DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am seeking a polite, civil, yet firm way to express that a person’s opinions and thoughts are unwarranted and unwelcome.
My husband has had full custody of his daughter since the age of 3; she is now 12. Last year, for three months, the child had a trial custody change to her mother’s care. The court reversed that decision after “Tammy” provided the child with drinking parties.
Tammy is also in the process of being tried on child abuse charges. She is currently allowed two days a month visitation with the child.
My issue arises each visit, when Tammy approaches my husband and me wanting to talk about all sorts of parenting issues that bother her. For example, Tammy feels that the child needs to have her nails manicured at all times, and that the child should be allowed a two-piece string bikini of her choosing.
My husband and I try to exit these conversations with, “I’m terribly sorry, but we must get going,” so as not to set a bad example of rudeness in front of the child.
Tammy then persists, calling, emailing and text-messaging us daily.
We cannot block Tammy from our phones and email, in case of emergency when she does have the child for a visit. Is there any way, still keeping civil with Tammy, that we can let her know that her thoughts, in the opinion of the courts, the law and ourselves, are rubbish, and we don’t wish to waste any more of our lives listening to them?
GENTLE READER: Suppose there were a way.
Are you dealing with someone who would reply: “Oh, I’m so sorry; I didn’t mean to bother you – of course you are right – so do as you think best, and I won’t say another word”?
If your stepdaughter’s mother is convicted of child abuse, you may have help in limiting her ability to communicate.
Miss Manners doubts that anything short of that will work.
So you are reduced to deleting emails, answering her calls only when the child is with her, and continuing to rush off. Your real problem will be explaining the mother to the child with tact and compassion.