October 6, 2009 in Features

Annie’s Mailbox: Tell sons budget not what it used to be

Kathy Mitchell/Marcy Sugar
 

Dear Annie: My husband and I have been together for more than 20 years. This is my second marriage. “Tony” has been a wonderful stepfather to my sons. All three are grown and doing well. Two are very happily married.

When the boys were young adults, my husband and I would always pick up the bill if we went out anywhere. Even after they started their own careers, we continued to pay for things because we knew money was tight for them. The problem is, even though they all are doing well now, the pattern continues.

I was laid off earlier this year, and it’s no longer so simple to treat them. All three boys know I lost my job, yet we recently went out to eat and not one of them offered to split the tab.

How do I deal with this? I don’t want to appear stingy, and I suspect this is not a conscious thing on their part. They live out of state and I don’t see them often, so I’d like to avoid hard feelings. Any suggestions? – Not So Rich Mom

Dear Not So Rich: You can do this two ways. You can stop taking them to places where they will expect you to treat them, or you can be honest and explain that you can no longer afford the luxury of playing Mommy Warbucks. We recommend the latter, but don’t hit them over the head with it. “We’d love to take you for dinner, but since I lost my job, our budget just won’t allow it.” This gives them the opportunity to offer to pay. If it doesn’t occur to them to do so, at least they will understand why they are eating in.

Dear Annie: This is for “Sad Mom,” whose daughter has herpes. I have had herpes for 15 years and have had three long-term relationships during that time. Not one of the men cared about the herpes because they loved me. You can minimize the chances of transmitting it.

I haven’t had a breakout in more than two years. Because stress can precipitate breakouts, I have become a stress-free person. Herpes is not the worst thing she can have. – Minnesota

Dear Minnesota: Thank you for your words of encouragement. We hope they help.

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