I have a close friend who I adore. She is lovely and kind and a truly wonderful person. But every year, she charges people to come to her daughter’s birthday party. If it is at a venue, the e-mail will say something along the lines of “please bring $20 to cover the cost of your child.” If it is at her home, there will be an envelope or basket asking for “donations.” They’re not poor. People talk about her behind her back. Should I say something?
Anonymous / Ludlow
Yes, oh yes. Don’t tell her people are talking behind her back or say “we all feel that way” — that kind of thing only makes people paranoid. But yes, speak up before her poor daughter has to, since sooner or later the girl will realize what her mother is up to and be humiliated.
Keep your beliefs about her finances to yourself, though. Unless you’re her accountant, you don’t really know how she’s doing financially, and anyway plenty of people have bizarre neuroses about money that make their objective circumstances irrelevant. Your friend could well be in that group.
Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.