Honour the House Rules for Family Get-Togethers

Families are gathering again to celebrate the holidays and many grandparents who live at a distance from their adult children and grandchildren are eager to be able to visit in person.  But houseguests, even beloved grandparents, can contribute to conflict when busy lives and different values may challenge domestic peace. Knowing the house rules in advance and honouring them is important to a positive visit.

Especially during COVID-19, communication is key to a successful and enjoyable visit.  Ask the hosts when a visit would be best and honor the household approach to vaccinations, masking, and testing.  That may mean holding back from voicing strong opinions about health, politics, religion, or how long the roast should be cooked.  

Staying with grandchildren in their own home can provide visiting grandparents with an opportunity to really get to know their grandkids and spend time in their world.  Being flexible with traditions, sleeping arrangements, and meals while offering help, or even a night off for the parents goes a long way to fostering a harmonious gathering.  Picking up the tab for a dinner out or delivered isn’t a bad idea either. 

Traditions are important in most families but trying new foods and activities can be fun.  Especially after the loss of a loved one, many people feel the need to start new traditions, and a good guest will contentedly adjust to these changes.  It’s been a stressful year, and when we have the opportunity to spend time with family, it’s best not to let the little things get in the way of a pleasant visit.  House rules are generally formed from family values and the need for a bit of structure to help everyone stay focused on what matters.

Families all need a little personal space and downtime.  Going out for a walk, running errands, or retreating into a good book or hobby can help give parents, and kids, a chance to decompress. Respect and healthy boundaries will ensure you will be welcomed back again, and as we learned in 2020, in-person family gatherings are so important to our happiness and well-being. 

For more tips on being a gracious houseguest, follow this link to Emily Post Etiquette.