DEAR ABBY: I belong to a family that doesn't respond to RSVPs for weddings or wedding showers. They often arrive late, leave weddings early and sometimes don't stay to eat at the reception even when it has been catered at a cost of $100 a person.
My adult children always ask me to call my siblings to check whether they are coming or not so some of their friends can be included if the family isn't coming. I just spoke with my brother about an upcoming wedding, and he informed me that he and his family "may" decide to extend their camping trip and miss it, even though they had RSVP'd with their meal selections.
My wife was raised to observe the rules of etiquette, something she has passed on to our four children, but my family never received that kind of instruction. I love my siblings and their families, and feel privileged whenever we get together to celebrate a wedding or special event. How can I improve the situation without hurting feelings and creating turmoil? -- FAMILY PEACEMAKER
DEAR PEACEMAKER: I'll resist the urge to suggest you buy your relatives a book on etiquette. Start by explaining the rules to your siblings in a non-confrontational way. For instance, after you send an invitation, call and verify that the recipients plan to attend. If the answer is "maybe," tell them the meals cost $100 a plate, which is why it's important to have an accurate head count.
Because they don't know any better, I suppose it's your responsibility to explain the rules of common courtesy to your family each time you invite them to join you for anything. When your brother told you he and his family might extend their camping trip, I hope you responded that you would be taking them off the guest list and hope they'll have a great time.