Did you catch this column by Carolyn Hax? A grown child--Beachbummed--complains that her parents who have treated for vacations for years, were reluctant to join her when she and her husband rented a place this year. "They apparently are totally creeped out about our paying--they keep listing things they will pay for, like groceries, dinner, tolls--and keep saying they "don't want to intrude." Although she tells her parents they are not intruding--they are invited--they ended up staying for less than two days, hurting their daughter's feelings.
All I can say is, Was one of my children complaining about me? I have been there; done that. This year, when Uber son rented a vacation condo--we usually picked up the tab or, in more recent years, split it--he insisted on paying the rent in full. His argument: he was renting it at a time convenient to him, at a place he preferred, for his family of 5. Since he was setting the terms, he was paying the tab. Paterfamilias had to be disabused of the idea that there was not going to be any splitting of the bill. We tried to kick in our share by buying a lot of the groceries and taking the family out to dinner. Made us feel better. It is hard for us--and for others, like Beachbummed's folks--to sit back and let our kids pay for everything. And there is a sense that we're intruding on their privacy--as opposed to treating them to something they might otherwise not be able to afford.
The Beachbummed daughter wanted to know what she could say to her parents to convince them she and her husband were happy to have them stay for as long as they liked.One reader answered by noting that "my parents treat for everything when we're together. The times they let the "kids" treat is when it's a gift or a thank-you. Beachbummed should say the beach vacation is their way of thanking their parents for all of the family vacations over the years, and the BB and spouse would like them to enjoy the whole week for a change."
For those of us who resist such largess, Hax makes this point in her column's answer--a variation of my Note to Self: Let them treat you to something." Says Hax:"Letting people treat does empower them, while the reverse often infantilizes.