18 Comments

  1. Jo-Ann

    How do I handle questions regarding my son who is not graduating from high school due to poor grades? I have many friends with children who are the same age who are graduating and moving on to colleges. My son will not be doing that. I have to get over the embarrassment but do not know how to respond to questions and the expectations of friends and family without showing my hurt and disappointment.

    • June

      You should phrase everything in the positive. Stop feeling embarrassed— I understand why you feel that way, but perhaps your son feels worse? Focus on helping your son complete school and don’t worry about what other people think. They are not living your life or dealing with your problems. Is he dropping out of school or is it just going to take him longer to graduate? I don’t know the exact circumstances, but if he will be continuing school until he graduates, just say “Mike is actually going to be graduating later than expected. We are focused on getting him help in some areas that he struggles with.” In this economy he may be best off honing a skill or trade rather than thinking about college (again, this is all said without knowing your son’s intellect or personality). But in the end it is only the business of you and your son.

      • Graceandhonor

        Jo-Ann, please take heart that this is just a temporary setback for your son. My oldest son was in similar circumstances in his senior year while our family was going through my husband’s terminal illness. Fast forward five years and he’s been married a year, working fulltime and about to graduate magna cum laude. And, I have always believed some human beings make better adults than kids or teens. There is always hope and one of the biggest things you can do for your son is to vocalize often your belief in him. June offers excellent advice.

  2. Meredith

    I live next door to a couple with 2 children, ages 9 and 4. The 4 year old girl has autism. The family has their hands full. They got a retriever puppy about a year and a half ago. He is a very nice dog, but I feel like they are not giving it the attention it needs. Our yards are divided by just a chain fence. They do not pick up after him regularly, so he rolls around in the yard and is playing in dog dirt. One day I saw him chewing on plastic. I took it from him b/c I feared he would choke or it would get caught in his intestinal tract. I am a big animal lover and have a little dog of my own, so I just feel so bad for this dog. I don’t think the family wants to treat the dog poorly, I just can’t help but feel like he is neglected. Should I say something to them?

    • Graceandhonor

      Meredith, perhaps you could befriend the nine year old and walk/play with him and the dog and use this time to mentor him in caring for the dog. This would probably give mom a break, too.

    • Camille

      I had a very similar situation. The neighbors had two little kids (I dont know their ages, maybe 4 5 or 6 boy and girl). When they moved in the boy would climb over our chain link fence to play with my dog (I did not know this and when I found out I told him to stop). After I told the boy he had to ask permission to come over etc., his parents ended up getting him a puppy. Unfortunately they got him a pit bull. Now I have nothing against pit bulls. But they have short hair and sharp teeth. Not exactly a cuddle dog. So the kids didnt like him and they ignored him. It was painful to watch this poor puppy. So what I did, is I asked permission to teach the puppy how to fetch, and some basic stuff like that. I also told them the puppy and the kids could come and play with my dog if they wanted as long as they asked. Unfortunately it wasnt enough and they took the dog back to the humane society. It broke my heart. But my point of telling you this story is that if you try to help in some way, at least you tried. Maybe they don’t know how to deal with a puppy, but if you offered to help with teaching some basic puppy manners, they may be more willing to play with him. Scolding them doesn’t sound like a good option to me.

  3. polite punk

    While it does sound like they don’t have enough time for the dog, we also don’t know the reasons why they got a dog. Perhaps it was a reward for the 9 year old for his/her patience with his little sister. Perhaps, the 4 year old responds well to the dog. Who knows. Maybe they don’t quite realize all that goes into caring for a dog (especially a puppy).

    Instead of scolding them, it might be better to offer a suggestion that can help them. If you know of any area dog walkers or dog sitters, you could say something along the lines of “I know a great local dog walker who is looking for extra work, in case you are interested.”

  4. Beth

    I have two questions:
    I was invited to a wedding reception that I cannot attend. The destination wedding was a month ago. I was not invited to the wedding. Do I need to send a gift?

    Is it proper to send thank you notes to people who donated to a charity after a death?

    • Graceandhonor

      Well, the rule of thumb is if you are invited to the wedding, you should send a gift. But, since you weren’t and cannot attend the reception, I would say no as I can’t locate a reference otherwise. But, if these are friends, I would think you would want to?

      And, yes, you should write a thank you for a charitable donation in memoriam.

  5. Hannah

    Hello, I have a small new media related question.
    I’m a volunteer in an all-volunteer organization, and am actively involved with both the outer workings and the technical details. My question is, would it be inappropriate to list this under ‘work’ on Facebook? The thing is that I am unemployed, I do not have a paying job. I spend a lot of time and effort on it, but I don’t know if it’s proper to list employment with a volunteer organization even if you add ‘unpaid volunteer’ in the description, especially as I am not a member of the committee. I don’t know how to view if anyone else has listed this organization as employer either. I appreciate any responses very much.

    • polite punk

      If one is truly invested in and dedicated to the organization (and it sounds like you are), then yes, I think that it is more than appropriate to list it on Facebook under work. Students should feel free to do the same thing for their unpaid internships.

      As for the title, I think “unpaid” is unnecessary and would just list it as “Volunteer” (or “Intern” for college internships).

  6. Stacey

    Most dining etiquette instructions are for right-handed people. How do the instructions apply to left-handed people? What changes/stays the same?

  7. Stacey

    I know there are two acceptable dining styles here in the US, American & Continental. Each style has specific placement of tines, signals to wait staff, placement of hands, etc. But when it comes to the soup or dessert course, it seems that people default to the American style of eating where you eat with your dominate hand and your free hand goes on your lap, even if using the continental style. What is the correct way to eat the soup & dessert course with each style?

    • Graceandhonor

      Actually, they are the same. The main difference in the two styles is when cutting a bite of something; rather than lay down the knife and switch the fork to the right hand (American), the fork remains in the left hand, tines down to spear the food and deliver it to the mouth in a smooth and efficient motion of bending the elbow (Continental). If you happen to be left-handed, you are ahead of the game. And, if you look closely at Continental eaters, they will often switch hands when using their forks during a meal but always when eating something they’ve just cut, use their left hand.

      For either style, soup should always be eaten with the dominant hand as one assumes it is stronger and so a whole lot less shakin’ will going on, yes? This applies for desserts as well. One generally doesn’t need to cut soup or dessert with a knife, so Continental becomes moot. For either style, unused hands should rest in your lap.

      • Graceandhonor

        I do want to clarify position of hands at rest during use of Continental style…originally, wrists and hands rested on the table, ostensibly to allay concerns of hidden daggers, but you will now see this position as well as resting in the lap.

  8. Catherine

    How do you handle a situation at a young child’s family birthday party where the younger cousins helped open some gifts which in turn offended a family member?

    • Graceandhonor

      Sometimes adult loved ones of young children want the picture perfect interaction with the young child, but parents know that is easier dreamed than done. You might say to the gifting adult, “I called to tell you how much Bobby loves the train set you gave him. He plays with it all the time and we talk about how nice you were to give it to him. It was hectic at his party but you made quite an impression on him.” Write a thank you note for the gift and have Bobby “sign” it and enclose a photo of him with the gift. There isn’t a whole lot else you can do and the giver will need to once again act like an adult.

  9. JB

    As a parent of three children, I have watched the opening of presents at many birthday parties, and unfortunately, I have seen the situation dissolve into a race as to who can rip through the most presents first, bickering between the birthday child and guests as to who is supposed to open the presents, and tears, when everything gets out of control. Quite frankly, it irritates me no end when parents sit back and watch their little darlin’s intrude where they don’t belong … the opening of another child’s presents. Yes, I understand the excitement, but the gifts were brought for the birthday child; teach your children that when it is their day, they will have the opportunity to rip into the present. In the meantime, as guests, they should ooh, ahh, and keep their hands to themselves!

    While you cannot control or direct what other people do, I have found that in this case, it is possible to influence behavior, especially if it is YOUR birthday child. Before the opening of the presents, lay down the “guidelines” … “We’re going to open presents now, so all kids sit on the floor. Little Bobby, you sit here, so everyone can see as you open. Kids, everyone scoot back two scoots, you are all moving in so close!” As the unwrapping continues and the kids move forward, stop the action and repeat. Bottom line, politely take control in a friendly way. When one child reaches out to “help,” remind him/her — “Now, Suzy, this is Bobby’s birthday, so let’s let him do the unwrapping. When it is your birthday, it will be your turn!”

    1. Taking control will allow your child the opportunity to enjoy unwrapping his/her presents.
    2. It will prevent the hurt feelings of family members who feel as though their gift was ignored. (I also like and agree with G&H advice about following up.)
    3. You are making clear to the kids, and any adults present as well, your reasons for your words and actions. They make sense and are difficult to argue with.

    If your child is not celebrating a birthday and is a guest attending the party, this same behavior applies, even for family members. A birthday gift is purchased out of consideration for the recipient and sometimes the wrapping has special meaning or is part of the gift. Why should someone else enjoy it?

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