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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Curb child’s rudeness by asking for good example

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My children occasionally have friends to our home to play, and one of them is exceptionally rude to adults.

When our children behave rudely, we respond with, “Could you make that a polite request, please?” or “That was unacceptable. Please try again.” But what do we say to the visiting child who does not belong to us?

My husband doesn’t want the child in our home again. I would like to find an acceptable way to handle the situation as the adult in charge. What would you do?

GENTLE READER: If she were the adult in charge of everything, Miss Manners would give misbehaving children The Look and they would instantly shape up.

But she recognizes that for anyone else, it is tricky to discipline someone else’s child (and never acceptable in front of the parent).

However, your house, your rules. You could give this child’s upbringing the benefit of the doubt by saying, “I’m sure that your parents wouldn’t allow you to talk to them that way.”

But if the child assures you that indeed they would, “Well, we don’t allow Jackson to, so perhaps you can help us in setting a good example.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a friend who leaves her voicemail box full so you cannot leave messages. I mentioned this to her in a casual way, and her response was, “If it’s important, I figure they’ll call back.”

I think what she’s saying is her time is more valuable than others’. I find this really annoying. What can I say without totally alienating her?

GENTLE READER: “Call me when you have a moment.”

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