Newport Manners + Etiquette: Saying ‘No” To In-Laws
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Don't get me wrong, I adore my daughter-in-law. But it is difficult to set boundaries. As much as I love taking care of her two toddlers, enough is enough. She pops in unannounced. I smile and ask, What can I do to help? Can she leave them with me while she does some errands. Just a few hours. By the fourth hour, I'm exhausted. My house is a mess and I've had enough. Just because we're recently retired, it doesn't mean we don't have a life. I can't talk to my son about it, because I'm sure she does more than her share and he has two jobs. Please, help me figure out what to say to her next time? Allison, Providence
Next time your DIL pops in, suggest right off the bat that she gives you the heads up ahead of time, because if she had come two minutes later, you would have been out the door. Then look at your watch and say, "I can mind the kids for two hours until quarter of four, but then I have a four o'clock appointment." If she isn't back by then call her cellphone and say, "I'll be charged for the missed appointment, so you better get over here." It may sound deceptive, but this way you don't have to over-explain or complain. Etiquette is largely a gentle compromise. Train her to call first and stick to a two or three-hour limit. That way, if both of you compromise, you make the relationship work. ~Didi
When your good friend's father dies
My good friend's dad died but his mom hates me because of a petty incident. I would like to pay my respects, but my friend is keeping to himself because of his mom. What should I do? S.O., Mattapoisett, MA
Send your friend a sympathy card. Add a line saying you are sorry for his loss and you hope he and his mother are O.K. Retell a good memory of his father, if you can. Should you go to the funeral, show your respect by sitting toward the back and do not approach his mother after the service. If he seeks you out, keep it short. Ask if there is anything you can do to help and if so, to give a call. Be sweet by showing your support. It would be best not to go to the reception unless he urges you to do so. ~Didi
Not invited to a family wedding?
My sister and I were not invited to the wedding of my brother's daughter. As a large family we have always invited them to our family parties or events, but usually we never get a response from them, never knowing whether they would show up or not (usually not unless there was something to be gained it seems....an expensive lobster cookout, etc.). There is a lot of jealously in the family among siblings... but my question is, how do I respond to the fact I was not invited? I was stunned. Do I just sent a note of best wishes on my stationery? Send a pretty/beautiful wedding card? Send a check with the card? Send a gift from the bridal registry (which I happened upon on the internet?) Do nothing? Since I was not invited, what is appropriate, gracious, respectful, joyful but not over the top? We were a family of eight children who over two generations were always invited and expected at family events. Never has a family member not invited another to their wedding. This is the second family member of the younger generation of nieces and nephews (26 total) to be getting married...and we are local.... K.C., Newport
Did they expect that if they invited you, they would have to invite your immediate family and your sibling's and theirs as well? Is there a difference in riches and lifestyle between you and your brother's family? Is your brother's daughter marrying up or down? If so, is your niece's fiancé's family paying for the entire wedding or over half? Before feeling slighted, you have to look at the big picture to be better able to deal with this.
In my opinion, the best thing to do is nothing. If you send anything, at this point it will seem like a guilt trip. If you were to have sent a gift, it should have been sent as soon as you heard of the engagement. In other words, before the invitations were mailed. Then it would have been harder for them to ignore you.
Otherwise, if you do send a present knowing invitations have been delivered, it will seem as though you're fishing to be invited. Having sent an engagement gift immediately, would have meant that you assumed you would be invited. There is nothing wrong with that because the bride is your niece. It wouldn't have been a faux pas. You don't send a wedding present when you haven't been invited to the wedding. ~Didi
Keeping warm at an outdoor fall wedding
So my boyfriend's brother is getting married the last weekend in September. It will take place in Colorado up in the mountains at 4:00, outside at a cabin. The reception is to follow at the golf course.
I am torn on what to wear, I know it won't be super dressy, but what is a good middle line between dressy and casual? They are a young couple, lots of family will be there, and everyone is super chill.
I am 5'6" roughly 130 pounds, female and want to wear something nice and elegant without it being too dressy. Recently I have been thinking of a solid color dress with booties? Too much? N.H., Denver
Your outfit sounds like the right one. It is a wedding after all. Remember it will be chilly, so take along a fitted soft leather jacket or sweater coat in a different color and you'll be color-blocking while keeping warm. A jersey cocktail maxi dress would work as well. For the sweater, look for a coatigan, shrug coat, or cocoon cardigan. My favorite can be found on the Web site us.purecollection.com–to see examples of styles I'm talking about. ~Didi
Do you have a question to ask Didi? Email it to Didi@GoLocalProv.com or visit her at NewportManners.com. If we use your question, we can withhold your name and address. Didi researches etiquette and all matters of manners for her book,"Newport Etiquette." Prior weekly GoLocal columns are listed below. More topics can be accessed through a search.
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