General Etiquette > Family and Children

How to Politely Correct an Elder?

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Thipu1:
We had the big family gathering this weekend and everything went off swimmingly. 

However, MIL seems to be having a bit of a problem with numbers.  She's perfectly fine with questions about money but statistics seem to throw her a bit.

When we all gathered, she gleefully informed us that the resort was located 10,000 feet above sea level.  That's not possible. At most, it's about 1 ,200 feet about sea level. 

During a breakfast conversation, we were told that a single University in Beijing graduated 7 million students this year.  That's also not possible.  A reading of the article in question revealed that the 7million figure referred to ALL university graduates in China this year. 

We, and other members of the family can't just let these things go because MIL is imparting similar pearls of wisdom her Great Grandchildren. Also, we don't want outsiders to think that MIL is losing it.  We want to be gentle butler her know what the facts are.

Any suggestions?       

LeveeWoman:
I'd ignore it because she's doing no harm.

Thipu1:
She may be doing no harm to others but the family worries that she may be doing harm to the perception of herself.  That's what bothers us about these gross factual inaccuracies. 

daen:

--- Quote from: Thipu1 on June 18, 2013, 07:09:19 PM ---She may be doing no harm to others but the family worries that she may be doing harm to the perception of herself.  That's what bothers us about these gross factual inaccuracies. 

--- End quote ---
I'm not certain what you mean about "the perception of herself."

If it's her own perception of herself, I think correction would be more distressing than letting her believe she is perfectly fine.

If it's her descendants' perception of her, a little private damage control with the children, along the lines of what you said before, that Great-Grandmother is still good with money and small figures, but can be inaccurate with bigger abstract concepts, would probably do as much or more than public correction.

In any event, my guess is that being corrected publically, especially more than once, will upset her. If I remember correctly, this is likely to be her last get-together with all her family, and I wouldn't want that spoiled for her.

TootsNYC:

--- Quote from: Thipu1 on June 18, 2013, 07:09:19 PM ---She may be doing no harm to others but the family worries that she may be doing harm to the perception of herself.  That's what bothers us about these gross factual inaccuracies.

--- End quote ---

But won't people be getting an *accurate* perception of her?

They'll think she's a gleeful know-it-all who gets her facts wrong.

*IF* they even know that there are 7 million college graduates in all of China.

And is that really such a horrible opinion of her to have? (for one, it's accurate, and accurate is always valuable.) Really, does that make her malicious? Hate-able? Does that make her someone you'd never want to have a conversation with?

Not at all. It *does* make her someone you wouldn't want to rely on for very many hard, cold facts. But then, since that's true, isn't that something people ought to know about her?

Leave it alone.

If people are aware enough to realize that MIL is fudging her numbers (or, going with the basic gist--"this resort is really high in altitude!"--and slapping any old figure on it), they aren't going to hate her. They may not recommend her for a job as a reporter or fact-checker, but then--she's not applying for that.

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