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Published October 22, 2011, 11:30 PM

Miss Manners: Mother’s care cramps style

DEAR MISS MANNERS: The mother of a friend of mine recently underwent major surgery. She is home from the hospital and, per her doctor’s orders, needs someone to be with her 24 hours per day for the next couple of months.

By: Miss Manners, Judith Martin, INFORUM

DEAR MISS MANNERS: The mother of a friend of mine recently underwent major surgery. She is home from the hospital and, per her doctor’s orders, needs someone to be with her 24 hours per day for the next couple of months.

My friend has set up a website to recruit volunteers for various shifts (mornings, afternoons, overnights, cooking meals, grocery shopping – on your own budget, of course) and frequently sends emails asking us to help with these shifts. (I did sign up to be on the email list.)

Normally, I would be happy to help, but it bothers me that my friend doesn’t seem to want to disturb her own social life to help her mother. She works during the day, but during the nights and evenings, I don’t see why she can’t spend more than an occasional night with her mom. Or even move back in with her mom. (My friend does not have a family of her own.)

Her excuse? She still needs to have a social life and likes to spend the night out or at her boyfriend’s house.

The family has opted not to have a personal care assistant to save money, and while I understand this, I can’t help but feel bitter every time I receive another guilt-tripping email requesting someone to stay overnight because my friend doesn’t have time.

Am I being ridiculous? Is there any tactful way to approach this with her?

GENTLE READER: The Victorian approach to philanthropy – “I’ll help you, but only if you let me dictate how you must live” – has been discredited among kindly people. (What – you thought Miss Manners endorsed everything Victorian? You must not have read much history.)

Your friend’s requests are not an invitation to critique her life. But neither should you take them as criticism of you if you decide that she does not need the help.


Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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