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My cousin wants to stay at my house for two months - and I don't want her to. Am I a horrible person?

(27 Posts)
emkaren Wed 04-Feb-04 16:59:36

Hello all,
just need to hear the collected views of you wise Mumsnetters again. My cousin, whom I've always been quite friendly with, is planning to come over from Germany for two months to do a work experience thingy. She's only applying for places in our area, and seems to assume that she can stay with us, without ever actually asking if we'd be happy with that - which we're not! I really don't like the thought of having somebody around for that amount of time, giving up on our cosy 'family-time' together, and as she won't know anybody here I'd be very much the one who'd have to keep her entertained. And I know that dh REALLY doesn't want her to stay for that amount of time, as he's a very private person who really values the time alone as a family even more than me. On the other hand she is family after all, and I don't know how I can say no to her without offending her and becoming the outcast of the family! Do you think I should just shut up and do it? Or is there a kind way out of this?
Please help - and be brutally honest!

WideWebWitch Wed 04-Feb-04 17:02:18

Email or write and tell her that you're sorry but you just don't have the room or the time. Be polite but make sure it's clearly non negotiable. No, you're not horrible, totally understandable.

twiglett Wed 04-Feb-04 17:03:06

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pie Wed 04-Feb-04 17:04:26

It's your DH's house too and he doesn't want her to stay, you're not keen...I think it would be best to help her find alternative accomodation. Do you even have the space? How friendly are you exactly, would she take it very badly. Family or not though I would always ask anyone if I could stay, even for one night.

Sorry not much help!

dinosaur Wed 04-Feb-04 17:06:11

much sympathy emkaren - we had to put up my brother's Italian girlfriend for a few weeks when she came over to London to study, while she looked for a place to stay. I didn't at all manage to think of a way round it, so we just had to put up with it.

I feel very much like you and my DH feels EXACTLY like your DH does about things like this!

However, on the positive side, having her to stay really wasn't as bad as I'd been expecting and she even did some free babysitting which was quite handy!

So not much help I'm afraid! The only kind way out that I can think of would be if you happened to know of some young people (God, I sound like I'm about 90) who live in a shared house nearby and who might be able to take in someone else for at least some of the time - that way she'd get the best of both worlds! I guess you might have to offer to pay her rent though...

Tissy Wed 04-Feb-04 17:09:48

could you write and say something like "so pleased you'll be over in this country for a while, I hope that we'll get a chance to see you now and then! Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you find a place to stay?" That makes it clear that *you're* not expecting her to stay with you, but steers clear of giving her a complete brush-off. It would force her into saying, "well I thought I could stay with you" and then you could have any number of excuses to hand- I'm sure other MNers will be able to come up with some good ones.

She is certainly being rather cheeky- could a Mum or sister speak to her "independently" and find out her plans?

twiglett Wed 04-Feb-04 17:10:39

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Hilary Wed 04-Feb-04 18:02:26

Love your idea Tissy, I think I would try that if I found myself in that position. I do think the cousin is a bit out of order just assuming that 2 months with you is fine and she doesn't even need to ask!

squirmyworm Wed 04-Feb-04 20:10:47

think Tissy is spot on - I'd prob do something quite similar. Had a friend of my flatmates staying with us for 2 months when I was working in Bristol a few years ago. I felt really mean but it drove me MAD and I'd stress for ages before getting home after an early shift. 'Is he going to be in? Is he going to be watching some dodgy tv thing so I'll be confined to my room? will he have eaten all the cheese? oh god the light is on'. The crossness consumed me! I'm sure it was partly because I wasn't asked!

tanzie Wed 04-Feb-04 20:17:30

Agree with Tissy. "Guests and fish both stink after 3 days".

I have gone off guests since we had two friends to stay when living in Israel and they drove me nuts - just could not understand the concept of everything being shut on Shabbat and thinking it a huge joke to want to eat Falafel all the time. Since then I have never had anyone to stay for longer than a week and that's only my Mum and MIL.

but I'm a miserable cow

stupidgirl Wed 04-Feb-04 20:24:24

I was going to suggest the same as Tissy. I think you need to make it clear that you are not expecting her to stay with you, so she has to think about alternatives. But doing it that way is more gentle than saying outright that she's not welcome.

I am a very private person and I just don't like having people in my space, so I know exactly where you are coming from. And especially since she hasn't even asked.

Linnet Wed 04-Feb-04 21:48:05

Emkaren, I agree with the others that you should try and help her find somewhere else to stay.

It's no fun having family to stay if you really don't want them to, you can try being polite but the strain just gets to much.

Last year my bil shattered his kneecap nad unfortunately since my brother had just moved out we had a spare room. He came to stay with us while he was in plaster from hip to ankle for what was supposed to be a 7 week stay, finally got rid of him after 3 months. It was terribly stressful and not an experience I'd like to repeat anytime soon, if ever again.

I felt awful as he is my brother in law after all and blood is thicker than water and all that, but when it comes down to it in a situation like this, it's your house and if your not comfortable having her there then say so now and don't feel bad about it, can't she stay with any other family members? or arrange temporary accomodation though the job that she is going to be doing?

SofiaAmes Wed 04-Feb-04 22:24:53

I guess I come from a different culture, but if my cousin needed a place to stay for 2 months I wouldn't think twice about putting them up. Especially if, as it sounds like, she was young and needed a bit of help. I wouldn't dream of not helping out family. And the rest of my extended family would consider it rude. Then again, I have spent time here and there with cousins and other members of the family when I couldn't afford anything else. Nowadays I usually stay in a hotel.
It might not be so bad if as you say you are friendly.

bloss Thu 05-Feb-04 02:10:04

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bloss Thu 05-Feb-04 02:12:27

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FairyMum Thu 05-Feb-04 07:30:56

2 weeks fine, but 2 months is a very long time. I would have said no to anything more than 2 weeks....

handlemecarefully Thu 05-Feb-04 08:17:16

You asked for honesty - all I would say is that I would let her stay (since by your own admission you get on with her fairly well so she wouldn't be a really unpleasant house guest). Two months is not much in a life time, and its a bit of a tall order for her to try and find rented accommodation in England for such a short period....and family is family. I can see I'm the odd one out here though!

musica Thu 05-Feb-04 09:00:12

My brother stayed with us for 2 months a month after ds was born. I found it quite hard, because we didn't sort out sharing the chores. But the 2 months did go really quickly, and it isn't actually that long, especially looking back! Maybe you could suggest to her that while she's over she should really see lots of the rest of the country at the weekends, and encourage her to go youth hostelling or something. Then you could have your weekends, and during the week she will be at work.

She should ask you out of politeness, but I think I would probably let her stay.


musica Thu 05-Feb-04 09:00:46

Oh, but meant to add, you're not a horrible person!

Metrobaby Thu 05-Feb-04 09:12:39

In my culture, we would be expected to put up families from abroad. Like bloss, it would be considered rude otherwise. My parents continually put rellies from abroad up, and the favour does get returned which is good. However my parents find it hard work and my Mum does complain about the extra work when she has them over. I also find it depends very much on the type of house guest you have. I think 2 months is a long time though, and I reckon if you do decide to house your cousin, setting your expectations out in terms of meals, chores, and esp duration of stay from the start will definately help. Also if you can get other members of your family to help accomodate her that would ease the pressure from you, and give you a break.

Metrobaby Thu 05-Feb-04 09:15:10

PS Meant to say too I don't think you are horrid either and you do have valid concerns. I must admit I don't particularly enjoy having people to stay any length of time too

Carla Thu 05-Feb-04 09:37:00

Emkaren - don't do it. For the past few years an Italian cousin who's invited himself over for two weeks to do a language course. He wasn't old enough to go pubbing with his fellow classmates and so we had to entertain him in the evening. He would be all or nothing, either engaging us in conversation till we were blue in the face or moping around not talking to us. He's nice enough, but it was really, really hard. I can't even try to explain why, but I think having someone in your house for so long would finish me. And he had to be fed .... I tried to cook Italian but he picked holes in everything I made!

bloss Thu 05-Feb-04 11:21:49

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handlemecarefully Thu 05-Feb-04 11:33:16

Agree with Bloss - issue might be resolved with upfront house rules and clarity on expectations.

musica Thu 05-Feb-04 11:51:38

emkaren, if you do decide to have your cousin to stay, something we have found works is to give really specific jobs. So that if you said to your cousin - your jobs are emptying the dishwasher in the morning and feeding the cat for example, then if those were done you wouldn't feel aggrieved that she was sponging off you, and she wouldn't feel guilty for not helping more. I hate being in that situation where you're not sure whether to help in the kitchen, or if you'd be in the way or what! Also, if she didn't do the jobs you'd agreed on, you'd have every right to be annoyed, and she'd understand that.

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