Time for stepmother to step it up

Q. My stepmother is late for everything. It drives me crazy and I’m sure it bothers my Dad also. She just can’t get her act together and always has some lame excuse about having to feed the dog again before they left, or she couldn’t find the right shoes. Then my Dad has to drive like a nut to try to arrive on time, which is usually impossible. My husband and I have had to delay holiday meals and birthday events for our son. If they were supposed to meet us for dinner at a restaurant, we had to stand there waiting to be seated. You name it, they are late. I know it’s not my Dad because he was always an arrive-early person before he married her.

We have scheduled a private baptism for our second baby. I know our minister will want to start on time. We’re inviting just the immediate family and the sponsors. I don’t want her and my Dad to come in late. When I call to invite them, would it be terribly wrong if I give her a time 30 minutes before it is actually going to start? Or should I emphasize to her the minister said he was going to start promptly at the designated time and that if she and Dad aren’t there, we’re going to start without them? (I’m afraid that will really hurt my Dad’s feelings.) She’s basically a nice person, but I’m about ready to tell her how inconsiderate she is by always being late. Could I somehow tell her that?

A. Yes, your stepmother would drive me — or anyone, for that matter — crazy, too. Being consistently late is indeed inconsiderate and impolite. There are occasions when circumstances prevent someone from arriving on time, but not consistently. As to what to do with regard to your baby’s baptism:

Do not give her a time thirty minutes before the baptism is scheduled. Doing so will only lead her to believe you will do the same with all future invitations and they will arrive even later.

Do call her and, after providing her with the time, emphasize to her the minister wants to start on time. Advise her to please arrive 15 minutes prior to the beginning of the baptism so that everyone can enter the sanctuary at the same time.

If indeed they are late, start without them. It would be very improper to ask the minister to wait for them. If she says anything about starting without them, it is time to politely tell her what a nice stepmother she is, but her consistent tardiness is very disappointing and seemingly inconsiderate.

Q. It seems it has become somewhat popular to be invited to a “bridal” shower and, when you get there, the groom is also present. This seems odd to me. Is it proper?

A. No, not if the invitation clearly states: “bridal” shower.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to