Q. My daughter is getting married next month. Her father left 20 years ago and we have not seen him since. My daughter wants her aunts and uncles to be at the wedding, but does not want me to invite her father. She wants her stepfather to walk her down the aisle. I'm conflicted. Should we not invite her father at all? Even though his brother, sister, and all the cousins are coming? It just seems rude. What's good ex-etiquette?
A. It's interesting that you're concerned about being rude to a man who left you with a child 20 years ago and hasn't spoken to you since. It is apparent that your daughter has not forgiven him. And, even though good ex-etiquette for parents rule No. 5 is "Don't be spiteful, and rule No. 6 is, "Don't hold grudges," it's the bride's day and she invites who she wants.
My answer would be different if your daughter had recently had a disagreement with her father and did not want to invite him to get back at him. Then it would be appropriate to set her straight, but that's not the case here. Her father abandoned her. Your husband stepped in and has been there for her. He has earned the privilege of walking her down the aisle. Her actions are completely appropriate and good ex-etiquette.
Consider your daughter's state of mind. Weddings are lovely, but they are also stressful, especially for the bride. You must ask yourself, what purpose would Dad's presence serve?
If some sort of reconciliation between dad and daughter is in order, your daughter's wedding day is not the day to do it. Your place is to be supportive of your daughter. If they need a neutral third party to help work through things, find a therapist, a mediator familiar with these issues, or even a clergy person, but not you. There's too much emotion associated with your daughter's hurt for you to remain neutral. Get some help. That's good ex-etiquette.
Jann Blackstone is the founder of bonusfamilies.com.