You may have heard of Judith Martin, or better yet her alias “Miss Manners.” She’s a columnist writer and expert on professional etiquette and behavior skills. On Tuesday, Miss Manners received a letter from a disgruntled mother about how her daughter skipped out on her own graduation party, which her grandparents had taken the weekend to fly out to, which was posted in the Washington Post. The mother asks Miss Manners if she and her husband should return the graduation gifts due to their daughter’s absence:
“My daughter does not like parties, so we asked her the week before to please let us know if she was feeling uncomfortable and we would call it all off, no problem. She said she would be okay with it, and we told her she could just come for a bit to say hi and thank her guests.
Day of the party, she leaves the house and doesn’t show up at all, texting her dad that she wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t up to a party.
So now we have 30 people we are apologizing to and feeling extremely embarrassed by her rude behavior. People graciously left monetary gifts, which my daughter didn’t bother to open. On top of it all, her grandparents flew in from out of town, and she was extremely rude to them and didn’t spend any time talking or thanking them for coming.
So what do we do with the gifts? Do we send back the checks and cash and thank everyone? Do we keep them and not give them to my daughter directly? Maybe use them for her college expenses?
I feel bad keeping them, but I am not sure if it is just as rude to mail them back. Whatever we do, she will not send thank-you notes, either. I will have to do that.”
Miss Manners then replied with a response that has been a controversial subject on social media. Some say Miss Manners’ response is too critical, while others agree with Manners’ assessment. Here’s the response:
“It seems to [me] that this is the least of your problems, considering that you have a thoroughly rude and callous daughter.
Ordinarily, it is insulting to return presents, but your guests have already been insulted, and are due abject apologies on your daughter’s behalf, if you must write them. You can return the money with the explanation that as your daughter did not participate in the celebration, you are refusing to let her keep any of it.
[I do] not consider you to be free of responsibility for this fiasco. Leaving aside your duty to teach your daughter manners and consideration for others, there is the question of why you even considered giving a party for someone who hates parties and your willingness to allow guests to make plans that you offered to cancel a week before.”
What do you think of Miss Manners’ response? Did she hit it on the head, or did she go too far?
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