Q: When I took my 5-year-old to the pediatrician for a physical, the child was playing a video game on my phone while waiting for the doctor.
The doctor knocked, came in, said “Hi” with a smile. He looked at my kid and while saying, “Hi, how are you doing?” he took the phone from my kid’s hands without asking.
I was offended. I do not think this is appropriate to do to anyone, not even a child. He should have said: “Hey, buddy, we need to pay attention now. Let’s leave the game for another time.”
I did not say anything because I don’t want to strain the patient-doctor relationship, and because he is a good doctor. Still, I want to point this out to him so that he minds his manners. My child should not get used to adults being disrespectful toward him.
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How should I have communicated my discomfort to the doctor about his behavior without making the next visit awkward?
A: It has been Miss Manners’ experience that professionals who spend time around children understand their desire to be treated like adults, but your pediatrician seems instead to have modeled his own manners on those of a child.
Very well. Ask the doctor for the phone, and then show it to your child in front of the pediatrician, saying, “Dylan, the doctor would appreciate it if you would put your phone away so that he can examine you.”
A good pediatrician will recognize a parent modeling good behavior. Dylan, who did nothing wrong, will be irritated, but you can explain it to him in the car on the way home.
Q: I feel that when I receive an invitation for dinner at a friend’s house, the host should specify upfront whether my boyfriend is included in the invitation. If he is not included, I can accept or decline without consulting my boyfriend or asking the host to include him, which occasionally leads to hurt feelings on my boyfriend’s part.
Is it possible to politely ask if I may bring my boyfriend in a way that doesn’t put the host on the spot? And is it possible to politely tell someone that I want them to attend solo without hurting their feelings or their partner’s feelings? I usually avoid inviting someone who might be offended by my asking them to come solo.
A: The way to ask if you may bring your boyfriend without putting your host on the spot is to decline the invitation.
Miss Manners realizes this is confusing. Explain that while you would love to attend, you have promised to spend the evening with him. Your host may then choose whether to accept your answer or modify the invitation to include your boyfriend.
And the way to entertain half of an established couple is to do so at lunch.
Q: I’m planning to give a pair of tickets to an event to a friend for his birthday, but don’t want him to feel obligated to invite me as his guest to the event. Any suggestions?
A: If you are asking how to ensure that your friend does not invite you, Miss Manners suggests you tell him that you know how much he will enjoy the event — because you have already seen it.
If your actual question is how to have him invite you without your having to appear to be applying pressure, she suggests you either give the tickets without comment, or select a different present.
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.