Los Angeles Times
Hiking is tough on tykes
Dear Amy: My husband and I don’t have children but we’re friends with many couples who do, and we enjoy spending time with them.
Before they had kids, one couple used to do an annual hiking weekend with us. Once the kids came along, they wanted to continue this tradition and bring the kids.
I love spending time with our friends’ children, but this is not a kid-friendly trip.
Last year, their kids, ages 2 and 4, cried most of the time as they were dragged through the heat on rough terrain for eight hours; their parents expected them to walk most of it.
I didn’t blame these children for hating it. It wasn’t fun for anyone.
I do not want to go on this trip this year, and I’d like to be honest about why, without having them think that we don’t want to spend time with their kids.
I suggested that we do a shorter day trip on some easier trails because the kids would enjoy that more. They replied that they wish to teach their kids “stamina” and that we can “give them breaks and they’ll be fine.”
Is there a polite way of eliminating this trip, at least until the kids are older?
Trying to Be Accommodating
Dear Trying: I can well imagine what this hike to hell and back was like for everyone; I don’t blame you for not wanting to repeat it.
You should be completely honest about this. Tell them, “It killed me to see the kids so uncomfortable during the hike. I only want to do this if we can do a shorter and more kid-friendly hike.”
That’s it. That’s you stating your own needs.
They might have all sorts of reasons why it would be easier for the kids this year. You can reply: “I know I’m not a parent — maybe that’s why it’s so hard for me to see them struggle. I love your children and I want them to have a better time. If they have a good time, I’ll have a good time. But I need to take a different excursion.”
Dear Amy: My daughter’s mother-in-law is very strong-willed. I’m throwing my daughter a baby shower, and her MIL invited her neighbor and the neighbor’s daughter to the shower, without asking me first.
She did not offer to contribute to the shower and refused to throw one locally for my daughter, who lives near her.
She did throw a gender reveal party for the couple and I contributed substantially. However, when I asked to invite my cousin, who lives in the area, I was told no. Although I was disappointed, I didn’t say anything because I didn’t think it appropriate.
When my daughter told me that her MIL had invited these extra people, I said no because we were already at maximum capacity.
The MIL and her son became very upset and he argued with me. I gave in, but the MIL said she would not attend, nor will her other daughter-in-law, who was supposed to drive with her. My son-in-law blames me.
I felt she was out of line to invite these people without asking me first. I relented for the sake of the relationship and even messaged: “Sorry you won’t be joining us,” but this was not enough. Your thoughts?
Dear Setting: I think you’ve done a good job of trying to navigate this.
If you set boundaries that feel right to you, you might be teaching your daughter to do the same. She might need some real love, patience and emotional support from you once this baby arrives.