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Letters to the editor of Boston Globe Magazine

Readers write in about volunteering in schools, foregoing gifts at birthday parties, and more.

School Work

As a retired kindergarten teacher, I cannot number the amount of times we searched for dads to help chaperone a field trip (Perspective, “When School Needs a Volunteer, Guess Who Gets the Call? Not My Husband,” December 1). The reason: taking the boys to the restroom! The days have gone by with mothers who are at home during the day. Gender [roles do] indeed need a magnifying glass and new “job descriptions.” Change does not come easily but is needed.

Mary Evans

East Bridgewater

Many years ago, I was a room mother at my daughter’s elementary school. When refreshments were needed, I called only fathers to request baked items. My request was met with amusement. And we know who baked or bought the goodies, don’t we?


Kay Murphy


Thanks to Nicole Graev Lipson for writing about the preponderance of moms in volunteer school activities. In the early 1990s in North Andover, I was always the only dad in the room for any number of activities that involved my son. What always unnerved me was that the moms were almost suspicious of why a father would be there during the day. I was there, of course, to support my son, but boy did I feel unwelcome — and not by the teachers. In spite of that, I continued to volunteer and my son, now 31, remembers my being there fondly.

Tim Scott

Jackson, New Hampshire

I used to teach at a prekindergarten through grade eight school, and, in a typical year, I was unsurprised to figure out that all but two of the room parents were moms, out of probably 30 classrooms. Gender norms are frustrating. Fathers can and should advocate for more presence at their kids’ schools.


posted on bostonglobe.com

I’ve seen some degree of this trend in my short stint with the PTO, but it seems more self-perpetuating than anything else: Moms have these expectations of themselves, so they just go ahead and do it. And then the more female-centric the activities are, the more out of place a dad might feel joining in. It’s really important for them to do, though, not just to shoulder some of the burden, but to really feel like they’re part of the community. When I suggested that my husband bring our daughter to a (preschool) birthday party, he said, “But I don’t know any of the other parents.” I’m not sure how he thinks I got to know them, aside from, you know, attending things.



posted on bostonglobe.com

Thanks, But No Thanks

I have an additional suggestion for a “no gifts” request for a child’s birthday party (Miss Conduct, December 1). Why not make a donation in the child’s name and make mention in a card? That honors the parents’ request not to bring more stuff into their home, yet acknowledges the child’s birthday with something of value. (Obviously, it might also serve to encourage the child to think charitably.) If the gift giver doesn’t know which causes might be meaningful to the family, he or she can pick something like Make-A-Wish, which helps other children.

Paula Spizziri


For a kid’s party with a no gifts request, we always make a homemade card, and my daughter makes a friendship bracelet or something similar to put in the envelope — a small token that won’t add to the pile of stuff in the friend’s home.



posted on bostonglobe.com

Personally, I find it rude to bring a gift when specifically asked not to do so.


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Totally agree with Miss Conduct — why would the hosts [request no gifts], if they didn’t mean it? Seems to [me] that those who are out of step are those who bring gifts — and it is a bit of an insult to the host/hostess.

Margy Roeck


Better not to go if you cannot honor the explicit request of your host.


posted on bostonglobe.com

I volunteer at a local food pantry/nonprofit community service organization. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing nonperishable food donations in lieu of gifts from a child’s birthday party. There are a lot of wonderful ways to respect the no gifts request without feeling pressured to bring a gift.

Barbara McGee


A Bond From Birth

Isabella Bonapace’s Connections column [about finding her roots in her home country] was inspiring, heartfelt, and poignant (“My Hanoi Mothers,” December 1). It must have been a revelation to discover that a number of people remembered her from her childhood, and made it a point to take care of her. I can understand that by discovering the number of people that loved her, she would be transformed from “otherness” to “oneness.”

Bob Stock



My heart swells with joy for Bonapace in finding three non-related lost mothers, [after her story detailed the] childhood pain of no one understanding her roots, her looks. It’s so easy to say what does it matter, but obviously it mattered.

Judith Lee

North Andover

I hope Bonapace’s half-finished note found its way to her birth mother so she could know that her daughter is making her way in the world. I salute the author’s adoptive mom for the strength and foresight to help her daughter find a little bit of closure.


posted on bostonglobe.com

When Couples Click

I’ve been reading Dinner With Cupid for some years and never fail to be dismayed by couples who rate the date an “A” but say they see their date as a “friend” and probably won’t connect again because they felt no magical “spark” (Dinner With Cupid, December 1). When I read that I throw my hands up in despair — relationships take time. I met the love of my life through community theater. Over a period of time we built a real relationship based on mutual interests (OK, and physical attraction). Fast forward and we are now 80-ish with five children and eight grandchildren. Picking a life partner doesn’t happen with a blithe conversation on a first dinner date. I wish these kids would understand that.

Paul Wesel

Jamaica Plain

Is everyone looking for “love at first sight?”


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