Miss Manners: Mother offended by praise for ‘grandson’

August 21

DEAR MISS MANNERS: How do I respond to a person who comments I have a good-looking grandson when he is my son?

GENTLE READER: Your son is complimenting your grandson? Or another person is mistaking your son for your grandson and complimenting him?

If the former, you may enthusiastically agree.

However, Miss Manners suspects that it is the latter, and that you are so offended by the notion that you might be a grandmother that your nouns and pronouns are having trouble agreeing.

Saying, “Oh, thank you. I hope that my future grandson will be as good-looking as my son is now” should clear up the social problem.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have two friends, a couple, and the parents of one of them always take me out for dinner with the family when they are in town. We dine at a very nice restaurant that I would normally not go to, due to cost.

At the end of the meal I always ask, in sincere honesty, what I can contribute to the bill and am always told my money is not needed. They also refuse to let me take care of the tip.

I have sent thank-you cards and have made food and desserts for my friends when the family is in town, but I would like to be able to contribute once in a while to the bill for an amazing dinner and great company.

Am I being too pushy in insisting to help with the tab? What is the best way to thank someone for being kind and generous by including me in their family dinner?

GENTLE READER: Please excuse Miss Manners while she takes a moment to collect herself. It is not often that a Gentle Reader presents a situation in which everyone in it is behaving perfectly.

Allow the parents of your friends to keep inviting you to dinner. Continue gently offering to pay and graciously accepting it when they refuse. Carry on writing thank-you notes and making meals and treats for the family when they are in town.

Clearly, you are all enjoying one another’s company; generosity is being met with gratitude, and there is nothing whatsoever that Miss Manners can do to improve the situation. Give her another moment.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My sister-in-law left her kids with my mother-in-law and me without even asking us. She mentioned that she was going somewhere, and then left the house abruptly!

She returned after a good three hours, in which time we fed, changed and played with them. What should we have done?

GENTLE READER: Exactly what you did. Were you expecting Miss Manners to tell you to call Child Services?

Whether or not you care for your sister-in-law’s behavior, she is family. And surely you wouldn’t take out your feelings about a mother — however justified — on the children.

In order to prevent a repeat performance, Miss Manners suggests that you and your mother-in-law explain to her that you are happy to see the children for pre-arranged visits, but that unless it’s an emergency, unannounced ones cannot be accommodated. You will have to define emergency for her if that is how she describes shopping or tennis.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on www.washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com.

2014, by Judith Martin

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