Dear Miss Manners: We have a family quandary as to how to best address a situation with our nephew, Chet. Chet was always a very loud boy with some lack of social graces. We always thought he would grow out of it and grow up, like the rest of his cousins.

Unfortunately, at age 17, Chet still continues to dominate every family gathering. He constantly talks over and interrupts everyone. His father (my brother, divorced and now remarried) says nothing about it. It has always been this way; even when his parents were together, there was no telling this boy to let others speak.

In addition, Chet has become more annoying due to his constant need to talk about how expensive his shoes, computer, TV, etc. are, and how much better they are than what someone else may have. It's not just my husband and me who are bothered by this. Our parents (Chet's grandparents) can't stand it, either.

I have made an occasional comment about his remarks about how much everything costs — or the occasional "I am speaking, can I finish, please?" — but it seems to only help for about three minutes.

Now that Chet is approaching adulthood, I would love his father to sit down with him and have a discussion about this, but it's not likely to happen. What is the best way for the family to deal with it next time we are together? Chet tends to make us all dread the next family celebration or holiday.

If only the problem of constant interruption and material obsessions were unique to 17-year-old boys.

With your help, at least your nephew may still have a chance of becoming a considerate conversationalist — a skill he will need to cultivate if he hopes to keep himself surrounded by expensive things.

At 17, he is presumably on the verge of attending college or joining the workforce. Miss Manners recommends you point this out and offer to practice his interview skills with him, giving him constructive feedback as you go. If you pose it like a funny role-playing exercise, he may never catch on that he is learning a lesson — while he tries out his newfound skills on his family.

Dear Miss Manners: My partner and I are animal lovers, and have a pet lizard and ferret in addition to our dog. Often in social situations, when we tell people about our ferret, they say, "Oh, I don't like ferrets."

I find this to be very rude and hurtful. What do I say to those people?

I usually just say, "Well, we really love ferrets, and ours is the center of our world" or something equally gushy, because my partner and I really are enamored of her. I just don't understand why someone would feel it's appropriate to express disgust over a member of our family.

As with wayward family members, your ferret is likely only known by reputation. You might respond, “Scarlet is a sweetheart, but if she makes you uncomfortable, we can keep you two apart. We do not wish to hurt her feelings.” Miss Manners then dearly hopes that Scarlet does not go on to betray your high esteem.

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2018, by Judith Martin