News: IT'S THE 2ND ANNUAL GUATEMALA LIBRARY PROJECT BOOK DRIVE!    LOOKING FOR DONATIONS OF SCIENCE BOOKS THIS YEAR.    Check it out in the "Extending the Hand of Kindness" folder or here: http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=139832.msg3372084#msg3372084   

  • November 20, 2017, 07:04:42 PM

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower  (Read 8421 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

mime

  • Member
  • Posts: 1822
Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2016, 06:21:18 PM »
I agree with the PP that the advice was wrong. She should just continue to say no. She really can't be forced into attending a shower. And it's not her responsibility to make up for the SM's perceived gifting inequity.

If I'd been the columnist my advice would have been to suggest to the SM that she'd love to get to know her extended family better but will absolutely not be attending a bridal shower. However, if SM and Dad want to throw a party in honor of the newly married couple they'd be fine with that as a post wedding event. A simple "We're hosting a bbq to celebrate the newlyweds and welcome Josh to the family."

I like this advice.

I don't totally disagree with the advice, though. I've been to showers for people at my childhood church when I wasn't invited to the wedding. It was the 'cultural norm' there. Most of us didn't expect to be invited to the wedding unless we were a closer friend, but the congregation was a community that just did this. It could be very normal in the stepmother's circles, too.

If I were the bride, though, I think I'd prefer the idea of a compromise of sorts, that allows the stepmom to throw the party she wants and doesn't make the bride feel like a gimme pig.

gramma dishes

  • Member
  • Posts: 7329
Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2016, 08:17:44 PM »
I like Hax's advice and reasoning. 

I would feel exactly as this bride does in her place.  But I think the advice is sound.  This is how SM and hr friends do things, and that's who will be invited to this party. I do think there's room to negotiate about maybe it being a non-gifting party, though.

I doubt it.  It sounds like Stepmother has made pretty clear that she bought gifts for all of their daughters/daughters-in-law and by golly it's their turn now to buy gifts for her daughter!  That's pretty much her whole point in having the shower. 

Gwywnnydd

  • Member
  • Posts: 1780
Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2016, 08:18:53 PM »
Honestly, if the bride can't say no to her stepmom in a manner that stepmon understands that it means no, bride is not old or mature enough to marry.

This doesn't strike me as fair to the BTB. She has been saying no, repeatedly. Stepmom has even enlisted the BTB's father in her campaign. This tells me the problem is not that BTB is being unclear, but that SM is choosing not to listen.

shortstuff

  • Member
  • Posts: 423
Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2016, 08:56:38 PM »
Honestly, if the bride can't say no to her stepmom in a manner that stepmon understands that it means no, bride is not old or mature enough to marry.

This doesn't strike me as fair to the BTB. She has been saying no, repeatedly. Stepmom has even enlisted the BTB's father in her campaign. This tells me the problem is not that BTB is being unclear, but that SM is choosing not to listen.

Exactly.  The stepmom understands 'no,' but she doesn't care.  This is evidenced by the fact that she keeps trying to come up with reasons to convince the BTB.  This site exists because people like the stepmom don't listen to 'no.'  And like someone upthread said, a poster here (LadyL I believe) was in almost this same situation.  I don't think it's at all fair to blame the 'victim.'

sammycat

  • Member
  • Posts: 7934
Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2016, 09:06:27 PM »
I doubt it.  It sounds like Stepmother has made pretty clear that she bought gifts for all of their daughters/daughters-in-law and by golly it's their turn now to buy gifts for her daughter!  That's pretty much her whole point in having the shower.

Yep.  The SM's motives for wanting to host a party have nothing to do with the BTB, and everything to do with SM wanting her moment in the sun.

gellchom

  • Member
  • Posts: 3722
Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #20 on: July 08, 2016, 08:11:21 AM »
I doubt it.  It sounds like Stepmother has made pretty clear that she bought gifts for all of their daughters/daughters-in-law and by golly it's their turn now to buy gifts for her daughter!  That's pretty much her whole point in having the shower.

Yep.  The SM's motives for wanting to host a party have nothing to do with the BTB, and everything to do with SM wanting her moment in the sun.

Sure, but so what?  If it's something that means a lot to her, even if it's self-centered, maybe the bride would like to find a way to let her have it (that she can live with), just as a matter of emotional generosity.  Not everyone who goes along with something they'd rather not -- even in connection with their own wedding -- is caving in or being bullied.  Often it's just the opposite: they feel secure enough that they can let others have their way sometimes when it's not really a hill to die on. Very non-bridezilla, in fact.  I think that's what Hax was saying.

Bride certainly doesn't have to agree, but she isn't wrong or a doormat if she does, no matter what SM's motives.  Everything doesn't have to be a battle in a lifelong power struggle. 

QueenfaninCA

  • Member
  • Posts: 1132
Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #21 on: July 08, 2016, 12:38:08 PM »
Honestly, if the bride can't say no to her stepmom in a manner that stepmon understands that it means no, bride is not old or mature enough to marry.

This doesn't strike me as fair to the BTB. She has been saying no, repeatedly. Stepmom has even enlisted the BTB's father in her campaign. This tells me the problem is not that BTB is being unclear, but that SM is choosing not to listen.

Sorry, but BTB needs to say very clearly "DSM, I do not want this shower. I will not attend any such event. Do not bring up this subject again." And then follow through.

Kiara

  • Member
  • Posts: 2588
    • My dragons!
Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #22 on: July 08, 2016, 12:45:21 PM »
As a followup of sorts, this was Carolyn's comment on the column in her chat today:

https://live.washingtonpost.com/carolyn-hax-live-20160708.html?hpid=hp_no-name_no-name%3Ahomepage%2Fchat-schedule

Quote
Q: Stepmom won't take No column
Carolyn: l was really taken aback by your answer this week to the stepdaughter being pressured into a bridal shower. (For the record, I'm a daily and Sunday Post subscriber, the real, live, paper!) Boundaries are something you are always encouraging us to set and yet in this instance, the daughter is being advised to do without and just let the stepmother get her way. What happens when there's a pregnancy? Shower, visiting, hands on role in child's life? "Well you let me do it for your wedding..." Huge red flags that stepmother a) doesn't respect boundaries; b) doesn't respect her husband's daughter; c) has to get her way. Letter writer didn't seem to indicate any closeness with this woman so why? Why should she cave? It wouldn't be a gift. It would be an invitation for stepmother to continue to force herself on the daughter.

A: Carolyn Hax
I knew I'd hear about this answer.

And I included a lot of explanation accordingly, or so I thought, including the acknowledgement of my stance on boundaries: "boundaries are the cornerstone of happy families ... and Iím going against my entire history of advice."

This is not about a pregnancy or raising a child or anything of such high stakes. Should the stepmother ignore boundaries in those cases--and I expect she will--then absolutely the LW and spouse will need to hold firm. I accounted for that, too: "Caving doesnít even set a precedent unless you cave again."

So here's why I did it: This shower (or whatever they call it; one of the options I gave is to have it after the wedding so it's clear it's not a gift-grab) is a chance at inclusion and bridge-building with people who are going to be the bride's family. It's also seriously low stakes, per the LW. Her objection was that the shower was an etiquette violation, not that the stepmother is trying to hurt anyone or throw away what the couple is planning because her way is somehow better or whatever else controllers try to control. So why not solve the etiquette and have the party?  What I took from the letter is that the stepmom is desperate to bring the bride to her people, to have a part somewhere in the proceedings.

Or just to get attention, entirely possible.

And while shutting her down is one reasonable response to the desperation and boundary-busting (desperation is indeed the stepmom's problem, not the bride's), I think boundary enforcement and nuance can coexist. In cases like this when the stakes, again, are very low for lowering the boundary once.

The payoff can be high, too. A willingness to include can make an ally of the stepmother in a way the LW hasn't considered.

If I'm wrong and LW knows it and doesn't want to find a way to include stepmom, then I accounted for that: "If you Just Canít, then so be it, keep refusing."

If I'm wrong and LW goes ahead with some kind of celebration on LW's terms, as I advised, and stepmom takes that as an invitation to bust boundaries again, then the couple will have ample opportunity to draw and enforce the line for good.

 

I appreciate the chance to explain. As a mouthpiece for the boundary side of the equation, I need to be careful to represent the  nuance side where applicable.
Rogers/Barnes 2016 - With You 'til the End of the Line.

Gwywnnydd

  • Member
  • Posts: 1780
Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #23 on: July 08, 2016, 02:16:44 PM »
Honestly, if the bride can't say no to her stepmom in a manner that stepmon understands that it means no, bride is not old or mature enough to marry.

This doesn't strike me as fair to the BTB. She has been saying no, repeatedly. Stepmom has even enlisted the BTB's father in her campaign. This tells me the problem is not that BTB is being unclear, but that SM is choosing not to listen.

Sorry, but BTB needs to say very clearly "DSM, I do not want this shower. I will not attend any such event. Do not bring up this subject again." And then follow through.

I just don't see that this will actually help anything. The SM has -already- ignored her insistence that she does not want this shower, and continues to bring it up, as well as roping in the bride's family members to act as flying monkeys. What more is BTB supposed to do?

gellchom

  • Member
  • Posts: 3722
Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #24 on: July 08, 2016, 04:32:36 PM »
As a followup of sorts, this was Carolyn's comment on the column in her chat today:

https://live.washingtonpost.com/carolyn-hax-live-20160708.html?hpid=hp_no-name_no-name%3Ahomepage%2Fchat-schedule

Quote
Q: Stepmom won't take No column
Carolyn: l was really taken aback by your answer this week to the stepdaughter being pressured into a bridal shower. (For the record, I'm a daily and Sunday Post subscriber, the real, live, paper!) Boundaries are something you are always encouraging us to set and yet in this instance, the daughter is being advised to do without and just let the stepmother get her way. What happens when there's a pregnancy? Shower, visiting, hands on role in child's life? "Well you let me do it for your wedding..." Huge red flags that stepmother a) doesn't respect boundaries; b) doesn't respect her husband's daughter; c) has to get her way. Letter writer didn't seem to indicate any closeness with this woman so why? Why should she cave? It wouldn't be a gift. It would be an invitation for stepmother to continue to force herself on the daughter.

A: Carolyn Hax
I knew I'd hear about this answer.

And I included a lot of explanation accordingly, or so I thought, including the acknowledgement of my stance on boundaries: "boundaries are the cornerstone of happy families ... and Iím going against my entire history of advice."

This is not about a pregnancy or raising a child or anything of such high stakes. Should the stepmother ignore boundaries in those cases--and I expect she will--then absolutely the LW and spouse will need to hold firm. I accounted for that, too: "Caving doesnít even set a precedent unless you cave again."


So here's why I did it: This shower (or whatever they call it; one of the options I gave is to have it after the wedding so it's clear it's not a gift-grab) is a chance at inclusion and bridge-building with people who are going to be the bride's family. It's also seriously low stakes, per the LW. Her objection was that the shower was an etiquette violation, not that the stepmother is trying to hurt anyone or throw away what the couple is planning because her way is somehow better or whatever else controllers try to control. So why not solve the etiquette and have the party?  What I took from the letter is that the stepmom is desperate to bring the bride to her people, to have a part somewhere in the proceedings.

Or just to get attention, entirely possible.

And while shutting her down is one reasonable response to the desperation and boundary-busting (desperation is indeed the stepmom's problem, not the bride's), I think boundary enforcement and nuance can coexist. In cases like this when the stakes, again, are very low for lowering the boundary once.

The payoff can be high, too. A willingness to include can make an ally of the stepmother in a way the LW hasn't considered.

If I'm wrong and LW knows it and doesn't want to find a way to include stepmom, then I accounted for that: "If you Just Canít, then so be it, keep refusing."

If I'm wrong and LW goes ahead with some kind of celebration on LW's terms, as I advised, and stepmom takes that as an invitation to bust boundaries again, then the couple will have ample opportunity to draw and enforce the line for good.

 

I appreciate the chance to explain. As a mouthpiece for the boundary side of the equation, I need to be careful to represent the  nuance side where applicable.

I think that says it well.  Note the bolded part, which Hax says (and I agree) makes all the difference.  That's what I meant about everything not having to be a must-win control battle.

sammycat

  • Member
  • Posts: 7934
Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #25 on: July 09, 2016, 12:17:07 AM »
I doubt it.  It sounds like Stepmother has made pretty clear that she bought gifts for all of their daughters/daughters-in-law and by golly it's their turn now to buy gifts for her daughter!  That's pretty much her whole point in having the shower.

Yep.  The SM's motives for wanting to host a party have nothing to do with the BTB, and everything to do with SM wanting her moment in the sun.

Sure, but so what?  If it's something that means a lot to her, even if it's self-centered, maybe the bride would like to find a way to let her have it (that she can live with), just as a matter of emotional generosity.  Not everyone who goes along with something they'd rather not -- even in connection with their own wedding -- is caving in or being bullied.  Often it's just the opposite: they feel secure enough that they can let others have their way sometimes when it's not really a hill to die on. Very non-bridezilla, in fact.  I think that's what Hax was saying.

Bride certainly doesn't have to agree, but she isn't wrong or a doormat if she does, no matter what SM's motives.  Everything doesn't have to be a battle in a lifelong power struggle.

Just because it might mean a lot to the SM doesn't mean it's the slightest bit important to the BTB. I'm sure we all occasionally go along with things that don't matter to us, or that we don't particularly want to do, often for family harmony, and there's nothing wrong with that (toxic families excluded). But this BTB has said at least seven times that she doesn't want the shower.  SM needs to start listening to that, not just thinking about what she wants to do. 

If it was so important to the SM that her family and the BTB spend time together, why hasn't she organised parties, Christmas lunch, Easter dinner, small get togethers, BBQs etc in the past? She just wants the glory of being the mother of the bride at this time. Not to mention, the BTB has quite valid concerns about not wanting to invite people to the shower that aren't invited to the wedding. She probably doesn't want to be known as "that bride/person" who was seen as a gimmee pig for only inviting these people to the shower and not the wedding itself.

From the original letter:
Her extended family who isn't invited to our wedding. Her extended family who I met only at her and my dad's wedding.
I've told her unequivocally no about seven times.


Everything else aside, if I was the BTB I wouldn't want to be GOH at a party amongst total strangers, which is what SM's relatives are to BTB.

cross_patch

  • Member
  • Posts: 658
Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #26 on: July 09, 2016, 12:36:05 AM »
Honestly, if the bride can't say no to her stepmom in a manner that stepmon understands that it means no, bride is not old or mature enough to marry.

This doesn't strike me as fair to the BTB. She has been saying no, repeatedly. Stepmom has even enlisted the BTB's father in her campaign. This tells me the problem is not that BTB is being unclear, but that SM is choosing not to listen.

Sorry, but BTB needs to say very clearly "DSM, I do not want this shower. I will not attend any such event. Do not bring up this subject again." And then follow through.

Did you miss the part where she has? I find it totally ridiculous to say that she's not old enough to get married because you think she can't say no. How many people on these boards have talked about times they've had difficulty saying no to family members for a myriad of reasons? Are they all too immature to be married? I find your statement really unpleasant and quite offensive.

Winterlight

  • On the internet, no one can tell you're a dog- arf.
  • Member
  • Posts: 10101
Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #27 on: July 14, 2016, 12:58:44 PM »
I think it's terrible advice to tell the bride she has to allow herself to be browbeaten into attending an event she does not want.

This. I would feel like this was a gift grab, or else the thin edge of the wedge towards getting those other people invited to the wedding.
If wisdomís ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
Caroline Lake Ingalls

Celany

  • Member
  • Posts: 1661
  • the soul of a cat, in the body of a person...
Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #28 on: July 14, 2016, 01:42:44 PM »
I'm totally disagreeing with Carolyn (I usually like her advice), and would be, even if it weren't for my own current wedding issues.

The person who wrote in about boundaries and setting a bad precedent - I totally agree, and I don't think that Carolyn addresses it adequately. It's all nice to say that, but in reality, SM may be harping for the rest of her life that because she got to give the shower, she's entitled to make other decisions too.

I too would be extremely uncomfortable to be the GOH with a group of people who I've met exactly once, and will probably really only meet again at my shower.

All that said, here are a couple of things that I wish we had more context on:

- Does the SM have a history of pushing/violating boundaries?
- Doe the SM have kids? Specifically daughter(s)? If not, does she have a history of trying to be a mom to her SD in ways that SD isn't comfortable with, because SM doesn't have her own biokids?
- How does the BTB generally feel about her SM?
- Where is BTB's mom in this? Is SM competitive with BTB's mom? Could any of that be in there?
- One thing that sticks out to me, specifically, is that BTB mentioned knowing NONE of SM's relatives. Is that because SM is fairly new on the scene/didn't raise BTB at all? Is all of her family really long distance? Is SM trying to use BTB's "wedding shower" that she wants to throw as a way to try to push more closeness between her bio family and the family she's married into?

Having that information may possibly sway my feelings, but from what little info we have, I think saying "yes" to this shower is totally wrong. BTB doesn't want it. Full stop. SM should respect that. That SM refuses to respect that reflects badly on SM, not on BTB. SM refusing to take no for an answer isn't a great sign, for future issues. Better to nip it in the bud now and hold on to 'no'.

I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior. ~ Hippolyte Taine

Mikayla

  • Member
  • Posts: 4311
Re: Carolyn Hax: Stepmom insists on throwing shower
« Reply #29 on: July 17, 2016, 09:21:44 PM »
I really liked Hax's explanation letter, but I agree with the majority here.  With all this talk about boundaries, they are a 2 way street.  Giving MIL the benefit of the doubt, she was well intended (in spite of that silliness about getting gifts after all the ones she's given).  But...if the guest of honor is not comfortable with an event being thrown, she gets to say so. 

I also think Hax should have suggested that her fiance speak to his mom.  The issue is arising from his "side" and that's SOP.