Q) Help! I have been divorced for 12 years and have a wonderful 13-year-old son from that marriage.
His father is about to be married for the fifth time and has large weddings with each bride.
They have asked my son to be an attendant in the wedding, which I feel is fine, but both my son and I have been invited to the Couple Shower. They even included the name of the store where they are registered. As if that weren't enough, we have each received an invitation to attend the wedding with a guest.
Miss Manners, is it proper to invite a child to the shower and expect him to buy a gift and bring a guest to the wedding? How about expecting me to buy them shower and wedding gifts?
I feel this is out of place. Some feel it is a good gesture. Your answer will be framed and given to them as a gift, whichever side you are on.
A) If this is your former husband's fifth marriage, he ought to have the hang of it by now and not create problems that Miss Manners has to clean up.
Perhaps he leaves all that to his brides; or perhaps some people just never learn.
Miss Manners' guess is that none of this was thought out beyond the vague idea that your son might be happier if you were included, and a careless issuing of all related invitations to family guests.
Of course, they are wrong. A former spouse is not properly invited to watch her once-bridegroom marry someone else -- it would be much too entertaining for the other guests -- although children are now included in such events, provided they want to participate.
It is in your power to act correctly even if they didn't. You need only decline all invitations for yourself and have your son accept his to the wedding itself.
As for presents -- if he is able to make an appropriately small present, the token gesture would be nice.
You need not. Once upon a time, former wives sometimes gave their successors leftover formal cards, a present more than slightly tinged with sarcasm. But since those are hardly used anymore, and many new brides do not style themselves "Mrs." with the husband's name anyway, the joke is obsolescent.
And etiquette has not quite come to the point of demanding that previous brides of the same gentleman make fusses over subsequent ones.
In any case, a framed reprimand is not a suitable present for anyone.
Q) Is it proper or embarrassing to send flowers including daisies, a red rose and baby's breath to an attorney and his secretary as a thank-you gesture?
A) Miss Manners supposes that someone has compiled a lexicon in which this combination of flowers says, "Thank you for getting such a generous out-of-court settlement." But she would prefer that you preserve a businesslike demeanor and write them both or each a gracious letter expressing your appreciation in a more intelligible fashion.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.