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Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Handiling Uninvited/Unwanted Guest in Front of Other Holiday Guests


I have a bit of a situation to look forward to this Christmas and I am hoping you can answer my question before Christmas Day. I was informed yesterday, by my 5 year old son, that my son's father would be joining us for Christmas dinner. We have a bit of a history, that I will explain as brief as possible, and a very big reason for me not wanting him at my Christmas dinner.

My son's father and I met 7 years ago at financially and emotionally difficult part of both of our lives. We basically have drug each other through the mud in court and emotionally for about 4 of those years with my decision to finally leave the situation and move about 500 miles away.

My life is in a much better place now and my son are doing just fine. I have seen my child's father once or twice in the past couple of years but for the most part have kept him at a distance.

He has had a "girlfriend" who began stalking me online about 3 years ago. I have pointed this out to him and he feels I perpetuated the situation by responding to her initial contact to me and will not do anything about it. I have confronted her to leave me alone on 3 separate occasions over the years, each time making sure he was included in the voicemail and emails. This woman threaten to harm both my son and I about 2 years ago via social networking. Confronted with this information my child's father will still not do anything. I have told him that he can not see ( I have sole physical custody) our son unless he discontinues his relationship with this woman. She hasn't threatened us since but she has slandered my business online and called my office to harass my workers. Again, it has been almost a year since that has happened but it usually stops and starts.

I have spoken with some lawyer friends that I know and they have informed me how negligent my state laws are with matters like this and the best thing I can do is to keep making police reports with each event. A restraining order would only give her more information about me and ignite her obsession with me.

I hadn't talked to my son's father in over a year and at the end of October he began talking to me again. Things were very different and he informed that he had been involved in therapy for a couple of years. He also said that our safety was important to him and that he was very sorry for what he had done. I could see the change and was willing to allow him in my life,again. I let him know that he could have a relationship with whomever he wanted but if he wanted to be apart of my life then he needed to discontinue his relationship with this crazy woman. I let him know that he was welcome in my home as long as did not have a relationship with this woman or any other person that threatened our safety. He agreed. I found out through a mutual source that he still continued to speak to this person but it wasn't the relationship that I thought it was. Irregardless, I was very clear about my boundaries. We had an argument over this and I basically revoked his ability to come into my home.
I told him we were done until he apologized to me and discontinued his relationship with this woman. I also let him know he was no longer welcome in my home and we had nothing to discuss other than visit arrangement to which he could email me.

I see the drama and I don't care for it. I have tried to mitigate the situation the best I could. I will say in 7 years we have never had an argument in person and we never argue in front of our son. A friend has told me that she feels that maybe we argue because there is a serious communication gap over the phone. That may be true but I have gotten to the point where I have no expectations of him and really I just don't want to be involved with him while he has ANY kind of relationship with this person.

I am not sure what to do. I am definitely the nerdy type but when it comes to business and serious family matters, I am very cut and dry and some say "ballsy". My usual way of handling this would be to confront him at the door and let him know he is not invited in my home. It is Christmas and I am wondering if I change my approach perhaps I will get a different response. I want to remain integritous and my handling of situations in the past I don't feel were that. However, I also find that having even a conversation with someone who threatened to bring harm to us is disgusting.

Should I just allow him in for the meal and wait until it's time for him to leave to confront him or should I stop him at the door and let him know he wasn't invited and did not call me to make plans? Is there something I am not considering and/or am I being the one who is perpetuating difficult through lack of social grace?

Thank you in advance for your response and best wishes for the holidays.

Dear Anonymous,

The time stamp on this question read 11:52 PM on Wednesday,December 26th,2012. I do not know
if you sent it late or because of the severe weather across the South and Midwest,it was
delayed in cyberspace somewhere?

Even though the situation is likely now in the past,I will add in what help I can to diffuse
future incidents.

Who is hosting the dinner and why was your son the one to tell you that his father was going
to come? This is important. If it is your home,you may control the guest list. If the ex was
invited by someone else,all you can really do is smile and make the best of things.

Having the five year old break the news is a little suspicious to me. Children's emotions are
easily manipulated. Did the ex invite himself? Did someone else invite him and then leave it
to the child to tell you so that you could not say no without being 'the bad guy'?  

You want what is best for your son. Hopefully he wants the same thing. Explain again that you
do not wish to control his personal life,he is free to date whomever he chooses,you only had
an issue with this one deranged lunatic. Remind him again,gently,what she threatened and why
you both should be worried. Refuse to cover old ground and revisit old arguments. Just say
very calmly and simply that the main issue is keeping the child free from any hint of weird
or stalker like behavior and threats. Then ask how he intends to insure the safety of his

I know you are angry,frightened and upset. These are all reasonable emotions. But really try
to get your ex to give you his solution to all of this. Don't put him on the defense by
attacking. Keep him on offense over your one mutual tie,this child.

Best regards,

  Amanda Gamble  

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

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Amanda Gamble


I will answer any etiquette question you`d care to ask! I will be happy to give friendly non-judgmental advice on any situation. Certain cultures and religions that outside of my personal scope of knowledge but I usually know whom to ask when I have a question. Time specific questions may or may not get answered by your deadline.


I have been writing a daily etiquette advice column for 12 years. I have taught as well as given lectures on the subject.

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