My wife and I host parties for about 30 people and always specify on the invitations that they are for adults only. Kids require supervision and can get cranky, and we want to create a relaxing atmosphere. Still, we are inevitably asked: “Can I set up my son with Legos in a corner?” Or: “Our sitter fell through. Can we bring our 6-year-old?” It’s stressful to have to repeat our desire for adult gatherings, and it makes us feel like bad guys. If we made exceptions, we would feel bad for the parents who hired sitters. (And we don’t want kids!) Why don’t these parents get it? They seem pushy and selfish to us.
It’s not easy being a host these days. And parents asking to bring young children to parties after they were explicitly not invited is just one problem. I hear from hosts whose invitees don’t respond to invitations as requested then show up anyway, or invitees who do respond then bring extra guests (or even dogs) without asking permission.
Here’s my theory: Fewer people are giving house parties and seated dinners now. More often, we invite a few friends over to hang out, or we socialize in restaurants. So, some of us lose sight of the hard work (and stress) it takes to give a party. We’re out of practice at being good guests.
Now, I know it’s no fun to tell a parent that her child is not welcome. But if that’s what it takes to give the party you want, do it! And don’t feel guilty about it. I agree that asking for exemption from the clear language of your invitation is pushy, but we all overstep. (That’s not limited to parents.) The next time someone does, say: “We’re sorry you can’t find a sitter. We’ll look forward to seeing you another time.”
The Honest ‘Goods’
I am a young woman, 27, who moved to New York this summer for work and signed up for two dating apps. Disaster! Then I met a nice guy, 30, in real life; we have a great connection. On our first date, he told me he’s in recovery from alcohol and sex addiction. He offered to talk about it. He said he wants to date me, but he needs to go slowly. My roommates think I should dump him (“damaged goods”). But I’m not sure. You?
I can’t tell you whether to date this guy. But if your only reservation is that he’s in recovery, why not take him up on his offer to “go slowly” and get to know him better? You can ask about his addictive behavior and his sobriety, which he should be proud of.
It may work out between you; it may not. These are early days. But so far, he has behaved responsibly and treated you respectfully. You have every right, of course, to stop seeing him. Just remember: These men you date are not “goods,” but people — with feelings and everything.
Easing Back Into Dating (Emphasis on ‘Ease’)
My beloved husband of many years died 18 months ago. Recently, I thought I might be ready to date. I met a man who is funny and understanding, and we went on four dates. There are issues: I am 65, and he is 78. (I nursed my husband through his illness and don’t relish doing that again.) Also, he’s quirky. He has invited me to visit him at his winter home for three weeks, but after I said I’d like to take a few days to visit friends nearby, he sent a nasty letter, telling me he is blocking my calls and emails. I know his behavior is unreasonable, but I’m having trouble getting over him. Help!
I am setting aside my rule against giving bossy advice: Good riddance, honey! You are a relatively new widow. Find someone easygoing (and not mean). The last thing you need is a three-week confinement with a man prone to temper tantrums. I know that available older men don’t grow on trees, but you are better off without this one. Join a local volunteer group that interests you and see who crops up there.
It’s Me or the Liver
I am one of six hosts of a baby shower to be held at a luxury hotel in Boston. We are taking afternoon tea. I am a vegan, the mother-to-be is vegetarian and others eat meat. (There will be three separate menus.) I was surprised to see that one includes foie gras, which the New York City Council voted to ban. When I suggested a substitution, the principal host told me she’s looking forward to the foie gras and sees this as a personal choice. What do you think?
Foie gras is legal in Massachusetts. (A ban on its sale and production in New York City because of force-feeding practices is now being challenged in court.) But moral positions don’t require laws to back them up. If you don’t want to co-host a party with foie gras on the menu, opt out. That is your right. But if you decide to attend, don’t make a stink during the party. Sharing your concerns about animal cruelty privately will be more persuasive.
For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.