DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been accepted by two graduate schools, which is very exciting! I have already put the deposit down on one, and plan to go there since it seems it will fit my life and learning style best. I was wondering: What is the proper way to decline the other school?
GENTLE READER: There is an argument to be made that applying to a school is a business transaction, meaning that the university, as the seller, should be content with a simple, “Thank you, but I’ve decided not to enroll.”
Miss Manners is not, however, confident that you will never need them again -- whether for the next graduate degree, employment when you graduate, or when your university of choice turns out to be on a flood plain.
She therefore advises the extra effort of telling them how grateful you are to have been accepted, how impressed you were by their program, and how much it pains you not to be able to accept.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: If my husband and I go out to dinner with our two adult children, we pay most of the time. The kids always make a point of saying “Thanks, DAD.”
If I cook a meal at home for the family, I may or may not receive a thank-you from these same adult children. What gives, and should I say something about it?
GENTLE READER: It is worth allowing for the possibility that they are saying, “Thanks, Dad” rather than “Thanks, DAD.” The former could be an unthinking habit, perhaps because your husband is the one physically making the payment.
Miss Manners does not therefore approve the status quo. Both parents should be thanked for both activities, although thanks for everyday cooking more often takes the form of a compliment on the results. Teaching your children this lesson does not fall solely to you as their mother, but it does land on either you or your husband.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter’s in-laws host small parties, and extend invitations to me through my daughter, saying to her, “Tell your dad he’s invited.”
The in-laws have my phone number and are known to send texts. Is it too much to expect a phone call, or even a simple text, directly from the hosts for such invitations? Do such indirect invitations reflect an insincere wish for my attendance, perhaps just for the sake of maintaining appearances?
GENTLE READER: They do show a lack of effort. It is up to you to question -- delicately -- whether they show a lack of sincerity.
Next time your daughter relays the message, tell her that you appreciate that they do not want to exclude you. But you are old-fashioned enough to recognize that these invitations are merely an afterthought, and you therefore will not be burdening them by attending. Your daughter will attempt to convince you that you are mistaken. Assure her that you are not complaining, that you like them very much -- and that you will certainly accept any direct invitations.
(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.)