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Etiquette For Splitting the Bill

Out to Dinner Etiquette: Do the Parents Pay?

When it comes to eating out with a group, families, significant others' families, etc., things can get tricky when it comes to picking up the check. In fact, a friend recently had her parents in town and asked a group of us to dinner to join them. When the check arrived, I think half the table just expected our friend's parents to have at it and made no effort to pull out their wallets or cards, while the rest of us did.

In any case, the division at the table became a little awkward till the rest of the group got the hint that just because they were the parental party didn't mean they were treating and threw in their cards to split the bill. In this case, it became apparent pretty quickly that these parents weren't hosting the dinner so much as joining the group. Still, I've been to plenty of dinners with friends' parents where parents take hosting duties pretty seriously and might even be insulted by an offer to split the check. So, ultimately it can be a tough situation to navigate — though I do suggest making the offer or attempt, even if you're refused. Now, I'm wondering what's your take — when it comes to dinners with your friends and parents or friends' parents, who's paying?

Rjs-baby-girl Rjs-baby-girl 7 years
I'm from Québec and here restaurants give individual bills unless told otherwise, or they ask before the meal if it's gonna be one bill or more depending on the number of people. I really like that they don't assume one person is paying for the whole group. When I've been to the States it was sometimes awkward who pays for whom or how to split the bill depending who ate what. I think it just complicates things.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I never assume that parents will pay; I'm an adult, not a middle-school student. (And, even when I was a middle-school student, my parents always made sure to give me money when I went out with friends' families so I could offer to pay for myself, even though friends' parents generally declined.) That being said, when my parents come to visit they will typically pay if we go to dinner with one or two of my friends. They won't usually pay if it's a large group. The same goes for the rest of my friends' parents.
Kellanawida Kellanawida 7 years
I've never been in the situation where the 'host' is expected to pay for a dinner out (except for my family, but it's kind of a rule) but maybe that's just our culture. My boyfriend's father is well off and some family members just expect him to pay for them when we're out (no matter who is 'hosting') and it can get really awkward. I always go to a restaurant prepared, I look up the menu before we go so that I can budget for my meal if necessary. I don't think that one single person should be expected to pay the bill unless they have specifically advised that they are willing to do so.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
Also, I think it depends on the culture. In some cultures, like in the Asian variety, it's best for the adult children to pay, especially if the children are working professionals.
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