This ranges from comments like, “Children often do better in their mom’s lap” as I’m booking plane seats, to being the only parent on an email chain to get extra tips and help on a class project (e.g.: “Remember to get 10 cheese and 10 chicken quesadillas for the class party!”).
I’m a triple-board-certified physician with multiple advanced degrees from an Ivy League school. I have 54 cumulative parent years under my belt. I can bring quesadillas to a first-grade party.
You point out that using the term “mansplaining” overgeneralizes, so I won’t call this behavior “momsplaining.” What would you call it?I’m not sure that these comments are always meant in a helpful manner, and many of them seem to imply that men don’t really know how to parent their children. Words of wisdom on this one?
GENTLE READER: Yes, but Miss Manners will credit them to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose many arguments “on the basis of sex” mandated nondiscrimination for both parents, regardless of gender.
No doubt, these helpful mothers are the same ones who complain that their husbands are reluctant to change a diaper, then snatch it away from them when they “do it wrong.”
A polite, tight-lipped “Thank you so much for your help, but I think I can handle this” may be your best recourse in the short term. But a reminder that true parental and gender equality mandates that either parent may be similarly equipped to earn a salary, change a diaper and correctly count quesadillas may also be in order.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I recently started taking a few remote classes to learn Italian. These are private lessons with an instructor, happening in the morning for about 1½ hours at a time.
My husband will eat his breakfast during the class if he didn’t have a chance before, during the segment where the instructor is talking. He will also get up to grab things he forgot, adjust the heat, get a sweatshirt, open the window, etc.
I feel that these things are rude, while he feels that they are not, because our relationship with our tutor is semi-casual. I should mention that the tutor does not do any of these things.
GENTLE READER: In the absence of live interactions, we must do our best as a society to approximate them. After all, how do we then justify drinking by ourselves and calling it “happy hour” just because the computer happens to be on?
If you would not eat breakfast or get up during a live lesson (or business meeting or divorce mediation), then the same rules should apply here. Coffee breaks, however, may be used for more than just coffee — if your husband promises to eat off-camera and adjust the room temperature quickly.Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.