Life Advice



Never Too Late for a Valuable Lesson

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I am writing as a parent and as a grandfather.

My son and his wife and their 12-year-old son visit almost every Sunday to relax, talk and have a sit-down dinner at the dining room table, which my wife and I provide most of the time with much pleasure and joy.

But I have two questions: (1) How do you "imply" that they could bring something once in a while, such as a bottle of wine or some flowers for my wife? (2) Is it too late to correct the table manners of adult children -- over 40 years of age? I find some of their table manners simply unacceptable. -- Do I Let it Go?

Dear Let It Go: So much can be solved through communication. My guess is that your son has no idea that you expect him to bring something. Don't hint or "imply"; make the suggestion in a clear and friendly manner. Once you explain why it is polite to bring something, he might appreciate it. Who knows, he might then get invited to more friends' houses because of his good manners.

It is never too late to help a friend or an adult child to have better manners. But make sure you are not nitpicking. Focus on one thing that really bothers you and your wife and that you think would help your son, his wife and their son in the real world, and ask for that.

Before you have the conversation, however, remind yourself how much joy his family brings you as grandparents and that this is just a very small part of all the happiness you feel during your Sunday night dinners together. In fact, telling your son that might be a good way to start this conversation.

Dear Annie: I recently read several reader responses to a mother who acknowledged both her living and deceased child when the topic of how many children she has came up in conversation.


Can you please remind your readers that it is not OK to ask a grieving parent how their child died?

I, too, introduce my children by talking about their ages and the fact that my youngest passed away a couple of years ago. I don't know how many strangers then ask how he died. His death is incredibly painful, and I feel as though if I wanted to share that information, I would have. A simple, "I'm so sorry," or even a question about his life is less painful than, "How did he die?"

I know people are uncomfortable around child death, but that question feels intrusive and makes me feel like my child's death is more important than his life. -- Please Be Sensitive

Dear Sensitive: I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your advice about how others can be more sensitive and aware of the most helpful comforting words or lack thereof.


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




Al Goodwyn Phil Hands Rick McKee Poorly Drawn Lines Mother Goose & Grimm Macanudo