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Proper etiquette for a pandemic baby shower

Dear Annie: I just finished sending a baby gift to the daughter of a friend of mine. She had a registry, and I selected a gift and had it mailed to her with a congratulatory message.

What really bothers me about this is how it was handled. About a month ago, I received an announcement card from the expectant mother and her husband about their impending big event.

My name was incorrect on the envelope; only half of it was there, and I almost threw it out, thinking it was junk mail. Enclosed was a maternity picture and information about the baby registry website.

I realize that there is a pandemic that dictates that we have to do things differently, but isn’t this rather tacky? First of all, shouldn’t this have been handled as a “virtual shower” so there could have been a Zoom event on a given day where the mom-to-be could be seen opening her gifts?

Secondly, shouldn’t someone else close to this person, like a friend or family member, have sent this information out?

To me, this looks like a “showerless shower” thrown by the girl herself, and I’m annoyed that I felt compelled to send a gift under the circumstances. Otherwise, I probably would have sent a gift card and a nice baby card out of respect for the mother, but I barely know the girl! One of my friends went one step further and called this extortion.

What do you think, Annie? Is this the way things are done nowadays, and I am living under a rock? — Pushing the Envelope on Etiquette

Dear Pushing the Envelope: Things are being done very differently during the pandemic. People are having to hold off on getting together for large parties such as baby showers or weddings. Not wanting to do a Zoom call or virtual shower party is understandable.

I’m not sure that you were compelled to send a gift just because you received an announcement card that your friend’s daughter is having a baby. However, instead of focusing on all that your friend’s pregnant daughter did wrong with this invitation, try to shift your focus to being happy for the couple. It will make you happier.

Dear Annie: So many people write in about their grown children not communicating with them much. My question for them is, when your children were young, did you talk with them instead of at them? Did you talk with the 2- or 3-year-old when they talked about the same thing over and over? How about the 5- or 8-year-old?

So many people talk at their children and never let the child just simply talk. People are so busy that they need to step back and enjoy their children instead of rushing around. Be involved in your child’s life without the temptation to give advice or criticize choices. Let them come to you with their thoughts and ideas.

Lead by example. How often did you speak with your parents or grandparents? Remember, actions speak louder than words. — Happily Connected to All Generations

Dear Happily Connected: Thank you for your letter, which I am printing because you offer good suggestions not only for parents speaking to their young children but also for adults speaking to one another. Really listening to someone and not just waiting for your turn to speak, or to criticize, is truly a gift we can give to one another. I don’t fully agree with you that the reason some adult children fail to connect with their adult parents is because they didn’t pay enough attention to them when they were young. That puts a little too much pressure and guilt on young parents.

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“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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