Awkward: in-laws keep inviting my children to spend the night


Here’s the situation: my husband’s brother and his wife have a daughter the same age as my daughters. Over the years they’ve invited my girls to spend the night there, and I won’t allow it. (see reasons below). It’s getting rather awkward now. I hate being put in a situation where I have to politely decline but cannot give an explanation as to why.

I am not opposed to my children spending the night at others’ homes in general. It’s just my brother-in-laws’ home.

My rationale for declining the invitation for my children range from the mundane to the rather serious:

-they’re smokers and the house reeks of smoke

-they do not talk to their child in a loving, nurturing manner

-my SIL’s teenage son from a previous marriage has a bedroom that’s filled with dark material–posters of skulls, heavy metal imagery, etc

and the biggie: when my BIL was single he got extremely drunk/high (a common occurrence) and apparently tried some inappropriate behavior with his sister, who screamed and fought him. Nothing ever became of this. He still drinks quite heavily.

So, my question: how do I respond when my SIL keeps inviting my children over to spend the night. I can only answer, “How about if Lily spends the night *here *instead of my girls going over there?” so many times.


My humble suggestion…have your husband take this up with his brother away from you and the kids. He should be able to put an end to this without having to attack, confront or villify anyone. This is not something you should be dealing with for years…nor should you have a moments doubt about the propriety of your refusal to let your children spend the night there.


Good job being a good parent.

This sounds like a home I would prefer my (theoretical) children not be in for too long without their parents. Smoking, not good. If the BIL still drinks heavily, a big no-no for the spending the night. Not talking to the child in a loving manner also is big.

As to responding, I’m sorry, but I don’t know. :-\


I appreciate your suggestion. I truly do. But, I’m cringing at the thought of such a conversation:

DH: Hey, Bro! Ummm…remember that night when you were wasted and went into Sis’ bedroom?

BIL: Nope

DH: Well, uh…that’s why DW is reluctant to let the girls sleep over.

BIL: What the *#$%&?? *That was 20 years ago!

Forever will our relationship be strained.

At least now the relationship is civil and friendly, although the “elephant in the room” is the question: why won’t you let your girls spend the night? Do you think you’re too good for us or something?

I truly appreciate and understand your suggestion, but there’s got to be another way that doesn’t involve confronting BIL with past situation.


Ummm…I think I recall being pretty specific in suggesting NO confrontations or villifying anyone. IN OTHER WORDS your husband is the one who has the discussion…but it doesn’t mean it has to include ANY reference to anything scandalous that happenend 20 years ago.

So…dh brings up the subject of the repeated invites to BIL, he acknowledges that you have not accepted, and lets brother know that your concerns revolves around something relatively neutral, i.e. smoking and how it would wreak havoc on your daughter’s sensitive bronchial system/asthma/allergies (a white lie won’t be then end of you here); or that your daughter is quite a homebody at bedtime, or wakes frequently in the middle of the night and might be disoriented or is a competitive tuba player and needs her rest. WHATEVER. The POINT was to have your husband deliver a gentle message in a way that relieves you of the repeated requests.


I’m sorry, I know this is a serious topic but this almost made me fall out of my chair. I love your sense of humor:D

**Now, to try and make a helpful contribution;), I second the idea of having your hubby use a neutral excuse to let his brother know that none of their future invitations will be accepted for that reason. It is up to the both of you to figure out what that excuse should be…

unless you and your SIL are very close then you should just tell her that you appreciate the invites but your daughters will not be able to spend the night over there for “x reason” but your niece is more than welcome to spend the night at your house (if she is of course).

Just make sure you don’t outright lie because if the girls aren’t already talking about this stuff they soon will be:thumbsup:


What if you and your DH have a rule that kid’s can’t spend the night at friends (except they can invite friends on their birthday or whatever). If you want to go that route.


The smoke would do it in for me.

Just say they cannot tolerate smoke for very long and they develop a cough from it and you just don’t want your daughters to have to deal with that.


The smoke one would do it for me too. We have had to stop accepting certain gifts from DH’s mom and step-dad on those grounds. Our kids just can’t be around that smell without sneezing. Any box from their house reeks for weeks. I can wash clothing, but the smell never quite comes out of stuffed animals.

The other reason can simply be that your children get nightmares from a glimpse of that bedroom. The in-laws live there, they have probably totally tuned it out.

I agree with Island Oak. It is DH’s family. He needs to handle them.

“Competitive tuba.” :rotfl:


never complain, never explain
just keep repeating, thanks but Suzy won’t be able to sleep over, but Cousin is very welcome to stay with us.

no explanations, no back story, no accusations

just monotonous repeat of your party line, make sure both you and your husband have this response memorized.


Yup. That’s what my mom keeps telling me: "you don’t have to give an explanation. Just keep saying ‘no’! "


Oh! Sorry! I missed the part you wrote about not confronting BIL. :blush:

My problem is that I simply cannot think of an excuse that doesn’t sound LAME. My girls have spent the night at Grandma’s many many times, so the in laws know my girls are always up for sleeping over. And the smoking at the inlaws is done outside, so it’s not really an issue, (although I really don’t like it regardless). And what happens when they say, “Oh, well we’ve just quit smoking! So now the girls can sleep over!”

So…sigh! I feel this is hopeless.


I think you are doing a great job and don’t know why you feel the need to come up with a better reason.

Just like your mother said, keep saying “no thank you”. That’s it! Over and over and over just smile and say “no thank you”.

If they ask can she sleep over you say “oh I’m sorry it wouldn’t work” if they insist you say “oh I’m so sorry it wouldn’t work” over and over. You have been handling this perfectly. Don’t let your relatives or Satan convince you that you are doing something wrong or that you really don’t have a good reason. It is possible that he is manipulating this situation and your mind to try and cause a rift in your family and cause you to doubt yourself and feel self-conscious.

Ask God for strength. This will come up again and you will also gain much grace by practicing the art of being firm but gentle. This is a trait that will serve you well in life and is a great example for your child.


That’s the best solution. Just keep on the good fight. And think about how your niece is being exposed to a much healthier environment by sleeping over at your place. What you’re doing is best for everyone. Keep up the good work!

And I would NOT NOT ask your husband to get involved. I would support him to do so of his own volition, but never would I suggest he approach his brother about this subject. It’s a real bad idea to get between brothers!


My girls did NOT like going to visit my brother and his family. They didn’t have the same values as us and it was getting worse, not better.

So, we became ‘busy’. I never had a conversation ‘why’, it would’ve fallen on deaf ears anyway. Just ‘sorry, we can’t make it that day’.
And ‘gosh, life is so busy, sorry we can’t make it’. If you say this enough times, they will invite you less and less.

This went on for years. And it was fine. Now all the kids are adults and they are not close, but there are no hard feelings.


:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

I second this!! You do not worry for one minute if your excuses sound “lame”! These are YOUR babies that God entrusted you to take care of and make good decisions for!! You dont owe these people anything when it comes to your kids. If my hateful sil would ask for my dd to sleep over (which she wont…she sends her dd to mil once a week and my neice ends up at my house…another nervy inlaw story for another time:rolleyes: ) dh and I would not allow it as they drink and smoke and all around not an environment we want dd to spend any time in. We would not have any problem saying no with no explanation. “No” will be the only reply they hear. Saving their feelings is not worth sacrificing my dd safety .


You could always say something along the lines of what I say when anyone who’s invited my dd to stay (or both of us) overnight who has pets and/or smokes: “We’re allergic and dd has asthma. Thank you for the invitation, but unless you’re going to be paying for the doctor’s bills and the medication to treat a flare up, we’ll have to pass.” I say it light heartedly, but they get the message loud and clear and never invite for overnights again. Most of our family is now trained to keep the animals away when we come to visit and to smoke outside. When we’re there, and if there are members who DO keep their animals around, we’re very open about saying that we HAVE to wash our hands even if the animal accidentally brushed up against us.


I was thinking the same exact thing. I wouldn’t allow my kids to spend the night at somebody’s house that smokes indoors either. That’s a dealbreaker right there.


Yeah, that’s definitely awkward, and you’re doing the right thing in not letting her sleep over at their house. The posters I wouldn’t worry about, but the drinking and the manner in which they speak is not appropriate.Better to have them sleep over at your house or just not have sleepovers at all.


Stand your ground, they are your kids.

I smoke but not inside or around them and would never let my kids spend the night in a house like that. Smoking is bad enough for the person doing it. The fact that your BIL smokes inside is the tip of the iceberg.

Metal stuff can be ok but it all depends on the child and the outlook. If it’s not balanced and is all dark… there might be a problem.

Possible incest? uh, BIG red flag…

The fact is that letting your kids stay somewhere is a big one for me.

I know of only 2 families maybe 3 I would let my boys stay at. One is my best friends house (kids are older though), one is their Godfather’s and the other is my Sponsors (who had kids their age).

I don’t think my parents felt this way necessarily, maybe it’s the world today but I feel strange even talking about it.

Case in point. My former sponsor and friend’s wife is due (actually she probably had him this morning). If they baby came early I offered that we could keep the girls for them if family wasn’t here in town yet and they had to go to the Hospital. Nice gesture I know and I did it because they are one of the few couples we know well enough to trust that they would not only treat them right but also be safe and in a sound Catholic environment. However the fact that they have 2 girls and we have 3 boys I feel a little “strange” even offering. Maybe it’s because they are girls and we don’t have one yet (hopefully this one will be a girls). I’m sure he didn’t think it was strange but I don’t know… I guess my feeling is that if it was me, I might…

So who knows, I say go with your gut and stand your ground. If they won’t listen to you ask your spouse to get involved as well.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit