Dear Miss Emily:

What would be the appropriate response when family members come over and practically take over the house when visiting. Such as taking over the remote and watching the programs they want to watch all day. Also, they have a child that is extremely loud and borderline obnoxious with only playing sports games with my daughter who wants to do other things. The parents of the child think everything the child does is hilarious and gives constant affirmation to the behaviour. The child must be the center of attention always, even at the family table. Please advise.

------------------------Miss Emily's advice------------------

Families are a balancing act, and some don't even deserve the title. You almost want to make an excuse for them -- like certain friends when they are selfish, possessive, and rude. "Gee, if they knew the error of their ways, they would change because, surely, they don't want to be perceived as obnoxious bloodsuckers?"  Right. Many people accept the status quo to avoid the equivalent of WW III.  In other words, the grievances you have, now, would seem like a day at the beach were you to take them to task. Still, there are others who are gutless and won't speak up when that's all it would take to get a little respect. Try this: Make plans when they come that do not center on watching television, or give their bratty kid center stage. And if they are adverse to activity, other than television watching, take the kids on an outing where "he" won't be able to monopolize the activity. You have the power to change it if you use some diplomacy while asserting yourself. "Hey, I'm bored. Let's do something other than watching television." or "Wow, you guys have been watching your stuff for hours, how about me introducing you to this new show I think you'll love."  And when "the kid" is at the dinner table begging for attention by shooting off his mouth over everything that's said, tell him, "That's a thought. Does anyone else have something to add to that?" And if he interrupts, you say, "Now wait, I want to hear what (?) has to say on the subject and, then, it's your turn." or "Jimmy, I'd like to talk about another subject for a minute, if you could just hold on to that thought, I'd really appreciate it."  Kids usually respond to tactful, and clever sidestepping even when their parents lack the discipline to instill good manners. Be polite, and be persistent. But if you perceive this situation to be hopeless, and they will not bend to your desire to be fair, make yourself scarce. If they wonder where you went, tell them your restless leg syndrome acts up when you sit too long.