Q. I am a 30-year-old single woman who is expecting her first child. This child was planned, and I feel very celebratory about my pregnancy.
My parents have a very different value system from my own, and while they are not going to disown me, they would not have agreed with my decision to have a child sans matrimony had they been consulted.
My mother is wondering what and/or how to tell their friends and neighbors, as well as people like my aunts, uncles and cousins. I haven't seen these people in more than 10 years and don't plan to, so this does not affect me socially, but I think it might make my parents act guilty or apologetic when they need not do so.
What could they say to announce or explain the birth/existence of their eighth grandchild that is tactful and nonjudgmental? (I had not planned to send these people birth announcements.)
A. What you call a different value system, your parents' circle may call something less attractive. The idea, therefore, is to announce the joyous event without debating the preliminaries.
The times are with you, not only because others have chosen as you have, but because the idea of marriage as an irrevocable condition has been shattered among your parents' generation, as well as those younger. Even the most conventional of their friends will have learned by now that marriages are made and unmade with a speed that does not allow onlookers the luxury of analyzing them for the fun of placing blame.
Your parents should say or write, "Lauren has a beautiful baby . . ." with the name, birth date and an expression of their pleasure. Miss Manners doubts that many people will reply, "When did she get married?" or "Who's the father?" Those who do should be told firmly, "He and Lauren are no longer together." (It is not, Miss Manners hopes, against your principles to acknowledge that you were once together.)
Q. When a party is given in honor of someone, is the guest obligated to the hostess or to the honoree?
A. The hostess. As a matter of fact, the honoree is obligated to the hostess more deeply than you ever will be. What you have done, even if you were unknown to the hostess previously and put on the list by her guest of honor, is to honor a friend through the hospitality of the hostess.