DEAR HARRIETTE: I am planning a trip sailing around the Caribbean with five other couples. My children could not go on this trip, so most of the couples understood and are excited that we're having an adults-only trip. The wife of one of my friends has been emailing me to see if her college-aged son can come on the trip. She argues that he's not a child and needs something to do because he'll have a break from school. Honestly, I don't like the kid in the first place, but I especially don't want this delinquent ruining the adults-only theme. I have been repeating that this is an adults-only trip while the mother reiterates that her son is an adult. She's not getting the hint. How do I tell her that her son is not welcome on this trip? -- Grown-Ups Only, Newark, New Jersey
DEAR GROWN-UPS ONLY: Start with compassion. If your children were available to go, you would be speaking very differently about this cruise. The fact that you don't want this woman's son to participate should not negate the sensitivity that the moment calls for. Her son is available to attend; otherwise, he will be alone.
Knowing this, you can still tell her that her son is not welcome, that the invited group represents the adult peers and no children, regardless of their age. You can acknowledge, too, that you understand that she may not be able to attend if she feels her son will want or need to be with her.