Advice | Miss Manners: My elderly mom doesn’t know about my secret child


Dear Miss Manners: I have returned to my childhood home to be with my beloved mother, whose days are numbered. What I have never told her is that she has a grandson — I fathered a boy six years ago. She knows nothing of the child or its mother, who is not in my life anymore.

As my mother is very frail and at times confused, do you feel it would be a benefit or a detriment to share this news with her?

If the pleasure of knowing she has descendants would outweigh any confusion or disdain for the circumstances surrounding them, then tell your mother. But if it would cause anguish in your final days together, then perhaps do not. In either case, while Miss Manners does not wish to get involved in a pronoun argument, she would gently suggest that you use another one to describe your child — rather than “it.”

Dear Miss Manners: I’m newly engaged and have started planning the wedding. I’m confused. To me, the wedding is special for two reasons: the marriage ceremony itself, and the opportunity to host those we love and are closest to. As I plan the event, I’m being told over and over that it’s “my day,” “our day,” and we should “do what we want.” But it’s not just our day.

We are hosting the event and I want to be sure our guests have a good time, feel welcome and are treated hospitably. So, which is it — our day to do what we want without consideration for others? Or a day to be married and ensure our guests are having a good time?

If Miss Manners could marry you herself, she would. Because you are quite correct: The very idea of marriage is to blend two families and attempt to create harmony between them. Do not succumb to these questionably intentioned sources telling you to be selfish. They are likely seeking buy-in, either literally (spend more money!) or associatively (if you can get away with it, then they can too). This unsavory mind-set must be stopped.

Dear Miss Manners: I work as a school crossing guard, and sadly, after four years at my current school, my wife and I are forced to relocate due to financial issues. I was thinking of writing a brief note (in English and Spanish) to thank the families I have been crossing at my corner for allowing me to be part of their school day and for making my job so enjoyable. I wish to end this note with, “You are my families, and I love you all. Stay safe, and I will miss you.”

Is that too familiar for what is essentially a professional encounter on a daily basis? Because I have created friendships with the parents and kids.

Your note is sweet, if a bit effusive, but Miss Manners is inclined to let that pass. For the sake of your finances, however, let us hope that these additional family members do not then follow you all the way to your new home.

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.



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