Respectful deference, neutrality, or expected payback? This pretty much characterizes the issue at hand when it comes to dealing with some situations involving money and in-laws. Some people seem to think they are there to take care of elders, while others see the role of in-laws (or parents) differently. When it comes to who pays for dinner, it can be interesting how different people handle it.
Let’s say you’re going out to dinner with in-laws or parents. You enjoy a nice dinner, and then the check comes. How do you handle who pays?
Here are 5 ways to handle paying for dinner with in-laws or parents, along with my thoughts.
- You pay for in-laws as a rule. If this is a rule, based on purely on respect for them as elders, then I think it’s ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong – I totally believe in respecting elders, but don’t see how it’s fair for someone to expect their adult kids to continually bankroll them just because there’s some expectation. I actually know of one situation where parents expect to be treated every time, which seems unnatural to me. We’ve discussed helping parents with money, but this aspect of paying for all meals “just because” seems unfair.
- You split the bill. This way, however you handle the split, you end up essentially paying for what you order. To me, this seems fair – with in-laws, parents, or really anybody in any relationship. Who’s to argue with individual responsibility? One exception: paying for the first date.
- You take turns. This seems fair too, just like above.
- Whoever is “better off” buys. If there’s a big disparity in wealth – or perceived wealth, anyway – between people, should the person better off pay? I’m not sure about this one. I have a friend who was telling about his in-laws, saying that they never let him treat them for any dinners, and always insist on at least splitting the check. This, despite them having much more modest means than him. I can respect that.
- In-laws pay as a rule. Generally, I don’t think this needs to be the case. However, I think this is different than #1 above, in the sense that one party wants to pay rather than expecting to be pampered. My father, actually, really prefers to pay the bill if we’re out to dinner. He’s not better off than me, and is retired. However, it makes him feel really good to do so. Therefore, while I think splitting a bill or taking turns is the fairest way to do it, I can understand and respect a person’s pride in this way. Admittedly, I would feel less patient if in-laws wanted that rather than my own parents.
My Questions for You
- How do you handle dinner with in-laws (or parents)?
- Do you believe there is one best way to handle such situations, or alternatively – worst way to handle them?