Advice Columns

Miss Manners: Babies in a winery: What could possibly go wrong?

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DEAR MISS MANNERS: My boyfriend and I are having a disagreement over whether to make an exception regarding children attending a birthday party we are having at a winery.

We have sent invitations indicating “no children allowed,” but a niece of his said that she and her husband would not be able to attend because they could not find a baby sitter.

The party is for my boyfriend, and he says he would like them to attend so he wants to tell them that it is fine to bring the kids. I have disagreed because it will open up a big can of worms — her brother will then want to bring his kids, as well as other relatives wanting to bring theirs.

He says we will not “announce” that his niece is bringing hers, and if her brother asks to bring his children as well, he again will make an exception.

When I asked if my sister could bring her child, his reply was no, as my sister had already RSVP’d and had not asked to bring her daughter.

Please help. His niece’s children are 3 and 6 years old. The others would be around the same age, if not younger.

GENTLE READER: If you think you have an etiquette problem now, consider what could happen if you let toddlers loose in a winery. Are you even certain that the venue will allow it? If not, there is your solution.

Regardless, Miss Manners agrees that it is indeed rude and unfair to show guests who did find baby sitters that your rule applied to them, but not to more favored guests.

Either do not allow children — for their own safety — or change the venue. Surely no one wants to experience the result of mixing angry friends with alcohol.

Fussy child interrupts funeral

DEAR MISS MANNERS: At the funeral of a good friend last week, a baby at the back of the church fussed and fretted nearly the entire time. She didn’t exactly howl, but she was very noisy.

It was difficult to appreciate the service and the memorials because I was so irritated. Even during a regular church service, this would have been distracting, but I feel that a funeral is no place for a baby.

Who, if anyone, should have suggested that the parent remove the child? I didn’t feel it was my place.

GENTLE READER: A funeral is no place for crying? Perhaps the baby was expressing her grief. Would you have requested the same from a similarly distraught adult?

If you promise not to betray your irritation, Miss Manners will allow that you or a member of the congregation could have asked if the parent wouldn’t mind stepping out to attend to the baby’s needs in private. But if this was refused on the grounds that they were entitled to their sorrow, then you must accept it.

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,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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