Why does my grandson think I should pay for him to miss our family vacation?

I’m treating my family to a special vacation in Alaska. My nephew, 28, and his wife were unable to join us; they are expecting a baby soon. I’m sorry they couldn’t come, but I was shocked when my grandson asked me for a cash gift equal to what I spent to have them join us on the trip. He asked me to donate the money to the kid’s college fund. I was stunned! I’m happy to help them with their wedding expenses and part of the down payment for their first home. But I told him that this is not how life works. Am I wrong?


You know it’s bad when I’m shocked, P examines! I see two ways to read your nephew’s concern request: He may be a young man of authority who is too comfortable counting your money as his. Or – and this requires a little compassion – spooked by the pending parental responsibilities, he may have made a silly cash move.

In either case, you were right to turn him down. Your generous offer to spring for a family vacation does not oblige you to pay compensation for those unable to attend. I’ll have a follow-up chat with your grandson to clear the air. Let’s hope he sees the light.

Tell him you’re happy to help him with occasional expenses. If you’re going to contribute to your baby’s college fund – it’s not like you’re obligated to – let him know. More importantly, however, tell him that he is not entitled to your money and that your offer does not include the option to collect their cash value instead. Let him know that his behavior is hurtful and risks making you feel like a walking ATM.

I am a woman over 30 years old. My commute to work involves a crowded bus that often leaves people standing. These buses have “priority seats” in the front for the elderly and disabled. I was sitting in one place when a stream of people came, including a gray-haired woman who looked to be in her 70s. I stood up and offered her a seat. She loudly replied, “How old do you think I am? Honestly, this is annoying! “I feel terrible. How can I avoid this in the future – only give my seat to people who are obviously old or in need?


I like your thoughtful push but let me suggest another approach: Stop giving seats to specific people. You don’t have to decide who is elderly or living with a disability. (After all, age is relative, and many disabilities are invisible.) When the bus becomes only standing room, get up from the priority seat. You don’t need it or meet its requirements.

In my experience with public transport, this happens often, and someone who needs a seat more than me usually ends up doing it. But if the prospect of a teenage boy being bullied makes you unbearable, ask people standing nearby if anyone wants a seat.

I organized a boating excursion for three young families with children. All of our children are in primary school. At the end of the ride, I discovered my husband’s marijuana vape, which he thought he had lost, under a pile of bags. Our friend was very upset when she saw it. She fears that her 10-year-old son has used it. I apologize but am taken aback by her anger. All the adults are drinking openly, and my friend smokes. (It’s legal where I live.) The idea that a 10-year-old would vape seems preposterous. How unfortunate is this error?


There are few phrases worse than “I apologized, but…” We don’t have to share our friends’ pain to make a good apology, but we do have to sincerely apologize when we’ve upset them. . Minimizing your friend’s feelings when overreacting suggests (to me) that you should reconsider your apology.

As for your argument: Adults can drink, smoke and still not want their young children. There is no hypocrisy in it. And I disagree that a 10-year-old would never try vaping. (I smoked cigarettes from my mother at that age all the time.) It sounds like your husband made an honest mistake that upset your friend. Nothing much! Your husband or you should sincerely apologize and leave it behind your back.

I am 45 years old who has done air travel. Witnessing the undeniable climate change (in part caused by airplanes), I took an oath and encouraged others to do the same. My dear cousin plans to fly her young son to Paris for summer camp. Can I encourage her?


I agree that we face a climate crisis, but focusing only on commercial air travel – without considering any other factor in our carbon footprint – seems to like no more. Feedback must be deeper and more coordinated than simply canceling a kid’s summer plans. I would keep quiet about camping but instead try to get your cousin involved in the larger climate project.

For help with your dilemma, send a question to, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.

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