DEAR AMY: Each year, my extended family takes a big trip with four generations — The Grandparents, The Parents, The Kids and The Grandkids. There are 15 of us, including spouses, in The Kids group. The Parents and The Grandparents make all the arrangements. We're simply told where and when. The Parents find a large house to rent. The Grandparents, who are quite wealthy, generously pay for the rental. The Grandparents and The Parents' generations each get their own room, and The Kids make due with whatever space is leftover. On the last trip, we arrived to find camping mats and sleeping bags on the floor for all of us. We've slept three to a bed, on couches, floors and hammocks. We always go home from these "vacations" tired and stressed. The Kids are all between the ages of 28 and 37, and are almost all married. My wife and I have suggested getting a second house, splitting the cost between The Kids, but The Parents insinuated that we were ungrateful and that we don't "prioritize family." The other Kids all agree with us, privately, but won't bring it up. Is there a better way to express our discomfort? We don't want to seem ungrateful or disrespectful. Or do we need to just make the choice between uncomfortable arrangements and uncomfortable arguments?
One of The Kids
DEAR KIDS: Next year, you should book (and pay for) a nearby rental for you and your wife. The Parents and The Grandparents are attaching way more value on the family all sleeping in one house than you do. But then again, they wake up each morning having slept in a bed.
After you book your rental, notify The Parents and Grandparents: "We're renting a place — only 10 minutes away. We're really excited for our annual reunion, and can't wait to see everybody!"
Assuming responsibility for where you will sleep is not being disrespectful or ungrateful. You are behaving like an adult and showing up for your family.
Convey this idea: "We love this tradition so much and look forward to it all year. We're going to hang out at the big house with everyone, but we need some privacy at night." Don't involve the other Kids in this, and don't gossip about it.
The Parents and The Grandparents will see this as an important change. They don't have to like your choice. If you feel rested and more relaxed, you will be more available to pour attention and affection onto your elders, which you should do.
DEAR AMY: What is my obligation to my ex-wife regarding travel? We've been divorced for more than four years and have two daughters, age 9 and 15. We share custody 50/50, on duty every other week. When I make plans to take the girls out of town overnight, she insists that I tell her the address of where we are staying. Last weekend, my girlfriend and I took our daughters to a friend's lake house, 90 minutes away. I only told my ex where we were because one of my girls had plans with her mom the next day, and she hadn't told her we were gone. You would think I took them to the moon, judging by the text message tirade. I believe I can take my own children wherever I want during my parenting time, as long as they are with me and safe, without notifying my ex-wife. She disagrees. What do you think?
I'm the Dad
DEAR DAD: You should check your legal custody agreement for any restrictions, but I agree with you that the custodial parent has sole responsibility for the children during their parenting time.
Your ex-wife might be trying to control you, or she might be a mom who will sleep better at night knowing — in a basic sense — where the kids are. Teens, especially, sometimes don't report their whereabouts accurately. This information is better supplied by the parent.
It would be considerate of both of you to keep the other informed about overnights, and that includes your ex-wife informing you.
DEAR AMY: Let me add my voice to people who didn't like your advice to "Young Widow in NY," who claimed she had been stuck with a huge bill for her late husband's funeral. People should take these questions to a lawyer, not an advice columnist.
DEAR DISMAYED: I took "Young Widow's" question to be a relationship question, more than a legal question. But yes, people with legal questions should see a lawyer.