Miss Manners: Visiting mother finds nothing to approve

January 29, 2012

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have just returned home from spending a few days with my son (36) and daughter-in-law (34). They live in a medium-size city about three hours away. My DIL’s mother has been gone for 15 years, so I sometimes try to give her advice to help her.

It seems this has not been appreciated. I disagreed with their decision to move away from their home town, but they had repeatedly invited me to come, so I did.

The guest room, as well as the entire house, was oddly decorated — she likes nontraditional colors for walls and furniture. None of the linens that I was to use, though of admittedly nice quality, matched each other, and my DIL painted the guest room walls a pale green, a color I do not enjoy.

My DIL is a tall girl and often wears heels, and even though I said it was inappropriate, she just smiled and changed the subject but did not change her shoes.

They offered to take me to museums or shops or local sites of interest, but they didn’t even have a specific activity planned — my son said it was because they wanted to take me to do whatever I chose. They took me to dinner once, and they cooked dinner for me the next night.

I sat them down and said it was clear they did not really want me to visit, and my son actually said they had worked hard to make me comfortable and that they had hoped this would be a fun visit. But the whole time, my DIL said nothing, but had the nerve to look surprised.

Then my son said that if all I wanted to do was criticize, then maybe I should not come back.

I cannot believe that a girl I have cared for has turned my son against me, and I am at a loss at how I should deal with her in the future. She had the gall to tear up during the discussion, as if to make my son feel bad for her!

I do want to see my son, but I don’t want to be manipulated or disrespected. I am their elder, after all, but none of my suggestions are heeded, and my comfort is apparently an afterthought.

GENTLE READER: So you are the one responsible for giving mothers-in-law such a bad name!

Miss Manners always wondered why so much venom is directed against ladies who are, after all, somewhat responsible for producing a presumably beloved spouse. Now she knows.

Would you like to have a houseguest who sneers at your taste in decorating and clothing, who considers it an effrontery to be offered a choice of activities and to be taken to dinner as well as cooked for at home, and who mocks tears as being a contemptible ploy?

Your son has offered you a reasonable choice. And your daughter-in-law was not the person who turned him against you.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Can studs and cuff links match the woman’s dress, or should they always be black, silver or white?

GENTLE READER: Even if you are going to the sophomore prom, Miss Manners begs you not to think of wearing your lady’s colors.

However, the rules are not quite as strict as you have guessed. Studs and cuff links of gold, platinum or pearl are also permissible with gentlemen’s evening clothes.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

2012, by Judith Martin

Distributed by Universal Uclick for UFS

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