A daugh­ter makes a pre­sump­tu­ous travel of­fer. Can she say no?

The Washington Post - - STYLE - Carolyn Hax Write to Carolyn Hax at tellme@wash­post.com. Get her col­umn de­liv­ered to your in­box each morn­ing at wapo.st/hax­post.

Adapted from an on­line dis­cus­sion.

Dear Carolyn: My chil­dren and grand­chil­dren have all moved far away. We were very close when they were near — Sun­day din­ners, etc. — so when they left, I went through a dif­fi­cult griev­ing pe­riod. Now I have a very full life, in­clud­ing run­ning our lit­tle farm, keep­ing a boarder, many pets (some geri­atric), and vol­un­teer­ing at a mu­seum and a hos­pi­tal.

My mid­dle child has just in­formed me that she’s rented a place for me to spend a cou­ple of months this win­ter in a sunny clime, all ex­penses al­ready paid.

She should have talked all this over with me be­fore plunk­ing down money, be­cause I re­ally don’t want to leave our home for so long. I know she’s do­ing this be­cause she loves me and wants me to be safe from snow and ice, but I sim­ply can­not dump everything for weeks at a time.

She’s not one to take “no” for an answer, so how do I go about re­fus­ing her beau­ti­ful of­fer with­out an­tag­o­niz­ing her?

— Pushed

Pushed: Oh, my good­ness.

I am so sorry she put you in this po­si­tion, which was not “beau­ti­ful” but in­stead se­ri­ously pre­sump­tu­ous.

Mean­while, her try­ing to se­cure your com­pli­ance un­der threat of not tak­ing “no” for an answer — and of pun­ish­ing you emo­tion­ally — is by-the-book con­trol­ling be­hav­ior.

To say no is not the same as to an­tag­o­nize, yikes.

The only way to go about re­fus­ing her of­fer is to just refuse the of­fer. That’s it. Pre­pare your­self be­fore­hand to ride out the drama-storm that en­sues.

Now, all this hav­ing been said: You do note that “I re­ally don’t want to leave . . . for so long.” Is there a pe­riod you would be ea­ger to spend in this sunny clime? If so, then you can also say, “I’m sorry, I can­not ac­cept two months. A week, how­ever, would be lovely. Let me know if that’s pos­si­ble.”

Say this only if you trust your­self to hold that line. Oth­er­wise don’t even sug­gest it — just stick to the “no.”

And if/when she flips out on you, re­main calm: “This is not up for ne­go­ti­a­tion. Let’s ei­ther change the sub­ject now or talk another day.” Be ready to hang up as needed. “I’m in­ter­rupt­ing you, hang on — I’ve got to go, bye.” Click.

I know this prob­a­bly looks/ sounds ter­ri­ble, but it’s not un­kind. It’s let­ting an emo­tional tres­passer know she needs to get back on her side of the fence.

Re: Pushed: The daugh­ter’s of­fer dis­re­spects Pushed’s right to make de­ci­sions, es­pe­cially with the emo­tional black­mail of flip­ping out if she doesn’t get her way. It may be help­ful for Pushed to write down some talk­ing points to stay on track talk­ing to the daugh­ter.

— Anony­mous

Re: Pushed: We have only one side of this story. My grand­mother re­fuses to leave her house, and re­cent win­ters have been emo­tional tor­ture for our fam­ily, wor­ry­ing about power out­ages, clear­ing snow, her lim­ited driv­ing skills, dev­as­tat­ing falls, etc. She stub­bornly re­fuses to see these as “prob­lems.” I sense this firm, all- ex­penses- paid “va­ca­tion” could be a des­per­ate move by a fam­ily mem­ber.

— Tor­tured

Tor­tured: This did cross my mind — but there was no ev­i­dence be­tween the lines, just the rental with­out ask­ing first. Which I wouldn’t rec­om­mend even to some­one with your ex­act plight.


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