Another etiquette dilemma?

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2006
Another etiquette dilemma?
21
Sun, 07-15-2007 - 9:30pm

My kids were invited to spend and extended weekend away with new friends who have children the same age. We only know them through our children and have socialized with them exclusively 5 or 6 times, but we've seen at sporting events 50 times in the past year or so. My kids love them, we like the parents; they are new, but potentially good friends.

Our 2 boys went on a long weekend to their vacation home with them. (I didn't mention before that they are filthy rich) My boys have a great time and went to waterparks etc on the trip. We gave our oldest 9yo money to cover significant expenses, but he was too shy to offer and came back with all the money we gave him. We also told the father that Ds1 could cover any unusual expenses for the trip. But of course, he didn't ask.

So how do we recover? We won't really recipricate, because they've got 4 crazy kids and we'd never be able to handle the same type of logistics. Is a gift certificate at a really fine restaurant enough? What else should we do?

This would not be an issue with longterm friends, but it is with new friends. WWYD?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-04-1997
Sun, 07-15-2007 - 9:42pm

I would write a note and say that you were horrified to find out that they had had to cover all your son's expenses because your son was too shy to give them the money that you had given them, and you really appreciate the extra trouble they went to in including your son in their activities and you want them to have a nice dinner out on you to "recover."

My older son is fifteen and STILL shy in those kinds of situations, I still call the parents and say that he will be coming with X amount of dollars and that I would appreciate if they took all but a minimal amount of spending money and held it to pay his expenses. My younger son, age 11, is much more likely to come out with the expected "My Mom wanted me to give you this money for my admission."

There is always a bit of awkwardness when there is a significant wealth differential with kids. We aren't "filthy rich" by any means, but we can afford things that neither of my children's best friends can afford, and we are often in the position of my kids wanting to invite their friends to places they can't really afford themselves. We always make it clear that we want the kids to go for our children's pleasure, and if they ever say anything, we always respond with, "Oh, we never think about it, we are always happy to have Johnny along, and besides, you have been so good about offering to watch our boys on those pesky early release days" (or whatever). And they are. So it all evens out.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2006
Sun, 07-15-2007 - 10:03pm

Thx for your respomse. Thank you notes are already written and sent.

I don't think its the differential in wealth. For me it's the differential in knowledge and comfort. Most of our friends are long time high school or college friends (25+ years), there is nothing I would censor myself from saying to them. But new friends are good and we have to get past the censor to the honesty and openness. It'd just a little more difficult. It's much harder making new friends at 50 than at 20.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2000
Sun, 07-15-2007 - 10:11pm

I would have given the money directly to the parents to cover expenses. I don't think a 9 y/o can really be expected to understand when it would be appropriate to offer money for "significant" expenses during the trip.

That being said, I think a gift certificate is a nice idea. I would just send along a note thanking them again for taking your kids along with them. I might even mention (perhaps not in the note but in person if you will see them in the near future) that you had sent along some money with your son but that you realize he didn't use any of it and extend your apologies for that oversight.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2006
Sun, 07-15-2007 - 10:22pm

Yup, I'm thinking that I f'd up here. My mistake, I was just as uncomfortable as my 9yo son. I think making new friends at 50 can be as difficult as making new friends at 9. I don't know all the rules, but I'm supposed to be the adult.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2000
Sun, 07-15-2007 - 10:26pm

LOL, I'm not quite 40 yet and I know what you mean!

None of my kids have yet to go away with anyone except family yet so we haven't faced any of this yet.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-04-1997
Sun, 07-15-2007 - 10:27pm
I'm fifty, too! Actually fifty-one. I'm not sure I am finding it harder to make new friends. Maybe because I have moved around so much if it weren't for relatively new friends, I'd hardly have any! But I do agree that there is the initial "how close are we gonna get/do our spouses click/are you an acquaintance or a friend" kind of awkwardness that can take awhile to overcome.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2006
Mon, 07-16-2007 - 8:09am

I am going to go against the trend of the thread.

Your sons were invited as guests of the family. They were told that your sons had money to pay for expences but they chose not to ask for any money. That tells me that they intended for your sons to be complete guests and not pay their way.

I do not think that every thing in life has to be tit for tat, you do something for me, I have to do something for you. Not every thing in life has to be equalized. One thing that many people have a lot of trouble with is accepting things from others, either complement or monitary. (I know it is something that I have had to work on). But sometimes the most correct etiquette is to just accept things freely given to you with a polite thank you.

I think that it is an example of things that pay forward. Sometimes people pay your (or your childrens way) sometimes you pay for others. I think that unless someone is a complete moocher (which this thread tells me you are not) it all even outs in the end. Does that mean that the ledger for will be completly even, no. But again it does not have to be.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-12-2005
Mon, 07-16-2007 - 9:05am
I agree. When we invite friends along if we didn't want to cover all expenses we would tell the parents "so and so will need money for a ticket to an amusement park."(or something similar) When we invite someone to go with us somewhere, we don't expect the favor to be returned.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-29-2004
Mon, 07-16-2007 - 9:08am

In that situation, no doubt all the admissions, T-shirts and ice cream cones were paid for all 6 kids by one parent or the other with plastic; it's not easy for your kids to have the poise to know when or how to pay for things with their own money or what to say to an adult about it.

And for an adult, it can feel wrong to even say anything at all about the money, as you experienced yourself. So for me the thing to do is to just try to include one or two of the other family's kids next time we do something where we could include them and not worry at all about the cost of things evening out. It's really more about the gesture than the cost, after all.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-10-2007
Mon, 07-16-2007 - 3:24pm

"I would write a note and say that you were horrified to find out that they had had to cover all your son's expenses because your son was too shy to give them the money that you had given them, and you really appreciate the extra trouble they went to in including your son in their activities and you want them to have a nice dinner out on you to "recover.""
I believe "horrified" is too strong a word.

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