Dear Abby: Friend sells her shower gifts after baby is stillborn

Now she’s pregnant again and having another shower, and guest debates whether to buy another present.

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DEAR ABBY: Last year a friend of mine had a baby shower, which I attended, and I bought her an expensive gift. Shortly after, her baby was, unfortunately, stillborn. Rather than return the gifts or save them for a future child, my friend sold them on an online virtual yard sale. I was upset because I had spent a lot of money and, had she returned the item, I could’ve used it because I was pregnant. Needless to say, I didn’t tell her how I felt.

Now, one year later, she’s pregnant again. Honestly, I’m happy for her, but she’s having another baby shower. What would be the rule of etiquette here? I want to go, but I don’t feel I should have to buy her another gift. — UPSET IN THE EAST

DEAR UPSET: It’s regrettable that the gifts from the first pregnancy weren’t returned to the givers or kept for a future pregnancy, but chances are that your friend was an emotional wreck after having lost her baby, and she wasn’t thinking straight. If you plan to attend this shower, you should absolutely bring a gift.

A side note: While reading your letter, I recalled that although the practice is well-entrenched here, not all cultures have baby showers before a child is born. In China, Egypt and France, the celebration is held after the birth. And in Ireland, Russia and Japan, it’s considered bad luck to have a baby shower before the baby arrives.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend of seven years is very competitive. There is constantly this underlying contest about whose kid is better, whose dog is better, etc. It’s silly. They are both great kids (and dogs) in their individual ways, and I suspect he likes to brag about his 11-year-old daughter just to publicize that she’s “great.”

He often criticizes my son. He also has “house rules” for us that he doesn’t hold himself or his daughter to, and becomes upset if I bring it up. I like doing things with him and with his daughter, but not when they’re together because it’s always them against us. She also hangs on him constantly and whines when I’m around.

I realize I can’t change how he acts, but I feel like I constantly need to prove myself to him and stick up for my son. Sometimes I’m a little jealous because he treats his daughter so differently than he treats us. I don’t want to feel this way. Can you help me come up with a different way of reacting to it? — WEARY IN WISCONSIN

DEAR WEARY: Frankly, your question, “Can you come up with a different way of reacting to the way your boyfriend treats you and your son?” surprised me. The traits you have described are obnoxious. I find it hard to believe that for seven years you’ve tolerated the double standard he exhibits and his constant criticism of your son — who by now probably thinks there is something wrong with himself — because of it. Put your foot down (better late than never)! Insist that he stop criticizing your boy and displaying the double standard. If he doesn’t comply, for both your sakes, end the relationship.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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