Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 27 July 2017

Also in Dear Mary: friends who give away your gifts and handy tips for easy ivy removal

Dear Mary | 27 July 2017
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Q. My children are very lucky in that we have bought them all flats. However, they are now renting out these properties with Airbnb, then coming to stay with us at home, just when we thought they had flown the nest. They are more than welcome at weekends but during the week my ancient husband and I like to have a quiet time. How can we put a stop to this without our much-loved children (all in their thirties) feeling that they are unwelcome in their ‘own’ home?

— Name and address withheld

A. Their entitlement syndrome is certainly a tribute to your parenting, but for their sake you must nip it in the bud or risk their suffering from infantilisation. Jolt them out of their territorial — but not emotional — complacency, by announcing in excited tones that you’ve been inspired by their Airbnb adventures to look at ways of using your house to boost your income. You’ve been researching the ‘short stay in heritage homes’ market, where owners skivvy around serving guests, and you think it could be great fun. Your children will realise they would not have a leg to stand on if they objected. ‘Either way, do you have friends you could go to if you Airbnb your flat when we might have strangers staying?’ you can conclude. In this way they will learn to think through the true function of the family home.

Q. May I pass on a tip to readers? I have allowed ivy to grow up the front of my cottage for the sparrows to nest in, but my husband kept injuring himself with his secateurs in his attempts to stop it growing all the way to our thatched roof. Then he found the solution: take a metal spatula of the sort used to flip fried eggs and slip this behind the growth. The new ivy tendrils come away easily from the wall with a satisfying snap.

— M.W., Pewsey

A. Thank you for sharing this discovery.

Q. I have a friend who rarely splurges on clothes for herself. Over the years I’ve given her beautiful and rare shawls as gifts and she is always grateful. However, her adult magpie daughters commandeer them for their own use. My friend doesn’t seem to mind, but I feel these are gifts and not intended for her daughters. Your thoughts please.

— Name and address withheld

A. My thoughts are that it is only human nature for an unvain woman to hand over to her adult daughters whatever beautifying garments they show a desire for. She will feel she has attracted a partner and borne children, and the adult daughters may not yet have done. So they may be in greater need of the garments, to try to attract partners for themselves or — if they already have partners — to hang on to them. This is just biology and you won’t be able to stop her. Instead give her gifts you can supervise the use of: take her to lunch in a fabulous restaurant, to the theatre or for a spa weekend.