DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it rude to call a newborn by something other than their full name, unless invited to do so by the parents?
We have given our child a four-syllable name. It is rare, but well-known from history, and it isn’t complicated. So pronunciation shouldn’t be an issue.
I expected the child to try out and settle on an abbreviated variation eventually, as people do, but in the meantime, I expected to enjoy hearing the full name used. We picked it out carefully, and it has a lot of meaning for me.
Instead, I have been blown away and offended as my in-laws and a few of my own family members have unilaterally chosen an abbreviated version of the name. They have also mangled the spelling in a manner I vehemently despise, presumably to match the child’s sex. They have not used the full name, even once.
They haven’t met the child, so this is over social media, in texts and on packages. I find it cringeworthy, but I’m not sure I am in the right to correct them. I feel like I don’t quite have the right to enforce the name when my child doesn’t have an opinion yet. And it could be equally rude to correct family, who are probably just trying to call the baby something cute and less grown-up.
I’d like to politely bring up my dislike of their using the moniker when they visit us next. Thoughts?
GENTLE READER: That Methuselah has a long road ahead.
Miss Manners is afraid that you cannot police what name your child’s relatives use. But perhaps you can say, “What a cute nickname! I’m sure that we will all come up with affectionate variations of our own, but until our child is able to have a say, we are going to use the full name. We just don’t want any confusion. I’m sure you understand.”
Even though we all know they do not, and will ignore you.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband called from work to say he was bringing home a dinner guest – a fellow worker from out of town. I prepared a lovely dinner, had the kids go to a friend’s house and dressed nicely for the occasion.
I served the food, then sat down and took a portion, all while making small talk with our guest. Said guest looked at my plate and said, “Do you really think you should eat that much? Look at the size of you.”
I have never been so taken aback in my life. I just sat silently eating my meal. I didn’t reply, but neither did my husband say a word in my defense or tell him he was out of line.
Later I thought about it, and I think that it was all a plot on my husband’s part because I had put on a few pounds and he didn’t know how to approach the matter himself.
I never brought it up again. What should I have done in this situation?
GENTLE READER: Citing the expression “I will not be insulted in my own home” comes to Miss Manners’ mind – and it goes for your husband, too.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website www.missmanners.com.