DEAR MISS MANNERS: Only you can help me, as I consider this strictly a question of manners and do not wish to be told to seek counseling or get in touch with my feelings.
My parents were "on again, off again" since I was born, and I had last seen my father when I was about 10. They then met somewhere after 12 years and started seeing each other, later getting married. I invited him to my own wedding as a courtesy to my mother and, after a few years, our family developed a polite, though not close, relationship.
Then they rather violently broke up, and he made quite a few hateful comments about me and my as-yet-unborn child. I, of course, have maintained my distance, and although he has expressed wishes to other family members to be included in my and my son's lives, I have refused.
Well, wouldn't you know it, my parents are now back together!
What is the least polite way one is obligated to treat one's rather fickle, mean, and hateful father who had abandoned one as a child and cursed one as an adult but who is now "happily" married to one's mother? My mother urges me to let him into my life and let them both visit my home and family, although she had badmouthed him profusely before. I harbor no resentment, but am very tired of this type of upheaval and just want to live my life in peace with my husband and 1-year-old son. I don't want to have anything to do with this man, or with his and my mother's relationship, such as it is, but my mother is making me crazy with her requests. Do I owe it to her to be courteous to her spouse, or can I just cut my deadbeat dad out of my life?
GENTLE READER: You may rest assured that Miss Manners never tells her Gentle Readers to seek counseling or get in touch with their feelings. Never.
They know how they feel. What is more, they are already seeking counsel -- from her. She is not about to shrug and tell them to go find someone else.
Your feelings are conflicting, in that you want to keep your father away without upsetting your mother, but they are clear. Miss Manners' counsel is to allow her to bring him and of course treat him cordially when he is with her, but to decline any opportunities to see him alone.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My boss sent out an invitation to a party he is throwing and invited only 13 people out of 31. He now wants to send a memo to everyone letting them know he is having this party and is unable to invite everyone. Should this be done?
GENTLE READER: Does he hope to downsize the office without paying severance?
People do not react well to being told, "Ha, ha, I'm having a party and you're not invited!" which is why kindergartners are so fond of doing it. If you are in a position to influence your boss, Miss Manners suggests telling him to say he is having a retreat for a third of the office and is excusing the others.