100 lb. Club - OT: Freeloading family
09-15-2002, 09:31 PM
I have an off-topic question. My husband's married sister is 10 years younger than him. She's the baby of the family.
The problem I have is that whenever she and her husband have visited us (they used to live out of state) I have always prepared a really nice dinner--chicken breast, rolls, salad, dessert. They have NEVER offered to help out or bring anything. Once I asked her if she could bring a fruit salad and all she brought some cut up melon. (Maybe I'm being petty but it wasn't much of a fruit salad)
Even if we do something like takeout pizza, this sister eats some but doesn't chip in or even offer to do so.
She now lives in state and when she comes to visit for the day, we provide lunch. She never brings anything--we always feed her and her daughter and sometimes her husband. They invited us over once for a family potluck--but so far our hospitality hasn't been reciprocated. We've never been taken out for dinner or asked over for dinner.
Now these are not poor newlyweds by any means. They've been married almost 5 years and she made $30K a year as a nanny while her husband probably pulled in another 20K. They put a lot into savings and they've just purchased a home. They also dress nice, have nice furniture, etc.
I grew up where you're hospitable even when you don't really have to give. I think since she's the youngest, she's so used to people doing things for her that it doesn't occur to her that she could be hospitable in return.
They want to come for a visit in a couple of weeks and I am so resentful that once again I feel like I will provide a meal while they just enjoy it. My husband says he doesn't know how to help her get a clue. He thinks maybe she assumes that the person hosting is the one who provides the meal. I could see that but the problem is they have NEVER invited us over for dinner or out to eat.
Any ideas? I don't want to make her feel bad either but I do feel like they kind of take advantage of my hospitality. I feel a lot of bottled up resentment but don't know if it's my place as the sister-in-law to say something to her. (My husband hates any kind of confrontation)
Thanks for letting me vent!
09-16-2002, 12:06 AM
and i'm afraid i won't be much help. i have a SIL who lies, cheats, and steals, yet we just live with it. we've tried many things, and she's such a b*** that she just tapdances and goes her own way.
my brother and this woman, who combined make a good 6-figure income [that they brag about!!!] ALWAYS let mom, who's on a quite small fixed income, pick up the tab for them when they go out to dinner or lunch.
it's inexcusable, just like your SIL's behavior... does she make any of her family's old recipes? something grandma made? maybe you could talk her into bringing one of those dishes so you could 'learn' and go on from there...
or try the 'gee, i really like the way your family makes the .... whatever... but i can't get it right, could you bring some so YOUR BROTHER could have some?
not sure either of these things would work, but i sure hope something does!!!!
09-16-2002, 11:04 AM
Maybe you could just tell them you're busy, and they can't come over that night. Just be "busy" a lot. Or maybe you could just start "dropping in" on them unannounced and not bringing anything or helping with anything. (Does she even bother to help you with the dishes?) Or when they come over, don't cook. Don't be food-hospitable, even if you are STARVING! Eventually, even the densest will get a clue...
09-16-2002, 11:00 PM
Here's a thought: since your hubby seems to be supportive, put a bowl of fresh fruit and cut-up raw veggies out and, when your sis-in-law arrives for dinner, announce that you are trying out a "great new raw-foods diet" you heard about. Don't serve anything else. I'll bet it won't take more than one or two such meals for her to decide she'd rather go out to eat after all.
09-17-2002, 05:36 AM
ROTFLMAO!!!! Janet that is too funny!!! I would just tell her to bring a vegetable dish and potastoe. serv a easy dish to pass and do not make a big to do ofer the meal simple is best. so you are not over spending and maybe she is just cluless and does not know what to bring or she does not know how to cook!!
09-17-2002, 08:16 AM
I think we all have known people like this. The truth is, there is very little you can do to change them. Either accept the fact that this is the way it's going to be, or don't have them over to eat.
It sounds to me that perhaps your SIL doesn't know how to cook! Also, depending on where they live, $50K may not really be all that much, especially with a new house -- hopefully they're using it wisely and not living above their means (because if they are, that could be a reason they seem to be so stingy -- mounting debt, etc.) -- and they could be saving in anticipation of having children someday, which would be a good thing. Also, some people just don't like having people over -- maybe she's a poor housekeeper and has to knock herself out every time someone comes over.
And remember, it could be a LOT worse. She could be like the b**** mentioned above ... or bragging about how much money they make ... or lying and cheating and stealing things from you. I won't even go into the horrible things my BIL has done to my husband and father-in-law, or how crazy his wife is (a woman who has been into drugs, stole huge amounts of money from my now-deceased MIL, takes off from her family every few years, etc., etc.). We stay away from them (which is sad because we don't see our neice either).
Ultimately, it's your choice how you let this affect you. You're either going to have to be generous yourself with no expectations of reciprocation, or stop giving. Unless you or your husband have a relationship with her where you can very honestly and intimately discuss your concerns, without escalating into accusations ... accept it. Don't let it bother you. THAT you have control over.
You don't say if you have specifically invited them for dinner, are they just dropping in around a meal time or what? My own personal feeling is that if I am invited to a family person's home for a meal that I shouldn't have to bring anything or help pay if it is take out. If they ask for me to bring something I would of course.
This sort of reminds me of my husband's family as they seem to want our company more than we want theirs. We get invited over to his parents and his sisters frequently. We don't go very often because we don't really care to visit them, we just go out of guilt mostly I suppose. I've never taken anything over. Do you think maybe they don't really care to visit especially since they don't offer you an invite?
We had a birthday party for my baby this past weekend, I had munchies galore out and barely any of it was touched. So now when I have people over next time I don't think I even want to bother with munchies or providing anything.
09-17-2002, 10:59 AM
Thanks for the input about my SIL. I guess I don't always invite them, it's more that they let me know what time they'll be coming over. They might come over around 11 a.m. so of course that includes lunch time in their visit.
When they've come over other times, I have invited them to dinner. Like I said, I could see her thinking that she wouldn't have to bring anything but they have NEVER reciprocated. Not once since they've lived out here have they asked us over or offered to take us out. They have no debt, even their car is paid off. They're pretty comfy.
When we had the pizza, it wasn't even in our home. We were visiting an my husband's older sister. She truly struggles financially and offered about 4 times to help out while the young SIL just sat there. I told the struggling SIL it was OK, not to worry about it. I kind of looked at the younger one (she and her daughter ate some of the pizza) and she just sat there. I don't know how anyone could be so clueless. She and her husband are the most financially set yet they seem to be the stingiest. (At least that's my perception)
Maybe some of this is my fault, I don't know. I just assumed she would get the hint. I know they've had other friends over for dinner before. I think she assumes since we're older and we've been generous in the past that they don't have to reciprocate. I don't know. I guess I never thought about them not wanting to visit. I don't sense that--her daughter and my son are the only cousins their age so I think she likes it when they get to play together.
Maybe I ought to just honestly and gently tell her how I feel. Or maybe I'll give the raw foods diet a shot--that would be hysterical!
09-18-2002, 08:28 AM
Jinkies, unfortunately some people are just like that! As you said, it probably does have a lot to do with her being the spoiled baby of the family! IMO, you can either accept it and not let it bother you so much, or you can confront her and deal with the possibility (probability?!!!) that she'll be resentful and hold a grudge for a long time! Or maybe she'll actually listen and start acting more acceptably? I doubt it! But who knows!!!
09-18-2002, 10:31 AM
Boy - I agree with all the advice above - I'm just glad I have the family I do!
09-18-2002, 01:47 PM
I guess I'm really a b****, because I would've looked at her & said (after the first 2 times, while she was eating a nice dinner that I prepared for a third time w/no reciprocity), "How come you guys never have us over for dinner?"
Oh & this??
I guess I don't always invite them, it's more that they let me know what time they'll be coming over. They might come over around 11 a.m. so of course that includes lunch time in their visit.
Next time she does that, tell her, "You know what? We were just on our way out the door to the library/park/pool/whatever. Maybe some other time?"
09-18-2002, 04:01 PM
If you said she tends to drop by around lunch time maybe you and hubby could have something quick and simple before their visit and when they start crying they are hungry tell her that you 2 just ate but you would be more than happy to accompany them to a restaurant and sit with them while they eat. If she says that she didn't really bring any money to eat, etc. tell her you haven't been grocery shopping and all you have in the house is (insert something you know she can't stand) and tell her you'd be happy to fix that.
I guess I'm also one of the lucky ones. My family loves cooking. We usually go to my parents house and eat with them on Thursday nights and we invite them out on Sundays to eat, so it all works out.
09-18-2002, 05:39 PM
"they let me know what time they'll be coming over".
Perhaps you could do the same. Let them know you'll "be in your area" and would like to stop by so the kids can have some play time and make sure it's just before lunch, dinner, whatever.
I have a SIL who has specifically invited us for dinner ONCE in 44 years (and that time the invitation came through my MIL and I've since come to suspect it was her idea). They always offer us much food when we stop by; however, we've made it a point to eat beforehand if they don't mention a meal when we call ahead.
We live 200 miles from them and they stop to see us when travelling and are always fed. It doesn't matter much to me anymore but it was very galling in the early years. We did invite them for Thanksgiving, etc. They found a reason to decline and have never been in our home for holidays (well, one 4th of July). I know SIL does have others in and is a much better cook than I. Now she does offer to have us stay with them when we are in the area but we don't.
In the early years, there were some comments made that indicated some jealousy on her part. For example she would refuse to come to dinner at in laws when we were there because she said she wasn't invited except when we came. Actually for quite a few years prior she had her Sunday dinner there every week. The jealousy seems to have died out over the years. But there are still no specific invitations to their home. They did however recently take us out to eat on one of their stops here. That was a FIRST.
However, much as it galled me, I was always hospitable because she is married to my husband's brother and I knew he wanted to be. He's also always been very hospitable to my family and I have always appreciated that.
Frankly if you feel this strongly about the whole thing just stop feeding them altogether. Eventually they'll get the hint that they aren't welcome at mealtimes.
Do you know if they have other people over to their house? Friends that live in the same area? I practically never have anyone over to my house. It's not that I'm unsociable, I just don't like having people in my house. Of course it's usually a huge mess, that's part of the reason. Usually though I can hardly wait for people to leave once they have arrived.
My SIL and her husband came over one afternoon and were here for about 3 hours. I was dying for them to leave. It was getting about dinnertime and I knew that they were willing to get take out for all of us (they were dropping huge hints) but I just wanted them to go home so I made up some errands that I had to run before the stores closed.