DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am visibly pregnant, and friends, family and strangers have been patting my stomach or, worse, resting their hands there. When I was introduced to my husband's friend, she rested the palm of her hand on my stomach while we were talking. Continuing to talk and smile, I gently but firmly removed her hand from my stomach.
I did note that she looked surprised, but I didn't think any more of it. Later in the evening, she asked my husband if I was angry or unhappy.
Since I apparently didn't handle the situation correctly, I would like to know what I should do in future such situations.
GENTLE READER: What makes you think you didn't handle the situation correctly? You removed the offending hand and, without being unpleasant, got across to the lady the idea that she had done something wrong. The only thing remaining is to continue being friendly, so you do not give the impression that this one transgression was fatal to your friendship.
Miss Manners hopes you are not going to be one of those mothers who never gets around to teaching right from wrong because she wants to avoid making the child feel guilty, even when he is.
Your technique can be applied to anyone else who needs to be told not to go around handling people's stomachs. If you wish to be kinder, you can tell them that you will be glad to let them hold the baby if they will be kind enough to wait until it is born.