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Miss Manners: Shouldn’t I be the one to decide if my kid is being rude?

Miss Manners: Shouldn’t I be the one to decide if my kid is being rude?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’ve seen you say that we should not correct other people’s etiquette, even if they are being rude. In my experience, people do not apply this rule to children.

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I am teaching my young children to be polite. The main way I go about it is by modeling how I want them to behave, and it mostly works. I do not force them to say “please” and “thank you” as long as their tone is kind. If they are demanding or yelling, then I will remind them we don’t get things when we talk like that.

I am frustrated, though, when other adults correct my children. It is especially irksome when they offer something, like, “Do you want a cracker?” My child replies “yes,” and the adult says, “You need to say ‘please.’”

They were simply answering a question, and got reprimanded for it. This bothers me every time, but I don’t know what to say in the moment. My middle child is 2 and is just learning to speak in full sentences, so I think the expectation is extra absurd.

My mother does this often, but she’s the grandma, so I let it slide. However, can you advise me what to say when other adults correct my kids’ etiquette when I think they’re already being polite?

GENTLE READER: It is true, Miss Manners concedes, that no one — excepting close family — should be correcting your children’s manners. But as you came to her for advice, she will be so bold as to modify yours.

Tone is certainly important when asking for and receiving things, but saying “please” and “thank you” is still necessary — especially in children, where intonation is more difficult to modulate. She further points out that “please” is no more difficult to say than “yes” or “no” — and even more adorable when lisped or mispronounced.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A man with whom I have a professional relationship (he is the counsel to my company) repeatedly misspells my name. It is a common name that has two recognized spellings — e.g., Ann and Anne.

I gently corrected him in an email and he spelled it correctly for a while, then went back to the misspelling.

This is really annoying me, given my request and the fact that I sign every email with my correctly spelled name. What do you suggest?

GENTLE READER: Signing future emails “Anne with an E.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Almost every time that someone pays the restaurant tab, it prompts vigorous protests from others at the table, with people sometimes even trying to grab the check to prevent the person from paying.

I find myself making up excuses when I pay, such as saying, “This is for your birthday,” even if the birthday is long past, or approaching the waiter clandestinely to pay the check without my friends knowing it.

When a friend recently picked up the tab, I found myself feeling like I should protest, because that is the usual pattern. What is the appropriate response? Is it wrong to simply say, “Thank you, that is very generous/kind” or something similar?

GENTLE READER: Adding, Miss Manners suggests, “Next time, it is my turn.” And then keeping track, at least loosely.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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