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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Mother's Anger After Daughter's Visit Suggests Larger Issue Than No Thank-You Note

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I stayed with my parents for a week during vacation. I moved out years ago and no longer have a room, but stayed in the guest room.

My family took no time off for my visit and made no special efforts to spend time with me, despite the fact it had been years since I had been home, as my job keeps me out of the country.

At the end of the visit, even though it felt as if I was an imposition and not a daughter coming home, I thanked my mother with a massive hug and some flowers, and my father as well, before I left to return overseas.

Months later, my father calls to tell me my mother is angry with me for not sending a thank-you note. I was shocked that this was even an issue. If I were staying with friends or even other family members, yes, I would absolutely write thank-you notes, but to my own parents? For a week visit during which they didn't even make time for me?

This caused a huge rift in the family, and I understand that I could have just written the note, but it's the principle of the matter that I'm their daughter, it wasn't a special occasion and I didn't see the point. Was I wrong in thinking a thank-you note was inappropriate?

GENTLE READER: You are not wrong in thinking that written thanks for going home are not mandatory. Flowers and a hug are an acceptable response after visiting one's own parents.

Forgive Miss Manners for being suspicious, but your family's behavior seems so insensitive and yours so impeccable that she wonders if the family has an additional grievance. That, whatever it is, might be unfair or unwarranted. However, a note that is part thank-you, part inquiry into the reason that your parents are so distant, might pacify your mother and help repair the rift.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Family & Parenting