Miss Conduct

Advice: My mom looked at my messages and found out about her surprise party

Plus, questions on Facebook unfriending and a possibly dangerous diet.

Need advice? Submit questions for Miss Conduct here.

I wanted to throw a surprise party for my mom, and had kept it a secret. But she found out about it by looking at my messages. What do I do?

Anonymous / Boston

First, change your password to, ideally, a random string of digits that are not your birthday.

Your mother is 100 percent responsible for this security breach, so as a hostess, you can handle this pretty much any way you want. Either tell the guests that it’s just a regular old party now, or else tell your mother to slam a Red Bull and get ready to earn her Oscar when everyone yells “Surprise!” The one thing you can’t do is let your guests feel like idiots.


As a daughter, you should . . . handle this. I don’t know how, because I don’t know your mother or the history of your relationship, but if she’s a snooper, if this is the kind of thing she does regularly — what’s up with that? Maybe talk to some friends whose common sense you trust.

I have a kinda-friend I’ve known since toddlerhood (our parents were friends). I unfollowed his all-Fox-News Facebook feed during the election. Recently I was discussing Milo Yiannopoulos, and out of curiosity looked to see if any of my friends were “fans” of his. Sure enough, guess who? I hit “unfriend.” To my surprise, kinda-friend noticed, and e-mailed asking how my parents are, and oh by the way why aren’t we Facebook friends anymore? Is it wrong to just ignore him and move on?

L.T./ Bristol, England

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Not at all! You show no enthusiasm for this relationship in the first place. Should you ever run into him and be asked about it in person, say your friends list was out of control and you did a bit of housecleaning and leave it at that. It’s no big deal to cull the herd now and then.

The fact that K.F. brought up your parents sets off my Spidey sense — if there is such a thing as a good-faith query as to why one has been unfriended, this is not it. I’d bet anything he only wants to bait you into an argument. Don’t waste your time!

A co-worker has embarked on the keto diet. She doesn’t “keto” at those of us who are happily eating our bread and fruit. I looked up the diet, and it seems to only be good for short-term weight loss, and is detrimental to many people. Do I say something, or just figure that she’ll drop it in a week or so with no harm done?

A.K./ Salem

She doesn’t keto at you, don’t you Mediterranean at her. It doesn’t matter that evidence is on your side; her diet is her business. (And you might not be as correct as you think — people do have individual dietary and digestive needs, and what might be a suboptimal diet for one may be the best option for someone else.)

Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.