Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Daughter has right to say 'no' to smoky stay at dad's house
Mississippi: My girlfriend, in her late 20s, lives in a different state from her family.
When she goes to visit them, her dad wants her to stay at his home.
However, he smokes cigarettes in the house.
If she tells him that she does not want to stay with him, then he will get offended.
What is the best way to handle the situation — either stay with him only on the condition that he not smoke in the house, or just decline the offer, knowing it will hurt his feelings?
Carolyn: Either one is fine, because either one would indicate that she doesn't have puppet strings on her wrists for daddy to use when he wants something out of her.
Every guilt trip comes with a clearly marked, unlocked exit door.
It's called "no."
She either says it, or she's the one choosing not to.
She's too old to blame her dad (and he's too old to blame her, for that matter).
Anonymous: Perhaps I am missing something, but I don't get the reference to "puppet strings," or the suggestion that the father is trying to get something out of the daughter by asking her to come stay with him.
I understand she doesn't want to be around the cigarette smoke, and so can opt out, and realize that his hurt feelings are his own problem.
Because it's not a slam on her part, it's all just about the smoke.
But I don't get asking him not to smoke in his own house (as much as I dislike cigarette smoke myself), and I also don't get the part where he is attempting to be a puppet master, just by asking — or even by being hurt if she says no.
Unfair, perhaps, but not malevolent.
Carolyn: The letter said "he will get offended." Really? Personal offense because his kid doesn't want to breathe smoke for extended periods of time?
Innocent hurt feelings are when you say, "I'm sad that you won't stay with me, because I want to spend as much time with you as I can while you're here, but they're your lungs and I understand."
In fact, that's not even hurt feelings, that's just disappointment, which is to be expected.
As you said, the daughter's reservations aren't a slam against the father as a person, they're just about the smoke.
Noxious pressure is when you convey that you will be personally wounded if someone makes a reasonable choice against a three-day headache. That's taking it as a slam.
The daughter's/girlfriend's desire to avoid offending him says he uses that to get what he wants.
I suppose it's possible the hurt feelings are Mississippi's interpretation of things, and that the father is gracious but the daughter still hates to let him down.
But, again, "he will get offended" seems pretty definitive to me.