Etiquette School is in session! > "What an interesting assumption."

Assumptions on who's the mother.

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BG: Recently I've been acting as my mother's chauffeur, as she is unable to drive.  I have a 10 year old brother and 11 year old sister.  My mother is 64 and I am 37 (I have other siblings, but they are adults and not relevant to my issue).  One of the things my mother has to do is take my siblings to various appointments, including doctors' offices. [/end background]

Most of the time when we are at appointments for my siblings, nurses and doctors assume that I am the mother to all of the younger kids.  Now, I can totally understand why people might make this assumption, considering that my brother is younger than all of my kids and my sister is only 5 months older than my youngest.  If one had to guess, it would make sense to guess that I'm the mother. It doesn't particularly upset me that people do this, but I've been searching for a polite way to redirect the person without embarrassing them. Thus far, I've just smiled, pointed to my mother and cheerfully said, "She's <sibling's> mother".  Unfortunately, the person is almost always a bit embarrassed about the mistake, even though I don't think they should be. Does anybody have any other ideas about how I can handle these situations?  Thanks.

I think you're doing just fine.

I totally get where you are coming from, as my youngest brother is 3 years old and I occasionally babysit him. I turn it into a joke; "These two are mine but I can't claim that one" when I run into people I know who get a puzzled look when they see three children. "Don't you dare be embarrassed, it happens all the time," when it's clear the person was embarrassed by their assumption. "Sorry, just the sister, let me grab Mom," explains the situation while not putting anyone on the spot. There are probably other quick phrases I've used, but I don't recall any off the top of my head. I will say that if it's someone I don't know and will likely not meet again, I don't always correct the assumption.

I think you're doing just fine.  If they apologize for the mistake you can always say "No apologies necessary.  It happens all the time.".

I think you're fine. You could also add, "It's an easy mistake to make, no worries." or "It happens all the time, don't feel bad."

When I was a kid, people often assumed my sister was my mother, and then when my niece was born assumed I was niece's mother, so I've dealt with this for years and years. :)


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