Mother Forces Daughter's Boyfriend to Pay for His Own Meal

Gillian Sisley

This Reddit post asks what the etiquette is when paying for an uninvited guest.

The ultimate goal of raising a child is to create a self-sufficient adult who can pay their bills, contribute to society, and take responsibility for themselves. This is an overall goal of most parents, and is also recommended by professionals as a healthy perspective on parenting.

That said, in this tough economy (especially during the pandemic), there were many millennials who had to turn to their parents for support. That support could come in a variety of ways, including money, food, or payment of bills. In a survey conducted by TD Ameritrade, 39% of millennial respondents had to move back in with their parents due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But when does a parent offering support to their child cross a line into coddling? And at what point should a parent tell their adult child that they're on their own and have to figure their finances out independently?

These questions were ones posed in a recent viral Reddit post, in which a mother invites her daughter to lunch. But when the daughter's boyfriend unexpectedly arrives as well, the mother refuses to pay for the boyfriend's meal.

How far does a parent's responsibility go when their child is an adult?

The viral Reddit post, published on January 16th by user u/Unspoken-Promise1879, has garnered an impressive 16,000 upvotes and 3,300 comments. The mother begins her post by clarifying that her 24-years-old daughter recently moved back home after obtaining her college degree. The daughter then met her 30-year-old boyfriend, of whom the mother is not a fan.

The author begins her story by explaining that she invited her daughter for lunch and the daughter agreed to come. However, the mother was surprised when her daughter showed up with her boyfriend in tow. Despite being put off, the mother welcomed her daughter and the boyfriend, and they went about ordering. The mother adds that the boyfriend picked many things off of the menu, including a drink. The mother said nothing because she assumed the boyfriend would be paying for himself.

However, when the waiter brought the bill the mother clarified that she would only be paying for herself and her daughter. The boyfriend then got upset and asked why the mother wouldn't be paying for him as well. The author told him that she hadn't invited him to the meal, to begin with, so it was up to him to cover his own bill.

It was at that point that the author realized the 30-year-old didn't have the funds to pay for the food and drinks he’d ordered. The daughter told her mom that she should pay for everyone, or pay for no one at all. It was at that point the mother decided to only pay for herself and left her daughter and the boyfriend to cover the costs of their own meals.

What is the approved etiquette when it comes to splitting a restaurant bill?

Whether patrons at a restaurant choose to split a bill or not is a very gray area. Forbes reports that the general etiquette varies depending on many factors such as whether people are on a date, if they are family, just friends, and even then it all comes down to personal choice. Overall, it’s best to establish before the meal begins what the expectation of payment is.

That said, it is advised to never assume that you won't have to pay for the food you've consumed. Sure, it's certainly common for parents to pay for their children's meals, even adult children, if the parents were the ones to extend an invite. However, if an uninvited person shows up at the meal, it absolutely should not be expected that the uninvited person's bill will be covered by someone else.

The mother concludes her post by saying that her daughter and the boyfriend didn't have enough funds to cover their portion of the bill, and they had to ask a friend to come to the restaurant to pay for them.

Following the incident, the daughter reached out to her mother and said that the couple was very hurt by the stunt she pulled. Not only that, but the boyfriend expects an apology as well as to be compensated for the money their friend paid on the bill since it was a debt they now needed to return.

What do you think? Should the mother have just covered the bill for her daughter and the boyfriend, knowing they couldn't pay for it themselves? Or was it not the mother's responsibility to pay for the boyfriend's meal, since he was an uninvited guest?

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