Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Church Not Ideal Setting to Meet the Parents

DEAR HARRIETTE: I really like the man I am dating, and I feel like it is time for him to meet my parents. I ran the idea by them, and they agreed -- under one condition. My parents would like him to meet them at church. I told my boyfriend their request, and he was not pleased with the idea. He is not the churchgoing type, and when I told my parents that my boyfriend would not be attending our church service, they were upset. Now my parents are giving me grief because my boyfriend will not come to church to see them, and my boyfriend is upset with me. All I want is for them to revolve peacefully in my universe, and I need your help to try to find a happy medium. -- What a Girl Wants, West Orange, N.J.

DEAR WHAT A GIRL WANTS: I'm sure you know that religion can be a stumbling block for young love, especially when it comes to getting serious. Your parents want to see what your boyfriend is made of, and they are trying to control their meeting to that end. That would not be the strategy I would choose straight out the gate. There is time to meet him, get to know him a bit and talk about religion rather than force him into a religious environment.

Ask your parents and your boyfriend to reach a truce. Suggest to your parents that they meet him at their home for the first visit. Tell your boyfriend that you do want him to visit your parents' church at least once. Tell everyone that it is very important to you that they all meet. Ask for their calm hearts to help soften the way.

Know that if you two get serious, you will need to address how you will handle your religious differences.

DEAR HARRIETTE: As a 34-year employee of the U.S. Postal Service, it gets a little old hearing it referred to as "snail mail." Please do not encourage your readers to use it if you can't even call it by its proper name. -- Disappointed, Shreveport, La.

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: I really appreciate your note. It has become so easy to be unconsciously dismissive of the traditional delivery of mail through the United States Postal Service. Your words definitely serve as a wake-up call to be respectful of this treasured agency of our country that has for so many generations kept us in touch with each other.

Now that the Internet seems to be king, and other courier options promise to deliver more quickly, the value of the USPS has diminished -- hence the moniker "snail mail," which I was not meaning in a disparaging way. I fully understand that it implies less-than-competent service. So, my sincere apology. Thank you for calling me on it!