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How to get my significant other's adult children to pick up a check??


This may sound trivial, but my significant other's adult children and spouses always select the most expensive restaurant to go to and then my S.O. always picks up the check because they don't offer to pay, or even contribute. I have suggested that he say "if I pick, I will pay", or "you choose, you pay", or even, "lets split the bill", but he won't do it.
A few weeks ago, he selected a nice pub style place with good food for dinner and his son said, "no we would rather go to "X" for a nice big steak"!!! I was brought up to think of this as VERY rude. It is as if the restaurant is more important than his father's company. Today, the son chose the new fancy Italian restaurant which we went to one time an d have decided not to go back to because it is really expensive. And, I am sure my S.O. will pay. These adult children are in their mid 30's and are all working. I think my S.O. is afraid that if he doesn't pick up the checks, he won't get to see his kids at all.
I have also suggested that he just cook dinner at home, but then the son raids his wine cellar, acts like he owns the place. BTW, the son barely finished high school, only had a few college classes and is in the restaurant business himself. Any ideas of how to handle this? I know it's not my problem, and I have been very careful what I have said, but I really think he is being taken advantage ot!! I appreciate your thoughts!

  1. <<I know it's not my problem, and I have been very careful what I have said, but I really think he is being taken advantage ot!! I appreciate your thoughts!>>

    Well I am sure its annoying and hard to see your partner being "taken advantage of", you are right. It's NOT your problem. Unless your SO has specifically asked for your help you are best to say out of it.

    If he has asked for your help stay focused on HIM and what he can do. Based on your comments it appears that you don't have any great respect for his children. You would be wise to keep your POV about them to yourself.

    My parents continued buying our meals until the day they died-always insisting we save our money. After a while you stop arguing and find other ways to "pay them back".

    In the meantime, welcome to the CH! Maybe you can search for inexpensive chow worthy places in your neighborhood to try. Might help you relate to the son since he is in the business and get you steered to less expensive, good food!

    4 Replies
    1. re: foodieX2

      I can't say it better than you Foodiex2. Great advice.

      1. re: Sandwich_Sister

        Another thumbs up to Foodiex2's advice.

        I also came from a family where Dad picked up the tab.

        I remember my best friend's grandfather saying "you're money is no good when you are with me" every single time when I would try to pay for my share of restaurant meals. He liked being able to "treat" us.

        But on the other hand, my ILs are total freeloaders when it comes to restaurant meals so I can appreciate the OP's seat at the table. I always kept my mouth shut (we could afford it) until my husband reached his limit. We don't go out to eat with them anymore.

      2. re: foodieX2

        Ditto. I had to wait until late last year - as my father was nearing 89 - before my father happily accepted being treated. Treating was part of his sense of his role (functional identity).

        Much like my fairly disabled 89 y/o mother, who hasn't been able to cook for several years, sees her role as monitoring housekeeping by my father. Drives him batty, but he understands her role hasn't changed, just the way she is able to execute it.

        General rule of wisdom: do not intervene between blood family. Actively or passive aggressively.

        1. re: foodieX2

          You, foodie, are a very smart cookie.

        2. I can definitely understand why this bothers you if you truly feel he is being taken advantage of. How does your SO feel about the situation other than the fact that he refuses not to pick up the check? If he's in a financial position to do so and it truly doesn't bother him, then I guess there isn't a whole lot you can do. Clearly you've already made suggestions to him that he has refused. I don't think there is anything you can or should do individually to get his children to pick up the check.

          Like I said, I do understand where you're coming from. My parent's are still married and always pick up the check for my siblings and I during family dinners out. I'm always very appreciative of it and I re-pay them in other ways. But honestly in my position, my parent's are far more financially stable than I am, so it's something they would never think of expecting me to take a turn doing. I don't however have final say on the restaurant we go to unless its my Birthday. I think if my parent's weren't together and one of them had a SO, i might be a little miffed by that person trying to switch up our dynamic regarding the check when dining out. However, it does seem like your SO's children are being a bit rude for vetoing his choice of restaurant and picking their own. They should be more greatfull. I wish you luck in hopefully finding a happy medium for everyone involved!

          1. I take it you don't have children.

            3 Replies
            1. re: fara

              I don't see that as the issue at all.

              We have grown kids. My husband makes multiples of what the kids probably ever will. At present they are still staring out and not making much more than their expenses. When we invite them for family occasions or out to dinner we always pay the check and aren't expecting them to. Still, they are adults and in life, generally speaking, they are expected to behave like adults. Socially that means making a contribution at whatever level is reasonable for them.

              On the big family events, we ask them to bring something -- beverages or appetizers -- by way of participating completely and we are happy to accept their invitation to the occasional brunch or dinner as a way of acknowledging that they are independent and generous adults even if they don't have the same resources we do. We find ways to contribute and ease some of their financial burdens but we are proud that they have the personal pride to hold their independence in high regard.

              Saying that, I'm sure it's very different for blended families than it is for those of us who raised them from infancy together.

              1. re: rainey

                When my parents were alive, we had the mirror-reverse of this situation. We made more money than my parents had dreamed of, and once they retired, we made sure they never paid for meals with us again. When we visited, annually, I'd even bump Mom out of the way at the grocery store & pay for her cart of food. Made us feel useful, and after they both had died, found out from their finances that our little "bumps" had actually been necessary for them.

                1. re: pine time

                  You're a good kid and I bet you enjoyed being able to do that while your parents were alive but I can only imagine the relief of eventually seeing in hard facts how much it must have improved their lot.

                  I think you richly earned all the satisfaction that must have given you! Mazel tov!

            2. You can't change people. You can't make the kids pay and you can't make your partner force them to. He might appreciate it if you stop hassling him about it. After all...he raised these kids so he created the situation. Maybe he doesn't care.

              As for the one son "only" finishing high school and some college- so what? It's safe to assume they're aware you're judging them.

              1. Thanks everyone, for the feedback. I really do appreciate it. FoodieX2, you are right, I will continue to keep quiet about it and let him take them where they want to go. I will be supportive and keep my opinions to myself unless he asks me about it. I don't see anything wrong with them all going out, and him picking up the tab, but don't understand why he lets his son always pick the most expensive place. That's the part I don't get. And, please don't misunderstand my comment about the son's education, there are lots of people who barely made it through high school who are leading fantastic lives and are successful. I guess when this son's traits are rolled up in a know it all, it stings just a bit. I won't judge, will keep quiet, and let them have all the dinners they want. Thanks again!!

                3 Replies
                1. re: elegantedge

                  " I don't see anything wrong with them all going out, and him picking up the tab, but don't understand why he lets his son always pick the most expensive place. That's the part I don't get."

                  So it's not the lack of reciprocity, but the dollars you're concerned about?

                  This is the way he has raised *his* children and it's quite possible that it gives him pleasure to share generously with them. Even if not, it's their relationship dynamic, not yours. I say, just enjoy the meal and don't resent their accepting his generosity.

                  1. re: elegantedge

                    The key phrase is "he lets". This is his choice to allow his son to do this. If it bothers him, he needs to figure out why he allows it to happen. Maybe you are the only one who is bothered.

                    1. re: elegantedge

                      If the son is a chef himself, maybe the 'know it all' is deserved and your irritation is about something else.

                    2. I was dating a guy for a long time and he had a similar situation. The only difference is that he has 3 grown daughters.

                      I felt he overcompensated because of the guilt of his divorce (it was pretty nasty). He felt he wanted to give his children the world. It only became a problem when he would continue his over-indulging his children, but couldn't afford to pay his bills. I even paid our way some of the time, and would have been happy if he left himself enough money to pay just his half.

                      I got very tired of the situation, tried to talk to him a few times, but he was un-yielding. I decided to end our relationship because I could see myself feeling more frustrated and not enjoying our time together.

                      I do love children, and enjoyed his immensely. I have two children of my own, but don't feel I neglect them because I am not buying them every meal, when we go out together.

                      I don't feel that your issue is with your SO's children, it's your SO issues. He needs to set up the ground rules. If he chooses to continue paying for everything and it's driving a wedge between you, then you can either accept it, or move on. Or you can opt out of going out to dinner with him and his kids. Sorry if this sounds blunt, but it doesn't sound like you enjoy them much anyway. And this is JMO, not meant to hurt anyone's feelings. Good luck.



                      1. I think you've got your answer here!
                        I'd only add that this will not change. Ever. Think about that.
                        Just sayin'.

                        1. Dear Mcl215,
                          Thanks for your reply. I think you are right, the issue is really my SO's, not so much the adult children's. He is allowing this , and as it happens, he WAS in a nasty divorce 10 years ago or so and may feel that he needs to compensate for that. I really think this is the only time he gets with his son and if it costs him $300 for dinner, so be it. I have already "excused" myself from these dinners, the son, as I said is a "know it all", and his wife is very similar. We are just very different people, and while I know my SO will see his kids (and spouses), I don't have to be part of it. Really, it's not my money, but the lack of respect is something I don't like my SO to experience. He is also paying for his adult daughter (39) to go to grad school. She is married and has a part time job. I just can't get in the middle of it, but it is so contrary to how I was raised! When I graduated from college, I got a job, moved out and never asked my parents to pick up a check! My value system is such that I feel to pay these adults ways is to not allow them to grow their own wings and be strong on their own.

                          Monavano, thanks for the reminder, you are right, it will probably never change, and I need to think about that. Thanks to both of you!!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: elegantedge

                            Your welcome and good luck, it sounds like you really like this guy and that's the tough part. :) I was raised the same way your were it seems and this situation seems very frustrating.


                            1. re: elegantedge

                              It sounds as if more is at work here than concern for your SO, more like you don't like the son and wife and are finding things to resent about them.

                              monavano is right; this will not change. I'd add that as long as SO and kid are both comfortable with it, there's no reason it should.

                            2. you've received good advice so far. all I can say is that I am the loser son who is asked for 'where should we go?' suggestions. hmm. I keep it it simple and not chain.

                              they only do it a few times a year so if they want to pay too much for junk when they could have had real food for the same price, it's no skin offa me. it's about seeing people.

                              there are better things to get our blood pressure rocketing.

                              1. I understand that this would get under your skin, and it certainly would mine. As a married adult child of 38 (the 'rents are approaching retirement), I would never dream of not picking up the check, but every family has it's own dynamics.
                                You will come out smelling like a rose if you just stay quiet and enjoy the dinner. Best of luck :)

                                1. To quote my 91 year old mother....
                                  To be a good mother in law keep your mouth shut and your refrigerator open!

                                  You are not even a MIL...but a SO. Your SO and their mother made choices how to raise their children and as long as it's NOT your paycheck or pension picking up the tab you should but out. Alienate the family...lose the SO.

                                  1. At a point in time when both of our kids got married we had a casual talk about this. We all agreed that unless the bank of dad said it was his treat that the kids would pay. We are blessed that they are both very generous and it's never been an issue. If we are out with non family members we split the check equally.
                                    On the other hand when out to dinner with my S.O.'s family there is an expectation that her parents, who are in their mid 80's, will pick up the tab for group family dinners.
                                    When I entered the fold, 16 years ago, I was shocked. Now, when the check comes I look to the others and ask for their share. My FIL and MIL love having me around.

                                    1. Hi Everyone,
                                      I should clarify one thing:
                                      Last year one time, both adult children and their spouses were out for dinner prior to an event for which my SO had gotten the tickets. That time (and only that time) the kids picked up the check. SO commented how pleased he was that they did that. So, I do think he is aware that it is "one way", and I don' t think he always likes it, but as so many of you have said, this is his issue, not the kids. Personally, I think these are patterns which have been in place for some time, and that is hard to change. Many of you have said basically, blood is thicker than water, and I should not interfere, which I don't, but I don't like to see my SO maniuplated by the son. An offer of a dinner out is very gracious, but who among us would say "no we don't want to go to X restaurant, we want to go to Y", which is three times the money and they would never go on their own. It's not the dinners out that disturb me, it's this maniuplation, and as someone said, my SO is to blame for allowing that. I don't think there is anything I should or can do about it, and truth be told, life is too short to get caught up in something like this. The son and DIL are not people I would be friends with if they weren't related to my SO, and given that I work hard and have a busy life, it isn't difficult to excuse myself from these dinners and let them have their time together. And, to be clear, my SO would not care if THEY cooked and made something very simple, but they never do that. His daugher will do that. The son also routinely raids my SO's wine cellar and will always choose the most expensive wine for himself. It's not my money, not my wine, but some basic manners and respect seem to be in order. I am just not the person to teach them that, and in their mid 30's, I am not sure they can learn.....

                                      I really appreciate the feedback, and don't worry, I have a thick skin, so those of you who have said "blunt" things, I can handle it. I still welcome your commentary and look forward to enjoying the other aspects of Chowhound!!

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: elegantedge

                                        I wouldn't say "no, let's go to the more expensive place".

                                        But, more importantly, I wouldn't pick up the check for people who did that, either. Your SO needs to stand up for himself.

                                        1. re: elegantedge

                                          I think this comment, especially the latter part, nails the issue on the head...

                                          "I am just not the person to teach them that, and in their mid 30's, I am not sure they can learn....."

                                          It's very likely the dynamics of the relationship where established many many years if not decades ago. It's possible that the son starting asking dad to go to fancy restaurants when he was young and dad always agreed. The son could have decided to start acting this way after the divorce. The time that it started doesn't really matter. What does matter is that their dad seemingly never taught them that such behavior was unacceptable. This could be because it honestly does not bother your SO and he wants to give his kids whatever they want, or he doesn't want to hurt their feelings, or perhaps some other reason. Regardless, like you have stated, trying to teach them something that you find wrong is not necessarily reasonable.

                                          1. re: elegantedge

                                            exhale and choose your battles. this shouldn't be one of them. no good will come of saying derogatory things about his kids, even if they are true.

                                            stay quiet, take the high road and be kind to him and to them. even if it hurts.

                                            1. re: elegantedge

                                              If the son is a 'chef' I don't understand why he does not cook for his father and you occassionally.

                                            2. Don't get between your significant other and his children. If he's forced to choose, you'll lose. If he asks your opinion, give it to him honestly; otherwise, keep it to yourself. Sorry, no good can come of this for you. Be happy for them that they have a relationship. Many don't.

                                              1. Everyone,

                                                Wow, I am beyond grateful for all your input! There are several different perspectives here, but in general, it boils down to "enjoy the dinner (if I go), keep your mouth shut, don't criticize the adult children, and this is really my SO's issue for any number of reasons. The behavior patterns were likely set long ago.

                                                I am still interested in any input anyone else has, and I have to say, this is obviously a topic which hits a nerve for other people as well, judging by the number of responses! I think for me it is a culture clash because I am so self sufficient and being single for some time, I have had to manage my own money and know the value of a dollar. I will be the one who will say to my SO, "let's go to X place instead of Y because Y is so overpriced"!! Or "let's cook in and watch the sunset instead of going out". Anyway, thanks to all of you, and I appreciate the unbiased perspectives!!
                                                Elegant Edge

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: elegantedge

                                                  I am curious, is your SO frugal in other areas of his life? Or maybe a better question is does he pinch pennies when it comes your activities together?

                                                2. Elegantedge,

                                                  I understand your frustration of being part of a family situation that doesn't share the values/styles that you grew up with. It really can be anger-inducing.

                                                  Just echoing the other posters: there is no way to handle this. These people are his offspring, and you are just his S.O. I say "just" not to diminish your importance, but to emphasize that it's a fight you don't want to pick.

                                                  In the greater picture, if you are going to continue a relationship with (and perhaps marry) this generous man, you're going to have to find a way to not let this son make your teeth grind.

                                                  How often do these dinners occur? Once a week? Once a month?

                                                  1. Good luck! My husband's nephew lived with us for over half a year when we thought we were providing temporary housing for a couple months while his wife sold an East Coast house and they took up permanent residence on the West Coast. In all that time of eating at our table and joining us for upscale restaurant meals with never a suggestion of recompense he ONCE paid for a pizza delivery.

                                                    It didn't seem worth bringing up for what we thought of as a temporary situation but in retrospect we don't miss him and it probably cooled the relationship. ...especially since their residence in our part of the country turned out to be very short-lived and they returned to a different part of the eastern half of the country. So if you're expecting an ongoing relationship I hope you can work out something that seems mutually respectful and mutually accommodating. I hope, at least, you can achieve the communication that allows everyone to feel understood.

                                                    1. In my experience with my father in law and with S.O.'s siblings it was never a case of their being cheapskates. It was just the way it had been done for many years. "It is written" as they say. FIL never complained and the crew never went to their wallets. Go figure?
                                                      On the other hand, once I became "solvent" my mom and dad never paid for a meal.
                                                      A few years ago, when we had dinner with my 25 y/o son, he picked up the check and said: "dad, this is on me." My heart soared like an eagle.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: Motosport

                                                        Sometimes it is just "written," as you say. My parents WILL NOT allow any of us kids or our spouses to pay for a meal - believe me, I've tried, especially now that my parents are retired (they are comfortable, but still, no more money is coming in!). However, when we're with my husband's mother or siblings, we pay, always. Sometimes these things just are what they are.

                                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                                          There are times when you have to go with the flow. No drama is good drama.

                                                          1. re: biondanonima

                                                            I suspect if they made the occasional offer, whether it was accepted or not, elegantedge would not be writing about this concern.

                                                            She's gotten a lot of advice. I'm sure all of it from whatever perspective is useful and she will decide whether it's best to hold her tongue forever, finds a way to approach the subject in whatever way or decides that this complex family relationship isn't worth having. But, bottom line, I understand her resentment and think it's a perfectly legitimate thing.

                                                            1. re: rainey

                                                              The thing about resentment is that whether it's legitimate or not, it's always a net negative.

                                                              But since they have separate homes and finances, it's hard to see why the OP is feeling it, much less asking for help changing it.

                                                              1. re: mcf


                                                                You're right of course about resentments being toxic so I hope they all resolve this one way or the other. In fact I think it's imperative for a healthy on-going relationship. But it is not difficult for me to empathize with the OP's reaction to adult kids who still behave like dependent ones and don't express some gratitude and the occasional spontaneous act of generosity that demonstrates it.

                                                                1. re: rainey

                                                                  I don't think we know that they don't express gratitude at all. I'm assuming that's why they bought dinner when dad bought event tix. Maybe they verbalize it at other times.

                                                                  Nor are they dependent, since OP says they make good money. This amounts to little money per year, and is not a frequent occurrence.

                                                                  I was raised to do otherwise, and raised my child that way, too. But my cousins were raised to expect to be indulged by parents, always to order the most expensive item. They're all independent and grateful, great daughters, but even when hosted by folks they don't know or other relatives, they order a lot of stuff and the highest price ones, the way they were raised to.

                                                                  We just don't have the Big Picture in this case.

                                                        2. Wow, more great input!

                                                          Motosport, your comment made me SO happy! That feeling of raising a responsible young man who was willing to contribute, and acknowledge all you had done for him in the past by doing so is irreplaceable. In my SO's case, this son (his only son) often forgets SO's birthday, and does not call or stay in touch unless SO reaches out to him. That is why I think my SO is ok with the son dictating which restaurant, and having my SO pick up all the checks, because they don't have a great relationship, though not because of fault of my SO. I should add that the son's wife made the comment to my SO a year or so ago, "don' t spend all your money, we are going to have kids soon, and would love your help"!! I didn't say anything but someone else said "you shouldn't have kids you can't afford".....which is true!!

                                                          These dinners happen every 3-4 weeks, so it is not that frequent, and I suppose it is just what my SO considers the cost of having a relationship with his son. It's very one sided though.

                                                          Thanks again!

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: elegantedge

                                                            Wow, some kids he has. Any idea about the mother's side of the relationship?

                                                            Just keep in mind that these kids/their spouses come with the package that is your SO. If your relationship survives, you've got them for life. Not sure that sounds like a bargain, but it's your choice.

                                                            Over your replies, sounds like you're doing the best you can to stay out of it, even not attending the dinners. Best wishes.

                                                            1. re: elegantedge

                                                              I always have a little laugh when I hear people say"they don't have a great relationship, though not because of fault of my SO". Relationships are two way streets and never easy. This statement seems really quite judgmental and self indulgent. Try and get to know them better...ask questions, a little kindness and understanding will go a long way!

                                                            2. Have you asked your SO how he feels about it? Have you told him how you feel about it?

                                                              1. As I read through this, I keep hearing you say it's not the money but then the instances that bother you, eg. more expensive restaurant, expensive bottles of wine, free tuition, are about the money. At the same time, it does seem like you're keeping score and a record of the negatives--son barely finished high school, daughter going to grad school at 38. You seem really unhappy with his family in general. Your SO might be happy with the arrangements. Maybe his children provide him more, in intangible qualities, than he's putting out in cash. If he couldn't afford it, that would be one thing. But, if he can, and this makes him happy, let it go. We always offer to pay when we go out w/ my parents but as my father puts it, it ends up being the same money in the end since we're his heirs.

                                                                Think long term--you could help your SO put an end to this. Worst case scenario, it doesn't go well and your SO never sees his children again. Since it seems you have separate finances, do you pick up the check?

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                  in my head, the worst case was that the s/o dumps the op for talking smack about his kids.

                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                    Worst case for the OP, definitely. I wonder how he'd feel if he knew what was being said about his children.

                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                      My bet he has heard almost enough already. It is his children, his money and he will do as he pleases. She may be further down the food chain than she realizes.

                                                                2. All great feedback, thanks!

                                                                  I do pick up the check sometimes, but more than that, I help him save money, in lots of ways. And, I cook for him too, as well as look out for him.

                                                                  It is true that blood is thicker than water, and I am not blood. He is asking me to move in, or get married, and I think is treading lightly because I am so independent and self sufficient. I have my own home, great job, and am financially secure. I suppose that is partly why I don't get adult children who still rely on their parents, in my family, it was sink or swim and we HAD to be responsible and make it! But everyone is different!

                                                                  He knows how I feel about his kids, I am not a shrinking violet, but I don't harp on it. I really think it is a difference in how I was raised, though I think he was raised the same way. Earlier someone commented that they had a SO who did the same thing, and the relationship didn't last. I don't think that will happen here, I give him plenty of space to pursue a relationship with his kids, and actually encourage him to do so. In the son's case it comes with a price tag, not so much for the daughter, thankfully. It's not for me to say what terms constitute a good relationship, but I can tell you that he WANTS to be proud of both his kids and so far neither is setting the world on fire. That is so contrary to him, he went out in the world at a young age and made it happen!

                                                                  Family is very important, he knows how I feel, and I don't talk them down, am very selective how I address this. I have excused myself from the dinners when I can, and when I can't I am very pleasant to everyone. Family dynamics are funny though.

                                                                  I just think that the son directing the dad to take them to the most expensive place is in bad taste. But again, I think that may be the way he gets to see his son, because it never happens outside of a dinner.

                                                                  I don't have children of my own, but have nieces, with whom I am very close, and my nieces would never behave this way. They are grateful when ever I do something for them and we truly love each other. Honestly, that makes me want to do more for them! But I also believe firmly that being allowed to struggle a bit, eating macaroni and cheese and hamburgers, instead of filet mignon, is a good thing. I found it very motivational when I was younger. If everything is given to a young adult, they won't know the satisfaction of attaining things for themselves.

                                                                  I should add that the son and his wife make in the neighborhood of 150K a year or more, so they are in no way destitude. They take very nice Caribbean vacations every year, and also go to Europe each summer.


                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                  1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                    Honestly, this situation is kind of dire. This is not about food, this is about wanting to control people (if not the So then his children).

                                                                    If your SO is not suffering in any clear way, why not enjoy the meals and report back? And if he is suffering, maybe you can let him know there are alternatives?

                                                                    But if you actually want advice on how to make the children of the SO (people you apparently really dislike if your descriptors are any indication) do something, I've nothing. If you don't have a relationship with them, you can't get them to do anything.

                                                                    1. re: elegantedge

                                                                      Wow! I am having a hard time with your post. I think you need a little more compassion and humility. You seem to take yourself far too seriously and seem to be very jealous. IMO, you sound very difficult and rigid. I think you are stating the obvious when you say your SO wants to be proud of his children. This comment was laugh out loud funny. Stop worrying sooo much about the money, I think your SO can save his own money.

                                                                      1. re: elegantedge

                                                                        Your posts have definitely gotten under my skin. Childless woman tend to think they have allll the answers. Parenthood is very humbling.Please do not kid yourself in thinking that because you are a great aunt you know anything about being a parent. They are very different!

                                                                        1. re: Gloriaa

                                                                          Hey! I'm a childless woman (although I'd say child free...less spinsterish :)) and I don't think I have all the answers. Although I also don't conflate the fun relationship I have with my nieces and nephews with parenthood. No wonder they love me- I give them presents and we do fun things together. I'm not making them do homework or eat their veggies or other objectionable things. Ha.

                                                                          1. re: Gloriaa

                                                                            <Parenthood is very humbling>

                                                                            Life (and its knocks) is very humbling, whether one is a parent or not. You don't automatically acquire savoir vivre by having a child, anymore than being childfree gives anyone any leg up on the answers. I know plenty of brilliant people and plenty of dolts, and there are parents and nonparents in both camps.:-)

                                                                          2. re: elegantedge

                                                                            If you don't respect this guy's family and, by extension, his values and choices, you should consider ending the relationship. Also...so much for the son who barely finished high school. Sounds like he's doing pretty good for himself.

                                                                            1. re: elegantedge

                                                                              "He knows how I feel about his kids, I am not a shrinking violet, but I don't harp on it."

                                                                              I wonder if he thinks you don't harp on it. Honestly, from this thread, it sounds like you've let them get under your skin and you're very critical of them.

                                                                              "so far neither is setting the world on fire...I should add that the son and his wife make in the neighborhood of 150K a year or more, so they are in no way destitude. They take very nice Caribbean vacations every year, and also go to Europe each summer."

                                                                              What are your expectations on setting the world on fire? And, maybe they're happy in their lives? It seems the occasional dinner, every 3-4 weeks isn't excessively depending on their dad. As you keep saying, everyone is different. It really seems like you don't have much respect for his children and the way he has raised them. Who pays for dinner isn't the real issue. It goes much deeper than that and they're his family. I'll play Dear Carolyn here and ask if you're ready to accept this is the way they are, they're happy and you're not going to change them. The answer to your question is you can't. So, the question to you is, can you accept it....forever.

                                                                              1. re: elegantedge

                                                                                EE I just want to let you know that I totally understand why you feel like you do! Many people seem to be pulling apart your feelings and making the matter into an even more upsetting scenario. I would feel the same way as you do. It's hard to stand by when someone is being taken advantage of. At the same time, you have gotten excellent advice for dealing with the situation. I wish you the best ;)

                                                                              2. Family sh*t like this can drive you crazy, I would think long and hard about that before accepting an invitation to cohabitate and certainly when considering marriage. My Mother once told me, you don't just marry the man, you marry the whole family, and to some degree, that is right, unless the family lives far away and doesn't have that much influence/interaction.

                                                                                There's no doubt that your SO is being taken advantage of and that it's rude of the kids to suggest expensive restaurants and that they do so knowing Dad is going to pick up the check. There is also nothing you can do about it...AT THIS POINT. In my opinion, this is when you can do something about it:
                                                                                - When SO asks you for help on how to make it stop.
                                                                                - When you become engaged and, with the intent on blending your finances, sit down to talk about how YOUR family money will be managed and spent, how financial decisions will be made about you and your husband's money. Because then it becomes your money too that they are messing with, and either you both agree on how things will be handled or you have bigger problems and should think long and hard before getting married.

                                                                                Money problems, and it's not just the lack of money, but also problems related to money like these, are one of the biggest problems in a marriage. If you cannot work out something satisfactory, and by that I mean something to where this is not driving you crazy all the time every time they get together, or to where you are able to meet in the middle about how these dinners will be handled in a way that is acceptable to both of you in light of an impending wedding, then you might want to just keep him as your SO and keep your distance and live your own life with your own money, because otherwise it's always going to be an issue, and can cause even more strife than it's causing now once you become his wife.

                                                                                There's nothing you can do to change the children yourself. You can't guilt them into it, force them into it, drop subtle hints, make helpful suggestions, nothing. They're his kids, and if he doesn't want to man up and tell them to quit abusing his money, there's nothing you can do about it, really. Honestly it would drive me freaking crazy and I don't think I could marry someone who let his children run his wallet that way.

                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                  I don't disagree with anything you've posted, but especially with respect to the money aspects, derailing the adult children's gravy train is the quickest way to become the Evil Stepmother! That is one sure way to whip up a shitstorm.

                                                                                  1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                    You would think that we are talking about Dad paying his adult son's rent etc....it is dinner! It is a treat, that is what parents do. They treat their kids to little extras if they can. I hope I will always be able to spoil my kids to a couple of fancy dinners a year. If not, I will cook for them, let them drink my best wine, eat off my best plates, use linen napkins and drink out of my best glasses. I have a great relationship with my children because I always put them first!

                                                                                    1. re: Gloriaa

                                                                                      a $300 dinner, especially several times a year, IS rent for some people. It's not as if theyr'e going to a diner and Dad is picking up the tab.

                                                                                      1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                        And yet Dad does it. No one is holding a gun to his head.

                                                                                        1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                          Agreed. Which is why I said she will either have to get over it or not marry him.

                                                                                        2. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                          But the dad is well off financially, the OP has made clear. That would not represent a hardship for him or many folks.

                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                            I dunno. She said they specifically had previously decided not to go back to an Italian place because it was too expensive, so it's not as if money is no concern, ever, for the Dad. That they decided not to go back to a place and then, when the son said he wanted to go there, knowing that the Dad will pick up, well, it's clear the Dad is lacking a backbone or desire to say no, even if it's going to financially hurt him. But again, the problem is the Dad's to either solve or reach out for help in solving. If she can't deal with it, she should back away now because they're always going to be taking advantage of Dad and asking to go to the most expensive places because they know he will pay, and Dad is obviously not going to do anythign about it.

                                                                                            1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                              "I dunno. She said they specifically had previously decided not to go back to an Italian place because it was too expensive, so it's not as if money is no concern, ever, for the Dad."

                                                                                              She's made it very clear that money is not a problem for him, but she's very frugal. There are lots of places we can afford to dine at, too, but don't go back to. The money isn't the problem, but like the OP, that's not where I want to drop a bundle most of the time. It's about priorities, not ability to pay. I can drop $300 for the two of us without worry and not regret it. Doesn't mean I will frequent such places once I've had the experience.

                                                                                              As to the problem being dad's; we don't know he has a problem. Yet note the subject header here.

                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                Maybe he liked the Italian restaurant and was looking for an excuse to go back. I can't imagine anyone not being able to tell their son that they had a bad experience at a restaurant and donot want to go back. I think she should give him more credit.

                                                                                                1. re: Gloriaa

                                                                                                  Maybe, like most parents, he wanted his son to have the treat he chose and went along with it, since it's clearly well within his means.

                                                                                          2. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                            You have missed my point. The son is self sufficient, is paying his own way and is not expecting to be supported by dad. Dinner in an expensive restaurant is a treat. It is a nice thing to do to treat your children to a little splurge. If he can do it let him. Without being argumentative if Dad takes his son and wife out for dinner 6 times a year @ 150$(I would assume 300 $ as stated would be for 4) that would be 900$ a year, not quite enough to cover any kind of rent.

                                                                                      2. " I have suggested that he say "if I pick, I will pay", or "you choose, you pay", or even, "lets split the bill", but he won't do it. "

                                                                                        There's the problem. As long as this is his attitude and as long as they are his children, the behavior will never change. Learn to live with it if you want to live with him.

                                                                                        1. If Dad is happy doing so and can afford it, it's something you need to accept as part of the man you're involved with. Now if his behavior towards his kids affects you directly (eg, he doesn't have enough money for the two of you to do things you want to do, or he complains to you about his kids taking advantage of him, etc.) then you have every right to speak up. Otherwise be thankful he's the generous guy he is.

                                                                                          1. Hi Everyone,
                                                                                            The son is married now, and has been fired from numerous jobs. He is a true know it all, with no post high school education. He has some very good qualities, and in the past, when I have seen him, I have always tried to listen to him and help him if I could. SO commented one time that he wondered if his son "fell on his head too much" when he was a child, hence his adult behavior. I encourage SO's relationship with his kids, and at my suggestion, he and his daugher will take a short trip together soon. Good father/daughter bonding. The son won't give his dad the time of day, and does nothing to encourage their relationship, except choose which expensive restaurant SO can take he and his wife to. I have nothing against him taking them out to dinner, but I do think it's rude for the son to entirely change the plans at his whim. It's more about the food than time with his father. I agree with everyone who has said that it's his money, his kids, and I have been very careful not to be critical. And, I don't think the kids know how I feel because I don't see much of them, I work two jobs and have a full life otherwise. But I know how disappointed SO was the last time his son was fired. So, when I say he wants to be proud of him, taken out of context, it may sound like I am high and mighty, but in reality, my SO just wants to finally be proud of his son who is repeatedly fired, a know it all and has had lots of great opportunity he has passed on. I hope he and his wife have wonderful lives, and I simply opened this question because as adults, they dictate where their father takes them and never reciprocate.
                                                                                            Thanks again.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: elegantedge

                                                                                              Ummm....you just said his son and his wife make 150,000+/year. Sounds like he's doing pretty well for an uneducated know-it-all who can't hold a job down. Somehow, I do not believe that he is the only know-it-all in this scenario. Anywho, while I see your point about not requesting an expensive restaurant and not offering to contribute, it seems as though their dad doesn't mind. My dad refuses to let me pay, and his dad never let him pay. I really think it's just what a lot of parents do. They still like to take care their kids every once in a while even when they are grown and independent.

                                                                                              1. re: Lizzard913

                                                                                                My parents and inlaws are the same way. As I said elsewhere, they both say it's irrelevant who pays because eventually their money will come to us, one meal more or less.

                                                                                              2. re: elegantedge

                                                                                                It sounds like the problem has nothing to do w/ the occasional dinners out but an overall problem that you have with his children. I don't think it is a case for CH, honestly, but maybe a family therapist or a therapist for yourself if you choose to remain in your relationship. I have the feeling that even if your SO's son were to pay for an occasional meal, you would have problems with your situation.

                                                                                                1. re: elegantedge

                                                                                                  This is not about a dinner tab. You SO is a grown man and loves his son unconditionally and his relationship with his son is between him and his son. If you truly want the best for your SO, be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

                                                                                                  Be his safe place to vent and don't keep score on the son.

                                                                                                2. FYI Lizzard, the son's wife makes 80-100% of that income, depending if the son is employed or not.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: elegantedge

                                                                                                    SO should be proud his son MARRIED well!

                                                                                                    1. re: elegantedge


                                                                                                      I'm afraid the more you try to make a case for why we should also dislike your SO's children, the more I feel for them-- and the less I feel this is actually relevant to the issue at hand.

                                                                                                      It seems to me that for you, care is shown through expressions of frugality. Your love for your SO is shown when you suggest avoiding the Italian restaurant for its being overpriced. However, there is nothing here that indicates that this is the same expression of care employed by your SO and his family. Cost may not be a factor-- and the suggestion of the Italian restaurant in question could mean a number of things, not just greed or advantage-taking.

                                                                                                      I've been self-sufficient for most of my life, and yet I can say that I have experienced the same as Lizzard. You seem to be upset with the way the family operates and yet it is not clear that your SO is.

                                                                                                      (An aside: What does seem painful is that your SO needs all these external markers of success to love and take pride in his children. This is a horrible economy and I have no idea what precipitated being fired. Was it for embezzlement? Fine, I understand. That makes it difficult to take pride in someone. Was it because contingent labour is the norm these days? And if a wife's income becomes a reflection of her husband, I also start to wonder. This is not to say that there may not be problems in that area, but it is to say that your sharing them in this way may not be contributing to a case that is already shaky.)

                                                                                                      1. re: elegantedge

                                                                                                        It's not worth anything, other than an insight into how intent you are on burying the man's son. This is not about money, this about your lack of understanding of the fact that parent/child relationships are about more than balance sheets.

                                                                                                      2. If your man don't think he's being taken advantage of, then leave it alone. If he discusses it with you and asks for your advice, give it to him. If he chooses not to heed that advice, leave it alone. I would think long and hard about moving on to the next level with the way you feel about those kids.

                                                                                                        1. In the simplest of terms "his money, his choice". I have been a stepmom twice and understand where you are coming from.

                                                                                                          As others have pointed out, this is common among families of all income levels. My Mom was of very modest means and after my household income surpassed hers, she still insisted on buying our lunch, picking up the tab and even buying me an article of clothing from time to time. She never wanted to give up "mothering" me and taking care of me. That's what parents do.

                                                                                                          In simplest terms, lay off and respect it is his money and his choice and quite frankly he doesn't have to justify his spending to you.

                                                                                                          1. I am a stepmother and have some wonderful stepkids and some whose personalities make my head spin. Naturally, I'd receive the same reviews from them. It's just how things end up sometimes.

                                                                                                            This seems very simple to me. Some bit of resentment toward his kids exists. As a result, you're irked by things you probably wouldn't be if your relationships were better. (This is not meant to imply you're to blame for any issues!). I'm sure you realize this is about more than their manners.

                                                                                                            In the end, it really is up to him to interact with his kids in his own way. Up to you, of course, to decide if you can stand it.

                                                                                                            Good luck. I know how tricky it can be.

                                                                                                            1. The only thing that amazes me is that it hasn't gotten locked yet as the temperature drops. Give EE a break here!

                                                                                                              Elegantedge posted a question, and she was both polite and precise about it. People asked for additional information; she clarified the initial situation with more details. Each time some aspect of the story is questioned she fleshes out the initial negativity with a little more salient detail, and people bristle more. She did not start out by attacking individuals, but by identifying behavior that she finds problematic.

                                                                                                              Secondly, it doesn't sound like SO is all that comfortable with his relationship with his children. The words "afraid" and "important" feature prominently in her descriptions of his relationships.

                                                                                                              Some people have derided her for not having kids; I ask how many of these parents if they have ever been in the nebulous role of the step, or the not-quite-step. It is hard to empathize thoroughly until you have a role with people that you have no direct ties with, yet many associated obligations.

                                                                                                              Thirdly, if you do the math, a $300 meal every 3-4 weeks works out to approximately $4,500 per year, a little more than the $900 that was initially posted.

                                                                                                              Fourthly, if the DIL is saying "Don't spend extra money, because we want help when we have kids," it can be either light-hearted teasing or a declaration of intent. We on chowhound aren't there to hear the context.

                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                                So....people should tell the OP what he/she wants to hear?

                                                                                                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                  No, people should accept what posters are saying without projecting too much of their own baggage in.

                                                                                                                  EE acknowledged a lot of feedback here, and I am sure a lot of it was not the answers she wanted to hear. ("Like suck it up and back off; nothing is likely to change.")

                                                                                                                2. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                                  It's interesting to find yourself arguing for tolerance about a subject header that asks for assistance in changing the behavior of someone she has no relationship to and no responsibliity for.

                                                                                                                  1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                                    I do not have children and have been stepmother to two teen girls, one who is now 31 and the other who is 28.

                                                                                                                    I think I come from a place of credibility.

                                                                                                                    1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                                      I think you are making a lot of assumptions., about the OP, SO, the frequency of dinners as well as cost and the experiences and motives of the posters.

                                                                                                                    2. Dear EE,

                                                                                                                      I think your situation is not so unusual. Your SO's children feel that you are threatening "their" inheritance and want to flaunt their currrent insider status regarding the family wealth. Your SO can't formulate a sufficient rationale (at least in his own mind) to refuse them, but may feel that if you were married he could tell them that new financial responsibilities no longer allow those kinds of splurges (i.e., your step-mother says "no".).

                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: junescook

                                                                                                                        Wow, that's reaching. Maybe the children have always gone out w/ their father and he has always paid? Maybe the SO really doesn't care that much but if asked,might have agreed just to agree? Given that the OP says she's helped him manage his money and save more, it seems the children might be appreciate of that if their only concern were inheritance.

                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                          Talk about "facts not in evidence!"

                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                            I'm thinking of the post from the children:

                                                                                                                            "We have always gone out with our father every few weeks for dinner, since we all left home. It's a great way to make sure we don't lose track of each other. He generously picks up the tab. He has a new SO who has helped him save on his finances and interferes in our relationship. She complains about the dinners out, as well as the rest of our lives, from what we do, to the amount of education we have (although she also resents his paying for graduate school which he happily offered) to what a disappointment we are to our father. It's fine if she does't join us in the meals out but she wants to put a stop to it or insist that we pay. She even tracks the cost of the wine that we drink at his house. What should we do? "

                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                              Hmm. Care to write dad's post, too? ;-)

                                                                                                                              There are a few perspectives missing here,

                                                                                                                      2. Folks, as this thread continues, it's getting less and less relevant to anything to do with food or dining, and more and more about a broad swath of issues with the OP's SO's family dynamics. It's not so uncivil that we feel it needs to be locked yet, but we'd ask everyone, including the OP, to please bring the discussion back around to the issue of picking up the cheque, or let the discussion drop.


                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                                                          We both have adult children. Our rule. When we go out to dine with any of them, we pick up the check. Always. Why? They don't live close by so when we do see them, it is always a special ocassion. That's all:)

                                                                                                                          1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                                                            op's original question: "How to get my significant other's adult children to pick up a check??"

                                                                                                                            short answer: "you don't."

                                                                                                                            op also states: " I know it's not my problem"

                                                                                                                            ~~~ so let it lie or it will become your problem in a way you may not like. no good comes from judging others through the prism of how we were raised, this applies both to the op and her s/o's kids. they may feel like you're scrooge mcduff ruining all the fun for them AND dad.

                                                                                                                            if the s/o truly wanted to alter the dynamic he would take stabs in that direction. he hasn't. that should be sign enough this is not a field in which to tread.

                                                                                                                            1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                                                              Dear Chowhound Administrator,

                                                                                                                              I agree with you that this discussion has gotten way off topic. Is it possible that you can delete it or close it please?

                                                                                                                              I agreed with several of these posters who said not to make this my problem, but my SO has indicated his disappointment in his son and has expressed surprise and gratitude at the one time he split a check with his BIL. And, for the record, picking up a check could be a hamburger, it doesn't have to be pheasant under glass.

                                                                                                                              I also realize that most parents pick up checks for their children.

                                                                                                                              All this said, while I appreciate the feedback, this discussion has taken a nasty turn and I regret opening the discussion.


                                                                                                                            2. I agree with those whose advice is basically to keep quiet and let SO deal with his kids.
                                                                                                                              Personally, when leaving my parents house in NY 30 years ago to return to California, I left $100 on my dad's nightstand with a note to take mom out for dinner on me (I couldn't swing it logistically while I was in town). Even though my dad wanted to send the money back, my mom convinced him that it would mean a lot to me to buy them dinner for the first time (I was actually making a decent living). They had a great meal and then dad unexpectedly died a week later. To this day, I'm so glad I had the opportunity to "take them out for dinner". Because of that experience, I consider it a rite of passage to adulthood to allow the kids to pick up an occasional tab even if all they can afford is a quick lunch. All 5 have now paid, even though I still pay the vast majority of times. Even my daughter has bought dinner.
                                                                                                                              If I should drop dead tomorrow, I'd like to think that 30 years from now they'll be happy knowing they had the chance to take dad out.

                                                                                                                              1. Since it seems the original query has been answered sufficiently and further discussion is unlikely to be productive, we're going to go ahead and lock this now.