Miss Manners: My stepmother keeps interrupting me when I’m talking

Miss Manners doesn’t suggest this because she finds you boring, but as a method of dealing with interruptions. When your mother-in-law intervenes, let her. If she asks you to continue, you can say, “No, no, your story seems more interesting. I forgot what mine was, anyway! Then smile politely.

If she is indeed sensitive, she will notice that the conversation has suddenly become one-sided and will take steps to correct the situation in the future. If not, Miss Manners recommends that you save your good stories for a more captive audience – or perhaps who has less interesting life experiences themselves.

Dear Miss Manners: My son lives in France with his French wife and their 2 year old daughter. We feel we have a good relationship with them and we keep in touch via video calls and text messages.

Because sending gifts to France is very expensive, often more than the value of the gift, and the timing is uncertain, we decided to send birthday and holiday gifts in cash via a transfer service money online rather than sending gifts. In the past, we’ve let them know the money is coming (including how much and how to split a sum among their families) and included instructions for them to each buy something they like or need when their birthday arrives. When my granddaughter is old enough, we will ask my son and my daughter-in-law to take her shopping, so that she can choose her own present with her grandparents’ money, and then tell us about this gift.

Beyond an emailed “thank you” and letting us know they received the transfer, they didn’t comment on how they used the money. My son has mentioned in the past that the French do not give cash gifts or discuss money matters easily, so our cash gifts might be awkward for my daughter-in-law. Can you think of a better way to handle gifts in this situation?

Internet surely can help with that. Ask your son what categories and styles of things he would like for his home – and the stores he frequents in France. Then find it online, choose something, and ask the store to hold the item or ship it locally.

Miss Manners agrees with your daughter-in-law that giving money, while convenient, is inappropriate. And once given, it’s up to them to do with it what they want. They may have found a more pressing need – for groceries rather than porcelain salt shakers, for example – and don’t wish to offend you by telling you so. Likewise, while your granddaughter may enjoy the opportunity to buy her own presents, getting something special from her grandparents will be a much better memory than buying the French equivalent of the slime she will undoubtedly choose for herself.

New Miss Manners columns are published Monday to Saturday at washingtonpost.com/board. You can send questions to Miss Manners on her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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