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Miss Manners: My mother-in-law keeps commenting on my medical condition

Dear Miss Manners: I am a recently married young woman who suffers from an inflammatory bowel disease. Because of my disease, I take medication prescribed by my doctor, and I do my best to eat a healthy diet. Lately, I have started following a vegetarian diet.

My mother-in-law brings up my disease in conversation whenever we see each other, and she tries to persuade me to follow a ketogenic diet, because, in her view, vegetarian diets are inherently unhealthy. She also tries to persuade me to replace my medications with lemon and ginger.

I find this line of discussion quite unpleasant — partially because I find her insistence that she knows better than my doctor and me disrespectful, but also because I do not think it is appropriate to try to meddle in the treatment plan of a person with a chronic illness.

Can I, gracefully but firmly, ask my mother-in-law to keep her opinions on my health status to herself? Or will I have to simply smile and nod my way through these conversations with her?

If you thought you could, without unpleasant consequences, ask your mother-in-law to keep her opinions to herself, Miss Manners suspects you would already have done so.

But do not underestimate the power of smiling and nodding. If your mother-in-law realizes you are not going to fight back — and are also not going to change your habits — she will tire of giving advice. That way, you will not have to answer for having insulted her for what she will protest was only a motherly concern for your well-being.

Dear Miss Manners: I received an academic promotion for which I had requested letters of support from faculty both internal and external to my institution. All faculty replied affirmatively, and I would like to thank them.

However, the nature of the process is such that the letters are kept confidential from the candidate; I do not even know if all of the requests were honored (and would not want to imply that I had any improper knowledge).

I’d like to write to each of the faculty, along the lines of, “I’m honored to report my promotion to professor, and wanted to express my sincere appreciation for your willingness to support my application.”

Does Miss Manners have any suggestions for a more elegant or appropriate approach?

Although she finds no fault with the text of your letter, Miss Manners does offer some advice. Had you sent thank-you letters immediately following acceptance of your request for support, they would have served the double purpose of reminding anyone who had not yet sent the recommendation to do so.

You might then have been able to write a second letter with the happy news of your promotion. (That would have been more work, but, because you are in a field that involves both networking and writing, not burdensome.) It would also have reinforced the fact that you would have been grateful for their support, even had you not received the promotion.

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

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