DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been with my husband for eight years, and we are going to be grandparents this month by his son and girlfriend. Due to divorce, this child is going to be blessed with more than the usual sets of grandparents.
The problem is my sister-in-law. I'm all for her doing a family tree, which she has done for my husband's older children, but what she wants my husband to do is fill out a questionnaire concerning his life; mainly his previous marriage from the time they met, proposal, wedding, honeymoon, house, relationship, etc.
We both feel this is way out of line, considering he has nothing to do with his ex and we feel that when the child is old enough and reads such info, he will ask who I am and why I'm not in this "book."
I would like any help in trying to remedy this. I feel if my sister-in-law was married, she might understand, but I also feel this is a slap in the face and she should find a more general way to document information and to have stuff in the past remain in the past except for the necessary information, especially due to the fact they divorced and he has remarried.
GENTLE READER: Ah, yes, the family historians. Miss Manners hears a lot about the trouble they cause when focusing on the past renders them insensitive to the present.
Such people cannot be trusted with sentimental memoirs, past or present. It would be prudent of him to provide her with only facts that are on the public record -- dates of his two marriages and of the divorce from his first wife; the purchase and sale of houses -- and to explain that he looks forward to telling his grandson about his life himself.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am finishing my doctoral dissertation and struggling over one key element: the acknowledgements page. Similar dissertations from my university have waxed poetical over the contributions of each member of the doctoral committee.
The chairperson and one other member were absolutely instrumental in getting me through. One met with me weekly, and the other went to bat for me in a tricky issue of data collection. The third, however, insisted that I use an obscure analytical technique and demanded almost a complete rewrite after the others had pronounced it satisfactory. I acquiesced to her demands, but I feel dishonest praising her for her "help." How can I handle this?
GENTLE READER: Not, Miss Manners would think, by harboring grudges against a senior person in the field you are about to enter. For all you know, this professor may be left with warm feelings for you, as one often is after setting someone straight, and may be in a position to hire you some day.
Surely you are grateful to the entire doctoral committee for granting your degree. So suppose you write, "I wish to thank the members of the doctoral committee and all of my professors, especially..." and then name your two favorites.