dear miss: My older sister is a mean, stubborn and bossy person. To keep the peace, when I was children and into adulthood, I ignored or ignored her harsh actions or remarks.
The breaking point came when my 8-year-old daughter and I and her husband were invited to stay with them (as a rent-paying “guest”) during my divorce.
I was hoping that we could develop a loving family bond, and that it would be good for my daughter to have the family’s support.
I was wrong. My sister and her husband looked for every opportunity to correct and lecture my daughter and I. Towards the end of our stay, my daughter hid in our shared bedroom to avoid confronting her.
I am angry at myself for being so naive and for exposing my daughter to their cruelty in a time of need. Now, I shorten my interactions with my sister and keep the conversations superficial.
I know your advice is not to correct the bad behavior of others. But I want to let her have it and tell her what a horrible person she was to me and my daughter. She deserves it because she is ignorant.
How can a person change their behavior if no one tells them it is wrong?
Gentle Reader: They can’t, but Miss Manners never forbade correcting other people’s behavior in all situations and all relationships. Parents correct sons. The teachers correct the students. Husbands and others close… express their concerns – in a timely and polite manner.
What it seeks to ban is that they have styled themselves, often unaware, “police morals” causing an uproar.
What do you say to your sister? You may be offended for specific infractions – you ask, for example, that your sister not take that tone with you (when she does). You can, in private, have a discussion about mutual respect. Or, if you get to that point, you can cut ties.
At no time should you tell her that she is mean, stubborn and bossy, not only because she is rude (even if it is true), but because it will not convince her to change her behavior.
dear miss: When writing to a person to inform them that a charitable donation has been made in their honor, is it appropriate to state the amount of the donation? This is a contribution made by a family group to celebrate retirement.
Gentle Reader: Since she feels that a donation in someone else’s name, although the donation itself may be, is not an appropriate gift, Miss Manners is reluctant to endorse it.
But she, however, appreciates good intentions, and thus will say that, contrary to all evidence, it is the idea – not the amount – that counts. In your letter, you might describe your gift donation as “meaningful” or “highly appreciated,” but you should resist calling it “gracious” or a “booty sack.”
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; Or via postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.