Tired of Being the Fun Mom All The Time

Jazzylibra asks from Eastpointe, MI
16 answers

I try to give my kids fun experiences whenever possible, especially in the summer. Sometimes it costs money, like the arcade, amusement park, movies,etc. and sometimes it doesn’t. My 12 year old son always wants to include a friend or two when I suggest going somewhere fun.

Sometimes I don’t mind and will pay for the other kids. Other times I do mind and may not have the money to pay but he begs me to ask if they can go so that it’s more fun. He then will tell them to bring their own money for whatever we’re doing. Unfortunately, I still end up paying and not getting reimbursed. It wouldn’t be that bad if when my son hangs out with them that their parents treat or take them on adventures/ fun dates like I do. But They Don’t! They never include my son or call to see if he would like to join them to hang out with their son as they go somewhere.

Mind you, I teach my son to always be polite and appreciative when he’s with others. Am I wrong for not wanting to include them? When I do say no to my son, I know he’s disappointed because it’s no fun to hang out with your little brother all the time. Getting fed up with the costs and fun dates not being reciprocated. Need suggestions on how to handle this!

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So What Happened?

As many of you have questioned, yes, I did edit my post. When I mentioned that my son insists that his friends go it’s more like he just asks me can he bring a friend or two along because the activities that I tend to take him to are more fun with friends, like Airtime Trampoline or movies or arcade. “Insist” was not the right word to use because I see how stating that made it seem as though my son feels entitled or that we must bring someone along all the time.
I appreciate all the comments and I’ve decided to continue to provide my sons with a variety of “fun” activities. If I feel the need to pay for a friend to come along, then I’ll suggest it. If I don’t and my kids ask, then I’ll confirm the activity with the parents so they know that they’re more than welcome to come but i won’t be able to pay and they will have to bring money and pay upfront.
The problem I would have usually happens at the movies. Since I buy the tickets in advance, once we get there they would spend their money on snacks and not give their share for their ticket. I’ll just make sure this is taken care of ahead of time.

16 Answers



answers from Spring on

First, don't go into this thinking your son will get invited back to fun activities. Most people can't afford to do all that. So, yeah, get rid of that expectation.

If your son wants a friend to go, your son can pay for his friend. That might eliminate some of the issues. No is acceptable.


Tori H.

answers from Overland Park on

Well I think you need to find the balance. It's okay to say no to your son and you should be able to do so without feeling guilty or bad. Sometimes you bring friends, sometimes you don't. It's that simple. Sometimes I just wanna hang with my kids and I don't want the added pressure of a friend. Sometimes I don't care. The good thing about being a grown up is that you get to decide. Your kid can be disappointed and that's okay.

When you do invite friends I think the simplest way is to be honest. I know it's hard because at 12 they are probably making most of the plans within themselves and you probably aren't talking to parents a lot. So I would suggest either looking at your son's texts to his friends before he sends them so you can confirm that he mentions the child will need to bring his own money or you start calling/texting the parents to confirm plans, etc. An easy way to bring it up is to say the cost of admission is $$ and we plan on eating lunch there so your child will need additional money for that. I think it's totally ok to tell a parent hey I'm happy to have them along and drive, but I can't swing paying for your child too.

2 moms found this helpful

Doris Day ..

answers from Miami on

I agree with mynewnickname about making it clear to your son that others need to pay their own way, and ESPECIALLY calling the parent and issuing an invitation that makes it clear that it's up to them to pay if their child goes. However, I would make sure that you have the money or the paid voucher in hand before going. If that child shows up without money or a voucher, you will be on the hook, again.

However, I do understand your feelings of irritation that the friends' parents don't reciprocate. Even if they work during the week, they could ask your son on weekends.

If it's always the same few kids and your son is never invited anywhere with them, it's time to reconsider.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

If your child wants to bring a friend somewhere and you are OK with having the friend but not OK with paying for the friend, then you should talk directly to the other parent, because 12 years old don't have their own sources of $. You call the other parent and say "Jimmy is going to the amusement park on Saturday. He'd like your son to come too. It's $45 per person. Does John want to come with him?" (if the answer is yes). "Great, either I can help him buy his ticket at the door or you can buy it online in advance at the website and send it with him. Which do you prefer?" This makes it clear that you aren't buy the ticket. If the parent says that the child will buy his own ticket, then do that. When you get to the gate, take the visiting child up first and say "Johnny, let me help you buy your ticket with your money, and then the other kids can get their tickets."

That said, I typically allow my kids to invite friends to the free stuff, but tell them it's family-only for stuff that could break the bank if I pay for extras. If your son whines about having to spend an afternoon with you and his brother without another friend along, then maybe he doesn't deserve to go. It's ok to be the fun mom. It's not ok to raise an entitled kid.

Finally, I get a sense of judgey-ness in your post about fun dates not being reciprocated. It's fantastic that you have the time to do all this stuff for your kids. Please keep in mind that with 2 working parents, long hours, and even work on weekends, many parents today don't have time to take their own families to do this kind of stuff. When they do have time to be with their family, they want family-only time. This is not a reflection on you or your child. It's just the way of the world for many people.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Monica on

Keep being the fun mom. You're building experiences your son will never forget....and most likely the friend's memories, too. Just limit what you do and how often. I always have him bring a friend but I do it this way:
-find some free things to do
-take them to an amusement park but sneak in my own snacks
-we go to movie theatres that serve food, I look at the menu & give them some choices. I, also, make sure they have a lunch at home before we go since I can make that a very cool lunch but control the cost.
-go to water slides but know ahead of time they will be starving & treat them to quite a few snacks on me.
-when I ask the friend if he wants to come, ask him to bring $5 (most parents won't squawk at that much money but they will if it's any more than that....esp if they have 2, 3 or 4 kids....they can't afford that
-sometimes I will take them someplace cheap for lunch so I can spend money on something very cool like laser tag etc.
-I always bring a large purse w/some extra snacks smuggled in (Goldfish, protein bars, fruit snack packages). I know it's not the best choice but some of these people gouge your eyes out for a little bit of fun.

-we go to the arcade & tell them ahead of time I will spend $10 and when it's gone we go home.
-I'll invite his friend over, rent a fun movie & provide a ton of fun but cheap snacks. They seem to really enjoy this.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Mc Cordsville on

Being the fun mom isn't a problem being taken advantage of is. The other parents may not be able to afford to take other kids or they may not want to be bothered. Be honest and tell your son that his friends can't go the next time because you don't have the money. If he complains tell him that you all can stay home and he can play with his friends outside. I find myself being the fun mom since I have 1 child but I will not pay if I don't have the money. Good Luck!

3 moms found this helpful

Suz t.

answers from Sharpsburg on

sounds to me as if you're fine being the fun mom, you're just sick of being the money dispenser.

most kids want a friend along. little brothers are okay, but tweens are almost always frantic for friends. my older sure did, and my younger was MAD for it. weird social butterfly in a family of introverts.

it's great that you have your son telling them they need to pay, but that's clearly kid to kid and you need more. so talk to the parents yourself. if you haven't done so before it might feel awkward at first, but i promise you it will become more comfortable. by the time my younger was this age i had become very used to including the payment situation in the plans- 'hi joanne, it sounds like the kids want to go to the water park on thursday and i'm free to take them. have tim bring a towel and a big water bottle, and he'll need about $10 to get in and get snacks.' or 'thanks for taking peter with you to the arcade tomorrow! i'm planning to send $5 for the games unless you're going somewhere else too. will that be enough?' or 'i've got discount tickets to the matinee today! we'd love to bring tim, and i've got his ticket covered. just send snacks or popcorn money.'

stay the fun mom. stop being the money dispensing mom.

ETA did you change your post? i see a lot of refs to your son 'insisting'. i'd definitely nip that in the bud. sometimes being a fun mom means saying firmly, 'today is for our family only- board games and homemade pizza!'


6 moms found this helpful


answers from Menasha on

You talk to the parents. Simply tell them Tommy and I are going to ..... Tommy would love to have Jimmy join us however I can't afford to pay for Jimmy to go along. I am happy to take him but please make sure Jimmy has money to pay his own way.

However your son has to remember no matter what happens his little brother will always be there as his friend. He needs to learn to be friends with his brother.

1 mom found this helpful

TF Plano/Allen

answers from Plano on

I have an only daughter. We did a Lot and included a friend at our expense 100%. Some of her friends had some great vacations! I'd do it all again.

We did not do this looking for or expecting reciprocation. We did it for our daughter and her friends... no strings attached.

If you have other expectations, it's up to you to make that clear.

6 moms found this helpful

Lori H.

answers from Coleman on

My daughter is very social like your son. It was sometimes hard to reign her in. I had some set rules:

If you talk to someone about plans prior to checking with me, it’s an automatic no. If you invite someone in front of me without checking with me privately, it’s a no and loss of privileges.

I felt like, at one point, I could’ve owned a Starbucks as it was THE place to meet and be seen. I started giving her a weekly Starbucks allowance and told her when it was gone, she was on her own to pay for drinks/eats. It was AMAZING how quickly she learned about budgeting.

To me, what your son is doing, is pretty normal. Of course he wants to be with friends. However, insisting they come? I don’t think so. I agree with others that having him work for $ to pay for his friends is valuable. I know he’s young, but he could mow, pet sit or do things you need him to do.

Saying, not today, just us this time is fine. If he protests (which he will because you’ve allowed him to get by with it) you stand firm. He has to know you mean what you say. Teenage years are around the corner and I can’t tell you the importance of establishing who’s the captain of your ship.

Love and Logic for Teens is a great read. Highly recommend.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Orinda on

Two things. First, you need to be up front when inviting other kids along. If you can't (or don't want to) pay for guests then you let the parents know BEFORE you go how much it's going to cost. When you pick the kid up or he gets dropped off you make sure you've gotten the cash from the parents. Second, not every fun activity needs to cost money. I took my kids to the beach and out hiking in parks during the summer. We packed a picnic, they brought their friends and everyone had a good time. The only cost was the gas to get there and maybe a parking fee. We also did kid and family museums on free days (usually once a month.) I would also never allow my child "insist" on anything, YOU are the parent, you decide what's happening. Period.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chesapeake on

Sometimes you need to redefine 'fun'.
That means family movie night, or board game night or learn a new card game night.
That means when you say 'no' to having a friend over - you should say it once and your son should believe you.

What do you mean 'he insists'?
Does son not take 'no' for an answer?
When a friend needs to be paid for - how about you have your son pay for it.
Let's see how long that lasts when your son is constantly running out of money.
Having a freeloader friend with no reciprocating is awful - and it's time your son learns this particular lesson.

I'd also see about taking a different friend along - one who would reciprocate sometimes.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Arvada on

I don't know if you're comfortable with having him meet a friend at the arcade without you there. I started letting my kid go to the amusement park with a friend at 13...(or arcade, movies etc.) If possible, can they meet there? Then you aren't the grown-up in charge and you aren't obligated to pay. My dd would frequently do that and I never felt obligated to pay - I sent her with enough money for herself only. My kid would let the other know how much it cost ahead of time.
She does have a friend that never brings money, and always borrows my dd's personal money she earned or got for her birthday. My dd never gets paid back. I finally told her to only bring enough for herself. If her friend doesn't have money, then she'll need to call her mother to either give her some or pick here up.

5 moms found this helpful

Diane B.

answers from Westborough on

Your son is typical for many kids his age, in that he wants more "grown-up" privileges with zero understanding of grown-up responsibilities. Sure, he wants his friends because he's 12 and it's not "cool" to hang out with (let alone have fun with) Mom and younger siblings. But he a) thinks you're made of money and b) doesn't understand anything about the manners of issuing and accepting invitations.

Time for you to stop being the fun mom who feels some obligation to give in to the kids no matter how unreasonable their demands. Time for your son to no longer invite kids without your permission. Time for you to stop taking kids who aren't invited by you.

It would be nice if other parents took your son, but they either don't have the money and they aren't issuing those invitations, or maybe your son's lack of manners and his sense of entitlement make him an unwelcome guest. If he doesn't appreciate what you do and what you spend, it's likely that he doesn't express gratitude or appreciation to the other kids' parents. If he were to go with them, would he be truly appreciative, or would he just say a perfunctory "thanks"? Where they to buy him an admission ticket, would he also asking for fries and sodas and souvenirs? Does he even have a lot of friends, or are they just coming with him because they get a free day at the amusement park?

I think it's time for you to find much less expensive activities, give your kids real chores so they understand the value of a dollar, and stop being blackmailed by a child who goes behind your back. In a few years, that kid is going to want a learner's permit and access to an automobile, and he needs to know that these things cost money. He's 12. He can earn money by weeding neighbors' gardens and pulling their crabgrass, mowing lawns, walking dogs and caring for cats/guinea pigs during vacations. If he's not doing laundry, he needs to learn. Younger kids can do this too. They should be getting all the gear ready for trips to the beach or pool, helping to make lunches and clean out used/dirty lunch boxes, and more. They are family members, not entitled celebrities. Your job is to give them the life skills so they can go out on their own, and you can't start that at 17.

There have to be consequences and responsibilities: we don't buy expensive snacks when we can make our own (buy a big pack and divide them up into reusable containers), we don't go to the amusement park when we spent our budget on the beach trip, we don't play all day when there's a house to run.

And where is it written that kids should never be disappointed? We don't always get what we want, and learning to cope is a major life skill. Kids who are entitled and never have to "make do" don't actually do very well in life.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Oskaloosa on

It sounds to me like you've set bad habits and expectations and there's a bit of entitlement going on here. You're the mom. If you want to do something fun, you make the rules, not your son, not his friends, not his friends' parents. It's up to you to create the experience you want to have. The good part of that is, if it's not working for you the way it is, you get to make changes. I don't mean to be insensitive so I apologize if it sounds that way, but it does sound like to me that it's time to put your foot down. Fewer outings, or just you and your son. I certainly wouldn't keep allowing extra kids to come if you're going to be put out by paying for them - if you invite them, I think you should pay for them.

5 moms found this helpful

Margie G.

answers from Portland on

When you say "he insists" they come - remember, you're the parent.

Same with "Unfortunately, I still end up paying"... why is that? You are the adult and you can enforce this.

You can

1 - invite a guest and pay, but not so frequently if this is a concern (to make it more manageable)

2 - invite a guest and have them pay - if your son isn't passing that message along to the other child (or child is not passing that along to the parent) you can talk directly to the parent if needs be when you pick up/they drop off the child. However, at 12, the kids should be able to communicate this - and so it may just mean you have to enforce it more. How about handing your child money to pay for himself and saying "You older boys get in line to pay" and have each boy pay their way. You pay for yourself and younger son, afterwards. That way it's clear the boys pay for themselves.

If you find it awkward - then I would go back to option #1

3 - just do more with your sons and not worry about inviting friends. We often just do family time.

As for friends not inviting your son to do outings - a lot of families don't - it is costly, and a lot of parents work during the week and on weekends, it's family time. Or it's vacation time, and they are again, getting together with extended family or family friends.

Personally - I would do #2, or if it's a good friend and you want to treat - do so, but not all the time.

5 moms found this helpful
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