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Miss Manners: Adult child says mom should attend abusive ex’s funeral

Dear Miss Manners: Fifty years ago, I divorced a cheating, abusive spouse and never looked back. Even though we still live in the same community, there has been no contact since the divorce.

Several years ago, my oldest decided to reconnect with my ex-husband and talks with him a few times a year for birthdays or holidays. I've said nothing; the "child" is more than 40 years old and capable of deciding how to live.

I heard that my ex has several serious health issues. Oldest child now says that, should my ex die before I do, I should attend the funeral "to pay respects."

I see no reason to "pay respects" to someone who had absolutely no respect for me during our marriage, and made no attempt to see or support his children.

My other children agree and have said that they would not attend, either. This has led to conflict with the oldest sibling.

Is there a "proper" way to deal with this, given the circumstances? Does proper etiquette insist that long-divorced spouses attend services for an ex they haven't seen in decades?

Although she is not afraid of a fight, Etiquette objects to being pulled into one that is not hers. Your decision to sever all connection to your former spouse is yours to make, as is your child’s decision to renew the relationship. They are even within their rights to hope a reconciliation is possible.

Where your child is wrong — and Miss Manners is willing to have you quote her on this point — is to suggest that good manners require a show of respect (attending a funeral) for someone who forfeited that right.

Dear Miss Manners: A neighbor, whom we speak with occasionally and who brings us baked goods, told me about a mother and child in the neighborhood. She said that they were alone and struggling and that the mother needed a gift for the little girl. I offered to buy a doll and have this neighbor bring it to them, since she said she knew them.

I never heard back, so I don't know if the child received the doll. I confronted this neighbor about where the doll was. No further response.

I think this was a scam. She may have kept the doll, although she has no children, or given it to her church. It is all very disheartening.

It is. It is also a reminder of the risks of letting others act as go-betweens for your own generous impulses, whether it is a neighbor, a co-worker or a friend. Even if your neighbor’s intentions were pure, the child’s parent might have wondered to whom gratitude was due.

If you are willing to empower someone in this way, Miss Manners advises thinking of it as a transaction between yourself and the go-between, not yourself and the intended recipient. The neighbor should have thanked you, as well as doing what she promised, and should not be receiving such commissions in the future.

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

2021, by Judith Martin