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Posted on Thu, Oct 27, 2011 : 5 a.m.

Son's destination for planned wedding seems unfair

By Carolyn Hax

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:
Sometimes the people you profile are so ridiculous that I am surprised you even post the question. (Like the one about the son's destination wedding in Capri, Italy: As a father, I would be ashamed. He is being extremely unfair to anyone who wanted to attend the wedding. I would ask myself what I did wrong in raising such a selfish child. Seriously.
-- Anonymous

All valid, but the father still has to figure out what to do: spend $6,000 because it's his son's wedding, or stay home on principle? Does he express his dismay with the choice, or bite his tongue?

There are many paths a parent can take, beyond just passing judgment. For what it's worth: I'd go (assuming I could afford it), without giving my full opinion unless he asked me. I also wouldn't speak for other relatives; that can remain between the groom his invited guests.

Re: Capri-cious:
I'm shocked the opponent of all things destination would attend. Anonymous has it right on the money. This is a selfish child, not an adult. Whether to have a discussion about it is another matter, but attending the wedding? Absolutely NOT.
-- Anonymous 2

Actually, I'm not universally anti-destination; if key loved ones live all over the world, then picking a destination can make sense.

Here's what I do oppose universally: inflexibility for the sake of it. I might not be proud of my child's selfish choices, but this is still my child's wedding. I fully expect my kids to make a bunch of choices that I'd rather they didn't. But I'm going to love and support my kids and, unless they're committing crimes, show up where I can, advise where they let me and otherwise shut up.

Yes, Capri-on-your-dime-and-your-time is not a thoughtful, inclusive way to start a marriage. But even if the couple have no better motivations than lovely vistas and delusions of grandeur, I'm not going to accomplish a complete re-raising of my adult kid just by saying no for the sake of no. Sometimes you have to make a calculation that taking a big stand isn't worth the cost.

This reminds me, actually, of my column about the young adult daughter who refused to drive one of her parents to the mechanic ( to pick up a car, because she had plans. Many readers argued the parents should have kicked the daughter out of the house.

Some situations call for that kind of hard line-drawing, but precedent matters. These parents clearly had not set a precedent of holding their daughter accountable. So what will they get when they go from 0 to 60 over one incident? Alienation, quite likely.

When arriving late to the business of setting limits, it's important to start by establishing the new rules first: Notify child you've been mistaken in your leniency, say you're correcting it now, and set out the new terms. If Child fails to learn and respect the new rules, (BEG ITAL)then(END ITAL) a parent can go draconian.

Same applies with this wedding. Surprise, you raised a selfish (or just clueless) child! It's OK to try intermediate steps before whipping out the Big Statement of a boycott.

Email Carolyn at tellme(at), follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

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