Dear Carolyn: I’m throwing a large party this weekend and know, based upon the bar I’m setting out and the guests I’ve invited, there will be a lot of drinking. I haven’t invited my sister and her new husband because he is a recovering alcoholic.
Is this the right decision to shield them from a party they may not feel comfortable at, or should I invite them and let them decide? I don’t want to make them feel left out but I also want the rest of my guests to have a great time.
I’m more worried about your friends who can be counted on to get wasted than I am about your brother-in-law.
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But since you asked: Excluding people is generally not a good way to show love and respect. Tell your sister about the party and its expected rage level, and say they’re welcome if they’d like to come and you understand completely if they’d rather skip it. Ultimately, adults have to say no to their own downfalls.
It’s also helpful, though, for all of us to live in a supportive family and community – and good for you for wanting to be part of one for your brother-in-law, even though my saying that requires me to pretend you didn’t imply that you’re more concerned about his being a buzzkill for your drinking buddies than about his well-being.
Ways to be supportive include not pushing against his resolve (“C’mon, just one drink” (equal sign) no), not fussing over him (“This is my brother-in-law – he doesn’t drink” (equal sign) no), having non-alcohol available, and not tiptoeing around him as if he’ll shatter on sight of a beer.
Be inclusive and follow his lead.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.