Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Family Vacation


I need some advice in regards to a family situation.  My husband and my three young children are going on a family vacation this summer.  Today, my sister in law called and asked if we will take her daughter (our niece, age 9) on our vacation.  This is an almost 2 week vacation across the country that involves airline travel.  My husband does not see a problem with the fact that we were asked this nor does he feel it is a problem to add a 4th kid to our vacation. I am stunned that I am being put in this situation.  Personally, I can't believe that we are being asked this.  Also, yes, my workload on vacation will increase by adding a 4th child.  If I say no, my husband will blame it all on me and his family will be very upset with me.  I feel that I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.  I would appreciate any advice you can give me! Thanks!!!

Dear Alexandria:

It is rude to ask for gifts - especially inconvenient and expensive ones - and that is what your Sister-in-law has done.  She has asked for the gift of a vacation with you for her daughter.  Your decision depends upon many factors.  Is this child easy to get along with?  Does she get along well with your children?  Will she follow your rules and pull her own weight as much as your children do?  Are her parents paying for her expenses?

I suggest you make your decision based upon these questions and positive responses to them.  You should not accept paying for your niece's expenses unless you are well capable of doing so.  If you feel that your children will benefit from having their cousin on the trip with them, then I would consider accepting the request.  If not and you feel it would be disruptive, I would decline and say why.  Honesty has to be in play here when dealing with a rude request like this.  If you would be less than hospitable to your niece during the trip because of resentment towards her mother for putting you in this place, then it probably wouldn't be such a good idea having her along.

If you had reached out and asked your niece to join you on your vacation because everyone in your immediate family wanted her there, that would have been nice.  To have her thrust upon you at your expense, is rude and inconsiderate.  

You have to do what would be best for your children and your niece, not just for you and your husband.  He, I'm guessing, doesn't want to get mixed into anything negative with his Sister.  He needs to stand up for you and his kids.

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Cynthia W. Lett


Proper manners with friends,family,colleagues,neighbors and everyone else you know.


I have been an etiquette expert teaching and consulting on the subject worldwide since 1983. I started and serve as the Executive Director of the International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals and am considered a leader in the field of etiquette and protocol training and execution. I edited "Etiquette for Dummies" and have recently written "Lett's Talk - Everyday Etiquette Dilemmas and What to Do about Them". My book, "That's So Annoying:An Etiquette Expert on the World's Most Irritating Habits And What To Do About Them" was published in 2009 and is available wherever books are sold. I taught the Business Protocol class to Master's level students at the George Washington University, Washington, DC for seven years I served as Chief of Protocol for MCI Telecommunications for three years.

International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals, ASTD, PCMA, National Speakers Association

I have been quoted over 700 times in the past 5 years worldwide. Publications include Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, NY Times, Washington Business Journal, USA Today, Associated Press, London Times, Newsweek Japan edition, Newsweek US edition and many many more.

I am a Certified Etiquette Professional (CEP) and Certified Protocol Professional (CPP) earned by examination through ISPEP. I have a Master's degree in hospitality law and undergrad degrees in Restaurant & Hotel Management and Public Relations/Interpersonal Communications from Purdue University.

Awards and Honors
Who's Who Worldwide,Who's Who of American Women, Distinguished Darden Professor (Purdue University).

Past/Present Clients
World Bank, United Nations,US Dept. of State, US. Dept. of the Army, Pentagon, Barclays Global Investors,Accenture,Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, The White House, Dept. of State, AT&T,Bank of America,American Association of Clinical Pharmacies,Ritz Carlton Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Marriott Hotels,Starwood Hotels,and many more.

©2017 All rights reserved.