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Apologize when you're wrong

Dear Miss Manners: When should you apologize to one's children?

Sometimes I withhold an apology because I think it more important to sustain their illusion of their parent's infallibility, the one that keeps them feeling secure. On the other hand, I would like to teach them to realize that they are not always wrong, and also to apologize when needed.

What do you think? Is there a way to apologize while keeping their faith in their parents?

Gentle Reader: Unless they are still in the cradle, they are on to you when you are in the wrong. And if not, you are setting yourself up for the day when they are. That is the disillusioning reality you must learn to accept.

Anyway, children's security does not come from believing that their parents are infallible. It comes from observing that they are reliable, loving and fair.

By maintaining the posture that you are right when you are wrong, you would not only be exposing yourself as unfair, but you would be teaching them to bluster through their errors, rather than to correct them.

Flash forward to the day when one of them has reached high public distinction and is indignantly denying whatever he has been caught doing. Will you be proud that the lesson took?

When should a parent apologize to a child? When the parent is in the wrong.

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Dilemma about dressing

Dear Miss Manners: When my same-sex partner of six years and I were getting dressed to go out to a nice restaurant, he asked what I was planning to wear and I replied long pants. He said he was going to wear shorts, and then we got into a discussion about how alike/different our clothes should be, and whether or not it even matters.

My natural instinct is that our attire should be more similar as the formality of the event rises. In other words, we can each wear whatever we prefer to an informal gathering, but nicer events call for both of us to be in either slacks or shorts.

But we also don't want to be dressed too similarly, both in dark slacks and blue shirts, e.g. Heterosexual couples don't have to worry about wearing similar clothing to an event (insert amusing observation here), but is there protocol for same-sex couples?

Gentle Reader: Heterosexual couples should worry more. At formal events nowadays, it is not uncommon to see a gentlemen in a dinner jacket with a lady in a cocktail dress, or a lady in a ball gown with a gentleman wearing a business suit.

At a "nice" restaurant, you should both have been wearing long pants. At a resort or fast-food court, either long or short pants are acceptable.

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