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Miss Manners: My grandkid says she has one grandma and it’s not me



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Dear Miss Manners: My son and I were talking on the phone about my upcoming visit to their house. My 4-year-old granddaughter was chattering in the background. (She’s very, very verbal.) My son asked if she wanted to “say hello to Babs.”

I distinctly heard her reply, “Who’s Babs?” My son said, “She’s my mommy and she’s your grandmother.”

To my surprise, I heard her say, “She’s not my grandma. Bobbie is my grandma” (referring to our daughter-in-law’s mother).

My son just let this stand, uncorrected. If one’s son lets this sort of statement stand, is there a way for a grandparent to respond within the bounds of etiquette? Obviously, the “maternal grandmother advantage” is at work here. Or perhaps even firmly entrenched. But how to handle this is a real puzzle.

Have you considered asking to be called “Grandma?” That should fix it in your granddaughter’s mind, and incidentally give you an edge over Bobbie. Not that Miss Manners wants to encourage competition.

She gathers that for whatever reason, you have not been able to spend enough time with your granddaughter for her to remember you. But as you will soon be visiting, you should be able to remedy that.

And someone needs to explain family relationships and nomenclature to the child. Are you able to do that without seeming insulted and without making comparisons to her relationship with the other grandmother? Perhaps by telling charming stories of your son’s childhood?

If not, it would be better to ask one of her parents to explain — while you are sitting by, looking proud to be her grandmother.

Dear Miss Manners: If a couple goes to a fancy engagement party at a large venue, and one of them is the guest (plus-one) of the other, should the guest bring their own gift?

In this situation, I’m the mom of the groom. I’ve been dating a guy for more than two years, and he accompanied me to my son and future daughter-in-law’s posh engagement party. I gave them my own card with a substantial monetary gift. I did not sign my date’s name, assuming he would bring his own card and gift. I haven’t said anything because I’m not sure what the protocol is.

Help! We have more large family events coming up.

Is he well-acquainted with this couple? Would they have invited him if he were not dating you?

Miss Manners gathers not. He seems to be attending only because he is part of a couple with the person who is invited. And couples generally give joint presents.

But that does not entitle you to send him a bill for half of that substantial monetary gift. You are the mother of the bridegroom, and he is an add-on.

So you neither had to put his name on the card nor should you dun him for a contribution of his own, unless he is so moved.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.



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