16 Comments

  1. YELENA

    Good day! I just want to thank you for this greatful site. Thank you very much from all my heart!
    (Sorry for my bad English.)

  2. Maria

    Seeking some advice: I find myself constantly having to tell my mother-in-law that I disagree with her on subjects from etiquette to style. I don’t want to offend her but I also want to stay true to myself and my taste. How can I say these things nicely without constantly coming off as combative or anti-everything she likes.

    Also, I will be having a baby in March and while discussing baby furniture she told my husband and I we shouldn’t be having the baby’s furniture delivered until after the baby is born because it’s bad luck and what “most people do.” In the next sentence, she asked me where I want to have the Christening party for the baby and told me to look for favors for the party. Isn’t this a total contraindication? How can I tell her, nicely, to back off?

    • Elizabeth

      A question: what do you get out of making your disagreements known? Are you able to have substantive discussions in which you can both understand the other’s position? Or does it usually end up in bad feelings? Unless you have to actively collaborate with your MIL on something (the party, for instance), I would simply say something like “What an interesting perspective.” Or, “I’ve never thought of it that way, how interesting.” Or, “Wow, huh, you don’t say?” When she makes comments about when the baby furniture should be delivered, I would use one of these phrases, move the conversation on to something else, and then simply proceed as you and your husband wish, buying the furniture and having it delivered whenever you desire. If she ever brings it back up to you after the fact, you can just say, “Yes, I understood your point before, but it’s just not how we see it.” Or, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but we had to do what we thought was right/best for us.”

      Staying true to yourself doesn’t require that you vocalize every point of disagreement. If you feel you need to raise a certain point, it could help, though, to invoke authority. “Oh, actually, I just read on Emily Post or Miss Manners that you shouldn’t invite someone to a shower who’s not invited to the wedding. But it’s a common misconception.”

      Lastly – from someone who has also a difficult MIL – try to ignore her ‘contradictions’ and take what’s nice or beneficial in what she’s saying. If she wants to help throw a party for the christening, that’s lovely and just focus on the positive.

    • Chocobo

      I agree with what Elizabeth has said, but I wish to add a footnote: you should not be the one contradicting your mother-in-law. If boundaries need to be set, that is your husband’s job and duty as the representative to his family. If you mother-in-law insists that you should not purchase baby furniture repeatedly and something needs to be said, your husband is the appropriate person to say: “I know you feel that way, mother, but we are doing it a bit differently. I know you will understand.” It is your husband’s duty to handle his family, and your duty to handle yours.

      For more minor issues, like differences of taste, some vague comment is all that is required of you. There is no need to say that you think wearing pearls is passé when she believes it is the only jewelry worth wearing.

  3. Jamie

    I have a problem I don’t even know how to begin to solve. After two years of lousy jobs, I have my dream job working as a special events coordinator/marketing manager at a senior citizens center in my hometown. My problem is this: my widowed grandmother who is always complaining that she never has anything to do (yet she is always doing something) has decided that she should be the volunteer in my office. This cannot happen! I have two committees of volunteers and a board of directors to answer to and if I gave grandma something to do before my other loyal volunteers, I would be eaten alive. No only that, I feel that family and work are not a good mix and it is rare for anything good to come of it. When she came into my office and demanded that I find her something to do, things became rather heated and I ended up asking her to leave my office with her shouting as she left. I am now viewed as the family brat and my mother (her daughter) is begging me to grovel and find her something to do. My friends suggested that I see if someone in another department could use her. This is not a viable option either because I do not want my collegues to feel like they are obligated to deal with my problematic grandmother. However, I don’t want to be seen as the family brat. Please help!

    • Elizabeth

      Jamie, it is not clear what the rules of etiquette can offer you in this situation, other than to be firm, polite and clear in all of your dealings. You seem to have a good handle on what you need to do at work (to keep your grandmom away), so the problems that are left are interpersonal – how to deal with your mom and grandmother. I don’t know your family and their personalities, so it isn’t clear whether it would be better to just drop the subject and let time cool everyone down, or whether something more proactive is in order. I suppose you can use the time-honored tactics that people use to say “no,” which boils down to the “polite spine.” You stick to what you know is right, you don’t allow people to walk all over you, but you also avoid escalation by removing yourself from conversations before they can devolve into shouting matches. Unfortunately, if you stick up for yourself, your family may see you as the family brat because they don’t like to be told “no.” But that’s on them. You have something more important going on than your family’s approval – you have your dream job, and your mission is to carry out your job to the best of your abilities without your family interfering. Instead of you trying to get back into their good graces, it seems to me that your grandmother owes you an apology for making a scene at your office, and your mother owes you an apology for enabling her.

  4. Vanna Keiler

    I agree with Elizabeth: not only is this a “dream job” but your means of employment. If you feel you cannot accommodate your grandmother in your new position, you need to hold your ground (emotionally) and make it perfectly clear to both your mother and grandmother that “things aren’t done that way in that office”.

    • I agree completely with the well-reasoned comments above, and would only add that by making unreasonable demands, they are being bratty. Not you. Please don’t lose your happiness and livelihood because others behave irrationally.

  5. Marie Smith

    Dear Emily Post,

    I have a question in regards to the guest list for the bridal shower. Me and my fiance are not in agreement that it is customary to invite the women who are invited to the wedding to the bridal shower. I disagree. We would like to know what is the customary guest list for the bridal shower.

    Thank you for your help!

    – Marie Smith

      • Marie Smith

        Laura,

        Thank you for the quick response! I have another question though in regards to the guest list for the bridal shower. My mother’s friends offered to throw me a bridal party and so did my fiance’s mother. I selected to go with only one bridal shower because I did not want everyone to feel obligated to buy two gifts and attend two bridal shower. So my mother’s friends are throwing me the bridal shower. The issue I am having is that I composed the guest list and did not give my fiance’s mother the opportunity to invite her friends but my mother’s friends will be at the shower. I am in a predicament because I did not consider many of the women on my fiance’s side for the bridal shower and denied their request to throw me a shower. Was this a bad move on my part? What would be customary for this situation?

        Thank you for your help!

        • Elizabeth

          When you have two showers, the idea isn’t to invite the same people to both, but rather to have two different showers for different groups of people. Why not go back to your MIL, explain that you hadn’t quite thought it through, and say that you think that two showers might be best because your mother’s friend’s showers can’t accommodate everyone (groom’s side) that you’d hoped? Ask her what she things the best solution is.

  6. ACG

    My fiance and I are in our 40s, I have three children from my first marriage and we are planning a relatively small wedding in May. We are paying for the wedding, inviting close friends, immediate family and have asked our parents to select close friends; we are very happy with the guest list of 75. My mother informed my matron of honor that a shower would be inappropriate, therefore she decided to host a small girl’s evening (wine and manicures). My mother has now taken over and the intimate ladies night has turned into a Jack and Jill party with a guest list of about 100, the majority of whom are not invited to the wedding. This party is one month before the wedding and I am powerless to stop it (was told that what I want doesn’t matter, it isn’t up to me), now my mother has put me in charge of determining the invitation wording. So, my question: What is an appropriate name or invitation wording for this event? We do not want to imply a forthcoming wedding invitation, we do not want gifts, but the party is in our honor.

    • Elizabeth

      Actually, the party IS up to you, and you DO have the power to stop it. If you disagree with the nature of the event, even if it is in your honor, you can simply choose not to show up. (Naturally, you should let your mother know of your intentions ahead of time.) If the invitations haven’t gone out yet, there’s no reason you can’t turn the ship around. It sounds like your mother has boundary issues, and so it is up to you to defend your new family from her decision-making.

      But perhaps this is not your hill to die on? I’m not sure I know exactly what a Jack and Jill party is – it seems the term can be used for a couples shower as well as a combined bachelor/bachelorette party. I assume the party your mother intends to throw is the latter, since she decided it wouldn’t be appropriate for you to have a shower. If it is simply a party, it is ok to invite people who aren’t invited to the wedding. However, if it is a shower-type event where people are expected to purchase a gift, it is in SUPER bad taste to invite people who aren’t invited to the wedding – and that kind of faux-pas IS worth standing up for. It’s your reputation (and your husband-to-be’s) that’s at stake, and I would definitely not treat that lightly. Your guests (friends, family) may be rightfully angry to be invited to a shower then come to find no invitation forthcoming to the wedding.

    • Alicia

      You should decline to attend or to be part of this party. Only those invited to the wedding should be invited to a prewedding party an as the guest of honor it makes you look bad. Your response to your mom should be a firm yet polite you are not attending that event due to your objection to inviting those who are not invited to the wedding to a prewedding party and thus you do not want to be part of planning or wording the invites as you think that no invites should be issued.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *