Life Advice



She was so happy, until the birthday surprise

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

If we invited a pal, how much (if anything) should we be asking the guest (or, more likely, his parents) to pay for?

We would feel totally uncomfortable asking the guest to help pay for shared costs (hotel, gas, groceries, etc.), but what about tickets to attractions, significant meals out, or even airfare? We would hate to offend anyone by getting this one wrong, but have no barometer.

-- Wanderlust

Dear Wanderlust: If you invite another child to vacation with you, that child is your guest and you should pay for the child. That includes transportation, housing, food, tickets for attractions, etc. The child should only be expected to bring along "pocket money," for extras.

Many times, parents will respond to your generosity by offering (or insisting) to pick up some costs. Then, you can respond: "If you'd like to pay for Timmy's airfare, that would be helpful. Otherwise, he is our guest."

Grateful and thoughtful parents who can afford it will often give the child extra money to treat your family to an attraction or dinner, as an acknowledgment and thank you.

They might also find other ways to reciprocate, such as perhaps inviting your son along on one of their vacations.


But do not extend this invitation unless you are fully prepared to cheerfully pay for it.

Dear Amy: Regarding older people getting dogs, three days before turning 80, I adopted a 7-year-old dog. Best thing I ever did -- for both of us.

That was over four years ago, and yes I worry about what would happen if she outlived me, but both our lives have been enriched. I still work two days a week in the business office of a nursing home and she comes to work with me, putting a smile on many faces, loved by everyone.

-- Patricia

Dear Patricia: You're my hero.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)




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