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Parents don't understand they're really wanted at beach house vacation

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Parents can't get comfortable when kids pay for vacation

Beachbummed: My parents (who admittedly are rather formal) have treated for vacations for years. This year, my husband and I rented a beach house for a week. We invited my parents to come for all or part of the week, thinking it would be a fun time for them to spend with their grandchildren (and children!).

The result has been an exercise in family weirdness. 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." We keep saying, "You're not intruding, you're invited."

The result? They are not staying even two days, insisting they will leave "first thing Monday" and will "let us get back to our family vacation."

I can't think why they would think they were intruding. They've been invited. We're happy to have them. Any advice on what we can do or say?

Carolyn: Reinforce one more time that it was your hope that they would stay X days — in other words, leave nothing open to interpretation — and then drop it.

It's possible they're afraid of overstaying despite your assurances, which means you're not going to change their minds, and it's possible they're not comfortable being somewhere when it isn't on their terms — in which case you're even less likely to change their minds. Enjoy the days they're there, and then enjoy your family vacation after they go.

"It doesn't matter how old you get, you'll always be my baby . . .": Re: Beachbummed: My parents treat for everything when we're together. The times when 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 that BB and spouse would like them to enjoy the whole week on them for a change. Then, the parents will feel more like guests of honor rather than impositions.

Carolyn: Letting people treat does empower them, while the reverse often infantilizes. Thanks.

Ways to honor relatives who won't take cash for caregiving

Virginia: My partner is returning to the work force after a year of stay-at-home parenting. My parents have offered to be day care providers, but refuse to accept payment. They plan to retire early and, as we live two hours away, rent a second home to avoid "getting in our space."

Thoughts? We love the idea of grandparents caring for our child — but are worried about the whole no-money, costing-them-money thing.

Carolyn: (1) Figure out how much you'd want to pay, and offer that amount toward their rent.

(2) Presumably they'll refuse.

(3) Put that same amount of money every month into a separate savings account.

That way, if they ever need money, you'll have it to give them, and if they don't need money, then you can give them a great thank-you present.

If even that makes them uncomfortable, then you'll have a great stash for college for your kid(s), courtesy of your parents. If a legacy of care is all they're after, then that will honor them nicely.

Parents don't understand they're really wanted at beach house vacation 08/18/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 5:30am]

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