Ask Amy: Parents don't want to pay for wedding

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • May 3, 2013 - 1:13 PM

Dear Amy: My daughter had a child out of wedlock four years ago. My wife and I have supported them both emotionally and financially and by baby-sitting the child.

Now my daughter is engaged to a very good guy. She wants to have a wedding that will cost approximately $10,000, and she wants me to pay for it.

Considering the history, I feel this is a bit much and not fair to my wife and me.

Am I wrong?

Amy says: Estimates vary, but the average wedding these days costs somewhere around $30,000. Does this mean you must pay for your daughter’s lower-cost celebration?

Absolutely not.

You don’t mention what your daughter has been doing to build her own income, but with you and your wife supporting her and her child and also baby-sitting, this should have given her opportunities to further her education and put some money away for her family’s future.

In being there, emotionally and financially, during this important and challenging time, you have done the true “heavy lifting” of parenting. I hope she has expressed her gratitude.

Even the most generous parents have to draw the line somewhere. If this is your line, then draw it and stand firm.

What’s in a name?

Dear Amy: My eldest daughter is a year away from becoming a doctor of psychology. We funded her undergraduate studies at a top Canadian university, and I have always encouraged her in her pursuits of higher education.

We discussed years ago that when she got married she would keep her surname for her doctorate, and she agreed. I have no issue with her taking her husband’s name in her private life, but I feel she’s had our family’s surname 28 years and should keep it.

I have no sons to carry on the family name. This is just so special to me and would mean so much. She hasn’t made a decision. What are your thoughts?

Amy says: I think your smart, accomplished psychologist daughter will find a way to detach, with love.

The great job you did raising your daughter and your generosity in funding her education does not mean that you get to control what name she uses professionally or personally. Her published work is a reflection of her accomplishments, not your reflected glory.

She may choose to keep her surname in both her professional and personal life. She may choose to change it altogether (and use her mother’s maiden name, for instance). I do know this: Pressuring her may actually influence her to act in opposition to you, simply to maintain her own personal independence and assert her well-earned adulthood.

You need only ask yourself: Would you be any less proud of your daughter if she chose to publish under a pen name? I hope not. Would she be any less a part of you if she took a different name? Definitely not.

Don’t need fixing

Dear Amy: The letter from the mother-in-law struck a nerve with me. I am an introverted male whose more outgoing in-laws decided they could “fix.” They would tease me about being quiet, would put me on the spot to make comments during conversations in which I had nothing to contribute and would loudly make fun of me in front of others.

Even my wife joined in, telling me she was “tired of explaining me to everyone.” For this and a few other related reasons, I don’t have much of a relationship with my in-laws. I agree with your comment, to celebrate the good things about introverted people. That, more than anything, might bring them out of their shell more than trying to “fix” them.

Amy says: Many readers have recommended the wonderful book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain (2013, Broadway). I highly recommend that you, your wife and in-laws, and anybody else seeking to understand introverts, read it for insight and inspiration.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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