Q: A mom takes lots of pictures of her daughters. The baby is almost 1 year old; the other is 5. She posts the photos on social media with captions such as “Baby versus girl.” The baby’s thighs are often mentioned with the nickname “Pork Chops.” The mom often refers to the differences in her girls’ body sizes.
The photos that sent me over the edge were two pictures of the mom measuring the girls’ thighs, showing the baby’s thigh was as large as the girl’s. I wrote the mom a private message saying I wished she wouldn’t do that, and the mom blew up.
So many females have negative body images, and I was afraid the mom was sending the wrong message to her daughters. Now what do I do?
A: Abusive actions call for sterner interventions than those available to etiquette. But failing such extreme situations, Miss Manners notes that it is just as difficult to discipline other people’s parents as it is to discipline other people’s children. Part-time parenting from third parties is usually as futile as it is unwelcome. You owe her an apology — not for your view, but for interfering.
Q: This will probably come off as conceited and self-absorbed, but I need to know! We are trying to budget our wedding, but how can we do that if a percentage is hanging in limbo?
I do not expect my parents to help us, as they have already given us more than we ever thought, and we haven’t heard a peep from them. I am on great terms with his mother, so I would have no problem straight up asking for a yes or no, but God bless my fiance, he doesn’t even want to ask.
So, am I rude to even ask, or do I have the right to know so I can keep planning with or without the money?
A: Please do not begin your marriage by pushing your fiance to extract money from his parents, when you know that he does not want to do so. (And God bless him for that, indeed.)
Q: My husband’s family uses what I term “third-party communication.” In other words, rather than contacting me about something that pertains to me, such as my car, they will contact him, who in turn contacts me.
None of them see anything wrong with this. I consider it going around me, which I find offensive, and they say this is how they’ve always done it, and that basically I’m the only one who has a problem with it and I’m being ridiculous about it.
I would like to know what the official etiquette protocol is, and I would venture to say that it isn’t their method.
A: Whether or not this is how your in-laws are used to communicating, it has a flaw that Miss Manners suggests you use to your advantage. Not being present, how can your in-laws be sure the message was delivered?
But, as you ask, “official protocol” often does countenance or even suggest conveying potentially annoying messages through those known to be on closer terms with the recipient.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.