Dear Amy:

My husband and I are getting older and have made a lot of sacrifices over the years in preparation for retirement.

We live comfortably, mainly because we live within our means.

Every time we dine out with our adult children (who frequently travel and spare nothing when it comes to their dining experiences), these adults expect us to cover the entire tab, even when it is their idea to go out.

My husband and I often share our meal to save cash.

Our children, however, who live in houses worth more than ours and have successful careers untouched by the recession, order expensive items off the menu that they don't even eat and several glasses of wine. Then they expect us to cover the tab and don't even offer to pay the tip.

Experience has taught me to let the waiter know that we will be splitting the tab. When I do, the "children" act as if they can't believe that we would do that to them.

People have told us, "The parents should always pay." What is your opinion?

- Anonymous in Louisiana

Dear Anonymous: One of the few real privileges of doing well in life is picking up the tab for the folks.

There comes a tipping point when adult children should want to honor and acknowledge the work and sacrifices of their parents.

Your children should celebrate their own good fortune by being generous. Yet they don't attempt to treat you or pay their own way, and will even engage in a tussle over the check.

The next time your children suggest a meal out, you and your husband should be honest and say: "We'd love to see you, but we really can't afford to treat you to dinner, unfortunately. We wish we could, but we just can't."