgiving and letting a lot of things go in life because you can't change them/change what happened/change other people. And things will eat you up otherwise. I try to read some daily sermons online to help keep a good Christian perspective on things as well. I'm working on it all :)

The Quaint Housewife said...

Fishcake, thanks!

Anonymous said...

I really can appreciate how hard it is to "forgive and forget"! I struggle very hard with this issue and the fact that the core of my christian faith rests upon this! I hope you will not mind my commenting again, as I am not trying to hog your post, but my heart truly goes out to you! It has helped me to remember that "forgive and forget" gets distorted by the world and that Biblical forgiveness starts with remembering... remembering that I need God, that I cannot forgive others under my own power, focusing on what I've received. I think that the book, "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend helped me to understand why my buttons were always feeling pushed, why I had such guilt and anger about feeling misunderstood and taken advantage of and why everyone else was "allowed" to say no, but my no answers felt like world war three! I highly recommend this read, if you feel like those are any issues ringing a bell for you. As a side note, I have an entire board on Pintrest on hard relationships-- it has humor, Bible verses, good thinking and honest reminders when I need food for thought or to expunge some hurts!! Good luck, my dear. Keep praying!

The Quaint Housewife said...


No worries. You are not hogging my post. We all need those boundaries. I also like to think about God's plans for me and others when things or relationships or events don't turn out the way I want them, and maybe what God wants me to learn from these instances. Thanks for your recommendations and kind words too. If you've connected with me on Pinterest, maybe I will see your inspirational board.


my house is cuter than yours said...

Excellent post. It has been on my mind a lot lately how manners are waning now a days. I don't mean with kids, I mean with full fledged adults. I can't count how many times I see people at the grocery store not return their shopping carts to the corral that is only a few spaces away. These are not handicapped folks either. They just leave them to roll around the parking lot and hit someone's car. I have a "friend" that I have had for many years that calls me up always last minute to do stuff for her. Most of the time I just let the call go to voice mail. She then leaves me a message all sad sounding starting off with "I was just calling to see how you were. I have to take my car to the repair shop and need someone to bring me back........." Now understand, while it is sad to have to take your car to the repair shop, I have grown to understand that this boo-woo attitude of hers is a ploy she uses to get what she wants. I do get that she needs a ride so I oblige her. However when I take her to the car place she spends the entire drive talking about her problems. Then as we pull into her driveway, then she asks how I have been.... And funny enough I am reading the book "Boundaries" right now!


The Quaint Housewife said...

LOL, Mary. "Boundaries" is right. Don't we all need them, especially in this crazy day and age? You made some really good points about the supermarket. Since the market is almost my "office," I always notice the bad manners. Can we add to your list the people that seem to cough in your face just as you pass by or cough or sneeze on the merchandise? How about those that park on a slant in the parking space -- making it difficult for others to maneuver, or parking their vehicle so close to yours that you can't get open one of your car's side doors? As for your friend, it seems so typical now for people to just come into our lives when they need something. I sympathize with your plight with your friend. Have you thought about calling in a favor or leaning on her for support? I hope she's there for you the same way. I loved your comment here. Thanks Mary.

Christine Beauchamp said...

I don't have much family. . . so thought of my friends as family. This has not always been good for me.

One of those such friends adopted a baby girl and had a huge shower. She received tons of gifts, most of which she took back for the $$$. I was profoundly touched by some items however that were handmade and so lovely. I pointed those out to her, but in her mediocrity she didn't even know the difference and barely looked at them.

One Christmas I made her a small wall quilt. I loved it so much I wanted to keep it for myself - - but caring for her as I did, I gave it to her. She looked at it like 'what am I supposed to do with that?' Months later when I next went by her house.. . the little quilt was on the wall by the garage entrance. It looked like it had been rolled up into a ball and thrown on the garage or basement floor. When she hung it on the wall (between the bathroom and the garage) she didn't even take a moment to smooth it. . . rather she knew I would come in thru the garage, and most likely use that guest bathroom. . so I'd see it. . (in all its mess, which she forgot about)

Later, she adopted another baby, a boy and had another shower. On my invitation were written the words 'No Hand-made Gifts!' . . probably thinking I'd make the baby a quilt. I don't know what gift I would have given. . . but that cinched the deal. . that was a friendship I did not want. I did not go to the shower. . .and only saw her a few times after that.

A few years later when the children were small, I made them little trick or treat bags - - very cute . . and a Halloween pillow case. She liked those things. . but the damage had been done. I could not afford the friendship of this woman. . in more ways than one.

Blessings for such a thought provoking article.

The Quaint Housewife said...


That's really quite hurtful that she did that to you and I don't blame you for severing that friendship. I think our country is too materialistic. It is much nicer to have some customized gifts in the mix. They are a reflection of the people we've brought into our lives and how much they care rather than something massed produced by a stranger in China.

I've learned some lessons over the years about people who care about us and genuinely want us in their lives vs people who want us in their lives to see what we can do for them and give them. I've been there ...