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What should be the etiquette in my own house?

My stepdaughter just left after staying at our house for four days so she could help her dad at his watch repair store. The visit was okay, if a little tense at times.

But my question has to do with her wearing a lot of perfume. I'm very sensitive to strong smells, especially synthetic ones, and her perfume was giving me headaches and kicking up my asthma. Not to emergency levels or anything, but enough to cause discomfort. I can still smell the perfume in the air, and it's been a half hour or a little more since she left. The scent is making my stomach queasy.

I wanted to ask my stepdaughter to lay off the perfume while she was here, but her dad thought that would have been rude. He said since I was making an effort to get along with her, which I've always made but which hasn't paid off too much except that she did finally come to visit, so that's a step in the right direction, I should just suck it up and not make waves. Her mom is also allergic to perfumes, so she doesn't wear them at home, but he said that was different because it was her mom. He said his daughter is only 21, and she'll grow more considerate as she gets older, and willing to see the world on adult terms, but for now I shouldn't make any demands of her.

What's done is done, but I'm wondering, what do you all think? Was my boyfriend right? Be nice, please.


Asked by Ballad at 12:10 PM on Mar. 14, 2013 in General Parenting

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This question is closed.
Answers (23)
  • " I don't know if she remembers that I have a problem with perfumes, since she's been away at college for a year and a half."

    Then remind her. It's not at all unreasonable to mention that the perfumes are a problem.

    It's not as if you're going around the house shouting, "Oh, God, what is that SMELL? Did someone spray RAT POISON around here?"

    Yes, that actually happened at work... one of my co-workers started shouting that, then we all realized that the "rat poison" was the perfume worn by another co-worker!

    Answer by gdiamante at 12:53 PM on Mar. 14, 2013

  • He should speak to her not you. He knows she enjoys perfume so perhaps she could wear it lighter or even wait until she has left the house for the day to put it on.

    It doesn't have to be confrontational.
    Does she know you have problems with perfumes?

    Answer by Dardenella at 12:17 PM on Mar. 14, 2013

  • When it comes to your health and breathing... I'd say you have to do what you have to do. There are no excuses to be made by anyone. You can't breath... end of story. Ask her once... then tell her it's a rule that you have put in place. You simply cannot have perfumes in your home. I'd be pissed if he can't back you up on that one.

    I have allergies and asthma... I know where you are coming from. Be tough on that one.

    Answer by m-avi at 12:14 PM on Mar. 14, 2013

  • OK, she's gone. Open all the windows for a few minutes & air the house out. You got through it & you are fine. I would not have said anything just to keep the peace for a few days. If she was staying for an extended period of time I would just say nicely that "I get an instant headache from perfume so please could you not apply it while your here. I get really bad debilitating migraines & I wouldn't ask you this otherwise, so thanks so much for listening". You handled it right for your Husband's sake & I am sure he appreciates you being so accommodating to her. If she doesn't feel threatened by you then I bet she'll be even nicer next time you get together.


    Answer by ILovemyPaulie at 12:24 PM on Mar. 14, 2013

  • Since this is not a nit-picky issue, but a medical one, I see no problem with asking her to lighten up on the perfumes when she comes to stay. At 21, she should be adult enough to realize that these things could be serious. Your boyfriend's thought that she will become more considerate as she gets older is ridiculous. As long as everyone around her is to be accomodating to her and not vice versa, this will never happen. I'm sure if the shoe were on the other foot, he would be asking you to tone it down for her. While I believe you should be hospitable to a guest, I don't believe your health should be a secondary consideration.

    Answer by hootie826 at 12:28 PM on Mar. 14, 2013

  • I would simply ask her to apply it once she leaves, no harm no foul.

    Answer by funlovinlady at 12:14 PM on Mar. 14, 2013

  • ask her to tone down on the perfume and if that doesn't help ask her to apply it only when she is about to leave. I feel your pain, I am sensitive to the same stuff.

    Answer by LostSoul88 at 12:16 PM on Mar. 14, 2013

  • If it were just a matter of personal preference, that you didn't like the particular scent she uses, I'd say you just have to suck it up and deal with it. But this is a real medical concern, something that affects your breathing, so you have every right to ask her to either stop wearing it or to apply it outside the house when she's leaving. Your boyfriend should be backing you up on this. It's not a simple difference of opinion, it's a real issue that needs to be dealt with.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 12:32 PM on Mar. 14, 2013

  • Since it was affecting your health, there was nothing wrong with asking her to skip the perfume for a few days while she stays with you.

    Answer by SWasson at 12:36 PM on Mar. 14, 2013

  • I see no reason not to ask her to tone it down. Her mother has allergies, so it shouldn't be a shocker to her that other people can, too.

    Next time you see her, bring it up in a gentle way, saying how much you enjoyed her last visit, but that you had some allergies to the cologne she was wearing.

    Answer by anng.atlanta at 12:38 PM on Mar. 14, 2013