Dear Professor Moriarty: Advice for an Overbearing Mother

This week's guest columnist is Professor Moriarty who reports that he is, contrary to rumors, very much alive and quite busy planning for a major event that you will all witness soon. Very soon.

Dear Professor Moriarty,

Our youngest daughter is getting married, and we are, of course, thrilled to pay for the wedding. The trouble is she's still young at heart and wants a gothic wedding, with pale makeup that makes her look like a corpse, an atheist woman presiding instead of our pastor, and a punk band instead of a pianist—and worst of all, she's insists on a dreadful black wedding dress. 

I can't bring myself to underwrite this debacle. 

How can I convince my daughter that she needs to have a traditional marriage ceremony with our pastor, a white dress, and classical music?

Worried Mother Needs Daughter to Grow Up

Dear Worried,

Oh, how right you are. Your daughter is clearly too immature to understand the complexities of planning a successful wedding. 

You hold the power of the purse and should, of course, save her from this embarrassing debacle. 

Insist on buying a white dress, inviting your pastor, and having a piano rather than distorted guitars. I imagine your daughter and future son-in-law aren't saying traditional vows, which is another problem to fix. 

While you're at it, is this the correct match for your daughter? She certainly didn't get these gothic ideas from you. Perhaps a different, more suitable groom could be found, one with fewer tattoos and healthier prospects.

And, is she picking the correct career? Your wisdom and experience would be useful in finding her a suitable career, along with the correct city for the happy young couple to start out in, preferably close enough for her overbearing hag of a mother to easily drop in to explain, in great detail, how they're raising her grandchildren improperly.

Listen closely: This is not your wedding. 

If you want your daughter to resent you forever, by all means try to control her as an adult. Let her bottle up the tension until it all bursts forth during Thanksgiving, when she accidentally cuts your hand, twice, while carving the turkey.

The proper role of mothers and fathers is to raise their children to be independent and resourceful enough to survive and thrive in the world by themselves. 

If my sons and daughters couldn't plan and execute a simple Spanish Prisoner scam without my help, I'd consider myself a failure as a father.

Let your adult daughter make her own choices. The only two people who need to be pleased with the details of the wedding are the bride and groom.

Postscript: For the record, black is an appropriate color for all occasions and seasons. I am at this very moment wearing a black ensemble, and will do so again tomorrow. It's a lovely color.


Guy Bergstrom is a speechwriter and reformed journalist. He's represented by literary agent Jill Marr and can be found on Twitter @speechwriterguy or at his blog, For etiquette questions you want answered in this column, try

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