Child's christening has parents, grandparents at odds
Q: After I left home 13 years ago, I converted to a different religion from the one in which I was raised. This caused a great deal of friction between me and my parents, which simmers under the surface to this day.
When my first child was baptized, I invited my parents to the ceremony, and they declined to come. They cited the "problems" with our church, how disappointed they still were in me, etc. It was their right not to come, but it still hurt.
My second child is due to be baptized soon, and I don't know if it's rude to put my parents in the position of having to turn down another invitation (and possibly open myself up to another lecture, which I really want to avoid!) or rude not to invite them and feel as though I'm excluding them, when punitive behavior like that is the very reason I left my childhood religion in the first place.
We're All Christians
A: As much as you dread The Lecture, please talk to your parents. Tell them the invitation is coming, and that their objections to your faith are on the record but you'd like them to be there regardless.
By both sending the invitation and communicating with your parents directly, you inoculate yourself against the two worst cases: that you give them cause to feel excluded, or ignored. If they lecture you, you can think of puppies and butterflies for 10 minutes — but if you flip them off, the chill could be lifelong.
That's because they presumably — and erroneously — see your conversion as disrespectful to them. Any behavior that is legitimately disrespectful, such as shutting them out of their grandchild's christening, would only validate their original faulty thinking and ultimately widen the rift between you.
If instead they're just bent on getting offended, then they'll find offense in anything you do; but that makes it more important, not less, that you travel what you believe is the high road. When accusations fly, you'll need to know you tried.
For the record, I believe your parents' calling you out as a disappointment, just because your ideas on faith differ from theirs, was an abuse of parental power. Still, it seems your folks are trying to be good parents and good Christians, and to stand tall by their beliefs — and in saying this, I could also be describing you, no? If the opportunity arises, it might be worth pointing out that you honor them more than they, and possibly even you, realize.
So many shower gifts, so little reciprocation
Q: I'm 65 and single. For so many years, I've been gifting at showers and weddings and babies and . . . now it's another generation of showers and weddings and babies . . .
And never — never! — a return. Can I EVER be done? Do I have to keep giving?
A: No! You can be done. Just decline the invitations to the showers and weddings and showers. Sending a note to the guest(s) of honor with your warmest wishes will show you care.
For what it's worth, all these invitations to life celebrations show that people care about you. Stop seeing them as forced transactions, and maybe that bright side will come into view.