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Ask Marilyn: This Week's 'Strictly Personal' Question
Christina M. in San Diego, California, writes:
Every summer, my family and I are forced to deal with an annoying neighbor who consistently invites himself over to our house and family gatherings. This has been reoccurring up to the point where we simply needed a break and refused to let him come with us to dinner. To our dismay, the neighbor proclaimed disappointment at not being considered a family member by now (almost three years). The thing is, this person is coming from a disconnected family. The parents are always at work or too busy to pay attention to their child. Yes, our neighbor is a child. My family and I have guilt whenever the idea of telling the truth to our neighbor comes up. Meanwhile, he relentlessly barges into our personal events and displays behavior that none of us enjoy being around. How should we handle this situation?
No wonder you don't want to tell your young neighbor the truth. It could hurt him more than you expect. Instead, I suggest that you tell his mother (because you're a mother yourself) that her son is appearing frequently at your house and you think he's "lonely." Stick with that limited, kindly comment, and don't say anything negative about his behavior or that you believe the parents are away too much, etc. You don't want Mom to hear too much critical stuff and turn it all off.
Then turn your neighbor away whenever he appears at your house. You can say all sorts of impossible-to-argue-with things like, "Oh, I'm sorry, but we've already got enough people." Or, "Oh, I'm sorry, but I just can't cope with any more kids right now!" Or, "Oh, I'm sorry, but we don't have enough food." Or, "Oh, I'm sorry, but I'm in one of my moods!" Have a little fun with this, and it'll get easier and easier.
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