Maintaining boundaries with family members in your house

Anon writes:

"Hi! I am a first time mom of a crazy 2 year old boy. Next week we are expecting family to stay with us to celebrate my son's birthday and I am worried about how to enforce house rules with 2 people in particular: my brother in law and his son.

We have rules about not eating or drinking outside of the kitchen (except maybe dry cereal once in awhile) and we like it if visitors can abide by these rules as well. Before we had our son, we had a ridiculous number of people (mostly men) claiming that this was a "stupid rule" since once we had kids, we couldn't have nice things. We have one white armchair in our living room and it has survived 2 years so far, except for the time brother in law fed his then 2 year old son oreos while we were otherwise preoccupied. His son is now 4 years old and is a typical 4 year old, listens well, etc. Just wondering if it would be acceptable to circumvent his father on giving out instructions (don't jump on couch, please, we eat over here, etc.)

I should add I am also having a really hard time making brother in law understand how upset it makes me when he directly does the opposite of my requests with my son. He once gave him sprite when he wasn't even a year old yet after I had told him not to. Help!"

Oh, ugh. This just sounds really icky for you.

I don't understand how a person could just blatantly ignore the rules of the house they're staying at. It's unbelievably rude and ignorant.

Yes, you do get to enforce the rules in your house by telling anyone in your house (even/especially kids) what they can do and can't do. This isn't a public playground. This is your house. You don't need to be mean about it (as I'm sure you weren't going to be) but just stating "no jumping" or "no eating outside the kitchen" or whatever the rule is is totally acceptable and expected.

(I think most parents assume that the house rules will be at least slightly different when they go someplace else and are waiting for the hosts to tell the kids what's acceptable there and what isn't. I know I always expect people to tell my kids what's ok and what's not, when we're someplace else.)

So yes, tell your brother-in-law's son.

Now, your brother-in-law and his attitude (who tells someone something is a "stupid rule" in their own house??) should not be your problem. Is he your partner's brother? Or your sibling's partner? Whichever it is, the person who's either related to him or partnered with him needs to be the one to keep him in line. So your partner or sibling needs to step up and make sure this man understands that if he wants to be allowed in your house he needs to respect you and your rules. If he's not prepared to do that, then the visits should take place at neutral territory so he can't play his control game anymore.

Has anyone else had to deal with a family member who blatantly disregarded your rules or standards? How did it play out?