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MIL wants to do lovely days out but wants us to pay for everything

271 replies

BadgerSetGo · 20/03/2023 12:44

Background is MIL claims to not have a lot but has paid off her mortgage, works part time and lives what I think of as a very nice lifestyle. Lots of restaurants, nails done, gym memberships etc. she does claim to struggle but she spends a lot of luxuries. She is on her own.

She wants to meet us for various days out which she suggests- fancy things like kids theatre days or theme parks but thinks it's categorically wrong for her to pay anything towards this. I'm talking about paying her own way not paying for us or DC. She won't even pay for a drink when out with us, she acts like another child who doesn't have access to any money.

There is a huge backstory to this and her believing DH should provide for her. She says all her friends have lovely sons who book all kinds of activities for them to do with their grandchildren and she always makes sure to tell us that the grandparents are never expected to pay a penny!

My parents are the opposite and want to treat us all the time. How do we navigate all these treat days MIL wants to do without burning bridges and being rude or coming across as mean? Or is it normal to pay for a grandparent every time for things like this?

OP posts:
Teateaandmoretea · 20/03/2023 13:56

I think I would always pay for the grandparent to go as it’s not necessarily a place they would choose

So why would they go if they didn’t want to? Unless it was them taking the kids on their own and in which case yes I’d offer to pay if they were doing it as a favour.

Most grandparents don’t trail round expensive places they don’t want to go to with grandkids and the kids’ parents.

CleaningOutMyCloset · 20/03/2023 13:56

What happens, or would happen if she suggested, say a trip to the theatre, and you responded with:

'that would be lovely, do you want to book the tickets and I'll reimburse you for mine, dh and kids tickets'
'That's a great idea, I'll book our tickets and you book yours'

If she pushes back, simply say 'sorry mil but we can't stretch to paying for you too'

And leave it there

LookItsMeAgain · 20/03/2023 13:56

BadgerSetGo · 20/03/2023 13:40

She also tells DH constantly that she's terribly worried about money so makes the narrative that she's a poor pensioner on her own which makes it jarring for him to ask her to pay her way, as only a few minutes earlier she would have been pleading poverty, but her lifestyle is evidence to the contrary.

Others can suggest responses in relation to the days out or her paying for petrol to get to your house.

In relation to this though, I have a suggestion and I'd recommend that you implement it a.s.a.p.

If she is so worried about money, get your DH to say "Oh mum that's terrible. Can you get your financial details like bank statements, outgoing bills etc. together and we'll sit down together and go through them to work out where your money is going. I know we're in a cost of living crisis but I can't advise you if I don't know where the money is being spent or on what. How does Saturday suit you?"

Then you'll get a good look at her bank statements and be able to tackle the other issue (her not paying for anything but making grandiose suggestions about going out) on the back of that. You can also make suggestions of where she could make savings etc.

Schmutter · 20/03/2023 13:57

That is so weird. My experience of grandparents is the opposite- bending over backwards to pay for everything and more!

If money is a struggle for you and you can’t afford it, just tell her! If she’s just annoying you but you like her company, just go along with it or get her son to speak to her about being fair.

Orangetapemeasure · 20/03/2023 13:58

OP, it’s absolutely NOT normal to pay for grandparents. I’ve asked A LOT of people.
My DM does a lot with us and we pay for everything. Unlike your MIL my DM mother never makes the suggestions and lives a fairly modest lifestyle (by choice), but also lives in £1m mortgage free house and hasn’t worked for 30 years. She’s very happy to come along and usually comes on holiday with us once a year. Her contribution to the holiday expenses is a round of ice creams after dinner one evening. It drives me mad……and I don’t know one single other family (except you) where it works like this. Since the day I graduated (a good 15 years before kids came along), I’ve paid for everything. In Covid I bought all her shopping and she never offered to pay. It’s got to the point now that we’ve had several arguments about it……but I want her to be involved so what can I do? I should probably add that we can afford to pay for her- but equally she can also afford to pay for herself! I don’t have any suggestions OP just offering solidarity!

Hayliebells · 20/03/2023 13:58

Yes indeed I'd 100% stop the expensive days out, that involve your MIL. Just invite her round to hour house/the parks etc, anything that doesn't involve much expenditure. If she suggests anything, just tell her you can't afford it. She'll get the message, and if she doesn't, she sounds insufferable so it's no loss really if she chooses not to spend much time with you when you're no longer "treating" her.

Survey99 · 20/03/2023 13:59

She can't afford it/won't pay
You can't afford it/don't want to pay

Surely the simple answer then is just to say sorry can't afford it.

If your dh can't put on his big boy pants and say that to his mum that is his/your problem not hers.

Teateaandmoretea · 20/03/2023 13:59

This really isnt normal. My brother always pays for his mil if they go out for lunch or somewhere they have to pay because she’s skint. But she doesn’t demand to be taken with them on expensive days out all the time either. Bizarre behaviour.

Justmeandthedog1 · 20/03/2023 14:00

Mil suggests expensive day out —- we can’t afford that but it’d be lovely to meet in the park / feed the ducks / have a picnic when the weather improves.
Mil says she’s worried about her finances — your DH offers to look over accounts for her.
invite MIL to tea —- I can’t afford the petrol.—- that’s a shame, shall we come to you for a couple of hours ? I’ll bring a cake.
Stick to your narrative that expensive days out are off the table.

LookItsMeAgain · 20/03/2023 14:00

Ah the fear, obligation and guilt if you even dare to think about rocking the boat and disrupting the status quo.

Time to rock that boat. Time to disrupt the status quo.
If you can't do it during a cost of living crisis, whenever can you?

Turn the suggestions around on her. Tell her to book the tickets to the theme park herself or wherever she wants to go. Tell her that you can't do meals out. Say that you have food in the house and you're going to stay in and eat.
Eventually she will either stop making the suggestions or she will open up her wallet to pay.

Dillydollydingdong · 20/03/2023 14:00

I'm a grandparent and when I go out with my son and his family, I contribute. Obviously I'm a pensioner and my income is much less than theirs, so I don't normally pay for everything, although I do sometimes. I do what I can. I certainly wouldn't expect them to pay for me!

LookItsMeAgain · 20/03/2023 14:01

Actually - why is ok for her to say that she can't afford it but you're too scared to say the exact same thing back at her?

lv884 · 20/03/2023 14:02

YADNBU. If it was her birthday or Mother’s Day, of course you might choose to take her out for lunch as a gift - not her request - or your husband may take her for an afternoon tea for two or something since that kind of thing seems to be up her street.

I agree that it seems social media has a lot to answer for and even if she doesn’t have it, perhaps her friends or their relatives do and are trying to project an image of themselves as constantly doing nice things and “#makingmemories.” It’s so sad that things which don’t involve spending money or going somewhere you can tag seems to be inferior in terms of quality time with your loved ones.

I’d go to the park or on walks and deliberately not take my bank card.

Her behaviour is tone deaf given the cost of living crisis. Even if there wasn’t one, she is a scrounger so please don’t question if you’re being unfair.

It’s for your husband to have a word. Until she gets the message, just keep politely declining her suggestions about doing things and use the line “Money is tight atm.”

Yellowdays · 20/03/2023 14:03

Teenagers usually say that their friends do x or y, when arguing in their favour. Your MiL is no different.

Viviennemary · 20/03/2023 14:03

If your parents are treating you the time then surely you can treat your mil. Sounds a bit like you are happy to take but not give. Maybe your mil is the same.

JudgeRudy · 20/03/2023 14:03

She's being very entitled in many senses. As you put it she's acting like an additional child wanting to be entertained. Personally it would be more than the money that would rile me. It would be her expecting everyone else to arrange everything, pick and drop her off etc . and you've made no mention of her doing anything with the children herself.
I dont think you need a 'talk' as such, l just think you and your OH need to start as you mean to go on. If she mentions eg going to the theatre say Not my sort of thing but kids would love that. Would you like to take them? I'd also ask her to have a look at dates, tickets etc next time she mentions stuff. You're not her PA. Obviously every time I say you I mean your husband. Hints aren't next time ....oh looks quite good but are you willing to spend £50 on a ticket?
What other people do isn't particularly relevant but other grandparents treat the GC...they babysit, have them overnight, etc.
Some do absolutely nothing, but they don't get chauffeured to the seaside on a whim either.

TwoHedgehogs · 20/03/2023 14:03

I'd say it's far more common for the grandparent to suggest a day out and then pay for everyone to go. That generation is generally far better off even retired than many working families with young children.

I would have been quite clear a long time ago that you can't pay for her days out, if she wants to go on days out with you she needs to cover her own costs. Your husband needs to speak to her.

WestwardHo1 · 20/03/2023 14:03

I can see it being a #makingmemories thing.

Slimjimtobe · 20/03/2023 14:04

I world pull back from her completely to be honest and when she asks why say you feel she is being pushy and rude

it will rock the boat for a while but she will eventually improve (my mother demands expensive gifts and hasn’t bought me a Christmas or birthday present for years) but I live with it

SupplyIsLimited · 20/03/2023 14:05

She sounds awful. I'd discuss with DH, come up with a list of affordable options for outings the two of you wouldn't mind paying for, and offer those as alternatives. If the petrol is too expensive (according to her), maybe you can offer to pay a set amount for that (though you shouldn't have to).

If she doesn't want to do those things, I would try not to worry about it and just make an excuse every time. It's sad for your DH that his mother is this way, but the alternative is to pay to take her places when you can't afford it or don't want to, which will only feed the monster.

Slimjimtobe · 20/03/2023 14:05


Barannca · 20/03/2023 14:06

I am a grandparent and always pay for treat days with our children and grandchildren because we have more disposable income than they do.
So no I don't think it is the case that grandparents never pay. I think it depends on the circumstances.

caringcarer · 20/03/2023 14:10

I think most grandparents like to treat their grandchildren. If she invites you again agree but tell her in advance she will be paying for her own admission and lunch. Just wondering if cultural as some cultures seem to expect adult sons to look after them financially?

Mitsahne · 20/03/2023 14:11

Just do quiet quitting with her. If she will only do expensive days out if you pay, then just say no and see her less. It's not your fault, it's her unreasonable demands. My parent is similar. We're expected to attend expensive dinners that we can't afford. I've just quiet quit and we don't see them as much because I can't afford it.

Crikeyalmighty · 20/03/2023 14:12

Out of interest OP, did she give you a large sum at any point towards a house deposit or wedding or something? Or is it resentment because you have a nice home, private schools etc when things were tight for them? Her perception (wrong as that may be) might well be that you can afford it and it's no big deal - whereas she may feel the bits she spends on herself on luxuries are small change in comparison

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