EX-ETI­QUETTE

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - JANN BLACK­STONE Jann Black­stone is the author of Ex-Eti­quette for Par­ents: Good Be­hav­ior Af­ter Divorce or Sep­a­ra­tion, and the founder of Bonus Fam­i­lies — bonus­fam­i­lies.com. Con­tact her at dr­jannblack­stone@gmail.com

Q My daugh­ter is get­ting mar­ried next month. Her fa­ther left 20 years ago, and we have not seen him since. I know where he is — we have stayed in touch with his rel­a­tives. My daugh­ter wants her aunts and un­cles to be at the wed­ding, but does not want me to in­vite her fa­ther. She wants her step­fa­ther to walk her down the aisle. I’m con­flicted. Should we not in­vite her fa­ther at all? Even though his brother, sis­ter and all the cousins are com­ing? It just seems rude. What’s good ex-eti­quette?

A It’s in­ter­est­ing that you’re con­cerned about be­ing rude to a man who left you with a child 20 years ago and hasn’t spo­ken to you since. I find it com­mend­able that you have for­given him, but it is ap­par­ent that your daugh­ter has not. And, even though good ex-eti­quette rule No. 5 is “Don’t be spite­ful” and rule No. 6 is “Don’t hold grudges,” it’s the bride’s day and she in­vites who she wants.

My an­swer would be dif­fer­ent if your daugh­ter had re­cently had a dis­agree­ment with her fa­ther and did not want to in­vite him to get back at him. Then it would be ap­pro­pri­ate to set her straight, but that’s not the case here. Her fa­ther aban­doned her. Your hus­band stepped in and has been there for her. Un­der those cir­cum­stances, I’m not sur­prised your daugh­ter doesn’t want her fa­ther there, es­pe­cially if he has stayed in con­tact with fam­ily mem­bers and has openly ne­glected her. I’m also not sur­prised she has asked your hus­band to walk her down the aisle. He has earned the priv­i­lege. Her ac­tions are com­pletely ap­pro­pri­ate and good ex-eti­quette. If I still haven’t con­vinced you that it would be good ex-eti­quette to leave Dad off the guest list, con­sider your daugh­ter’s state of mind on her very spe­cial day. Wed­dings are lovely, but they are also ex­tremely stress­ful, es­pe­cially for the bride. You must ask your­self: What pur­pose would Dad’s pres­ence serve at this event? On a day that’s sup­posed to be full of love and prom­ise, here’s your daugh­ter com­pletely dis­tracted by the fact that the fa­ther she hadn’t seen in 20 years is some­where in the room. It will not help her stay calm.

Bot­tom line, if some sort of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween fa­ther and daugh­ter is in or­der, your daugh­ter’s wed­ding day is not the day to do it. There are 364 other per­fectly good days for them to try to heal their re­la­tion­ship, and it would help if Dad was the one to ini­ti­ate things. Your place is to be sup­port­ive of your daugh­ter, don’t bad­mouth Dad (ex- eti­quette rule No. 3) be­cause that back­fires, and if they need a neu­tral third party to help work through things, find a ther­a­pist, a me­di­a­tor fa­mil­iar with these prob­lems, or even a clergy per­son, but not you. There’s too much emo­tion as­so­ci­ated with your daugh­ter’s hurt for you to re­main neu­tral. Get some help. That’s good ex-eti­quette.

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