DEAR MISS MANNERS: This June, my wife will give birth to our first child. Since we are both women, the baby was conceived thanks to an anonymous male donor whose genetic material we purchased. Though we hope this gentleman will agree to have contact with our child when s/he turns 18, this is not guaranteed, and in fact it is unlikely that they will ever meet.
Many female couples we know report being asked by unwitting (or perhaps unthinking) persons, "Where is Daddy?" While their various responses to this question are ... creative, we are not sure they are correct. I imagine this is also a concern, to a lesser degree, for some single or divorced moms. We'd like to find the appropriate response(s) to this question both for us as parents and for our future child, who will no doubt be asked the same thing, perhaps by peers.
GENTLE READER: Less and less, is Miss Manners' guess. With so many single mothers around, and double mothers becoming less of a novelty, it is the children of traditional couples who are going to be asked, "Who is that man at your house?"
In your case, and that of single mothers, you need only say, "We are not in touch with him. Adelaide and I are her only parents."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I was in my late teens, I had occasion to take a bus with my father to attend a social event to which my mother was unable to come. We were sitting near an older couple, the feminine half of which began giving me a constant, deliberate, nasty glare.
As I was dressed and was acting in an unremarkable manner, the only thing I could guess might elicit such a nasty look was that she thought I was stepping out with a married older man. So, when addressing my father, I took every opportunity to use the word "Dad," so that she might hear and be comforted, yet the woman's nasty glance at me did not abate. (Perhaps she thought I was faking it?)
Miss Manners, what should I have done in this situation? It was quite discomfiting. Should I have spoken to her directly and asked her if there was something wrong, or if I was in some way offending her?
Quite frankly, I thought it appalling to contemplate that a teen could not innocently go out in public with a parent of the opposite gender without someone coming to the wrong -- and totally unjustified -- conclusion, and if that was her thought I would have loved to say so politely. Or is her looking daggers at me simply her problem, for whatever reason, and I should just dismiss it?
GENTLE READER: You've been brooding about this dirty look for a long time, haven't you? And you share with the dirty looker the fact that you are only guessing what was happening.
Miss Manners suggests that you forget about it. Even if you guessed right, the person in question would long since have gotten her comeuppance. If she spread the story around, as scandalmongers cannot help doing, she would have eventually encountered someone who knew otherwise. The new story going around would then be about her scandalous mind.