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Family Get-Togethers Are Getting Expensive

QUESTION: I have six children and six beautiful grandchildren. I love when they come to visit for a weekend. I especially enjoy it when they all come on the same weekend because they live out of town and it is good that everyone be with each other. My problem is that it is VERY expensive to feed everyone. Is there a suggestion you could make to help me ease the expense? I don't want to ask them for money and make them feel like we don't want them to come.

ANSWER: Your situation is an enviable one indeed. Many of us would love, as you do, to have extended family "get-togethers" on a regular basis. And the fact that everyone comes together at your home means there is much love and desire to be together. Rest assured that your children travel to your household and bring their children because of the genuine desire to connect, not for the free food!

Still, it seems that your children remain unaware of the cost of the supplies required for these family events. Because we all depended on our parents for food when young, it seems so natural to continue to do so! With all of this love, why in the world would your children feel they are unwanted if you ask that they contribute to the family banquets?

Let your children know that you love these events and want to continue them on a regular basis -- but that your pocketbook (not your heart!) is getting a bit depleted. There are several ways to go, including, but not limited to, monetary contributions. Consider the following suggestions:

  1. Ask your children for their ideas about how to share the cost. You may be surprised to find that they come up with creative ways that work for them. Give them an opportunity to become part of the solution. After all, isn't this what families are all about?

  2. Take turns. Your children could take turns buying groceries or taking financial responsibility at these events.

  3. Share the burden. Ask each family to bring a dish or snacks when they come. If this is difficult, they could arrange to buy food at a grocery near your home and cook their dish for the family as part of the family visit. Interacting in the kitchen can be a fun part of family gatherings.

Do not be shy to let your children know that you need their help. Allowing them to take care of you brings them closer together as a family, not further apart. Far from turning them away, your expressing your needs will likely warm their hearts!

Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

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