Dear Amy: My husband and I are expecting our first baby, due in October.
This will be my only child due to my age, and also because the pregnancy has been medically complicated.
I was initially excited to have a baby shower, but now I’m concerned about the health of family and friends, as well as myself and my unborn child.
Many of my family members are older and at higher risk for having serious complications from COVID-19.
Some of them would not be willing to wear masks; and most of my family would not be computer-savvy enough to do a virtual shower.
Maintaining proper etiquette is important to me; do you have any suggestions for how I can enjoy this momentous event with a shower, and keep everyone safe?
I feel it would be terribly tacky to just send out information and/or links to my baby registry. I also feel sad at the prospect of missing out on spending time with my extended family. We are a close-knit group.
Amy says: You should definitely follow your judgment. This is one of many important decisions you will make as a new parent.
Because you say etiquette is important, you should also understand that “old-school” rules dictate that you should not host this shower for yourself. A friend or relative normally steps in to organize and host, timing it for the month before your due date.
I have heard of many “remote” showers that seem to work out well — the basic concept is that you receive gifts that are shipped to you and then you start the shower at a prearranged time, with your guests joining you remotely as you and your husband open these gifts.
It might be fun for you (or your host) to send your remote guests an invitation along with a tea cup (or an inexpensive wine glass), with the directions to “join” you at a specific date and time via video conference or phone.
The host of the shower would send directions for how to do this, as well as contact information for anyone with questions.
AARP.org offers an online tutorial on how to use this technology; even people with landlines can join by phone, and although they might not get video, they could still participate. Anyone who wants to send a gift would be instructed to have it shipped to your home in advance of the date.
Apology vs. amends
Dear Amy: I wanted to add to your advice to the reader who was reflecting on a two-year-old dispute, where her husband blew up at a neighbor. She said her husband had apologized, but the matter was far from settled.
I’m a longtime member of Alcoholics Anonymous. What I teach the people I sponsor about “making amends” (Step 9) — and what I practice myself — is that there are three parts to a good amends: Tell them what you did (in other words, take responsibility for the harm); ask them if you left anything out, or if there is anything they want to say to you (often, there is); and ask them how you can set things right and, if it is reasonable, do it.
I’ve had good success over the years using this process.
By the way, an apology may or may not be what someone wants to hear. Often, it just tells them how YOU feel about the situation but does not involve taking responsibility. And, of course, we hear way too many “I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings” types of “apologies.”
Amy says: This is so helpful. Guided by lessons I’ve learned in this space, I recently took responsibility and apologized to someone for something I said, and, frankly, the person seemed stunned. I was reminded of how powerful an apology (even over a minor matter) can be.
I believe that good apologies are actually relationship-builders, because they are personally challenging and convey vulnerability, humility and intimacy.
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