Miss Manners: the case of the in-laws who interrupt

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have trouble conversing with my mother-in-law. If I bring up a topic, she tends to jump in with a “similar” situation before I can finish my thought, let alone my sentence.

I want to have a better relationship with her, but I find it difficult to bring up topics that are dear to me when I feel like I’m not being listened to. How do I convey this to my slightly sensitive mother-in-law without upsetting her?

SWEET READER: Stop talking.

Miss Manners doesn’t suggest this because she finds you boring, but as a method of dealing with interruptions. When your mother-in-law intervenes, let her. If she asks you to continue, you can say, “No, no, your story seems more interesting. I forgot what mine was, anyway! and smile politely.

If she is indeed sensitive, she will notice that the conversation has suddenly become one-sided and will take steps to correct the situation in the future. If not, Miss Manners recommends that you save your good stories for a more captive audience – or perhaps who has less interesting life experiences themselves.

** ** **

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My son lives in France with his French wife and their 2 year old daughter. We feel we have a good relationship with them and keep in touch via video calls and text messages.

Because sending gifts to France is very expensive, often more expensive than the value of the actual gift, and the timing is uncertain, we have decided to send birthday and holiday gifts in cash via a service of online money transfer rather than sending gifts. In the past, we’ve let them know the money is coming (including how much and how to split a sum among their families) and with instructions for them to each buy something they like or need at the arrival of their birthday. When my granddaughter is old enough, we will ask my son and my daughter-in-law to take her shopping so she can choose her own present with her grandparents’ money, and then we talk about this gift.

Beyond an emailed “thank you” and letting us know they received the transfer, they didn’t comment on how they used the money. My son has mentioned in the past that the French do not give cash gifts or discuss money matters easily, so our cash gifts might be awkward for my daughter-in-law. Can you think of a better way to handle gifts in this situation?

GENTLE READER: Internet can certainly help you. Ask your son what categories and styles of things he would like for his home and the stores he frequents in France. Then find it online, choose something, and ask the store to hold the item or ship it locally.

Miss Manners agrees with your daughter-in-law that giving money, while convenient, is inappropriate. And once given, it’s up to them to do with it what they want. They may have found a more pressing need – groceries rather than porcelain salt shakers, for example – and don’t want to offend you by telling you so. Likewise, while your granddaughter may enjoy the opportunity to buy her own gifts, receiving something special from her grandparents will be a far better memory than buying the French equivalent of the slime she will undoubtedly choose for herself.

(Please send questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or by mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City , MO 64106 .)

** ** **



1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106; 816-581-7500

Comments are closed.