Dear Amy: My husband and I don’t have children, but we are friends with many couples who do, and we enjoy spending time with these families.
Before they had children, one particular couple used to do an annual hiking weekend with us. Once the kids came along, they wanted to continue this tradition and bring the kids.
Amy, I love spending time with our friends’ children, but this trip is not a kid-friendly experience. Last year, their children, ages 2 and 4, cried almost the entire time as they were dragged through the heat on rough terrain for eight hours, where their parents expected them to walk most of it. I didn’t blame these children for hating it. It wasn’t fun for anyone.
I do not want to go on this trip this year, and I’d like to find a way to be honest about why, without having them think that we don’t want to spend time with their kids.
I suggested to them that we do a shorter day trip on some easier trails nearby because the kids would enjoy that more.
They replied that they wish to teach their kids “stamina” and that we can “give them breaks and they’ll be fine.”
I disagree and think the trip will be a disaster again, and the three-hour drive to get there isn’t really worth it.
Is there any other polite way of eliminating this trip, at least until the kids are older?
Trying to be Accommodating
Dear Trying: I can well imagine what this hike to hell and back was like for everyone, and I don’t blame you for not wanting to repeat it.
You should be completely honest about this. Tell them, “It killed me to see the kids so uncomfortable during the hike. I only want to do this if we can do a shorter and more kid-friendly hike.”
That’s it. That’s you stating your own needs.
They might give you all sorts of reasons why it would be easier for the children this year. You can reply: “I know I’m not a parent, and maybe that’s why it’s so hard for me to see them struggle. I love your children and I want them to have a better time. If they have a good time, I’ll have a good time. But I need to take a different excursion.”
Dear Amy: My daughter’s mother-in-law, who lives in another state, is very strong-willed.
I am throwing my daughter a baby shower, and her MIL invited her neighbor and the neighbor’s daughter to the shower, without asking me first.
She did not offer to contribute to the shower and refused to throw one locally for my daughter, who lives near her.
She did recently throw a gender reveal party for my daughter and son-in-law and I contributed substantially. However, when I asked to invite my cousin, who lives in the area, I was told no. Although I was disappointed, I didn’t say anything because I did not think it appropriate.
When my daughter told me that her MIL had invited these extra people, I said no because we were already at maximum capacity.
In response, she and my son-in-law became very upset and my son-in-law argued with me.
I gave in, but then MIL said she now would not come, and neither will her other daughter-in-law, who was supposed to drive with her. My son-in-law blames me.
I felt she was out of line to invite these people, without asking me first. My daughter is afraid of her and just wants to get along. I relented for the sake of the relationship and even messaged: “Sorry you won’t be joining us,” but apparently this was not enough. Your thoughts?
– Setting Boundaries
Dear Setting: I think you’ve done a good job of trying to navigate this.
Understand that if you set boundaries that feel right to you, you might be teaching your daughter to do the same.
Given that she lives closer to her mother-in-law than to you (and that her husband advocates for his mother), once this baby comes, she might need some real love, patience, and emotional support from you.
Dear Amy: I was deeply moved by your response to the letter from the grandmother (“Offended Gran”) whose grandson wore a gown to his prom.
I am 73 and transgender.
I am married and have many grandchildren.
I remember how alone I felt when I was that boy’s age.
Dear T: We can all hope that younger transgender people don’t feel so alone.
You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.