Miss Manners: I love my daughter’s cooking but I can’t eat sugar

Dear Miss Manners: My young adult daughter is wonderful in the kitchen. She creates desserts, as well as main dishes, that are as delicious as they are lovely.

She and I used to enjoy getting a group together and pretending to be food critics: We would order several dishes and desserts and critique their presentation, taste, etc. All of us would have such a nice time.

I love my daughter and admire her skills, but I can’t eat sugar. I have come to associate eating food with loving someone, and it doesn’t seem enough to admire my daughter’s presentation of food without also eating it.

Or is it? How would Miss Manners handle this delicate social situation between mother and daughter?

Does your daughter associate food with love? If so, Miss Manners would think she would be motivated to find ways to please her beloved mother by producing dishes that do not endanger her health.

Your saying that this is a delicate matter sounds suspiciously as if you have not tried saying, “I love your cooking, but as I can’t have sugar, I’ll just try the other dishes. Unless you feel that using a sugar substitute would not spoil the dish.”

Dear Miss Manners: On a couple of occasions, I have received as a gift an item (a specific book and a piece of clothing) that I already owned. So while the gift was appreciated and a very good selection as to my preferences, it is an item I do not need/can’t use.

What should one do in such an instance? It feels a little dishonest not to mention that I already possess the item (especially if asked), but then the giver may feel disappointed. Should I just thank the giver and compliment their selection without mentioning the duplication? I have handled it both ways, but am not sure which is best or if there is an alternative.

Why would you want to inform a generous person that this generosity was a failure?

Miss Manners can assure you that withholding information is not dishonest, presuming that you are not testifying under oath. Nor is gushing — “My favorite author!” or “This is just my style!” for instance, followed by “Thank you so much, that is so kind” — instead of answering a direct question.

Dear Miss Manners: What is the Proper Etiquette for being blackmailed at work?

I’ve been working for a health-care agency for a year. However, call representatives for my workplace consistently ask me to take shifts with a lot of patients. Any advice on what to say to turn them down?

What do you mean by “blackmail”? Are these people threatening to tell your boss that you served time as a horse thief? Do they have the love letters you wrote in junior high school?

If not, and these requests are not part of your job, Miss Manners suggests, “I’m so sorry, but I am not available to do this.”

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.

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