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Todd Parker Todd Parker
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Dear Todd Parker (11/16/2016)

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Dear Todd Parker,

With Thanksgiving coming up, I know that I'm supposed to be doing my part to bring everyone together in the spirit of gratitude and the holiday season.

I'm hosting the family dinner with my husband this year; folks from both sides are going to be coming to our house. We're both pretty excited to be doing it because it's the first time we've been able to do it in our new house; our old place was too small for us to comfortably have everyone and the kitchen was too beat-up to do the meal justice.

For the most part, we each get along great with the other's family neither of us have ever felt like our in-laws have been anything other than nice to us. Unfortunately, we have a bit of a problem.

My husband's younger brother can be a bit of a jerk. The two of them have a fairly tense relationship and can get into a ridiculous argument at the drop of a hat.

So it seems that Eric (not his real name) has told his parents that he's willing to join us, but only if the whole family agrees that he can watch the 'Mythbusters' marathon before and after dinner. He has made it clear that this is non-negotiable and that he won't come to dinner if this demand isn't met. He also said that if he gets there and someone tries to watch something else, he'll leave.

It should probably be noted that my husband and I are pretty big football fans and have come to really enjoy falling asleep to the NFL over the past few years. I'm not going to call it a tradition or anything, but we really like it.

Is it wrong that I want to refuse Eric's request? He's obviously being petty and childish and just looking to cause some sort of trouble. He's been doing stuff like this for years he's the youngest, so his parents have indulged him far longer than they should have.

Can I say no? I'm worried that it will upset my husband's parents and/or cause a fight.

Baffled in Bangor

Dear Baffled,

Holy crap. This is some dysfunctional st right here.

How old is this Eric dude anyway? Not that it matters if he's old enough to decide whether or not he's going to come to Thanksgiving dinner, he's old enough to not behave like a petulant child.

(Though it should be noted that while Thanksgiving is a standard bearer in terms of familial passive-aggression, this guy is taking it to some whole new levels. I've seen stupid ultimatums before, but this one takes thepie? I guess? Anyway, you can almost admire the chutzpah. Almost.)

Of course the guy is doing this to get some sort of reaction. He probably doesn't even LIKE 'Mythbusters' he just knows that his brother likes doing something and thus that thing must be ruined. He's just stomping his feet to make sure that Mommy and Daddy are still going to do what he wants them to, even if it comes at the expense of the other brother.

It's probably safe to assume that this isn't the first time something like this has happened, right? And if this is a pattern of behavior, he's clearly been given the impression that what he's doing is acceptable.

This cycle must end.

And I hate to say this, Baffled, but it's up to you. You're the one who is going to have to fall on this particular grenade. Your husband can't do it he's up against genetic ties and years of familial indifference. But you you can do it. You can tell Eric that he's welcome to join you, but that you will not have rules dictated to you in your own home. That is absolutely your prerogative.

Will it upset your in-laws? Maybe, but I hope not. Hopefully, they'll be relieved; someone else can tell their entitled little d-bag of an offspring 'no.' Who knows? They might thank you for it. I mean, probably not hard to say just how precious they believe their little snowflake to be but it's possible.

In the end, it's simple. Your house, your rules.


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