Dear Prudence answers readers' questions live at Washingtonpost.com.

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
Jan. 4 2010 2:44 PM

Dress Me Up, Dress Me Down

Prudie counsels a woman whose sister's snide remarks are driving family members away—and other advice seekers.

Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat with readers about their romantic, family, financial, and workplace problems. A transcript of this week's chat is below. (Read Prudie's Slate columns here.)

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Emily Yoffe: How could you stay mad at someone who begged not to be the "blunt of your abruption"? Also, maybe the subprime mortgage crisis wouldn't have happened if people had at least put escarole in the escrow account instead of nothing.

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Tyler, Texas: I hate having houseguests and staying in other people's homes. This has become problematic since having our children (4 and 2). They are the only grandchildren on both sides, and everybody wants to visit or wants us to come see them. They are all extremely offended if we want to stay in a hotel, but neither family is really equipped for a family of four to stay with them for several days. We are also not really equipped to have extra people in our house for frequent "long weekends." Both sets of grandparents live far away, so when they come, they want to make it worth the trip and usually stay a while. I did the math—in 2009, I spent five full weeks either as a guest or having guests in my home. That is not visiting; that is roommates. The kids love their grandparents, and I truly do not want to limit their time with them—only the amount of time I spend sharing a bathroom with them. Any advice on how to get them out of my house without cutting them off?

Emily Yoffe: Is it possible when you visit for you to stay in a motel and let the kids, or one kid at a time, have a sleepover with the grandparents? Or could you compromise and have the grandparents stay with you for the weekend, but then move into a motel during the work week? These are your parents and your husband's parents. Instead of quietly steaming, you should be able to say to them that you love them and want the kids to have the maximum time possible with them, but sharing close living quarters is just miserable for you, and you want to figure out a way to get together that makes everyone happy.

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New York City: Just wanted to offer a comment to balance out the Scrooges! The first Christmas after the crash—when we were all high populists—I made a donation to Heifer in my mother's name. When she received the card, she called me up and cried on the phone (and not because she was missing another kitten sweater).

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Heifer was not one of her usual charities, and it hasn't become one—by adulthood we all generally have picked out those to which we will commit our finite resources. But now my mother doesn't have to worry about how to fit a new charity into her finances; she knows that I'll do it for her.

That's why it's a GIFT and not just a (measly) tax write off.

Emily Yoffe: You mean there are people like your mother who were moved by a lovely, meaningful gesture and didn't ream you out because you didn't get her the Santa swizzle sticks? Amazing.

Thank you for this note, which starts the new year out on the right note!

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