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

Children’s violence shocks nanny

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am an experienced nanny of many years. Recently I have had jobs where family members hit each other. Sometimes it is the children slapping the mother’s face; sometimes it is the children bruising each other; and sadly, most recently, twin 7-year-old girls I work for began hitting me.

I don’t know what has changed, as in all my years, the No. 1 rule all parents seemed to agree on was No Hitting.

In any case, I wonder if you would help me come up with a way to address this during the initial interview. I feel uncomfortable just saying, “Is hitting OK in your house?” I’m fairly sure they would say it isn’t. One explained she is a “tiger mom,” but then smiled as her child slapped her. How does one evaluate this politely?

GENTLE READER: You got a pretty good idea in the interview you describe, and Miss Manners trusts that you then informed the slapped tiger than you would not be a good fit in her household.

Without such a dramatic demonstration, you are unlikely to extract the proof you want by quizzing the prospective employer. As you notice, no one admits to approving violence.

But you can state your non-negotiable policy: that you do not tolerate hitting of any kind, whether between children and grown-ups or among children. You should then explain how you deal with children who disobey this rule, and say that you expect parents who hire you to support you if it happens.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it impolite to call people by their last names in the United States?

GENTLE READER: Apparently. It implies that they are grown-ups.

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