DEAR HARRIETTE: I need help with people who treat my home in a disrespectful manner. My 30-something stepson and his girlfriend visit us two or three times a year from another state. Twice in the last couple of years, the rug in the guest bathroom has been permanently ruined by what I'm assuming is black hair dye. Another time, the countertop was stained. I have also found food crumbs in the bedroom after they left. I have bought cheap rugs to use in the bathroom for when they visit.
We've had a houseguest who stayed in the shower for 20 to 25 minutes. Another sat with his feet and shoes under him on our upholstered chairs.
I would be mortified if I ruined something in someone's house. My husband has a close relationship with his son, but doesn't want to speak with him about this. My stepson and I have a good relationship but are not especially close. I am glad that my stepson feels relaxed and welcome in our home. I do not want to hurt the relationship, but I also do not want my home used and abused. What can I do? -- Maid in the Midwest, Chicago
DEAR MAID IN THE MIDWEST: You have every right to have ground rules in your home that you require houseguests to follow, even when they are members of your family. The next time your family comes to visit, sit them down when they arrive and tell them that you want to establish a few house rules. Point out that you think they used hair dye previously and that it stained the rug. Ask them to refrain from using dye. Ask them to be mindful of not running the water too long as you are trying to conserve water. I would wait to make the point about the shoes on the sofa. When you see it, say something like, "Please don't put your shoes on the furniture."
Could this be awkward at first? Yes, but you should not feel afraid to let them know how to care for your home while they are in it.