Miss Manners: Children with two homes should help keep double calendars

September 8, 2011

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my daughters, who are ages 9 and almost 8, are invited to a party, the invitation is always sent to my ex-wife. Sometimes a copy is also sent to our address. They spend roughly 40 percent of their time in my care and the rest in their mother’s care.

My ex often does not pass along the information. Many times the girls have told me that they were invited to a party the night before or even the day of the event. I’ve called the other parents and said that my daughter could be wrong, but that she’d told me she was invited to a party there. So far my girls have been correct.

This is a bad situation from many angles. Since the school directory clearly lists two addresses for each of my daughters, I think it is most appropriate for the invitations to be sent to both addresses. Could you comment on this, as well as the fact that assuming a child’s mother acts as a social gatekeeper, even when that child has two homes, is no longer socially appropriate?

I will continue to gently remind my ex-spouse to forward invitations, but that reminder also supports the idea that she is a social gatekeeper for them even when they are in my care.

GENTLE READER: Do you have a calendar on your refrigerator? Or a network calendar program that your daughters can share?

Miss Manners is not lacking in sympathy when she suggests that it is time for your daughters to be responsible for telling you their schedules — not just parties, and not just what occurs under your jurisdiction. It would be a good idea in any case.

Yes, she agrees that people should get used to the shared custody system whereby children have two homes. But by then, your daughters will have their own families. Many people still can’t realize that family members don’t all have the same surname. Or, as you point out, that mothers are not in sole charge of social schedules — although it is likely that other parents are simply using the first address listed.

As a backup, you could ask the school to list the days that the children could be reached at which of the two addresses. And you could explain the problem at a parents’ meeting when pressing the need for duplicate invitations.

Miss Manners’s opinion is that it will be easier — and more useful — to train your daughters than to retrain a succession of parents.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My friend has sent an e-mail to all of her friends, asking, instead of gifts or attendance at a party, that we all send a card to her husband for his birthday. While I think the idea is sweet and certainly inexpensive, I’m not sure why I hesitate to comply.

Why do I feel hesitant to do something kind? Simply because I was asked? Is it polite to ask people to do something kind for a third party?

GENTLE READER: You are annoyed because you are being asked to contribute to what will seem like a present from the wife (the husband can hardly be so naive as to believe that everyone is aware of his birthday), but which also implies that you should have thought of doing this on your own. As it is a minor annoyance, Miss Manners would have you comply with the request. However, she would like to remind the organizers of such drives that it is an annoyance.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site,www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

2011, by Judith Martin

Distributed by Universal Uclick for UFS

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