Ex-etiquette: Retirement party etiquette
Question: My question involves the “guest list” for a retirement party.
The retiree was my husband of not quite two years. The party was planned and executed by my stepson who is 32 and was held at my home. Without my knowledge, my stepson informed his mother, the retiree's ex-wife, about the party. Not only did she choose to attend, but she brought her boyfriend, the alleged reason for dissolution of a 31-year marriage (about four years ago).
In my mind, it would be one thing for my stepson to mention the occasion of the retirement party. However, it is quite another thing for the ex-wife to attend, and to bring her boyfriend just added insult to injury. What would have been good ex-etiquette?
Answer: Although it appears what really upset you was that your husband's ex showed up at your party, all this could have been avoided by handling the guest list properly.
If you and your husband compiled the guest list, then your stepson, as the party planner, should have followed that list to the letter. If he was given carte blanche, then he should have compiled the guest list, but run the list by you prior to mailing invitations.
And, finally, it's not surprising that he mentioned the party to Mom, but when he found out that she was serious about attending — and that she was bringing her boyfriend — he should have run that fact past Dad to make sure their presence would not offend him.
If Dad didn't want his ex there, he would have then had ample time to make that clear to his son, who could have then explained to Mom that it would be awkward if she attended.
I find it strange that a man of 32 years of age would have no idea that the presence of his mother and the man who broke up his parents marriage would be inappropriate at a party held in his father's honor at his father's home so soon after his parents' break-up. Of course, if Dad gave his son the impression that he holds no ill will toward Mom, then it could be understandable, but your reaction tells me there is some unfinished business that needs to be addressed.
It sounds like Dad needs to establish clearer boundaries concerning his son's mother — with his son — and you as well. Considering Ex Etiquette rule No. 5, “Don't hold grudges” may be helpful, and Rule No. 6, “Don't be spiteful,” is a necessity if exes (and their new partners) are to progress to “bonus” status.
Finally, following good ex-etiquette is not just for those who break up, it's for everyone. Ex-etiquette rule No. 9 is “Respect each other's turf,” and, in this case, the son did not respect his parents' turf.
It's important that divorced parents never try to celebrate together before they're ready — and children, no matter their age, should not try to interfere in order to hurry the process. It often backfires.
Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, www.bonusfamilies.com. Reach her at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Play of nose tackles could have impact on Steelers’ stretch run
- WPIAL’s Top 10 football champions of all time
- Rollover crash kills 1 in Plum
- 6 shot at Clairton speakeasy; police seek suspects
- Starkey: Pens move on with, without Dupuis
- School bus accident in Pleasant Hills sends 3 to the hospital
- Pennsylvania unemployment rate drops to six-year low
- Pirates cut ties with Davis, clearing path for Alvarez to play first base
- Philadelphia hospital evaluating patient for Ebola
- No one hurt during Butler Township convenience store robbery
- Slain FBI agent Dixon’s legacy lives on in Pittsburgh Field Office, 10K race fundraiser