The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Miss Manners: Why do we call pets ‘babies’ and pet owners ‘parents’?

Dear Miss Manners: When I was at the vet with my cat, the staff kept referring to owners as “parents” and pets as “babies” or “children.”

I feel the urge to ridicule these types of statements. While I understand that people adore their pets (as do I), I think it is incorrect — and even offensive — to put them in the same category as human children. Can you reflect on this topic a little bit?

Since the subject is animals, albeit domestic ones, Miss Manners’ advice is: Do not poke the bear.

Many pet owners feel as you do — often strongly enough that they would consider, as you have, doing something that would be quite rude: namely, ridiculing those who disagree. The pet owners who disagree are equally passionate — with the added incentive that they believe you are attacking not just their pug, but their firstborn. Surely this is enough reason to let sleeping dogs lie.

Dear Miss Manners: My nephew opened a new business. He sent a mass text message thanking those who supported him during the process (he never told me about it) and a link to RSVP to his grand opening.

The text also had a link for donations, and those who donated a specific (hefty) amount would be entered into a raffle for a gift. I congratulated him, and he responded with a “thanks” and a copy and paste of his original message.

I have absolutely no intention of attending the opening or sending a “donation.” I sent him a generous wedding gift and beautiful gifts for each of his kids without a thank-you in return, texted or otherwise. I only receive invites to gift-generating events, but he has parties at his home all the time that he posts on social media.

I’m not going to respond one way or another. If he asks, I will say I’m sorry that I cannot attend (without further explanation).

I know his father (my brother) is going to ask me why I’m not going to attend. I intend to tell him that I don’t hear from my nephew unless it is a money-grab event, I never get a thank-you in return, and this is the result. I know that will get a defensive response, but he needs to know. Is there a nicer way to get my point across without the acrimony?

It depends on what your point is. If it is that nephews should write thank-you notes, then you can stop sending presents — and, if asked about it, say that it was your impression that your nephew had outgrown gifts from you because he does not acknowledge them.

If your point is that it is not nice to badger your relations into supporting your business, you can answer by saying that you prefer to keep family and business separate — and while you are very happy for his new business, you reserve your donations for social causes.

If your point is that your brother needs to know what his son is doing, Miss Manners fears that you will have to wait to be asked, as a more direct criticism of his behavior would be impolite.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin

Loading...