Dear Carson: My 6-year-old granddaughter attended a birthday party for a 6-year-old acquaintance. The other guests were members of their soccer team and, in addition, the girls knew one another outside of school. It was suggested that parents drop off their children and pick them up two hours later. When my daughter picked up her child, she found that she had been "decorated" with temporary tattoos of a religious nature. She also learned that all the games played during the party had a religious theme. Those activities did not represent my daughter's or our family's beliefs.
My questions are: Do you think parents have an obligation to ask if their children will be brainwashed at parties before allowing them to attend? Were the parents of the birthday girl seriously out of line? Do parents now need to question other parents in advance as to the nature of the party "theme?" Could you suggest a series of appropriate questions? - Angry Grandmother
Dear Grandmother: The hosts' behavior was hardly in the category of pornography, but it was extremely presumptuous on their part. People should never inflict their sexual or religious beliefs on anyone, especially small children. In the future, your daughter might ask whether there is a special party theme, so that she may dress her daughter appropriately. You might suggest that at least one mother/father be in attendance to "help" with the party or, even better, suggest your own services.
Dear Carson: Good friends of my family often throw parties at which they serve wine or beer to guests 21 or older. I am 20 and have never been offended until recently when my fiance and I attended a small gathering. The guests who qualified for alcoholic beverages went to the wet bar and proceeded to toast everything imaginable, while my fiance and I were excluded. We felt most uncomfortable standing silently across the room holding our glasses of juice. Don't you think they were rude to exclude us? - Under 21
Dear Underage: It would have been gracious had they asked that you join them. However, you two might have crossed the room to join (with glasses of juice) them in toasting.
Dear Carson: I e-mailed a photograph and description of our hours-old granddaughter, to family and close friends. I mentioned the baby's paternal grandmother and both maternal grandparents, but did not list the paternal grandfather because he died 15 years ago. Shortly thereafter I received a blistering e-mail from my son-in-law's sister, telling me I was disrespectful, by not mentioning her deceased father as a grandfather. Did I commit a faux pas by not listing a dead relative? This minor incident is causing major repercussions. - A Bewildered Grandpa
Dear Grandpa: It would have been more proper to have listed the other grandfather as "the late." No ill intent was meant and the sister was way out of line. Congratulations on your new granddaughter.