Life Advice



Should Daughter Invite Distant Father To Wedding?

Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin on

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter is getting married. Her biological dad and I divorced when she was about 2, and I've been with her stepfather since she was 4. Her biological father was in her life very (VERY) sporadically the first few years, and then he wasn't at all.

He tried to reconnect when she was in her early 20s, but it was awkward for both of them, and it never really developed. When he remarried and moved out of state, there was some contact from the new wife -- trying to get to know my daughter and bring her and her dad closer, I'm presuming.

All this being said, my daughter wants to invite them to the wedding, which I thought was nice and the right thing to do. My concern is that there won't be any acknowledgment of him as her father -- no walking down the aisle, no father-daughter dance, no boutonniere.

This is totally my daughter's decision, and I understand completely where she is coming from. But I am worried about inviting him and then making him feel bad, awkward or whatever the case may be.

GENTLE READER: It is likely no surprise to her father that they are not close. But if it is your daughter's intention to have her stepfather perform those duties, there may indeed be awkwardness and hurt feelings.

A gracious way around it -- and one that Miss Manners recommends in your case -- is to have you, her mother, walk her down the aisle. You could dance with her, too -- or forego that particular tradition, at least as a viewer spectacle -- and she might find time to dance with all of the parents and stepparents later in the reception.

As Miss Manners has repeatedly emphasized, it is the actual people involved and not the casting of (particularly gendered) roles that is important. Whatever traditions the bride thinks she is upholding should be adapted as much as possible in order to avoid hurt feelings.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my children receive a gift, I am careful to ensure they participate in writing a thank-you note, even from a young age.


I was taught that it is proper to write a note in black or blue ink, never pencil. However, with my younger children, who are still learning how to write and spell, this is leading to a great deal of wasted stationery. When they make a mistake, as is normal to do at their age, we need to throw out the card and start over, sometimes three times in a row.

Would it be acceptable for a young child to write a card in pencil? Or should I write the card for them in pen?

GENTLE READER: Have the children write a rough draft that they can then copy onto the good stationery in ink. There still may be mistakes, but as long as cross-outs and bumpy white blotches are confined to a reasonable one or two per letter, the recipients -- and Miss Manners -- will most assuredly be forgiving.


(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)






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