DEAR AMY: My sister's daughter is getting married, and the number of attendees is limited.
As a result, my sister is hosting a bridal shower before the wedding only for those who are not invited to the wedding. This seems rather unusual and gives the appearance of looking for gifts.
I can only imagine that all conversations will have to avoid talk of the upcoming wedding ceremony, as none of these people is invited.
As a male, I am not up on what is proper. Is this acceptable in today's times, or what would you suggest for future situations like this? — Confused
DEAR CONFUSED: Being a male doesn't make a difference in terms of your knowledge of what is appropriate. Thinking about something from someone else's point of view is all the etiquette knowledge you need.
Common sense tells you that this shower is going to look like a gift grab because it is. The purpose of a shower is to "shower" the couple with gifts. The guests should be people who are also invited to the wedding. Otherwise, as you note, there is a massive elephant dressed in tulle dancing in the middle of the room (the wedding, to which none has been invited).
Sometimes co-workers or out-of-town friends not invited to the wedding will throw a shower for a couple, but the difference is that it is their generous idea for an event, which they host.
Your sister is missing the point in another way: Direct family members should not host showers (normally a member of the bridal party will host) because the event is too directly tied to their own self-interest.
DEAR AMY: When hosting my large extended family for a family feast, my niece's husband held out his child's soiled diaper to me and said, "Here's a present for you."
I found this gross and disgusting, to say the least.
Biting my tongue to keep from making a smart remark, I found a plastic bag for the diaper and put it in the trash.
Do you have any suggestions for me should this happen again (and there's a good chance it will since another baby will soon join their family and I'm the frequent host for holiday occasions)? — Grossed Out
DEAR GROSSED: Let rehearse this scene in advance of your next family gathering.
Him: (Holding out diaper) "Here's a present for you."
You: (Tossing him a plastic bag and turning toward group) "Dessert!"
What I'm trying to convey is that his behavior in that moment was pretty obnoxious. But just because he draws attention to himself in this way doesn't mean that you have to go there.
DEAR AMY: I read with interest the letter from "Parents in the New World," who were worried about their 14-year-old, who was in an online relationship.
Can I share some advice from the opposite side of the coin?
When I was around that age I, too, was shy and introverted and ended up "involved" with a guy I met through an early online role-playing game.
The game hosted folks from all over. This fellow player and I hit it off. Eventually we began to IM each other as well.
I was on the East Coast, and he was somewhere in the Midwest. Sure, we chatted about meeting, but it was in terms of someday.
Then, as quickly as it started, the relationship faded. I don't know about his motivation, but I just outgrew it. I wanted something in real life, not just a connection over the Internet.
So "Parents," I agree with Amy's advice, but I'd also encourage you to not stress over it too much. Right now, sure, she sees this guy as she'd see any guy in real life (he's the one for her, her emotional rock, etc.), but given time, just like any relationship, it will strengthen or die on its own. — Been There, Done That
DEAR BEEN THERE: Thank you for offering your example. You don't say how your parents reacted to your online relationship, but I do believe it is vital for parents to encourage openness, rather than forbid contact they cannot necessarily control.
(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: askamytribune.com. You can also follow her on Twitter askingamy or "like" her on Facebook. Amy Dickinson's memoir, "The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them" (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.)