DEAR MISS MANNERS: My ex is getting remarried to a woman he had an affair with, our next-door neighbor. He has pressured all three of our children to be in his wedding. (One daughter and a son live with me.)
I understand asking his son, who refused three times, then finally gave in, but to ask our daughters to stand with her as bridesmaids seems not only hurtful, but in very poor taste. I feel the pain as if I’m being replaced.
GENTLE READER: Unfortunately, despite the unsavory circumstances that led to it, this woman is now going to be a part of your children’s lives and, by association, yours.
You are not being replaced as their mother, and Miss Manners assures you that spreading this accusation is only going to make it more unpleasant for everyone.
Do your best to say nothing and stay impartial. It will be more effective to let your children show resentment on your behalf. It seems that they have already begun doing so.
No children, please
DEAR MISS MANNERS: At our gym we have a women’s locker room, a men’s locker room and a “family” locker room for adults with children of either gender under the age of 13.
Yet women insist on bringing their children into the women’s locker room in violation of the rules. We try to be polite (“Did you know that we have a family locker room for children 12 and under?”) but the response is often impolite (“So what? I don’t need to follow the rules”).
I think I have the right to undress, shower or change clothes without a 4-year-old boy who’s half my height staring at me with interest.
The staff members, when we manage to track one down, often refuse to enforce their own rules. Short of changing gym memberships, do you have any suggestions on how to deal with this situation?
GENTLE READER: Concern for the children and their potential psychological damage can go a long way toward convincing (or shaming) a parent who doesn’t want to be inconvenienced. You might say, “I am about to undress, and I don’t want to scar your child. I think he would be better off if you used the facilities designated for families.”
Miss Manners hopes that if you hit the right note of concern, laced with just a hint of creepiness, the parents will be the ones running to the managers to enforce the rules.
Cheers without fear
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have always felt faintly ridiculous whenever someone proposes a toast, whereupon glasses are raised and pressure is applied to clink on each and every glass remotely waved in my direction.
Are toasts still considered good form? Are they not a little trite? And what does one do when at a long table where persons at opposite ends of the table can’t possibly clink on one another’s glasses?
GENTLE READER: The bad form here is not toasting, presuming that it is kept short and flattering, but insisting upon clinking. Especially when you would have to lie down on the table to reach the glass at the other end.
Miss Manners considers it better form merely to raise the glass and meet the eyes of the person being toasted (who must remain modestly immobile).
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.
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