DEAR AMY: This is about my daughter-in-law and a family heirloom I gave to her. My youngest son and daughter-in-law were very close with me until several years ago. I have no idea what happened between us, but they became very distant. I asked if I had done something wrong, and they didn’t answer. When my son told me they were getting engaged, I said that I would love it if they would accept the engagement ring that I received from my grandfather when I was 18. My grandfather gave me a diamond, which I put in a setting. I wore that ring for 29 years. When they officially announced their engagement I noticed she was wearing a different ring. I asked my son why he didn’t give her my ring. He said that she simply wanted her own. Well, eight years later, I have never seen her wear it. I have asked about it a few times. My son asked me to leave it alone. Well, Amy, this is driving me crazy, and I cannot leave it alone. My oldest son and his wife are blessed with five boys and one girl. My princess granddaughter has just turned 13, and is going to her first cotillion ball. I would love for this child’s father to give the ring to her as a promise ring to stay a virgin until she gets married, when another man would put another ring on her finger. Of course, if I ever saw my daughter-in-law wearing the ring, I wouldn’t ask for it back. Can you help me ask for it back?

Sad Heart

DEAR SAD HEART: I’m not going to pass judgment on the idea of a father giving his daughter a “promise ring” to somehow magically guarantee her virginity until another man claims her.

Except, wait! The judgment is bubbling up and, like you, it is driving me crazy and I cannot leave it alone.

A “promise ring” sends such backward messages to a girl — it says that she can’t be trusted to make choices concerning her own body, so that her father basically holds her virginity until another man comes along to take it. Promise rings don’t work. Education and empowerment do work.

When it comes to this heirloom ring, you gave it to someone. You didn’t ask her if she wanted it or if she would wear it. You gave it to her, and now you are trying to attach strings to the gift.

Your relationship with your daughter-in-law is already so poor that you have nothing to lose by simply asking her if she would be willing to pass this ring along to your granddaughter (her niece).

DEAR AMY: A wedding invitation we received has this footnote: “Your joining us on our special day is a gift in itself — please don’t worry about wedding gifts.” Amy, what does this mean? If the couple really did not want guests to bring wedding presents, they could have said “please do not bring any presents” or “no wedding presents, please.” Does this vague language mean that gifts are optional? We’d be embarrassed to bring a gift and find we were the only guests to do so or to not bring a gift and find we were the only guests arriving empty-handed. What should we do?


DEAR FLUMMOXED: This is not really all that vague. “Please don’t worry about wedding gifts” means “please attend our wedding without worrying about bringing a gift.” Some people will bring a gift, some people won’t. The couple is telling you that they’re not keeping score.

Yes, they could have phrased this differently, but I think your concern about this is really splitting hairs.

Their wedding is not about you or your possible or perceived embarrassment regarding bringing a gift. The couple is urging you not to worry about it, and so you shouldn’t.

DEAR AMY: “Tired of Listening” was bothered by a friend’s constant complaining. I had a sister who used to do this several times a week. The calls always ended in tears. I finally sat her down and explained she needed professional help that I was not qualified or comfortable providing. The only mistake I made was doing it in a restaurant. She did seek help and our relationship improved.

No Longer Tired

DEAR NO LONGER: Your response was perfect.

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