Dear Amy: My teen daughter is lovely. She has a group of friends who seem lovely, as well, with one problem. My daughter is the one who plans and invites the group to movies, skating, over to our home, etc. She does the calling and arranging and it is extremely rare that she receives a reciprocal invitation. This has been going on for years.
My response is that she should stop the planning/inviting. She thinks someday things will turn around. But like I said it’s been years. I am the mom to pick them up/drop them off, etc. I ask if others can contribute, and am given excuses as to why the other parents cannot.
Any advice? I just want some reciprocation.
Dear Tired: Many teenage friend groups have a dynamic similar to your daughter’s, where one individual is basically the social engine the group runs on. Please understand that your daughter is both skilled and lucky. Many teens do not have the social confidence, ability or parental participation to successfully plan anything. You’re the mom who is available – and tolerated. You’re THAT mom, and your house is THAT house – the house where kids feel comfortable.
Unless your daughter feels ignored, discounted or dominated by this friend group she is providing for, I hope you will continue to participate. This life-phase is so short. Those times playing chauffuer are when you as a parent get a very rare glimpse into the sometimes mysterious social life of your teen.
Contact other parents directly – not through their kids – and ask them to do some driving. Also, if these teens are old enough to go on outings alone, then they are old enough to catch a bus. If you are lucky enough to live in an area with public transportation, they should be using it.
Dear Amy: Two years ago, when my (male) cousin was engaged, I attended his fiancée’s bridal shower. The shower was lovely and the bride’s registry was extravagant (to say the least). Nonetheless, I gave a generous gift and attended happily.
A few months later I went to their wedding. My husband and I gave a thoughtful gift.
Months went by and no one received a thank you for either event!
Not sending a thank you is bad enough, but she had such an expensive registry (summer and winter china?!).
Fast-forward to today. My cousin’s wife is now pregnant and I have received a baby shower invitation. I am tempted to not attend because I will be angry about not receiving a thank you. However, my aunt (this cousin’s mother) was so generous and lovely when my children were born that I would feel guilty not attending.
Should I go and give a small gift, or give an excuse and not attend? Maybe I should include a self-addressed thank you card along with my gift?
Dear Snubbed: This is an all-too-common problem. However, I’d like to point out that while you are fixated on their rudeness, including a passive-aggressive thank-you card with a shower gift is also rude, and hanging onto a grudge for two years is a bit impolite, too.
Yes, this couple was thoughtless, but you do not have to be. You should contact them via email and say, “I’m embarrassed to ask this, but did you ever get your ‘thank you’s’ out after your engagement and wedding? If so, we never received them. Honestly, that has hurt my feelings. These landmark occasions are so important, and being thanked for giving a gift closes the circle for the people who celebrate with you.” This is a polite and honest nudge. Do not tie it to the baby shower.
If you can attend this shower and still be polite to this couple, then do so, and give them a small gift like you had planned – without the self-addressed note. If you think that you are incapable of being polite at this shower, then definitely stay home.
Dear Amy: “Driving me Nuts” wrote about how much “vocal fry” bothered her.
I’m a court reporter and I take down testimony and hear different speech patterns every day. Vocal fry is one of the worst sounds that reporters complain about the most.
Not only does it sound awful, people who think this is attractive and use it are swallowing the ends of their sentences.
Out of Order
Dear Out of Order: There has been a huge response to this letter, and the verdict is in: Everyone hates “vocal fry.”
Email Amy at email@example.com.