Q. What do you say to congratulate a friend on a pregnancy that you know was an unwanted accident? A friend of mine who has three small children has been planning to return to school as soon as her youngest was in school himself. Now she is pregnant again. When she told me about it, she did not look like the picture of a joyous young madonna, to say the least. In fact, she kept saying to me, "We certainly didn't plan on this," and "I can't face doing diapers again," and things like that.
Do I try to talk her into being more accepting, or do I commiserate with her, or what?
A. Contrary to the credo of this society, Miss Manners firmly believes that there are certain honest, understandable, deeply felt emotions that ought never to be expressed by anyone. First among them is that one does not want a child one is going to have.
It is a sad fact of nature that such a statement, unlike other carelessly confided remarks, will never be forgotten. One day, someone who heard it will repeat it to the child, and it will poison whatever maternal devotion the reluctant mother may have lavished from that moment on.
Any sensitive person can understand that it is possible for a good woman to feel negative or ambivalent about being pregnant--with the exception of the fetus involved.
The best thing to do when someone has spoken the unspeakable is to fail to hear it. The greatest kindness you can do your friend is to pretend that you do not understand, or even catch, her feelings. When the baby is born, treat it as a joyous event. By that time, your friend's feelings may have come around to the same view; if not, at least you will be expressing the sentiments of a brand-new friend, who will be badly in need of someone to share them.
Q. I am invited to a wedding and reception, and I am wondering what is the proper way to give money as a gift. Also, is the congratulations card mailed to the place the reception is held or taken there?
A. The money, preferably in the form of a check, and your card are sent to the bride at her home. You do not tip her at the reception. Most wedding dresses have high necklines, so where would she stuff the cash?
Feeling incorrect? Address etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.