Dear Miss Manners:
Is there any modern etiquette for what used to be a socially unspeakable situation? My consternation is over when and where to meet a woman who is seven months pregnant with my unmarried son's child.
Despite my frequent admonitions to him that birth control pills do not constitute safe sex, she turned up pregnant. Through the sordid affair, my ignorant son has referred to her as "crazy" and "insane" because of her obsession with him when he clearly explained to her (he says) that he was interested only in sex and not commitment.
He is already paying for prenatal expenses and will not shirk his duties as a father, but he absolutely refuses to marry her, as I suggested.
Like it or not, this may be the only grandchild I'll ever have. My son is 34, and no one is ever good enough for him.
Should my husband and I call her, go to see her before the birth, wait for a DNA test, or have my son bring her to our home?
The last choice seems the most hospitable, but we are very well off and, frankly, I'm not sure I wish to reveal that to someone who may have planned her own pregnancy. I should have written sooner, but I have a real dilemma and don't know what to do or to say, for that matter.
Miss Manners has to give you credit for refusing to whitewash your son's behavior, and for endeavoring to persuade him to do what used to be called the honorable thing in such a situation. You know less about the prospective mother, but it is at least safe to say that she is not a great judge of character.
So your question, as Miss Manners understands it, is whether you wish to associate with such people for the sake of having a grandchild.
This strikes Miss Manners as the wrong question. A better one would be: Do you want your only grandchild, your own flesh and blood, to be brought up without the benefit of whatever you can do to relieve him or her of total dependence--moral and otherwise--on this pair?
True, there is also that question about whether the baby in question will actually be of your flesh and blood. But does it strike you that your son is too much of a gentleman to bring up any possible doubt even if it might get him out of supporting the child?
Miss Manners would think you would want to establish your position as this poor child's grandparent in the hope of exercising whatever responsibility they would allow you. This would involve not whitewashing the parents' behavior so much as giving up on it as a lost cause. As for the money, it would seem that your only grandchild would be your logical heir anyway, although Miss Manners would understand if you took precautions to protect him legally in this respect from his father.
Dear Miss Manners:
My mother is in a nursing home, and I would like to know the proper thing to do regarding acknowledging personnel at holiday time. Of course, three shifts are involved, including nurses, aides, housekeeping, etc.
Devoted employees should be rewarded with a holiday bonus if possible, but Miss Manners doesn't know how much you have to go around.
If it can't be done in money, it can at least be done in appreciation. Writing to their supervisor expressing your appreciation of their work--using names and examples--would cost you nothing and may turn out to be professionally rewarding for them.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.