Dear Annie: My daughter and son-in-law live in another state. He is a doctor, and she is a nurse. They are both 30 and have no student loan debt. They have two kids. I go up and visit whenever I can. I don't make near the amount of money they do, but when we all go out to eat, I have to pay for myself — even if I just order coffee and no food, which happens sometimes because they like to go to expensive places. I told them I'm on a budget, so recently, they've picked places where I can at least afford an appetizer. Is it wrong of me to hope they pay for my meals? Should I just offer to stay at the house while they go out? — Mom on a Budget
Dear Mom on a Budget: When you've taken the trouble to visit, it would be polite of your daughter and son-in-law to treat you as their guest and pick up the tab when you go out to eat. It's not wrong of you to hope for that. But it is futile for you to just hope and expect that to be enough to elicit change.
Talk to your daughter candidly about what a strain the expensive meals out are. Offer to pick out restaurants that are within your budget. If they won't agree to go to a restaurant you can afford, then they should at least agree to help cover the cost of your meals. I suspect that they're living so comfortably they've forgotten that money is an object for most of us. Let's hope your conversation will be enough to remind them and give them a more generous perspective.
Dear Annie: "Single Senior" wrote about activities for single seniors and mentioned a $40-a-year activities center. You considered that a bargain to jump on.
In Ocala, Florida, there is a hospital-sponsored group called Prestige 55. It costs $25 to join for life. The main activity is evening talks by doctors and other experts on various health-related subjects. Each is preceded by a free supper. So you can get your initiation fee back in a week or two. It also includes a variety of other events and activities, such as art classes, visits to interesting places, bus trips and nature hikes. Some have fees. The semiweekly aquatic exercise class in an indoor pool is $30 a year. A newer group in town has a similar set of lectures at noon, followed by free lunches. You can easily make friends at many of those events. Sometimes the pool group will sit together at a meal table. Thrift shop touring can be fun — and free if you do not buy anything. And as you say, some newspapers periodically print lists of local clubs and volunteer service groups. Hospitals, schools, shelters, youth centers, libraries, churches and charities are always looking for people. All are good places to meet new friends. — Old Mainer
Dear Old Mainer: Staying social is so important to health. Studies have shown that it's good for our immune and cardiovascular systems, among many other things. (See the article "Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy," by Debra Umberson and Jennifer Karas Montez, if you'd like the in-depth analysis of why.) Not to mention, it's just plain fun. Thanks for writing.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]