DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our son and daughter-in-law are expecting our first grandchild. On the shower invitation (hosted by her sister), it listed stores at which they have registered. As a frame of reference, I decided to see what type of things they were requesting.
To my horror, they were requesting an $850 stroller, a $900 crib, a $1,100 baby dresser, an $800 rocking chair and many other high-priced items to furnish their baby’s nursery.
I realize things have changed over the past 20 to 30 years since I had children, but I found it classless and greedy. I mentioned it to my son, and he said that he “sort of participated” and “this is what everyone does.” He said they were encouraged to register for everything so they could receive a discount on items they didn’t get from the shower.
Needless to say, I have had differences with my daughter-in-law’s casual attitude when spending and speaking for other people’s money. She doesn’t seem to have any qualms about asking for everything she wants.
Unless they are flowing in money we don’t know about, or have a very skewed perspective of what’s important, I’d be hard-pressed to believe they would spend $1,100 on a baby dresser if they don’t get it as a gift. What is the etiquette on baby registries?
GENTLE READER: Your son is about to get first-hand experience in why neither his nor his wife’s behavior makes for a comfortable home.
Let us assume that your son meant that he “sort of participated” in the selection of the registry items, and not in creating the impending grandchild. He will not be charmed when little Liam is himself old enough to avoid responsibility by saying he wasn’t there when it happened, that “everyone does it,” and that it was his sister Olivia’s (in this case the store’s) fault.
As to your daughter-in-law’s behavior, Miss Manners considers baby registries to be the etiquette equivalent of childish grocery store demands for chocolate breakfast cereal, ice cream and checkout-line candy. Being the grandparent, it is your prerogative to be blissfully unaware of all these newfangled ideas and to bring whatever present you think pleasing and appropriate.