Miss Manners Revisits Rude Adoption Questions

Previously I praised Miss Manners for endorsing the use of the cut direct with jackasses who ask rude questions about adoptive families. Such rude questions are a well-established pet peeve of mine. So via TJIC (who has a rather different take on it than I do), I was pleased to see her make another attempt to reassure adoptive parents that they need not be doormats, and perhaps even educate a few socially stunted twits.

The letter writer identifies the problem with coy or ambiguous responses designed to deflect the questions:

I've tried asking with the slightest of remonstrance "Excuse me?" but, of course, that just led them to believe that I couldn't hear what was being asked, and the question was repeated even more loudly.

Miss Manners offers admirable advice, which amounts (in pleasant Miss Manners speak) to responding to rude questions with "Why, it's because fuck off!"

Nosy people have already proven themselves to be rude, so you should hardly expect them to make tactful remarks. The important thing is to cut them off at the first question. The only explanation necessary is, "That's personal."

Miss Manners also aptly reminds us that assuming a general approach of civility and decency does not mean we must license all of the crapweasels of the world to walk all over us:

But you must also teach your daughters not to fall for two common arguments: that curiosity is natural and that people who don't disclose personal information must be ashamed of it. Dignified people value their privacy, and being curious is no excuse for demanding that it be satisfied. Under such pressure, they should merely smile and repeat "That's personal" as often as necessary.


Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says

    I don't think I have a different take on it.

    In addition to thinking that the questioners are rude, I also detest the political correctness of the person who writes to Miss Manners.

  2. says

    Love this. We have adopted two of our seven children. On one occasion a question asked me which were adopted, and when I refused to answer, she later went behind my back to one of my youngest children to ask.

    Happily, the child was too flustered to answer and there was a distraction before she could be pinned down and forced to reply- I need hardly add that I made sure we never saw that person again.