Dear Annie: Empty-handed guests
Dear Annie: I have a question of etiquette. Our adult sons (who are older than 40), their wives and our grandchildren often visit over the weekends for family sit-down dinners. We do this pretty much every weekend because they live close by and we enjoy the chance to keep up with our daughters-in-law and grandchildren.
Our boys and their wives help themselves to wine and beer, which is fine, and I enjoy a glass or two of wine, too. But none of them ever brings a bottle of wine as a gesture. They all have the expectation that we will replenish the wine and beer each week. Did we do something wrong in bringing these young men up? — Mystified and Sad
Dear Mystified and Sad: I’m sure you gave your children many etiquette lessons when they were younger; now it’s time for some continuing education. There’s no need to be shy about it. Tell them you’d really appreciate it if they brought wine, beer or another refreshment when they come over. Let’s hope they have already been bringing food or drinks when guests at others’ homes and were just under the (inconsiderate and self-centered) impression that Mom and Dad would always pay for everything. Set ‘em straight.
Dear Annie: I have not spoken to my son in almost 15 years. In all that time, I have not seen my granddaughter. When she became a teenager, I invited her to visit my wife and me, even offering to pay her way, but she never came down. She and I have been in touch over the years through email. She did offer to tell me how life is treating her and all the things she is involved with and all the places she has visited. She is now graduating college, and I do not know whether I should give her a gift or not. A part of me says yes, and another part of me says no. I feel that once she became an adult, she could have come to visit us. We know deep down we will never see her or be involved in her life. What should I do? — Long-Distance Grandparents
Dear Long-Distance Grandparents: There’s no “should” here. There’s only what you feel comfortable doing and what you don’t. If you want to give her a gift, go for it. If you don’t, that’s perfectly fine.
Keep in mind that her reasons for not visiting may be complicated. Maybe her dad asked her not to visit. Or maybe he has said that he’s fine with it but she feels guilty having a relationship with you two when he doesn’t. You say you know deep down that you’ll never see her, but the fact that she’s made an effort to give you updates on her life over the years suggests she cares about having a relationship with you. She’s only recently become an adult. I wouldn’t give up hope just yet.
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