DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife and I are liberals and quite accepting of others’ views. My father-in-law is extremely conservative, to the point of listening to far-right programming exclusively.
My son adores his grandpa and loves to spend time at his house, which is a stone’s throw away from ours. In the course of his visits, my father-in-law has expressed to my son his views about particular politicians he thinks are ”ruining” our country, and about gay marriage, gays in the military and abortion.
I cannot abide this, and I want it to stop. I have expressed this to my wife, who has passed this on to him. He was upset, but said he would accept it and stop talking politics to my son.
Now I have the feeling he does not like me or my beliefs. We have had a fairly good relationship for the last 20 years, but now it feels strained.
Should I leave things be or approach him and discuss this problem? I almost think it might be better to let sleeping dogs lie. Your thoughts?
GENTLE READER: That he disliked your beliefs before you spoke up, and that you are not “quite accepting” of his. Miss Manners is afraid that you are far from the only family struggling to maintain harmony despite divisive politics.
You cannot make amends by repeating your objections. But you can make a point of saying how much your son enjoys time with his grandfather, and that he is just too young to understand political issues and the different ways people approach them.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Yesterday on my commuter train home, a woman sat next to me who reeked of cigarettes. She has sat next to me twice before, and it was extremely unpleasant. This time I rose, murmured “I’m going over there -- it’s the cigarettes,” and sat on one of the jump seats. It was a less comfortable seat, but at least I wasn’t bathed in cigarette fumes.
I fear I have given offense, but I was in a quandary. I could not deny her a seat, because the train was crowded. I did not want to move without explanation, which seemed more offensive. How should I have handled this?
GENTLE READER: Relocating suddenly without a word or telling someone she smells bad -- even in a subdued voice -- are equally bad. But your desire to be considerate, and the lack of any righteous indignation directed at your smelly seatmate, gives Miss Manners confidence that you will be able to execute her third alternative: Get up and, with a distracted air, head towards the exit. Then look out the window, as if just realizing that you are nowhere near your stop, and sit down in the nearest open seat. If this will tax either your patience or your acting ability, continue on to the next car.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)