DEAR MISS MANNERS: Years ago, in my prior marriage, my then-husband and I invited my newly married stepdaughter’s in-laws to dinner. They declined, stating that they “didn’t need any more friends.”
Friends? And here I thought in-laws were family. Later, the groom’s mother threw a baby shower for her daughter-in-law (my stepdaughter) and she was miffed when I was uncomfortable being on the invitation as a co-hostess -- since, in my opinion, friends throw showers, not family. Admittedly I still responded as if she were FAMILY. At least to my stepdaughter.
Was this mother-in-law an anomaly? I’m getting remarried, and this will come up. I’ve never myself had a living mother-in-law, but goodness, I thought they were family, with similar obligations and etiquette.
Various other in-laws are about to cross my path, hopefully in a lovely way, but I’ll have an old-fashioned attack of the vapors if I can’t get some consistency on this.
GENTLE READER: Funny how this person does not require friends except when they can help her pay for stuff.
Miss Manners supposes that at least her stance was consistent. Since she did not regard you as family, then you would indeed be a contender to host the shower -- just not alongside her. Regardless, rudeness is rudeness, and if she did not wish to know you before, she should not have asked for your help later.
As for the larger question, in-laws should indeed be considered family ... in law. Out of law (as with divorce), they may be considered friends if both parties are amenable. But they should never be considered benefactors.