DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am married and live in the same city as my parents. They are both retired and have eagerly embraced email -- sometimes too much. Since my parents claim that my wife and I “never answer the phone,” they send us emails, lots and lots of emails.
The issue is two-fold. First, they seem to send us emails as they think of ANYTHING. It’s almost like stream-of-consciousness. We get several from both Mom and Dad every day.
That is related to the second piece of the issue. Mom and Dad overlap emails on the same topic. They live in the same house, but it feels like they do not coordinate at all on their messages!
We include both of them when trying to coordinate any activities. My wife and I have told them more than once that our own daily activities prevent us from answering their emails right away. We are well aware that they have more free time than we do, but they don’t seem to get it. We love my parents, but answering this many emails is frustrating.
Help. Is there any way to ask them nicely to coordinate on their emails so we’re not spending time replying to so many?
GENTLE READER: Here is a phrase Miss Manners does not often say: Why don’t you suggest they start their own blog? Or at least you treat their emails as such.
The beauty about correspondence is that its frequency is up to both parties. You do not have to answer every email. If you slow down your responses, Miss Manners feels sure that even if your parents don’t slow down theirs to match the pace, they will at least afford you the opportunity to say, “Oh I didn’t think we needed to respond. Dad told us the same news yesterday, so I thought you were just posting.”