Aim. This paper draws on data from a study which investigated how Australian nursing home staff constructed staff-family relationships. Background. Working with the family in aged care to provide the best care possible is consistent with modern nursing philosophy which espouses holistic care. The quality and enjoyment of the experience however, is frequently fraught with problems and challenges for both the staff and the family involved. Design. A qualitative constructivist design as described by Guba and Lincoln [Fourth Generation Evaluation. Sage Publications, London.] was used. Method. Thirty paid caregivers drawn from eight nursing homes were interviewed about their experiences of working with residents' families. A constant comparative method of data analysis was used to arrive at the findings. Results. This paper reports on seven themes under the category of 'unacceptable behaviours'. These themes describe a range of attitudes and behaviours exhibited by families which staff members found undesirable. Conclusions. Staff members found a number of family behaviours challenging. Nursing home staff perceives the family as subordinate to their needs and want to retain control of the work environment. Relevance to clinical practice. Nursing home staff need to move away from custodial models of care focused on 'getting the work done' and develop more family friendly work practices that are inclusive of the needs of the family and view them as equal partners in care.