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Archive for July, 2013

Last week I talked about how to be a good house guest. This week it’s time to look at how to be a good host. Again, I gathered ideas from a number of people who have felt that their host needed a little schooling in the art of making people feel welcome.

Here are their tips:

*  Find out when your guests will arrive. Try to be home to greet them or let them know if you’ll be late. People sort of wonder if their hosts want them to visit if they have to sit and wait on the doorstoop until their hosts arrive.

*  If your visitors are flying in, pick them up at the airport if possible. If they come by car, keep a lookout, and when they arrive, go out to greet them.

*  When you meet, shake their hands. Give them a big hug. Ask how the trip went. Tell them they look great; you like their new hair-do, their shirt, their purse. Help them with their luggage.

*  When they come in your house, offer them something to eat and drink. Ask if they want to go to their room or sit and visit for a few minutes first.

*  When you show your visitors to their room, a small bouquet of flowers on the dresser goes a long way in making them feel welcome. Also make sure the room is tidy and has clean sheets, tissues, an alarm clock, and a night light. Show guests how the windows work. Have a section of the closet and several drawers ready for them to use.

*  Put clean towels in the bathroom and fresh soap. Some guests  bring their own toothpaste and hair dryers, but many don’t.  So it’s a good idea to have these items available.

*  Explain about house noises and your animals’ habits. “Sometimes our cat jumps up on the bed. Just push her off.”

*  If you have a chiming clock, stop it. You may not hear it chiming every fifteen minutes, but they will.

*  Offer some ideas for fun things to do throughout the week. Give visitors some ideas and ask them to make some choices. “I thought one day we’d rent bikes in town and go biking. Another morning we could play golf, eat lunch in the village, and then take the gondola up the mountain.” Also, ask them what they would like to do.

*  Before your friends arrive, ask what foods they like. Do they eat breakfast? What do they like for lunch?

*  Have the refrigerator stocked, and tell them to help themselves. Have fruit and juices and a fresh coffee cake or brownies ready to snack on. If you’re a tea drinker but you know they like coffee, have a coffee pot and coffee ready. Invite guests to feel free to make their own coffee in the morning.

*  If your friends are staying more than a few days, suggest some places they might like to go by themselves while you attend to your business. This gives  everyone time off to regroup.

*  If your guests have children, tell the youngsters your rules. “Please don’t mess with the fish tank. Don’t turn on the stereo without asking. Stay away from the dog next door.”

Also remember, even with the most compatible visitors, there will inevitably be a few tense moments. Expect them to occur and do some shrugging.

If you follow this list, your guests will feel welcome throughout their visit.

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The house guests are coming. Most people look with anticipation to the arrival of their guests. Within three or four days of that arrival, most people start looking to their departure. This rapid change from “I can’t wait till they get here” to “I can’t wait till they leave,” is prompted by several factors.

Most people are creatures of habit and need a certain structure in their lives. House guests change the familiar schedule. And as the days pass, the desire to get back to normal increases.

Most people also need privacy. When you add two, three, or four additional people to most houses, privacy is difficult. You can’t walk around the house as you’re used to; you can’t spontaneously discuss personal business.

Usually however, guests wear out their welcome with their own inappropriate behavior.

Here are a few hints I’ve collected from some disgruntled hosts. You might title their list

“How To Be a Good House Guest.”:

  • Make sure you’re invited. You may feel an overwhelming need to visit us, but do we want to see you?
  • When you arrive, check out the lay of the land. Don’t immediately start distributing presents.
  • Don’t expect us to always wait on and entertain you. If this is the kind of vacation you desire, go to a resort. These are my vacation days, too.
  • Leave your pets at home.  And leave my pets alone. It aggravates me to no end when you tease my dog.
  • Although your stories are interesting and I love the fact that you’re well read, don’t fill every minute with talking. I like to be together without having to talk sometimes.
  • Please don’t ask me if you can smoke in my house. You know we don’t smoke. Your asking automatically sets the tone for a bad visit. If I say no, you feel annoyed. If I say yes, I feel annoyed. And please don’t throw your butts in my yard for me to pick up later. The last time you came, I picked up 217 butts.
  • Don’t ask me how much things cost. It’s none of your business.
  • Plan a day trip with your family alone. This will give us all some space.
  • Don’t keep the washer and dryer tied up all the time. I need to use them too.
  • Clean up after yourself. Put your dishes in the sink or dishwasher. Make your bed. Clean up after your children. Strip the beds when you leave.
  • Don’t tell me I need to re-pot my flowers, or cook my roast with a lid on it, or keep my doors locked. Don’t try to run my show.
  • Buy half the groceries or leave money for your half. Remember, we also live on a budget.
  • Pay for your own tickets when we go out in a group.
  • Rent a car. If you do borrow ours, refill it with gas.
  • Respect our bedtime. If you choose to stay up later, that’s fine, just keep it quiet.
  • Please don’t let your children turn on the television or stereo without asking, jump on the beds, chase our pets, put their feet on the furniture, eat in the living room, interrupt our conversations, mess with the blinds or help themselves to food in the refrigerator.
  • Don’t fight with your husband in front of us. Save the fights for when you’re in your own house.
  • Be grateful. Complimentary. Praise our house. On your return home, send a thank-you note and a gift of appreciation. And as one former host mused, “Don’t take the towels.”

 

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Raising children is the perfect opportunity for improving yourself. As a parent you have many chances to learn humility, self-control, tolerance, fortitude, and patience.

For example, you may hear your children talking to each other in a way that is not attractive. Your reprimand must set an example for them. You must make your comment in a pleasant way.

When you confront them on the way they are talking to each other, they will turn their meanness on you. Your job will be to stay calm, stay polite, and stay on the issue.

Sometimes a child will come to you with a particularly tough complaint. What should he do about some boys who are pushing and shoving him when he goes to his locker?

If you offer to call the principal, he will tell you with a mean tone that your idea is dumb.  Everyone will think he’s a baby.

If you tell him to try to avoid these bullies and not go to his locker during the day, he’ll say that’s a stupid idea. And then he’ll ask sarcastically how he could carry all his books and not go to his locker.

If you suggest that he take some of his friends along for protection when he goes to his locker, he’ll say you don’t understand.

You are trying to offer him help. Help he asked for. But somewhere along the way he has decided that you are the enemy.

This discussion will take every ounce of diplomacy and self-control on your part not to tell him to just go ahead and get beat up.

Daughters frequently come with hair problems. They hate their hair. It’s too curly or too straight, too fine or too thick. They also hate the cut and perm they insisted on getting. Because you paid for it, their hair is your fault. It takes courage and strength to let someone rant and rave at you and not defend or attack back.

Sometimes, out of concern for how your daughter feels about herself, you offer to help with her hair. But always the french braid you nimbly fix doesn’t look right to her. Or she thinks the way you comb her hair is old-fashioned.

If you are able to walk out of her room without saying anything in defense of yourself or leveling an attack against her, you have grown in understanding, tolerance, and charity.

One mother, as she was driving her daughter, who had complained of a headache, to school, asked, “Are you feeling better?” Her daughter’s hostile response, “No  I’m sick.”

The mother then asked if her daughter had taken an aspirin. Again with hostility the daughter answered, “Yes, I have taken an aspirin. Stop asking me.”

A third time the woman tried to take care of her daughter by suggesting that maybe it would be better if she took a day off school. The daughter snapped, “I’m going.”

When the mother pulled her car into the school lot, she wanted to say, “Get out of the car, you brat.” What she said was, “Have a nice day.” This mother showed restraint and caring.

If you want to become a better person, your children will provide you with many opportunities to practice.

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When children grow up, the parent-child relationship is destined to change. When both are adults, it’s time to change the way they relate and communicate. This, however, does not come easily.

Grown children speak out to their parents.

Respect that my schedule is different from yours. Try not to call too late or during our dinner. And when I can’t talk, be understanding.

Realize I can’t telephone you every day and understand that my not calling has nothing to do with love.

Don’t try to make me feel guilty because I don’t attend church every week.

Don’t tell me what other kids do for their parents.

Don’t talk about my father’s short­comings and expect me to take your side.

Please be understanding when I turn down your invitations – I have a very busy life.

Don’t expect my political viewpoints to be the same as yours.

When I share things such as I’m getting a dog, or we’re thinking of moving, don’t become negative and try to talk me out of it.

Don’t go on about everyone’s problems or how bad the world is.

If I share one of my problems with you, don’t minimize it and say I have nothing to worry about.

When I do nice things for you please be appreciative.

Compliment me.

Don’t always talk about my brothers’ and sisters’ accomplishments.

When you come over for dinner, please offer to help but don’t take over.

Don’t talk against me to my children.

Treat me like an adult, with respect.

Parents and grown children desire a good relationship, but sometimes it’s not so clear how to get there.
Do you need to do anything differently?

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A man called my office one morning to make an appointment. He said he had gotten my name from his lawyer. Out of the blue his wife had filed for divorce, and he was very interested in staying married.

Then he proceeded to tell me that he thought his wife didn’t know what she wanted and was maybe going through a mid-life crisis. Also a few days ago she had said she would go to a marriage counselor, but now she didn’t think so. He just couldn’t understand why his wife was leaving him.

I volunteered that maybe she was interested in someone else or maybe she was just fed up with some of his behaviors. He said it was the latter, his behaviors.

I told him I could give him an appointment, but it would be about a week before he could get in to see me. But since he sounded as though he was in pretty much pain, I offered to arrange for someone else in the office to see him sooner if he wanted an appointment.

He didn’t respond to my offer to help him get an appointment with another therapist, but when I gave him several dates that he could see me, he kept pushing for me to see him sooner.

Before we had an appointment time nailed down, he said, “You’re in Clayton, right?”

I said that I had moved from Clayton and then told him where I was. As I tried to give him directions to my office, he kept interrupting and trying to tell me where I was. I got quiet, and, after he explained to me where my office was, I said that he was mistaken. Then I gave him directions.

I then went back to setting the appointment. I told him that it would be good if his wife would accompany him, but if not, I would see him alone and we could figure out what he might do differently to save his marriage. I pointed out that divorce takes time and perhaps not all was lost.

What I already knew about the guy was that: he didn’t listen, he didn’t answer questions, he shifted responsibility for the failure of the marriage, he needed to be in control, and he discounted my time by trying to go on and on over the telephone.

Incidentally, he never kept his appointment nor did he call to cancel. I guess he concluded that his wife was having a mid-life crisis.

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