DEAR MISS MANNERS: For nine years, I have been seeing a mental health professional who has been treating me for depression and anxiety. I have a good relationship with the doctor but feel it is time for a change.
The chief reason for considering leaving is that his fees have become too expensive. Many other mental health care professionals' fees in the area are much less. The doctor I am seeing is a one-man operation who leases out a small space in an office building. His education level and experience is not much different than the other doctors I have been researching.
Should I tell him the chief reason I am leaving his practice is the expense, or just that I need a change?
GENTLE READER: Your dealings with professionals such as therapists (and hairdressers) are not social relationships, and their cessation does not require the same amount of care by way of excuses in order to spare their feelings. Miss Manners does not, however, object to the professional courtesy of telling this gentleman that his prices are not competitive. This will also give him the opportunity to counter the offer -- and not wonder forever what he did wrong.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When tipping in cash at restaurants, I have a habit of handing the cash to the waiter or waitress who is serving us after our bill is settled. I have a fear of someone stealing the cash if we leave it on the table, especially if the restaurant is busy. Is this proper etiquette, or should I do this a different way?
GENTLE READER: There is no strict rule to this, as long as you can do it without making a show of it, embarrassing the staff or looking like an illegal trade is being made. If you are unable to manage that, Miss Manners recommends folding it in the leather bill holder or hiding it under a saltshaker.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mom's friends and I are split on the issue of grandparents and other adult relatives (other than the child's parents) at children's birthday parties.
Some of us have very kid-themed parties (at the playground, for example) and still invite grandparents, while others believe that adults (other than parents of the young attendees) should not be asked to attend parties that are too childish for them to enjoy. The latter group holds two birthday parties for their children each year, one for adult relatives of the child and the other for the child's friends.
We're curious about what etiquette states about this. Those who have been inviting adults to kid-themed parties will mend our ways if we are told we have been erring badly. Some of those who have been holding two parties would like to stop if they are told that just the kid-friendly party is sufficient for everyone.
GENTLE READER: You may be surprised to hear that Miss Manners' only firm stance on the number of children's birthday parties is that they be age-appropriate in activity and provisions (for both adults and children, whether at two parties or one two-layered party), and that you do not tax anyone with feeling obligated to attend multiple parties with multiple presents. Also, no clowns who might scare children (or adults). Other than that, know your audience and invite accordingly.
(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.)