Dear Annie: My daughter-in-law is expecting our first grandchild, and I recently attended the first of two baby showers given for her. I’m sorry to say, I was embarrassed and hurt by her behavior toward her guests. She complained about her co-workers who did not show up. She barely acknowledged the gifts she was given, including my handcrafted items for the nursery. She criticized the hometown of many of the guests as “old and dirty” and said the stores there were inadequate to stock her gift registry. I do not think I can bring myself to attend her second shower. Of course, speaking critically about her to my son would not be productive. Should I go or not? – Embarrassed Mother-in-Law
Dear Mother-in-Law: Go. It’s a shame your daughter-in-law is so grossly inconsiderate of her guests, but you will accomplish nothing by avoiding her celebrations. She seems ignorant of basic manners and not too bright. The best way to help is to set a good example, without criticizing her. If she disparages someone’s hometown, you can chime in with, “But it can be such a charming place.” When she barely acknowledges a gift, fill in the blanks: “What a lovely platter.” This gives your daughter-in-law the opportunity to learn from you. But you also should do your best to make your daughter-in-law feel special at her shower. It will mitigate any sense that you disapprove of her, and she will be more open to your suggestions in the future. And perhaps someone will give her an etiquette book as a gift.
Dear Readers: Today is Family Day (casafamilyday.org). Studies show that children who eat dinner with their parents have a reduced risk of substance abuse. Please try to make meals a family event.