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Miss Manners: Instilling manners takes years

DEAR MISS MANNERS: We have discussed with our children sending them to “Manners Camp.” Despite our efforts, our children do not have the best manners.

GENTLE READER: If there is ever a case for home schooling, plus home camping, this is it.

No one is more aware than Miss Manners that there is major remedial work to be done in instilling manners in succeeding generations. Administering this is what keeps her from a pleasantly quiet life on the porch swing.

But she is the first to admit that manners, the principles of civilized behavior, and etiquette, the customs of one’s own society, are too complex to be learned in one gulp. Like language, manners are more or less painlessly absorbed from childhood, not only through instruction, but through daily example and practice. Also like language, they are harder to master as an adult, which is when one is more likely to see the need.

Miss Manners is therefore immensely grateful to parents like you who are making the effort. She also understands that it is a long, sometimes discouraging process, and the idea of outsourcing it for a quick fix is tempting.

But as there is no quick fix, your discouragement is premature. Child-rearing takes a couple of decades, but is about as rewarding a pursuit as exists, and the greatest boon you can give to the child and to civilization.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper etiquette for an ex-spouse going to the other’s home unannounced?

GENTLE READER: The same ban on unauthorized drop-ins prevails as for any non-resident of the house. And more so, Miss Manners notes, if the other ex-spouse has taken out a restraining order.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.