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Monday question: Meet the parents, more than halfway?

Posted by Robin Abrahams  October 18, 2010 06:32 AM

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Been a while since we've had a good old-fashioned parents v. nonparents smackdown, hasn't it? Here's one to get things started:

I am in my mid-20's, and my husband and I now have two sets of friends with children (which is still a fairly new situation for us). When we get together, we always go over to their houses, we get to see the kids a bit before they go to bed, and then us adults are able to spend the evening together. This works out pretty well for all involved, but it would be nice if they could accommodate us sometimes, by hanging out at our place (which has actually never happened at this point).

We have spoken with one of the couples about doing dinner at our place the next time we get together, and they seemed excited about finally checking out our house, but then every time we schedule something they immediately plan things at their place. Her parents live next-door to them, so they pretty much have built-in babysitters, which they have utilized on a couple weekend trips we have taken together, but are apparently loathe to do for a dinner with us. As for the other couple, they usually have friends babysit for them (unpaid) when the need arises, or if they're going to be away for a whole weekend, one of their parents will sometimes make the drive and watch their daughter.

When I brought up the idea of having them over to our place with her, she said that she wouldn't want to bring their child to our place because it's not exactly kid-safe, and then she made it pretty clear that she wouldn't really want to hire/recruit a babysitter just to come over to our house for an evening.

I understand that being a parent complicates things, being that you are busier and have a lot more details to worry about while making plans, and I am generally happy to go out of my way for them, but I am feeling somewhat disregarded. My husband, on the other hand, feels fine about the current situation and has told me that I just need to get used to things as they are now. But if I were a parent, it would absolutely be worth it to me to pay for a babysitter to get an evening away from the kids and spend time with friends. I also think I would feel a little bad if my friends were always meeting my needs and I never returned the favor. Are there any etiquette guidelines surrounding this type of situation? And can you think of a good way to achieve a better balance?

What do you think? Should the LW seek to "achieve a better balance" or let things go on as they are? As usual, I'll post my advice and response to your comments on Friday, and we have an online chat this Wednesday. (And if that's not enough Miss Conducty goodness for you, you can always check out my personal blog or follow me on Twitter -- robinabrahams.) And don't forget--share your stories of memorable meetings and greetings and you might win tickets to Central Square Theater's "Moon for the Misbegotten"!
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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