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Miss Conduct

Advice: My sibling keeps invading my house

The welcome mat is long gone, but that hasn’t changed anything.

Q. A sibling and spouse continually invite themselves over, even though I say things like “That date doesn’t work for us.” They are relentless, and I continue to give in. My wife has had it with them and is not thrilled with me. They have two delightful daughters. How can I get rid of them without alienating their children?

J.J. / Holliston

A. You may not be able to. You can stop them coming, but you can’t control what they tell their daughters.

“That date doesn’t work” implies some 12th of Never that would work. Stop playing defense. Invite them when and for exactly as long you want them. Or say “We’re not able to have you over for the foreseeable future, we’ll let you know when that changes.” Then don’t back down. If they won’t let it drop, leave the conversation. However their daughters react in the present, they may well turn out sympathetic to you in the long run. Who knows better than they how overbearing their parents can be?

Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.

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