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Ask before visiting new parents

Fri., Aug. 2, 2013

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it OK to just call new parents and say, “I am stopping by today,” or should people wait to be invited over to see the new baby?

GENTLE READER: How do you imagine that the parents of newborn babies pass the time of day? Hanging around their quiet, orderly homes, hoping for a knock at the door indicating that someone has come along to break the tedium?

So, no, you do not call to say you are stopping by. You call to ask, “Would this be a good time for me to stop by to see the baby? Or would another time be better?”

Miss Manners has no wish to discourage the charming tradition of paying visits to new babies. On the contrary, she is dismayed that the overblown modern baby shower has left many acquaintances feeling, by the time the baby arrives, that they have done quite enough. But surely cooing over an actual infant is more fun than cooing over its wardrobe and equipment.

Just please allow the parents to approve the timing. Showing up unexpectedly and demanding to see a baby who has been coaxed to sleep after three hours of fussing is not a good idea.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a friend who constantly brags about what her boyfriend buys her. Out of the blue, I will get a random text that will state something along the lines of, “Conrad bought me a new handbag. I’m thrilled about it,” or a picture of the product saying, “Look at this watch Conrad bought me.”

It is really obnoxious, and I don’t know how to respond in these circumstances because I don’t want to come across as rude myself.

The one time I did respond, I kept it short and sweet and said: “Well, that’s great. I like the watch. Good for you.” She said she thought I would be happier for her. What should I do?

GENTLE READER: Well, then, start by saying, “I’m so happy for you.” But Miss Manners suggests following this up – quickly, while your friend is working to come up with another whine – with, “And what did you get him?”


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