DEAR MISS MANNERS: Upon being asked by my daughter’s future mother-in-law for my thoughts on a bridal shower, I texted my daughter before answering. The maid of honor is my 20-year-old, so I offered to pay for the bridal party to host a shower at a local, trendy brunch spot, inviting future MIL, daughter’s stepmother, and all grandmothers.
My daughter then let me know that she and her fiance preferred to ask her stepmother and father to host it at their house instead. I let her know that I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. When it wasn’t dropped, I was impolite and stated, “I love you, but I don’t love anyone enough to sit in Daddy’s house with his parents and family.”
I have always been a good co-parent. I made sure we all sat together at every school program and graduation since elementary school. We did college move-in days together. I made sure my girls’ sister from their stepmother’s first marriage was in every picture with my girls at these occasions.
However, this seemed a boundary I needed to draw, especially since the shower was not yet planned.
She asked her stepmother, and perhaps shared my response. Her stepmother then offered to host at a restaurant instead. I explained to my daughter that there was never any issue with coming together as a family, and an alternate location in the middle would have been fine from the start.
But she and her fiance are deeply hurt and feel as though I was not willing to “suck it up” to celebrate them, and that my issues “should not fall back on them because it’s not their fault.”
I certainly wasn’t refusing to see anybody, and had not expressed a negative opinion about having to see them at the wedding.
Besides the reactive, impolite way I set my boundary, have I demonstrated poor etiquette by preferring a more neutral location? I am struck by my daughter’s reaction and reminded her that she might need to take a step back and consider how I have always carried myself, and loved and supported her. On every other matter, I have told her that it’s her wedding and to do it her way. Please advise me on my missteps and what apologies I may owe.
GENTLE READER: Mistakes have been made, starting with the idea that any parents should be giving the bridal shower. Obeying that would solve the entire problem.
And it is a mistake to give your daughter the impression that she can have her way with her wedding without regard to other people’s feelings.
All that aside, you made a reasonable request. But Miss Manners fears that this may have negative repercussions. You will not want to be excluded from future family events “because of that thing with the shower.” So in the interest of family harmony, she suggests that you express thanks and mild apologies to both your daughter and her stepmother. Take comfort from knowing that Miss Manners absolves you from the rudeness of which you accuse yourself.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there an ungendered term for “hostess gift”?
GENTLE READER: Yes. “Gift.”
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)