It’s not that we don’t appreciate you or that we feel entitled to gifts. It’s that our way of saying “thank you” is different. We don’t expect to receive thank-you cards, so please don’t expect us to send them.
In general, please do not expect the younger generations to act the same way yours does. Some manners are eternal; some change. It’s okay to acknowledge this. I know this will probably fall on many deaf ears, but it’s worth hearing the other perspective.
While Miss Manners has always known that etiquette will often change with the times, expressing gratitude is something upon which she will not budge.
She is sure that your internal appreciation is brimming, but people who take the time to pick out presents — or more likely, pay for them from your unsolicited wish list — deserve the external and explicit kind. Miss Manners’s inbox is full of complaints to that effect and she assures you that they are not just coming from the older generations. (They also have old-fashioned notions about getting answers to their invitations, but we digress.)
As far as discussing pay, as long as this information is freely given and not rudely demanded, Miss Manners has no objection, although she would prefer it be confined to the workplace. Career talk in social situations is rarely titillating. Treating waitstaff with respect and kindness is certainly obligatory. Doing so and using the correct fork, however, are hardly mutually exclusive.
One of the things that Miss Manners has been most impressed by in emerging generations is a fresh emphasis on being inclusive, promoting kindness and not stereotyping or labeling groups of people — rather, appreciating differences and the individual. She would gently encourage you to remember that when speaking on behalf of them. Your words might be construed as louder than your actions.
Dear Miss Manners: I am an 8-year-girl. Sometimes when I am at school, my friends ask me to play with them. Sometimes I don’t want to, but I don’t know what to say to them, so usually I say yes. What should I tell them when they ask me? I don’t want to hurt their feelings.
“My feet hurt and I’m a bit tired. Could we hang out later?” (This advice is brought to you by Miss Manners’s resident polite child expert and is therefore kid-approved.)
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.