Dear Liz,

We have several groups of family members coming to visit us this summer. That brings up an annual issue. Do we serve alcohol or not? We are in our early 50’s and choose not to drink alcohol. We’d rather not have it in our home. Since we are providing the accommodations for our visitors and want to be good hosts, we have felt some pressure to either have alcohol for our guests or at the least, welcome them to bring their own. I don’t drink for religious reasons and my husband doesn’t out of respect for me and for health reasons. In the past, we stopped serving which seemed to be accepted. But our guests brought their own. A few people overdid it. It’s very uncomfortable for us. We also wanted to set a more wholesome example for our children, now grown. We can’t decide, but feel we should let our guests know in advance.

Happily “dry”

Dear “Happily...”

I’m glad you seem to have a sense of humor about it. This can be a tough issue, but I believe that since you are kind enough to house your family in such a beautiful vacation location, the values in your house should be respected. The biggest challenge may be how you communicate your preference. And how you handle any push-back you get. My suggestion is to be clear and kind, including your request about alcohol in a short list of visit reminders. For instance: “We have chosen to make our home alcohol and smoke-free. “

Be mindful, people who could have an alcohol problem may not want to stay where they have to abstain. This should not be held as a judgement, just as a fact. Many people just consider enjoying alcohol a part of celebrating or just part of a meal as you know. Being clear in advance will let your guests decide for themselves how they are going to handle the issue. It may cause some contention/upset within the family. But that is not your fault or problem. As long as you are polite and clear, it is your home. And you are kind to host your family. I’d love to hear how other readers handle this often uncomfortable situation.

Dear Liz,

The recent string of days (hot month) has left me and most of the people I know extra sensitive and cranky. My husband and I are snapping at each other when we are usually civil. And our teenagers are whining about everything, not just the heat. Do we have an “excuse” because of the weather?

Hot tempers

Dear “Hot tempers,”

Prolonged environmental heat and especially with humidity can certainly affect mood in a negative way. In fact, there is even an increase in domestic violence during heat waves. There are psychological and physiological reactions that I’d rather claim as a “reason” instead of an “excuse” for unpleasant reactions and behaviors. Self care is critical. From staying hydrated and being wise about time spent outdoors to taking cool breaks and giving one another a break are essential steps. In the Charleston heat and humidity I always recommend either staying in air conditioned places − or cooling off under water. Be safe.

Contact Liz via asklizchs@outlook.com. Liz Brisacher Sharp is a Master degree level Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with 35 years experience in mental health.

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