Emily Post’s great-great-granddaughter, Lizzie Post, has inherited her great-great grandmother's flair for guiding us through life's ticklish situations while keeping our wits -- and best manners -- about us. She is the co-author of "Emily Post's Etiquette, 18th Edition" and author of "How Do You Work This Life Thing?" Lizzie Post has doled out modern etiquette advice on the "Today Show," "Weekend Today," "The Tyra Banks Show," People, Glamour, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Associated Press, Redbook, USWeekly.com, and Martha Stewart Living Radio.
At our request, she answered some questions for Huff/Post50 readers on how to handle situations that crop up in their lives:
My good friend decided to stop coloring her hair. I think it looks terrible. What should I say when she asks me what I think?
Don’t lie. Say, “It’s a big change, it’s taking me some time to get used to it. How do you like it?” If she expresses doubts, you can gently let her know you prefer her hair colored.
We have been talking about taking a multi-generational family vacation this summer. As much as I love the idea, I don't want anyone to mistakenly think I'm footing the bill. What's the best way to bring this up to my adult kids?
Always let people know upfront whether you’re the host -- in which case the expenses are on you. This applies to family vacations. There shouldn't be any surprises. Explain to everyone at the point that plans are made and invitations are extended. Don’t be vague. The same advice applies for even eating meals out in restaurants. Say something like, “We’ll be going to Marecelino’s on Saturday night; dinner there runs about $40/per person.”
I'd like some advice on how to handle questions that I'd just rather not answer. My husband's health hasn't been so great lately and sometimes, I just don't feel like talking about it.
Make a simple statement and then change the subject. This lets the person know that topic isn’t open for discussion. Say: “He's doing just fine, thanks.” Or: “It’s been tough, but we’re (or I’m) working through it. Thanks for your concern.”
I would like to sit with my friends at my daughter's wedding, but she wants me to sit with her, the groom and the bridal party. I say I'm paying for it and I should get to sit where I want. Who wins this one?
Usually, the parents of the bride and groom each head up their own table, and fill it with either family members or very close friends. Maybe your daughter is worried that you’ll be upset if you can’t sit with her, or she just may not be familiar with traditional seating arrangements. I’d take her request as a compliment and acknowledge her kindness. We call this the “love every idea for five minutes” rule of wedding planning. Then let her know that you’d prefer to head up your own table, so you can honor special guests and that this is traditionally how parents of the bride and groom are seated. This doesn’t have to be a battle of wills. Regardless of “who pays,” the bride and groom should make the majority of decisions -- as long as no one’s feelings are hurt or there’s a total disregard for the budget.
Even though both sets of parents are splitting the costs of the wedding, the mother of the groom keeps suggesting wedding ideas that are out of my budget. How can I ask her to stop?
This happens a lot. In the excitement of wedding planning, it’s easy to forget about the budget. Have a direct conversation. Say, “Jen, you have some really great, fun ideas about the wedding. I’m not sure we can incorporate dolphin ice sculptures (or a five-course meal, etc.) and stick to the budget.” She may offer to pay for the additional expense -- which is fine, IF you want to include her idea. Just keep the conversation going; try not to squash her enthusiasm, just try to direct it in a more constructive direction. (“Are you available to help me put together 150 favors?)
My 30-year-old daughter and her husband are having some financial struggles. She lost her job and, unbeknownst to him, has asked for our help. We paid for their wedding earlier this year and have paid their rent for the past three months, but she doesn't seem to be looking for work. We want to stop giving her money, but don't know how to tell her.
Just say no. You’ve been very helpful, but you can’t and shouldn’t provide long-term financial support. If you want to cut back slowly, have her send you a specific bill to pay, such as her electric or cell phone bill and pay just that one item. Say, “Andrea, I’ve paid your rent already this year as well as the wedding. I can’t afford to keep doing this. Tell me about your job search.” You’re not alone. Many boomers are facing this same issue.