Dear Amy: My 16-year-old son and his friends get together every now and again at one another's homes to play video games or watch a movie.
Whenever his friends come to our house, we feed them and provide them with snacks and beverages. My son has often paid for this out of his own pocket because he enjoys their company, has a very generous spirit and is a gracious host.
Whenever they go to "Jack's" house, the mother sends an e-mail to everyone telling them to bring a snack to share, and she recently said, "Bring money so we can order pizza."
I find this tacky and rude.
For Jack's 17th birthday, he called my son and "invited" him to the movies to celebrate his birthday. My son had to pay for himself when they got there.
Am I out of touch with reality?
When I take my son and his friends out for my son's birthday, I would never consider asking them to pay for their own meal or for the movies.
Is this a trend or is it rude and obnoxious?
Dear Wondering: I don't see a trend here. What I do see is a tough economy, where hosting a pack of teenage boys could cost upward of $200. Nor do I think asking kids to pay for their own snacks or chip in for pizza is outrageous.
These older teens should be involved in the important transition — from kids whose moms provide snacks and pay for movies — to young adults who finance their own recreation.
It sounds as if you are a generous person who enjoys hosting and treating these young people. That's an admirable trait, and you are no doubt providing your son with a nice example to follow. But to brand another family as tacky, rude and obnoxious for following a different financial model is unnecessarily harsh.
Dear Amy: I am a 42-year-old woman living in the same city as my mother. We meet for dinner at least once a week. When we go to dinner, I like to have a beer, especially with wings and pizza. She frowns on this, though she will sometimes have a glass of wine at functions.
How can I nicely say, "I am an adult and if I want to relax after a hard day's work, why can't you allow me without getting upset and climbing on your high horse?"
She gambles at least three times per week, and I don't give her lectures.
— Like My Suds
Dear Suds: I'm going to give you both the benefit of the doubt and assume that you don't have a drinking problem and your mother doesn't have a gambling problem — though this assumption may be a stretch.
If you don't have an alcohol addiction, then one response to this kind of disapproval and interference is, "Make mine a double."
Otherwise, you can be straightforward and say, "Mom, I'm going to have a beer. If you don't like it, I'm sorry, but I'm 42 years old, I'm responsible and this is what I'm going to do."
If your mother won't leave this alone, and if establishing your right to have a beer is that important to you, you might want to meet her for dinner less often. If she asks why you don't want to meet, you can say, "You don't seem happy when we go out, so I'd rather not do it so often."
Your mother can only control you if you let her.
Dear Amy: Thank you so much for printing the letter concerning nasty in-laws and the horrible aftermath of this sort of abuse.
Like "Wishing," my in-laws are also gone now, but I'm still dealing with the emotional issues and trying to let go.
I think the worst part of all this is my failure to set boundaries with my husband's parents. Had I done that early on, it wouldn't have gone as far as it did. They were aggressive people who made sure my husband was never in the room to hear their criticism, which has left him wondering why this is such an issue with me.
I chose to back down and ignore what they said, and it gave them license to continue.
Letting go of the anger is difficult because I'm angry at myself for putting up with their bullying.
Dear Sad: Countless readers have taught me that setting boundaries early on could help to prevent bullying and its painful legacy.
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