• Resolving Problems

An empty nester girls night out—plus one

Published: May 2, 2015 | By | 5 Replies Continue Reading
One friend always brings her 20-something daughter on an empty nester girls night out. What can the group say to the mom?


Hi Irene,

We have a group of women friends who get together regularly for a girls night out at the movies, or shopping at a local mall, always followed by dinner. We’re all in our 50s and 60s, empty nesters.

One of the women has a 28-year-old daughter who moved back to our area last year after college in Texas. The problem? Apparently our friend’s daughter has no social life of her own now, so her mother brings her along — every time — to our evenings out.

Generally speaking, we’ve noticed that young people in their 20s and 30s seem to enjoy hanging out with their parents (unlike my generation!). This is very sweet, of course, but I do think it’s important for parents and children to have some boundaries when it comes to their friendships.

The women in our group wouldn’t mind seeing our mutual friend’s daughter once in a while, of course. But this young woman has a way of dominating our conversations, totally changing the tone of our get-togethers. Should we continue to go along with this, or stop inviting our friend to the gatherings? Would it be rude to tell her not to bring her daughter for a change?

Signed, Carla


Hi Carla,

How nice that you have a circle of friends who enjoy each other’s company and make a point of planning a girls’ night out on a regular basis.

I can understand your friend bringing her daughter if she feels like the young woman has no other social outlets but this doesn’t seem to be a good solution for the daughter and certainly changes the ambiance of your get-togethers.

Inviting a “plus one” to an event without asking can make it uncomfortable for others. Although the conversation is likely to feel awkward, I don’t think there’s any other way around this problem except by being direct. Your friend may not be aware that anyone minds the extra person at the table.

The person in your group who is closest to the mom (you or someone else)—or, perhaps, the one who is most diplomatic—needs to speak to this friend privately. Tell her that while it’s nice to include her daughter on occasion, it feels more comfortable when the get-together is limited to your group of friends who are related by age and circumstance.

If she responds by saying how much her daughter enjoys participating, you can suggest that inadvertently, she may even be holding her back from making her own friends.

I suspect that things will work out okay when the mom realizes her daughter isn’t welcome as a regular. Not inviting your friend would seem to be an alternative of last resort.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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  1. DJ says:

    Are there things or get togethers that your group has that includes others? Then that’s the more ideal time for the daughter to come along. Depending on what the mother says when it’s discussed with her perhaps the person chatting to the mother could suggest they chat about other ways the mother can help the daughter to meet people. She could suggest helping the daughter look for clubs and activities that the daughter would enjoy that has young people her age. The mom and daughter could always pick an activity or two they could do together that involves others.

  2. Carla says:

    Thank you for your responses, Dionne and Laura. I’m going to share these comments with the others in our group. We certainly don’t want to hurt any feelings. I think the woman who brings her daughter with her is a bit shy, and having her daughter with her is comforting. I’m not sure. As Dionne put it so nicely, it “changes the dynamic” when another person is brought to the group. Ironically, this group was originally put together as a way of helping us older gals adjust to our empty nests — without our kids — after they went off to college. So it’s weird that this woman keeps bringing her grown daughter into the group! Thanks again.

  3. Laura says:

    I’ve been in situations lately where extra people are brought along without the inviter asking me , or others if there’s more people going, if it would be okay. Bad manners.

    My close friends and I sometimes bring our daughter(s) for lunch or a movie but we run it by the other person first. I love my friend’s daughter but there are some things I don’t want to discuss with her.

    In the situation above, since this is a repetitive problem, this women needs to be told that this is an old gals outing, and it’s not okay to bring her daughter. Maybe the group could discuss some general ground rules, like if you want to bring someone, you need to check with the group 1st. Easy enough to do via a group text.

  4. Dionne says:

    I am not a fan of people assuming the rules that everyone else has to go by don’t apply to them. It definitely changes the dynamic when someone is brought along who is of a different age, gender, etc. than what the group is obviously for. And of course it puts the ones who are being courteous on the spot. It would annoy me to leave my grown kid at home only to spend the evening with hers.

    I’d tell her that while everything thinks her daughter is lovely, “there was some talk” that this one night is really intended for the “old” girls to spend time together. But perhaps if she likes she could arrange a mixed outing another time.

    If she is going to be offended or hurt, it’s really her problem for overstepping, but I see how it’s not fun to confront someone.

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