Crawford Care Management

Handling House Guest's Unwelcome Habits

Question:
After my mother died, my dad sold his farm and decided to take turns living with me and my four brothers and sisters. He said he was simply too lonely. My turn is about to come, and while I should be happy to welcome him, I’m sort of dreading it. The last time he stayed with us it caused a lot of friction between my husband and me. My dad has some bad habits, such as chewing tobacco and sometimes missing his spittoon. While my husband insists that it’s my job to lay down some house rules, it’s so hard telling my father how he should act in my home. But I need to keep the peace. I desperately need some advice.

Answer:
Your father sounds as though he is having some difficult adjustments following the loss of your mom. It also sounds as though his visits are hard for your family to handle. It may be helpful to have a talk with your Dad about his visit before he arrives. Tell him how much you and your family look forward to his visit. It will be extremely important to have him feel welcome and important as a part of your household. Ask him if there is anything you can do before he gets there to make him more comfortable. That will also be a good time to tell him that you have set up an outside seating area, for example, where he can relax and chew the tobacco, he enjoys so much. If you handle the conversation with sensitivity and kindness, he won’t see the changes so much as house rules, but rather as your efforts to help him enjoy his stay. With a little pre-visit discussion, you should be able to put some ideas in place without impacting his dignity. He will still feel like a parent and your family will be able to enjoy time with him.