DEAR MISS MANNERS: The father of my 13-year-old daughter recently had another child with another woman. He and I live next door to each other. For nine months he and his new girlfriend walked around my daughter and never told her that she was pregnant.
His girlfriend practically lives next door with him, his mother and his brother. He just came home one day with the girlfriend and a baby. My daughter was there, taking a nap. My daughter saw the baby and he still didn't say a word to her about the baby until the next day.
Now, his mother consistently calls this baby her little sister, yet the entire family hid this from my daughter for nine months. Not one family member so much as mentioned it. They see my daughter almost every day. I think it was awful not to tell her and prepare her, considering she has been an only child for 13 years.
Now the girlfriend is having a baby shower and my daughter's father asked her to attend. I think it was awful not to tell her about the baby after all this time and now he wants her to come to the baby's shower and celebrate her birth.
I also would like to know what etiquette says about having baby showers. Isn't it inappropriate to have a baby shower for a fourth child? This is the girlfriend's fourth baby by four different men. My daughter's father is the fourth father. Her children are ages 9, 3 and 1, and 3 weeks old.
I think it's pretty tacky. What do you think? Do you think I should let my daughter go to the shower and be around all of those tacky people?
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners congratulates you on reducing this morass to two etiquette technicalities. Unfortunately, she fails to see how it is going to help you to have it confirmed that, strictly speaking, baby showers are supposed to be given for a first child and siblings should be informed of an imminent arrival.
You are not going to shock these people into proper behavior with such quibbles. The real issue is whether you are willing to ignore their transgressions, big and small, for the sake of letting your child have some sort of relationship with her father.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A recent dinner party guest (a new acquaintance) e-mailed me afterward to complain that she had not enjoyed the evening and that she felt efforts had not been made to include her in the conversation. Although I regret that I seem to have been neglectful as a hostess, I cannot help but feel that her complaint was incorrect -- and it's rather put me off having dinner parties. Is it ever appropriate for one to complain to one's host? And how should a host respond to such a complaint?
GENTLE READER: Oh, so that's what's happened to the thank-you letter! It survives as a performance review.
Miss Manners assures you that you do not owe this person a letter of thanks for pointing out your shortcomings. Crossing her off your guest list should be response enough. If you must get in a jibe, the way to do it is to write back saying that you are so sorry to have given her an unpleasant evening and will surely never do so again.