DEAR MISS MANNERS: My sister-in-law recently gave birth to her second child. Her first child is a toddler. My brother-in-law, her husband, sent an email saying, “New mom and baby are doing well.”
Is she still considered a “new mom” even though it is her second child? I thought the term applied only to first-time parents, i.e., when the first baby is born. It seems that the wording should have been reversed – “Mom and new baby are doing well” – as it is the baby who is new, not the fact that she is a mother.
I ask because she was referenced as “new mom” several times, and my brother-in-law even referred to himself as “new dad.”
GENTLE READER: Perhaps the couple’s reasoning is that they are new parents to this particular child. Or perhaps, more likely, they are just sleep-deprived.
Either way, Miss Manners does not find the error to be one of manners, or even particularly of syntax. When it comes to all things newborn, she is inclined to be forgiving – and encourages you to be the same by not pointing out the perceived error. As the alternative might be getting an earful about individuality and newness, silence is also simpler.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When you are a guest at a family member’s house, and the hostess overcooks the cinnamon rolls for breakfast, is there ever a way to criticize her?
GENTLE READER: So as to avoid being invited back? That is the only reason Miss Manners can think of, as no matter how you put it, you surely do not imagine the lady will thank you and begin another batch.