Dear Julie: “Do I Have to Give My Friend’s Kid a Graduation Gift?”

DAME’s Friendkeeper dishes etiquette advice and tells a woman how to handle her husband’s too friendly ex-wife.

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Dear Julie,

I received a “commencement exercises”—aka graduation ceremony—announcement for a friend’s daughter, but I don’t know what to do or make of it. I know that this particular child is graduating because I’ve known her since she was born. So why the announcement? My child is also graduating this May but I am not sending out formal mail because of it. The announcement feels like a thinly veiled request for a gift. Does that mean I have to give one? Do I have to give a gift to all my friends’ kids who are graduating? I would love your thoughts on this.

Pomp and Circumstance


Dear PaC,

I have this saying in my house: No shame is the new shame. If you want to use it, feel free, but then you have to donate $5 to the Julie Klam Catchphrase Kickstarter. Not long ago, I received a wedding invitation with a request for cash gifts. I passed out and when I came to I passed out 11 more times. I don’t really know why this is happening, maybe it always has been and I only notice it now because of the Internet. But whatever the case is, your friend is free to send her announcement (at least she didn’t tell you where her child was registered), and you are free to do whatever you would have done had you not received it (from the sound of your note my guess is you are less inclined to give a gift now that you’ve received the announcement).

By the way, I always thought only family gave graduation gifts, like your mom and dad and maybe grandparents…I don’t even think my parents did. I also never got a wife bonus.  

My ex-convict mobster ex-boyfriend said that when guys get out of jail they have parties and people give them money to start their new life (mostly people who are grateful that they didn’t get turned in when the person was going to jail). I will say this situation is the exception to my rule: If you are getting out of jail people can give you money. High school, not necessary.

[UPDATE: My boyfriend Dan just told me that everyone did this when he was growing up—they sent announcements that were like wedding invitations so now I shall reign in my outrage and indignancy. Maybe, as he said, people are just “proud of their kids.”]

xx Julie


Dear Julie,

My husband and I got married last year and I know this sounds like I’m leading into a relationship question, but I’m not. Everything between us is pretty awesome. What’s not awesome is that he has an ex-wife, and she’s trying to be my buddy. They divorced several years before he and I started dating but have always remained casual friends. I’ve met her before and she’s a perfectly lovely person, but ever since my husband and I tied the knot, she seems to think that we should be friends as well. And you know what? I don’t want to be. It’s fine that she and my husband still talk (it’s not necessary, they don’t have any kids or shared pets or anything, but whatever), but I just don’t feel the need to befriend her too. I have enough of my own friends who I barely have time to see. Am I being a jerk? Should I appreciate that she’s reaching out and that we’re all mature enough to deal with the intricacies of modern-day families?



Dear EF,

Okay, here’s my impression of your new friendship with your husband’s ex:

You: This weekend Steve is cleaning out the garage.

Her: Yeah, hah, good luck with that.

You: I’m going to Steve’s mother’s house for dinner.

Her: Ouch! Bettah you than me!

(I think you get the idea.) The thing is, I am ALL FOR friendly ex relationships—I don’t really know why your ex feels like he wants to be friends with her if he’s not sharing any property, but if it’s okay with you then it’s okay with me. And when you see her or interact with her and it’s friendly, that’s terrific. It’s always better for there to be ease and comfort in your world and to not have to avoid talking to people…or get restraining orders. I know there are people who double date with their exes, and if that’s what they all want, you know, it’s not illegal. I just think it’s a recipe for awkwardness, and people have funny possessiveness about their spouses and even ex-spouses. I think it’s totally cool for you to say to her, “In another life, we’d be friends, but we’re in this one and I just am not comfortable with it.” You’ve shared a wiener with her, I don’t think you need to share anything else.

xx Julie


Got a platonic problem of your own that could use the Friendkeeper’s advice? Fire away: [email protected]. No situation is too uncomfortable or too small and all details are kept confidential.


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