Why does my grandson think I should pay him for losing our family vacation?

I am treating my family for a special vacation in Alaska. My grandson, 28, and his wife are unable to join us; They are expecting a baby soon. I’m sorry they can’t come, but I was shocked when my grandson asked me for a cash gift equal to what I would have done so that they would join us on the trip. He suggested that I donate the money to the Children’s College Fund. I’m surprised! I was happy to help them with the wedding expenses and part of the down payment on their first home. But I told him that’s not the way life is. Was I wrong?


You know it’s bad when I get shocked, Poopsie! I see two ways to read your grandson’s tense request: He may be a qualified young man who has become too comfortable to count your money as his. Or – and that requires some sympathy – afraid of the pending responsibilities of parenthood, he may have taken up ridiculous money.

Either way, you were right to reject it. Your generous offer of a family vacation does not obligate you to pay compensatory amounts to those who cannot attend. I’d like to have a follow-up conversation with your grandson for an air purifier. Let’s hope he sees the light.

Tell him you’re happy to help him with the incidental expenses. If you plan to contribute to a child’s college fund – you have no duty – let them know. Most importantly, tell him that he is not entitled to your money and that your invitations do not include an option to collect their cash value instead. Also, let him know that his behavior was distressing and risks making you feel like a mobile ATM.

I am a woman in my early thirties. My commute includes a busy bus ride that often leaves people standing. These buses have “priority seats” in front for seniors and people with disabilities. I was sitting in one when a large number of people rushed in, including a gray-haired woman who looked about 70 years old. I stood and offered her my seat. “How old do you think I am?” she answered loudly, “Honestly, this is annoying!” I felt bad. How can I avoid this in the future – showing my seat only to those who are clearly elderly or needy?


I like your thoughtful motivation, but let me suggest a different approach: Stop offering your seat to specific people. It is not up to you to decide who is old or who has a disability. (After all, age is relative, and many disabilities are invisible.) When the bus becomes a parking space only, get up from the priority seat. You do not need it or fulfill its requirements.

In my public transit experience, this usually works, and the person who needs the seat more than I do ends up doing it. But if the likelihood of a teenage boy stumbling is too high for you to handle, ask the people standing near you if any of them would like a seat.

I organized a sailing trip for three young families with children. All of our children are in primary school. At the end of the trip, I discovered my husband’s cannabis, which he thought he had lost, under a pile of bags. Our friend was upset when she saw this. She was briefly afraid that her 10-year-old son had used it. She apologized, but was surprised by her anger. All adults were openly drinking alcohol, and my friend smoked pot. (It’s legal where I live.) The idea that a 10-year-old smokes e-cigarettes seems preposterous. How serious is this error?


There are few phrases worse than “I apologize, but…” We don’t have to share our friends’ distress to make a good apology, but we do have to feel very sorry for bothering them. Underestimate your friend’s feelings because overreaction suggests (to me) that you should reconsider your apology.

As for your arguments: Adults may drink alcohol or smoke pot but don’t want their young children to drink it. Don’t show off about it. And I don’t agree that a 10-year-old would never try e-cigarettes. (I used to pinch my mother’s cigarettes at that age the whole time.) It seems as if your husband made an honest mistake that upset your friend. not important! You or your spouse should sincerely apologize and abandon you.

I am 45 years old and have done my fair share of air travel. Having witnessed undeniable climate change (due in part to airplanes), I have sworn to them and urge others to do the same. My dear cousin is planning to send her young son to Paris by plane to take part in a summer camp. May I encourage her not to do that?


I agree that we are facing a climate crisis, but focusing solely on commercial air travel – without looking at any other component of our carbon footprint – seems weak. The response has to be deeper and better than simply canceling a child’s summer plans. I will keep quiet about the camp but try instead to involve your cousin in the larger climate project.

To help with your embarrassing situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, Philip Galanes on Facebook, or Tweet embed on Twitter.

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