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Miss Manners: Please support me in judging my brother-in-law

Dear Miss Manners: I have a real hard time with people who give their first child up for adoption and then continue having more.

Example: My brother-in-law gave up a child for adoption, then became a very successful person: retired Marine, business owner, real estate agent, broker, pilot and the list goes on. He's been married for 30 years and adopted his wife's firstborn (although he has nothing to do with him now) and has had three children with his wife.

My husband feels there's nothing wrong with this. Am I wrong for feeling he should never have had more? And I dang sure don't think the family should put him on a pedestal. Oh, and the child he gave up lives in our hometown, while my brother-in-law lives out of state. It is hush-hush.

Can you give me your opinion?

To keep yours to yourself. Reasons for having, not having, adopting, giving up or otherwise handling one’s family situation and children are no one else’s business — unless the children are in actual danger.

Miss Manners fears that your real objection is about the pedestal on which you perceive the family has put your brother-in-law for his unrelated professional accomplishments. She strongly suggests that you learn to accept or ignore that, too.

Dear Miss Manners: I would like to celebrate my 40th birthday at a post-pandemic point in time. Location and budget dictate a size of approximately 40 to 50 guests.

After much deliberation, I have arrived at a shortlist of about 90 guests. To get down to about 70 (assuming a 30 percent no-show rate), I feel like I have to choose between my high school friends and the partners of my work friends, most of whom I have never met.

How mandatory is it to invite partners to a party? I feel that it might be rude to exclude them, but I also wouldn't want to miss out on the opportunity to see my group of high school friends. Any advice?

Perhaps Miss Manners can convince you that work friends — whose partners you have never met — cannot truly be counted as intimates. And that therefore, she suspects there might be another reason that you are inviting them.

She further warns you about relying on a 30 percent no-show rate. Particularly post-pandemic, people may be eager to attend anything social.

If we are to consider a coronavirus-free existence again, one that is not subject to mandated size restrictions, Miss Manners feels the need to remind you — as she has for many a wedding couple — that location and budget should be decided after the desired guest list is created, not before. In other words, the people who are in the picture should be considered far more important than the photogenic venue behind them.

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