DEAR MISS MANNERS: My son got married two years ago, and please keep in mind that my daughter-in-law and I have never had a falling out. We’ve stayed at their house overnight and were treated wonderfully. We get along fine because I do not want to be a meddling mother-in-law.
However, I’ve got some situations that I do not know how to handle.
1-First, tell me, am I wrong for believing that the bride should acknowledge her groom’s side of the family with a thank-you note for gifts, rather than making the groom write the thank-you? The way they handled it, she wrote the thank-yous to her side of the family and my son wrote the notes to his side. Is this the acceptable way now?
2-Does that also hold true like on Mother’s Day? Only my son acknowledges me on Mother’s Day with a phone call, but the both of them acknowledge her mother and both her grandmothers each year by taking them out to brunch or hosting a brunch at their home. Even though we live in another state, I felt slighted again this year on Mother’s Day when all I received was a phone call from my son – no card, nothing. I was brought up to respect both our mothers on Mother’s Day with at least a card, and it was always the wife’s duty to keep the list and remember to buy the cards or whatever.
3-Would I be out of line by sending a thank-you note to my son thanking him for the phone call? I love my son dearly, and it’s not that I expect a gift, but I don’t think it’s very nice to call me up and tell me what they are doing for the other mothers and all I get is a “Happy Mother’s Day.”
4-I really need some answers because I feel that when they start having a family, I will be slighted again where the children are concerned.
GENTLE READER: Unless you heed Miss Manners’ advice, you will indeed receive more slights. That is because you are manufacturing them yourself, and she is advising you to stop.
The premise on which you base your grievances – that a wife assumes all social duties because the husband is the sole wage-earner – has long been defunct. Couples sensibly decide for themselves who does what, and dividing correspondence by family is both common and sensible. You wouldn’t care to have Mother’s Day acknowledged by a card from your daughter-in-law and ignored by your son.
So if you expect more than a telephone call, you should deal with him. And not by a thank-you letter if you intend that as a reprimand.
Try saying “Your Mother’s Day excursions sound so delightful that I’d love to join you some time. Would it be convenient for me to visit at that time? Or if it turns out that I’m not able to, I’ll settle for a card.”