DEAR AMY: Our older son and his wife are bringing her parents to our younger son's out-of-town wedding to baby-sit their 1-year-old. This baby-sitting doesn't feel necessary to anyone except the young parents. The marrying couple don't mind if the young parents bring their baby to the wedding and have told them it is fine. The in-law baby-sitters are not invited to the wedding. It is creating an awkward family dynamic. Should the out-of-town baby-sitting couple be invited to the wedding? Would it be more appropriate to include the baby-sitting adults in the events before and after the wedding? The engaged couple are already not inviting some of their friends in order to keep the cost down.
Wedding Guest Confusion
DEAR CONFUSION: It sounds like your son and daughter-in-law included her parents as baby-sitters in this out-of-town wedding because they don't want to go to a wedding with a 1-year-old. I've gone to weddings with 1-year-olds — more than once — and I can testify that it's not always a rollicking good time.
Your family now feels some pressure to invite these in-laws to the wedding, in which case the two young parents would now be attending the wedding with a baby and her parents. This might not be at all what they had in mind when they started the ball rolling.
Is your son (the dad) pressuring his brother (the groom) to include his in-laws in the wedding? You don't say.
Yes, it would be kind to invite the older couple to ancillary events, like the next-day brunch. As the mother of the groom and peer in-law to this older couple, you should encourage the marrying couple to extend an invitation. You should not pressure them to issue an invitation. This is their wedding and your two sons are responsible for their choices, as well as whatever awkwardness arises from them.
We love the little kiddos in our lives but sometimes forget to give them the basic dignity that comes with growing up when they're not babies anymore.
DEAR AMY: I am responding to a recent question in your column from "Vicariously Misunderstood in Denver." The question concerned a 9-year-old boy who did not want to be hugged by family members — and yet they persisted in hugging him. I spent many years in early childhood caregiving. I am also the spouse of a minister and have worked in and out of children's ministry for more than two decades. At one of the seminars for early childhood education, my colleagues and I learned about children who do not like to be hugged, but the greater theme was teaching them about consent and authority over their own bodies. We were taught a technique for greeting children as they entered our classroom in the morning that I have adopted since: Greet them by name with any brief pleasantries and then ask them if they would like a high five, a hug or a wave today? The letter writer should share this technique with their relatives. You would be surprised to know that when you are respectful like this and give the power to these little humans, over time even the ones that don't like hugs will occasionally pick the hug option.
MeanMsM in FLKeys
DEAR MEANMSM: I enjoyed watching a "viral" video shared several months ago of an elementary school teacher who greeted each of her students offering the "hug, high five or wave" option. This array of simple choices is ideal. As I pointed out in my answer to "Vicariously Misunderstood" — and as you illustrate through your experience — this is all about respect and consent. This message of consent applies to boys as urgently as it applies to girls.
Many years ago, I offered my own very shy daughter another option: I called it "the silent hello." It involved making eye contact and smiling when an adult greeted her. Getting even to a verbal "hello" took some time, and practice.
DEAR AMY: "Frustrated in a Toxic Workplace" noted that employees in her new company seemed to resent her, "mostly because I ask for services (such as cleaning of my office), and for appropriate equipment to do my work." I've worked at one of the largest corporations in the country for quite some time, and they had no housekeeping staff. Everyone was expected to clean their own office space — management included. It worked really well.
DEAR ANON: Well, that is refreshing — and revealing.