Dear Miss Manners: I was having a disagreement with a friend about her 9-year-old daughter. She thinks it's okay for her child to correct adults as long as she's right. I feel it's totally disrespectful to correct your elders. Especially at 9 years old! What is proper?
By that logic, you had better make sure that you are the elder in this relationship — since Miss Manners notices that you are freely correcting your friend’s parenting.
But yes, as a general rule, it is unseemly for children to go around reprimanding adults, no matter that they are often undoubtedly right. But neither is it proper for anyone to issue citations without using tact, and that rule has been roundly violated here.
However, to the larger question: How to properly guide children to correct misinformation without creating offense — a skill that will help them later in life, especially in their early careers.
It must be done with humility. As in, “Oh! I always heard that the Earth rotated from west to east, but I must have heard wrong. I will have to check my sources” — thus helpfully prompting them to check theirs.
Dear Miss Manners: I am not a member of any social media, which seem to be the rage these days. My husband's younger relatives are now starting to have children and announce the births there, instead of sending out the birth announcements that I have always depended on for vital information such as the name of the child and the date of birth.
My husband does communicate through social media with these relatives but has never felt it necessary to convey this information to me. When asked, he is vague about the details, since he does not feel it necessary to give presents for any reason, birthdays and Christmas included.
Since I have always handled the giving of such presents and am in ignorance of the relevant information, I have chosen not to send presents. Am I incorrect?
You cannot send presents to people whose events you are not aware of, or whose names you do not know. Miss Manners feels certain that once these young relatives are tipped off to this idea — and the presents and good wishes start dwindling — they will recommence sending announcements through the proper channels. In the meantime, consider that you have a temporary reprieve.
Dear Miss Manners: What can I say to parents who comment on a child's size? My child was asked, "How old are you, 7?" "Five," he answered, to which she responded, "Oh! You're really big for a 5-year-old."
We would never dream of telling someone "Gosh, you're really short for only being 47," or "Golly, you're very fat for being 28," so I don't know why it seems okay to speak this way to and about children. I'd like your help with a polite response I could make.
“Thanks so much for noticing. We’re hoping that by the time he turns 8, he’ll be big enough to drive.”
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.
2020, by Judith Martin