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Cheque please! Who should pay?


Dear Ella,
Our family often goes out for dinners and we always pick up the tab. My son is 28 years old and has a girlfriend who usually accompanies him. Only on rare occasions does he offer to pay his share. My husband and I argue, as I feel we should accept his money, but my husband immediately says, “put that away.” I love having them with us, but always paying sends the wrong message. How will he ever learn to take responsibility if we continue to pay for everything? It’s getting very pricey for us, too. Even though he works, we pay for his car insurance, cellphone and shelter, and we’re saving for a wedding. Should we pay for every dinner, too? What do you think?
Enough with the Nurturing

Dear Enough with the Nurturing,
There’s no doubt that you and your husband love your son very much and want to do everything for him. Many parents feel they want to give their children more than they had growing up, but that’s been known to backfire.
As parents, your goal is to teach your child to be independent, to learn to deal with disappointment and to succeed on his own. Part of that is having his own credit rating. There are parents who give their kids a mortgage, so if they miss a payment it’s not so bad, rather than co-signing a loan, so the kids are on paper at a financial institution. That’s the practical way to say, “if you fall, I’m on standby.” All this is done out of love, but it’s a misguided love.
The term “entitled generation” comes from this type of parenting. It produces children who feel they are special and owed something. No doubt they are special to you, but they have to earn that distinction in the hearts and minds of others.
A meal in a restaurant is just the tip of the iceberg. As you mentioned, you are paying for most of his creature comforts. At 28, he should be paying for his own life. If you’re saving for a wedding, then your son is ready to start a household and a family of his own. Give him the tools he needs. Be there for him with emotional support and words or wisdom. But don’t be his private lender.
Next time you go for dinner, let him know what his portion is and accept his contribution. He should be treating you to dinner once in awhile, too. That’s the way the real world works – give and take. He’ll thank you for it one day.

Dear Ella,
I’m newly single and back in the dating world after my divorce. I’ve joined a few different online dating sites and have friends who have fixed me up.
I’ve had about a dozen dates so far. Usually we go to a quiet neighbourhood location for coffee, or a light meal. I’m an old-school guy and always reach for the cheque to pay. This seems to offend some of my dates. I guess I’ve been out of it for so long, I don’t know the etiquette any longer.
Is there a right way to do this?
Dating Etiquette

Dear Dating Etiquette,
The basic rule is the person who does the inviting does the paying. However, that doesn’t always work these days.
The arrival of the bill is a pivotal moment and a chance to learn something about the person you’re sitting across from.
Some women adhere to gender equality to show their independence. But most will allow you to pay for the date. In either case, you should always make the gesture to pay. Some will offer to pay their end, but of course, you will not hear of it. It shows a certain respect for old traditions. Gracefully say, “please let me get it, it would be my pleasure.” It will usually end there. If it doesn’t, try, “how about you get it next time?” If she’s persistent, then allow her to pay for herself. It’s these little nuances that put the bigger picture in perspective. Don’t change the gentleman you are. Be yourself and you’ll be appreciated more often than not.