Is it wrong to charge your teen for having their boyfriend or girlfriend over 3-4 times a week for dinner?
– My House is Not a Restaurant
Dear My House Is Not a Restaurant:
Wow! I’m glad that my mother-in-law did not share your philosophy when Solomon and I were dating! We would still be paying for all of those meals I enjoyed during our courtship—nearly fourteen years later! Believe it or not, the bigger issue for me regarding your dilemma is the fact that the girlfriend/boyfriend is at your home three to four times a week. Are these two getting married? I do not think that it is emotionally healthy for teens to be in serious romantic relationships. Teen relationships are emotionally and physically charged, yet fleeting. It is the perfect set up for a broken heart or more seriously, health issues such as pregnancy and STD’s. Furthermore, their time is better spent doing their school work and preparing for college and real life. Teenage relationships can lead to displaced priorities. Instead of focusing tomorrow’s test or doing that research paper, they are concerned with, “Why didn’t Boo answer my last 20 texts?” Teens tend to make decisions that have the potential to impact the rest of their lives around a fleeting relationship established before the brain is fully matured! “I’m turning down that full scholarship to Harvard because I don’t want to move away from Boo!” I had to get that off of my chest; now on to the not-so-free meals. I’m all for hospitality, but having an extra mouth to feed is an additional expense; especially if the dinner guest has a healthy appetite! Let your teen know that feeding their love interest has a cost and that it is putting a financial strain on your family. If your teen receives allowance and if it is that important for them to eat together on regular basis, deduct the food cost from the allowance. This will teach responsibility. Another suggestion is to designate one evening during the week for the dinner guest to visit. Bon appétit!
(Featured illustration Jim McHugh. Photo © istock Photo)