GENTLE READER: Did you skip the elementary school lesson about the dangers of third-person reports on who secretly likes you and who secretly hates you?
Miss Manners assures you that it still holds. As does your date, unless you hear otherwise from the young lady herself.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My dad is living with his “girlfriend.” After a 54-year marriage, he quickly rebounded after my mom died three years ago and began dating her friend, who moved herself in within six months.
My sister-in-law is having a 75th-birthday party for my dad, and I just found out that the “girlfriend” has invited her son and two grandchildren to this family function. Last Thanksgiving I was really put on the spot and made to feel I had to say yes when she cornered me and asked if the same son could come to my house. Luckily, she and her son decided to go to another function, and my dad came to my dinner.
Do you think this behavior is rude, and how should I respond next time I am in this situation? I would like to put an end to her manipulation of my family.
GENTLE READER: So Miss Manners gathers from your use of quotation marks alone.
She also suspects, from your description of that lady’s having “moved herself in,” that you have not consulted your father about this because you believe that he is a helpless victim of such manipulation.
But lest you manipulate him, you should find out whether he wishes the extended members of his household to be included in family events.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Lately I have had two (so-called) professionals in my home. While I am paying for their service, they have turned the professional conversation into political ranting. Both have made the assumption that I agree with their opinions.
I can only guess that they believe I agree because I didn’t argue. Apparently my saying nothing must have, in their minds, conveyed approval.
I have strong political opinions and enjoy a good debate, but I didn’t think it was in any way appropriate to get into a debate with someone I have hired. What is a polite way to let someone know that I do have opinions but don’t want to discuss them?
GENTLE READER: Furthermore, Miss Manners supposes that they — calling themselves professionals, while ignorant of professional behavior — are charging you for the time.
Even if you agreed with their politics, she would recommend saying, “Can we get back to going over my taxes?” or “fixing my toilet,” or whatever it is that you are paying them to do.
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