Why Won’t They Pay?

Question: Our son and wife live in another state. In their 30s, been married a couple of years, child on the way – educated.  She is not a cook. They and most likely eat out all of the time. (None of my business so doesn’t concern me).However, when we have been invited to visit (flying) –  (recently other family members but we weren’t there), they pick expensive restaurants (to “show us around the ) and they never pay – the guests always end up flipping the bill (usually a parent(s) or someone else “older”.  It’s like they still think they’re kids.  The last vacation, we ended up spending most of our vacation money on these dinners and lunches.  The one time I put a charge card on the table and suggested they do the same so we could split the bill – they got very upset. Recently when ‘other’ family members were “invited down”, they had no appetizers or drinks waiting for them, no food – NOTHING…. guests chose to stay in a nearby hotel after a flight and renting a car – but it’s terribly embarrassing for us as his parents.  They ended up going out with probably 10 people (including her parents) (as it was a celebration for the couple) and again, one of my relatives ended up paying the bill or a good portion of it – – a very expensive restaurant (I can’t imagine).  I don’t want to pick a fight but this is consistent behavior – so much so that we didn’t even want to go on this particular trip for this reason. They will be coming up with their baby soon – maybe for a baptism – and again, they will expect we HOST not only them, the event, but her family as well (also out of town) with no offer from them.   I’m going broke here.   So we’re typically hosting both when they come here and when we go there.  How do I stop this without starting a huge fight?  They seem to get angry fairly quickly.  Seems to me that when people get INVITED somewhere – where they have to FLY, get a hotel, etc – the least the HOST can do is provide a welcoming atmosphere.  They have the money. It’s very disturbing, as my son was not raised this way.  Whenever I have invited people to my home – I tend to go “all out” – but that’s me.  I don’t ‘expect’ anything – but I don’t like to be forced into a situation like this.  This baptism is THEIR event which they CHOOSE to do up here.  It is THEIR event, not ours. How do I handle this? M.

Answer: Dear M.: What is happening is called blackmail. It’s a “pay up or pay the price” situation and I know of no way to resolve it without a confrontation. The way I see it, your son and DIL are successfully holding you up at invisible gunpoint. If your son wasn’t raised that way, he is at least condoning it and will probably continue to.

Please consider bringing this difficult issue to my Web-forum for additional feedback: www.motherinlawsunite.com . Off the top of my head, I think I would say that I was going to McDonald’s and everyone who wanted to go with me, was invited…my treat, and that I’d be happy to meet up again afterward if they wanted to eat elsewhere. Then, I WOULD DO IT; breakfast, lunch and supper. I’m totally serious!

If you (and others) continue to let them dictate who is going to pay for what…it will never end and will probably increase. There is no reason for them to end it; it’s working very much to their advantage. They are acting like 2 year olds. Watch out for tantrums. If and when you take a stand…(because you have run out of money or are fed up), they will probably punish you by withdrawing from your life. Be prepared. They have set it up so that you will pay the price, either way. Blessings, Luise

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