Ditte Isager

Q. I would like to invite my daughter to have dinner with me—alone, without her husband. How do I make the request without hurting his feelings?

Name withheld upon request

A. Your son-in-law sounds like a rare bird. Many a man would be grateful for the opportunity to bow out of a dinner with his in-law. So I'm going to assume that your daughter's husband is a more sensitive sort. OK, that's fine. But, even still, his feelings shouldn't be bruised just because you wish to spend time one-on-one with your daughter.

Probably, you can simply be honest. The next time you see your daughter, explain, "It's nothing personal, but sometimes I love to hang out with only you. Life is so busy that a one-on-one evening feels like a delicious luxury." That should do the trick. If you're still worried that he'll feel excluded, suggest that you and your child break bread on a night when he's not available—when he is out of town on business or has a guys' night with pals scheduled. That way, he'll be occupied with his own activities, making it much less likely that his feathers get ruffled.

Michelle Slatalla