DEAR MISS MANNERS: In the past couple of years, I have been invited to three separate fundraisers for women who were going through divorces. The purpose was to raise money to pay court costs during divorce hearings and custody hearings. Only one of these women did I know personally; the others were friends of friends.
I may be wrong, but I feel it is rude to solicit your friends for money to pay for your divorce, and even more rude to have them solicit their friends who are strangers to you.
Am I correct in my belief that divorce costs are a private affair and should not be shared among friends, or am I just being stingy?
GENTLE READER: It hardly seems stingy to not want to pay for strangers’ divorces. Even the people who were married to them resent doing that.
But Miss Manners has noticed that what you describe is part of a much larger problem. Many people have come to believe that all milestones in their lives – including, but not limited to, birthdays, graduations, changing residences, engagements, weddings, births, divorces and funerals – entitle them to demand sponsorship from others. Relatives, friends, friends’ friends, professional acquaintances and the world at large may be targeted.
It takes various forms: Bridal couples spreading the vulgar urban legend that guests must spend on them the amount of money that it costs to entertain them; self-sufficient adults pressuring their pensioned parents to pay for multiple weddings; birthday celebrants summoning people for a restaurant celebration for which they are expected to pay; expectant mothers giving their own showers or having their relatives do so.
This does not usually represent warm communities reaching out to help those in need. Rather, it is apt to be solvent people who want more, reaching out on their own behalf.
So Miss Manners is not surprised to hear about the divorce fundraiser. What surprises her is the willingness of people to be shamed into diverting their philanthropic resources from the needy to the greedy.