We are retired. Visited son, daughter-in-law and grandson who lived across country. We stayed at a hotel. What hospitality is required on their part and ours?

We are retired. Visited son, daughter-in-law and grandson who lived across country. We stayed at a hotel. What hospitality is required on their part and ours?

by Susan Swanson
(New York, New York)

My husband and I are older and we took an arduous trip across country to visit. They were giving a large party for their one year old's first birthday. The son surprised us by picking us up at the airport and taking us to our hotel. We were not given a meal by them except the food at the party. We had to get our own food at a local market or go out to a restaurant. We were expected to help get ready for the party where we were ignored by the host and hostess. In all fairness they both work and we know they are busy but we thought the daughter-in-law rude, telling my husband to carry tables and such without a please. We remember when people traveled to see us from a great distance, even with young children, they were treated like royalty. What should we have expected?


Jun 07, 2011
What should the expectations be when visiting other family members?
by: Kevin (Modern Manners and Etiquette)

Well, to tell you the truth, your expectations should be very low. This will help you have a positive experience instead of focusing your time and thoughts on what they "could have" or "should have" done.

I think you will find that you will have better experiences and better memories thinking about what they did instead of what they didn't do.

I know. To some extent, this may seem like I am asking you to view the glass as "half-full' instead of "half-empty." To some extent, that is what I am saying.

However, I think you also need to step back and take a look at the situation from their point of view. I am sure that they invited other people that maybe traveled as well to be there. They may have committed to have other people stay at their home first, or they just didn't have the room for people.

When they were entertaining a group of people, they may have paid less attention to you and focused on their other guests. Could they have done better? Probably...

But I think you will find that there might be a very simple reason that things went the way that they did. Maybe they didn't have the space. Maybe they didn't have the money. Or maybe it was something else.

I find that when I feel I have been wrongly dealt with, I look at the situation from their point of view. Often when I do that long enough, I find that there was a reason why they did what they did and it wasn't because they wanted to be impolite or difficult.

There really isn't a rule of etiquette that dictates how much or how little they should do. Many people offer a place to stay, or pay for a hotel room just to be polite and it is a very kind gesture. It just isn't a requirement.

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