Open Thread

by epi on February 19, 2013

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This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Alexandra February 19, 2013 at 12:55 am

My bridesmaids are hoping to host a bridal shower for me but can’t find a time to do it. My family and friends live all over the country, and we can’t seem to find a weekend that more than 4 people could attend a shower, except for the days before my wedding. Would it be terrible to have a luncheon bridal shower the day before my wedding? It seems to be the only time that my bridesmaids, my mom, and my close family could be there.

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Jody February 19, 2013 at 10:14 am

Alexandra, I think that a luncheon shower the day before your wedding would be lovely. It would be a nice time for you to relax with friends and family. It sounds like your bridesmaids cleared that date with you and if you’re OK with it I say go for it.

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Stepmom of the Groom February 19, 2013 at 2:25 am

Q. I realize that the traditional role for stepmom of the groom is “show up, be pleasant, and stay out of the way”. However, my stepson is engaged to a girl who doesn’t have a mom. The bride-to-be has asked my help with some things (which I’m happy to do. I like event planning, she’s a sweet girl, and I love them both dearly). In addition, my husband and I are paying for the groom’s side of things. However, I also want to be sure that I’m not stepping on the toes of my stepson’s bio-mom, with whom I have difficulty communicating directly. How do I balance the needs of the bride with the needs of my stepson’s bio-mom? Is it even possible? Am I overthinking this? My aim is the highest and best outcome for everyone involved. And, I want the kids to have a great, drama-free wedding.

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Elizabeth February 19, 2013 at 10:35 am

Here’s the good news: it isn’t your job to manage bio-mom’s emotions, nor is it in your job description to manage her relationship with her son and future DIL. It sounds like you don’t have the greatest relationship with her, and so she’s likely predisposed to dislike just about anything you do. That being said, it would be prudent to hang back a bit and only get involved when asked – which it sounds like you have been. Hopefully your stepson and his bride will be open and honest with biomom if and when anything comes up, that they asked you to be involved. Other than that, if you try to be more proactive about it, you will only appear to be manipulating the situation.

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Stepmom of the Groom February 20, 2013 at 12:43 am

Thanks, Elizabeth! I will follow your advice. I find the situation very frustrating because I’m trying to keep the lines of communication open and not put the kids in the middle, but am getting zero communication back from the biomom. It just seems to me that a lot of problems could be alleviated or even prevented if we could just talk to each other, and I know that it would relieve the stress on the kids as well. They shouldn’t have to worry about whether their various parental units can behave like adults and rise above their personal differences….We should be able to take the high road for the sake of the kids.

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Rebecca February 19, 2013 at 12:34 pm

My family is grieving. Within the past 6 months we have lost 5 members of our family. My now widowed sister is choosing to deal with her grief via daily Facebook postings to her deceased husband. I am not posting how I feel. Those who need to know have been notified of the family’s loss and my friends are being gracious enough to listen when I need to express myself, however I do not feel the need to broadcast my grief all over the internet. How boring is that? Now the question. Just this weekend at a social event I was scolded for not informing our large social circle of all the losses in the family by someone with whom I have very little contact. This woman is friends with my sister, but for some reason did not know that I am related. It was quite a conversation and my only response was “Oh I thought you knew she was my sister and thank you for your concern”. This is only going to continue and is there a better way to address this? This is a large social group and I hold a high level office and cannot just disappear as much as I would like to. I just don’t want to feel obligated to announce my feelings. This is very painful for me and I really would prefer to grieve as privately as possible. I am not very good at quick remarks and would like a few to keep in mind for the next social gathering in a week.

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Elizabeth February 19, 2013 at 1:13 pm

I’m sorry for your losses, it sounds like a very difficult time. It sounds as though you are handling things beautifully. Unfortunately, you cannot preempt every insensitive comment, and you are definitely under NO obligation to publicly announce your grief. (I wonder if what this person was asking was slightly different – perhaps her desire was for information, that the people had passed, rather than how you felt about it??) But you really don’t owe anyone anything with respect to your own grief, nor even information to busybody acquaintances.

How about, “You know, everyone grieves differently, and as a more private person, it’s not comforting to me to be public about my feelings. I’m sure you understand.”

“It’s actually a difficult time for me, but I would really rather not discuss it (with you/ right now / at a social event).”

“There’s not one right way to grieve.”

But you know, “Thanks for your concern.” (then walk away) works perfectly, too.

You can also use the ‘bean dip’ strategy to redirect the conversation. “Oh, I would rather not talk about that. But have you tried the bean dip, it’s delicious! (Or, how’s your new job? How is your son’s baseball team doing? etc.)

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Clara February 19, 2013 at 1:39 pm

My long-time boyfriend’s sister is pregnant. Her baby shower is being held at my boyfriend’s parents’ home 3 hours away. She got married last year but her bridal shower was at a restaurant with about 20 people, many of whom I have known and met over the years. However, the baby shower will be more informal as it is in a home yet with many more people, many of whom were not invited to the wedding. I am very used to dealing with the intrusive “when will you be getting married?” questions, so I am aware of the “walk away and freshen your drink” suggestion. However, at the baby shower I will be trapped in a living room with 40 somewhat women giggling over babies who will most likely start making comments to me. I know this isn’t about me, but there have been numerous comments made in the past by the parents’ friends about either getting married or having a baby. I need to know what to say in response as I will not have an escape. I need a respectuful response, but one that shuts them down. Thank you in advance!

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Elizabeth February 19, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Q. “So, when are YOU getting married/having a baby??”
A. “I’m not sure, but when we do you’ll be the first to know!”
A. “I”m not sure, how about you?” (even funnier if said to an older person)
A. “Oh, I’m not here to talk about me, aren’t you excited for the new arrival??! etc.”
A. “Oh, maybe we’ll get to it someday. Do you have kids?” How old are they? What are their names? etc”

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Lilli February 19, 2013 at 2:46 pm

It’s probably not very nice, but I get the baby question a LOT too so I’ve started saying “wow – since when are you so interested in my sex life?” If you think about it, announcing that you’re “trying” is sharing an awful lot of information about your intimate relations with your significant other, which should NOT be shared with family. It usually leaves people flustered and while they are trying to collect themselves I run off and freshen my drink :)

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Chocobo February 19, 2013 at 3:14 pm

You can also try “misunderstanding” the question and answering one that was not asked. For example, if someone says “So, when are you going to have a baby?” you could say: “Oh, I think [boyfriend's sister] is due in June, isn’t she?” as though they had asked when SHE was going to have the baby, not you. Then quickly move on in the conversation — exclaiming over how good she looks, how nice the party is, etc. — so they don’t have a chance to re-ask the question.

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Elizabeth February 19, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Haha, that’s clever…but I doubt it would deter the truly nosy! Worth a try…

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Chocobo February 19, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Unfortunately, nothing stops the truly nosy. If only!

If all else fails, she can always say something nonchalant and non-committal like, “Oh, I don’t know. When we’re ready, I suppose.” The nice thing about a response like that is it could mean never or it could mean tomorrow. So it answers the question without answering it at all.

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Winifred Rosenburg February 19, 2013 at 5:34 pm

I usually say “I prefer not to discuss my reproductive intentions” when people ask the baby question.

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Brockwest February 19, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Grieving: When I was younger I felt that there was only one proper way to grieve, until I found myself at my father’s unexpected funeral. At the time I was offended, but I learned that everyone grieves in their own way. Some cry, some are cried out, some drink, some laugh, some socialize, some ask questions. So, everyone has the right to grieve the way they want/they need. If posting on Facebook helps the grieving, it’s fine. If you prefer to keep your feelings to yourself, fine. Please don’t judge others on their public display of grief…they may have grieved in private. Also, don’t forget the deceased is NOT everyone’s closest relative, so some will be genuinely hurt more than others.

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