Open Thread

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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.


  1. Kathryn

    My mother-in-law has been watching out daughter (for free) one day a week while I work part time for the past year and a half. We have always asked her to be open and honest with the arrangement. She has continued to hang it over our heads and has increasingly hinted that it hinders her lifestyle. However, when we mention it becoming a burden for her, she dismisses that idea and says she loves watching her. Should we continue on with our arrangement and trust that she will tell us when she has had enough or should we politely tell her we have made other arrangements for our daughter so that we don’t feel uncomfortable about the situation?

    • Elizabeth

      This isn’t really an etiquette question – as long as you deal with her politely you can choose either option. Depending on your MIL’s personality, she may or may not tell you when she’s had enough. The little comments you described may be her way of communicating. How does she deal with other issues?

      In terms of addressing this directly, can you have a frank discussion with her, or can your husband? You can say, “MIL you know we really value the time and energy you spending taking care of our daughter. However, sometimes you make comments that make us think that it is too much of a burden on you and that perhaps you would rather not do it. We can certainly make other arrangements if you’d rather not do it anymore. Please be honest with us: is there some aspect of our arrangement that no longer works for you? Is there something that we could adjust to make it work better? Or would you rather just visit with her occasionally and not be responsible for once-per-week care? We are totally fine with whatever you prefer to do.

      I don’t know if it’s an issue, but is your MIL well-off? Perhaps she would feel better if she were compensated for her time?

  2. Allison

    For our wedding program, which is very traditional/formal, on one page we are listing “The Wedding Party”. Where on the page should we put my fiancé’s parents if they will not be able to attend the wedding (will be watching via video). There is a separate section in the program acknowledging family who have passed, but I do not think it is appropriate to group them with there. Where would you suggest they go and any ideas on appropriate wording so we can acknowledge them without too much explanation?

    • Elizabeth

      Perhaps you can list them before or after your own parents, with their names followed by the parentheses: (attending via Skype) or similar. That way their names are listed where the parents’ names normally are (prominently) but it is also clear that they are not there in person.

    • Elizabeth

      I think Alicia is right 99.99999% of the time. However, there are those kinds of big informal parties whose spirit is “the more the merrier” and “please bring your friends!” If you know with 100% certainty that it’s that kind of party, usually because the invitation was stated as such, I would still double check with the host. However, if it is a more formal party, a dinner party, or even a small party with a curated guest list, then no. And in no case should you just show up with the extra guest, you have to check beforehand.

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