DEAR AMY: My three siblings and I are planning a mountain getaway for our parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration. My parents will be in the master suite room. We have all agreed to split their cost and expenses as a gift. When renting a large cabin with separate bedrooms, do you think singles should pay the same rate as couples? Should all four siblings share the total cost for the entire group? There is a family of three (includes a baby), there is a family of four (two older teens) and then there are two single adults. What is the etiquette when splitting costs among family units of varying sizes? Do you charge per person, per bed or per room? If singles shared a room, do they pay half of one share? And what about food costs? How should we split food costs? This is causing a big rift between us. Feelings and emotions have gotten the best of all of us. Your input into this mess would be greatly appreciated.
DEAR DISTRESSED: This isn’t an etiquette question so much as a practical question with many solutions. My suggested solution is that you should charge per bedroom in the cabin. Then people can pay for their own privacy, or share a room to save.
In terms of paying for food, perhaps it would be most practical to set a price-per-individual for the weekend — say $75 per person (or whatever), which would also cover the cost for your folks. You could load this money onto a pre-paid card for food and your group would draw it down as you go. Individuals should pay for their own alcohol separately.
I hope you come to terms about this before the event. It wouldn’t be much of a celebration for your folks if their kids were bickering over money during the weekend.
I’m sure readers will want to weigh in with their own recommendations.
DEAR AMY: My husband’s parents live across the country. We have a 22-month-old son and are expecting a baby girl in April. When they visit, they prefer to stay for two to three weeks, and over the past year I’ve had to ask them to shorten their visits to a week, and we compromised on 10 days. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so being here all day with them for more than a week for me is too invasive. With the new baby coming, I am getting the vibe that they want to stay longer than a week. I feel for them that they only get to see these grandchildren a few times a year, but I’m already getting anxious thinking about them here for weeks after I give birth, during a time when I will really just want to bond with my baby. My conflict is I don’t know if I should just suck it up and let them stay longer or have the awkward conversation that I only want a week. My husband is supportive either way, although I’m sure he’d like them to stay for weeks. Other than this issue I have a wonderful relationship with my in-laws and love them to pieces. Thank you. I’d really appreciate your opinion and advice.
DEAR MOM: You should stand your ground and very respectfully state your own needs concerning the length of their stay. Be aware that with a toddler in the house, these eager grandparents could be very helpful by entertaining him while you attend to your newborn.
It sounds as if they stay with you during their visits. Give them reasonable and helpful functions so that they can feel at home and also be useful to you.
They seem to visit several times a year. If they eliminated one 10-day trip, they might save enough money to rent a nearby furnished apartment for a month. These visits might still require you to entertain them during the day, but not having them stay with you would relieve some of the pressure.
DEAR AMY: You ran a letter from “Disturbed,” who was worried that her boyfriend was such an introvert. You should have encouraged this couple to join a Toastmasters group. I did this, and it was a great and safe environment to overcome my extreme shyness.
DEAR OUTGOING: There is nothing “wrong” with being an introvert, and introversion doesn’t necessarily need fixing. But “Disturbed” did say her boyfriend wanted to work on his anti-social shyness. Many readers suggested Toastmasters (toastmasters.com) and I thank you all.