DEAR MISS MANNERS: We are a two-dad family. At all of the schools our children have attended, we receive invitations to “Mom’s Night Out” — a social gathering for moms to discuss their own challenges, dreams, etc.
While I appreciate being included in the invitation, I am never quite sure whether and how to respond. Other people find it downright offensive.
I appreciate from the organizer’s perspective that including us is better than excluding us; however, we are not moms, and in some ways it highlights the fact that our children are “different.”
I certainly don’t begrudge the moms a night out in good company, but wish we could develop some new language or expectations in an evolving world. Maybe the organizers of such gatherings could check with us — we are still few in numbers — to see if we want to be included in a public invitation.
Maybe we should just respond — as I did once — that we appreciate the invitation, but there are no moms at our house and that we wish them a great night out. We look forward to your thoughts.
GENTLE READER: First, that they mean well and want to be inclusive, as you recognize. Second, that Primary Caregivers’ Night Out is not a catchy name. If you can think of a better one, Miss Manners believes that the organizers would welcome the change.
But this is worth doing only if one of you genuinely wants to participate. Are the mom’s night activities something that you would enjoy? Alternatively, are there enough stay-at-home fathers, whether or not they are same-sex parents, to start a Dad’s Night Out group?
Otherwise, your response makes your point politely, and might inspire the mothers to ponder updating the group’s name.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When wearing a suit with braces, should you wear a belt for a nighttime wedding reception?
GENTLE READER: As belts and braces (also known as suspenders) serve the same purpose, namely holding up your trousers, Miss Manners would think that wearing them together would give the impression of insecurity.
However, if you have reason to be insecure, she would prefer safety over risk.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a new friend who shares a remarkable resemblance to a famous movie actress. Others agree with my observation, and I would really like to tell this to her as a huge compliment. We are both straight and married, so it wouldn’t be taken the wrong way in that sense.
However, how do I go about telling a relatively new friend this information without making it awkward for her? Most agree that the actress is beautiful, but one can never be sure if another is entirely of the same opinion.
GENTLE READER: If the resemblance is really remarkable, you may be sure that people have remarked upon it before. Whether your new friend finds this flattering or tiresome or both, Miss Manners cannot say.
The way to find out is to deliver the usual opening, “Has anyone ever told you that . . .” Then, if you see a tired little smile, continue by saying that you have heard that the actress “has complained that people keep mistaking her for you.”