DEAR ABBY: Our granddaughter and her twin brother are turning 13. My husband and I wanted to celebrate this milestone birthday with a candlelight spaghetti dinner at our house that includes their boyfriend/girlfriend.
We planned to get out the china and silver and eat in the formal dining room. Our daughter was on board, and the kids were excited.
Our daughter's former in-laws, however, threw a fit about the children being "too young to date."
Obviously, we'll honor our ex-son-in-law's wishes, but we're terribly disappointed, as are the kids. Since when is dinner at home with your grandparents and your boyfriend and girlfriend considered a date? Or are we out of touch with reality? -- CANCELED IN RED OAK, TEXAS
DEAR CANCELED: The deal-killer may have been the "candlelight" aspect of the dinner, because in some people's minds candlelight connotes "romance." I can't blame your ex-son-in-law and his parents for wanting to keep the twins cocooned in their concept of childhood for as long as they can, but it's a losing battle.
If memory serves me, seventh grade (12 or 13) is when boys and girls begin noticing each other -- if not before -- and while they are too young to "date," I hardly consider dinner at the grandparents as dating. Although it may not have been the custom in your son-in-law's family, age 13 or 14 is when many young people begin going to supervised parties/dances, although they do it in groups.