• Dr. Vin

How to be a Happy Houseguest



BACKGROUND: There are only two rules at my house for guests staying more than a few days: Ask for what you want and take care of yourself. My 11 year old grandson is on his first ever weeklong visit without his parents. His Mom noted it would be a good time for him to stretch and learn how to manage his time without them.

PROBLEM: How can you be a happy houseguest? My Dad used to say that after three days, both houseguests and fish begin to stink. This was a joke, but it holds some truth in that after a few days, people may want to let down their overly polite demeanor and drop into a more relaxed mode of just being themselves. I noticed this with my grandson. At first he was helping us shop and cook, he was kind, quiet, thoughtful, and warm. By Wednesday he started to get more moody, “yelping” (reviewing all food we gave him), being sillier, teasing, and joking more, which I enjoyed, but also disappearing more to have private calls with his parents, telling them what he wanted less of and more of from us. By Thursday he wanted to fly home a day early because, “Nothing personal, I just miss my family”. While, I am sure this is true, it was not likely the whole reason.

SOLUTION: Communication! While it was good that he could speak to his parents, I asked him to tell me what he wanted and needed. He revealed that he had been tired and preferred to go to bed one night but stayed up to play a game with us because he, “Did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings.” I responded, “That is hard, having to choose between what you want and pleasing someone else. We all go through that. But it is your choice.” After that I started to give him more choices, so he could practice deciding. So yesterday, I asked, “What do you need?” He answered, “Nothing.” I asked, “What do you want?” With a glint in his eye and a smile he looked at me and answered, “a Lamborghini.” We both laughed. After he had called his Mom last night, I got a message from her that he reported having had a good day, and is no longer wanting to leave a day early.

TIP: To be a happy houseguest, speak up for you needs and take care of yourself by taking breaks when you can.

POSTSCRIPT: Excuse me now, I have to go buy someone a Lamborghini!


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