Dear Miss Manners:
I am the mother of a 14-year-old girl who is dating a 14-year-old boy.
By "dating," I mean that they send a lot of instant messages and e-mails to each other, they talk on the phone a lot, they go to the movies about once a week with a group of friends, he comes to our house once or twice a week and she goes to his house once or twice a week.
The boy's parents, my husband and I all agree that there should always be a parent at home at whatever house they are at.
That is not a problem.
What I want to know is what to say to his parents when they appear to be assuming that these kids are dangerous sex maniacs.
"Of course, we like your daughter," they say, "but we're just not comfortable with the amount of time they spend together; we don't want anything to happen."
I don't want anything to happen, either, and I do understand the dangers of raging hormones, but these are intelligent kids who are well chaperoned.
Is there any way I can civilly let the boy's parents know that their idea that this relationship is a pregnancy waiting to happen is insulting to my daughter and their son?
Not if you give the impression that you believe that only sex maniacs cause pregnancy. Miss Manners is afraid that they would begin to worry about your competence as chaperones.
As the comment you quoted applies to their own teenager as well as to yours, there does not seem to be reason to feel that your daughter's chastity has been impugned.
However, if you wish to make the point that she would be incapable of being overcome by passion, you could reply, "Ethan is such a nice boy, I'm sure he wouldn't dream of attacking Caroline's virtue."
Your daughter might not thank you for this defense.
Dear Miss Manners:
Do the bride and groom have any obligation to provide or help find babysitters for out-of-town guests?
My family (including my 3-year-old son) is traveling to participate in a wedding where I am the best man; however, the wedding does not allow children. I am really distressed over what I will do with my son during the wedding and reception.
I called the bride and asked her about possible babysitters, and she just said that she didn't know any.
This situation has really dampened my enthusiasm for this wedding; am I just being petty?
The bride and the bridegroom do not have an obligation to provide or help find babysitters. It is thoughtful if they try to anticipate what would make their guests' stay easy and pleasant, and some go to the trouble of hiring a babysitter to look after all their guests' children, but Miss Manners is afraid that concierge service is not on the required list.
However, your best friend has an obligation to help you out, most especially when you run into difficulty in the course of performing honorable service for him. His fiancee ought to be willing to share responsibility for someone with whom she can expect to become close.
Oh, whoops, those are the bride and bridegroom, aren't they?
Feeling incorrect? E-mail your etiquette questions to Miss Manners (who is distraught that she cannot reply personally) at MissManners@unitedmedia.com or mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.
(c) 2004, Judith Martin