DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper response when an acquaintance or stranger says “She’s beautiful” about your child?
Even if I were my teenaged daughter’s biological mother (I’m not), I think “thank you” is a little strange because her beauty isn’t my accomplishment. Should the answer be different depending on whether my daughter is present?
GENTLE READER: Compliments are an expression of admiration, and sometimes also of gratitude, flattery -- or merely an attempt to move things along. Miss Manners expects that anyone who has toasted the host at a boring dinner party or been on a first date is aware of this.
Because compliments are not recognition for work well done, you need not worry about not having earned one. The proper response is “thank you,” meaning for having thought and/or said something charming. If the compliment is given to you about your teenage daughter in her presence, your daughter will have to be gracious about not being addressed directly, an approach more suited to a small child.