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I live in New York and my parents live in Michigan. I haven’t seen them since before the pandemic, so it’s a big deal for us to gather this Christmas. The thing is, I didn’t really expect it – my family is very stressful, and while I love them, they don’t make time for them easily. (I’m gay, and even though I came out with them years ago, they’re still awkward about it. This is something I’ve come to accept, but it adds to general holiday anxiety. .)
I also started graduate school last fall, so money is also much tighter. Airfares are always expensive during the holidays, and this year they were even more frenetic. Technically, I can afford to fly home, but it will take a toll on my finances. My parents are definitely better off financially than I am, and that would save them a lot if they bought my plane ticket. It will also make me feel better when I go somewhere that is not my first choice of place for the holidays. How to ask them in a non-embarrassed way?
It sounds like you want your parents to buy a plane ticket not only because it’s expensive, but also to offset the emotional cost of spending time with them. That’s understandable, but it’s also quite loading. Before you ask them, you should think more about the outcome you are hoping for. Is there an implicit threat that you won’t go if they don’t buy your ticket? Or will you still go, but more disappointed in your family than usual?
Of course, paying a lot of money to be around people who stress you out… isn’t a great way to spend Christmas. I wish more people were open about the financial stress of traveling on holiday, and how it can create or add to resentment towards the loved ones they are trying to see. . Most families do (or should) talk about this, so I know where you’re from. But I also think you need to separate the financial factor from the emotional one.
Matt Lundquist, founder and clinical director of Tribeca Therapy, says: “Before you look at the financial side, you need to confront whether you want to spend that time with your family right now. or not. “This is a pretty tough question, and a lot harder to answer than who is going to buy your plane ticket. I encourage you not to confuse the two.”
You mentioned that you were “accepted” to the family dilemma of being gay, but that sounds like a pretty big deal – and no money or free flights will help. you deal more easily. “Think about non-financial terms that might make you feel better about this trip,” advises Lundquist. “For example, could your family express more acceptance of who you are and a commitment to doing so? Can they apologize for hurting you in the past? ”
This is a heavy job and you may not be ready to confront your parents about it right now. Obviously fine. I also don’t want to read your question too much – you’ll probably never be close to your parents, and that’s okay too. But I think before asking anyone for financial support, you should think about how that might affect your relationship with that person and what kind of relationship you would like to have with them in the future. future.
Which brings us back to your original question: How can you subtly suggest that your parents pay the bill for your trip? “I think it’s easiest if you state it as a financial fact,” says Amanda Clayman, a financial therapist who often works with families. She suggests saying something like, “Hey, I’d love to spend the holidays with you. This year plane tickets are really expensive, and I’m putting more money into graduate school. So I would love to stay at home, but it would really help me out if you paid for my flight. “Call it your Christmas present. Accomplished.
Of course, it’s going to be a little awkward, especially if they say no. But if you already know what you’ll do if they say no (go, not stay), it takes the pressure off the outcome. Based on your letter, it sounds like you’re ready to go anyway. But if not, maybe you should explain that first. Try saying something like, “To make this work on my budget this year, I really need some help paying for my plane tickets. Is this something you’re considering? are not? “
On the other hand, I also think there’s a benefit to buying your own ticket, or at least part of it. If your parents pay, that creates a level of obligation that is hard to get out of. While if you do it yourself, you will have more control. (It’s also important to reiterate that many parents pay for their kids’ things as an alternative to appearing when they’re emotionally unable to do so, and that’s not a great motivator either. great.)
Note that if you decide to talk to your parents about how they can support you more generally, you should avoid Bundle it into the same conversation when you’re asking about airline tickets. “I don’t recommend bringing up emotional factors when you ask about flights,” says Clayman. “You run the risk of looking like the deal, or at least confusing your parents a lot.”
Finally, I hope your parents ease the financial burden of your visit and work to strengthen their relationship with you. Both are very reasonable things to ask for! I also encourage you to make room for your parents to surprise you. Family relationships are not static, and especially after you’ve been apart for so long, it’s important to know how to ask your loved ones what you need.