Just Behave

Just Behave: Enough About the Grandchildren

Our etiquette expert answers your questions.

BY January 5, 2018


I enjoy hearing about my friends’ grandchildren, but there’s one couple who brag nonstop. Every time we go to dinner, we have to hear every detail of the recent accolades. They never ask about anyone else’s kids or grandkids and seem always to steer the conversation back to how proud they are. It’s annoying. Should I tell them to stop the boasting? Or simply endure another meal hearing about little Bobby’s awards?  —Valerie, Naples

Dear Valerie,

There’s a limit to how many boasts you can swallow at one meal. If you can’t put them on a diet to limit superlatives, and if you can’t steer the conversations to world peace or, be still my heart, something about you or your family occasionally, well … I’d look in other directions for friends. Listening matters. And let that grandchild-obsessed couple keep patting themselves on the back till they inevitably run out of sympathetic ears.


I have a few friends who have started selling various products online and through parties hosted in private homes by their friends. The host receives products while the friend gets a commission on the sales. I love their entrepreneurial spirit, but I can’t support everyone. One friend used to meet me for lunch or dinner, and now the only time I hear from her is when she’s having one these parties. I feel like she’s only after me for my money. — Cathy, Bonita Springs

Dear Cathy,

I’ve been to these types of parties, and they can be a lot of fun. But I agree it’s annoying to feel that your one friend might be using you only to support her new hobby/business. I get that money talks—but so do you. Can you tell her you miss the one-on-one visits and suggest a lunch or coffee together? If she continues to prefer your wallet to your company, it’s time for you and your credit card to pull a disappearing act. Maybe she’ll get the drift.


I’m a world traveler, and I often have friends say they’d love to go with me on my next adventure. While I enjoy their company for an occasional dinner, I know we have different budgets and travel expectations. Should I tell them the reasons it wouldn’t work for us to travel together? — Bill, Fort Myers

Dear Bill,

We know that people can become foreign to each other while constantly together overseas. Odd personal habits and differences in taste and lifestyle can become festering issues when confronted every day. But why burst their bubble of enthusiasm right up front? Outline your style and expectations and budget and tell them you’ll let them know the next time you’re planning to go somewhere. Maybe they’ll get that you may not be the most compatible of travel companions and find reasons not to join you. Or maybe they’ll be cool with your game plan and make the most delightful fellow travelers. Go with the flow. 


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