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Miss Manners: I want her to stop her disrespectful talk about my illness


DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a recently married young woman who suffers from an inflammatory bowel disease. Because of my disease, I take medication prescribed by my doctor, and I do my best to eat a healthy diet. Lately, I have started following a vegetarian diet.

My mother-in-law brings up my disease in conversation whenever we see each other and tries to convince me that I should be consuming a ketogenic diet because, in her view, vegetarian diets are inherently unhealthy. She also tries to convince me to replace my medications with lemon and ginger.

I find this line of discussion quite unpleasant — partially because I find her insistence that she knows better than my doctor and me disrespectful, but also because I do not think it is appropriate to try to meddle with the treatment plan of a person with a chronic illness.

Can I, gracefully but firmly, ask my mother-in-law to keep her opinions on my health status to herself? Or will I have to simply smile and nod my way through these conversations with her?

GENTLE READER: If you thought you could, without unpleasant consequences, ask your mother-in-law to keep her opinions to herself, Miss Manners suspects you would already have done so.

But do not underestimate the power of smiling and nodding. If your mother-in-law realizes you are not going to fight back — and are also not going to change your habits — she will tire of giving advice. That way, you will not have to answer for having insulted her for what she will protest was only a motherly concern for your well-being.

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