Open Thread

by epi on April 26, 2013

Welcome to the Etiquette Daily

This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Chocobo April 26, 2013 at 11:42 am

Friends,

I have recently been blessed with my first child, who is a great joy to us. Of course with the arrival of a new baby also come the sometimes surprising behavior of others. Some of it I have expected: awkward inquiries, unsolicited advice, boundary issues and the like that are perhaps a nuisance, but manageable and benign.

However, I am surprised at how many people, upon encountering my baby sleeping, ask if they may pinch her to wake her. At first I laughed because I thought they were joking, but now so many people have said something to that effect, and repeatedly, that I am starting to think that they are serious. I’m confused, does anyone seriously think it is okay to hurt another person so that they can see them awake? It’s not like they would do that to an adult. Not to mention that it would cause the baby to cry, and what exactly is the appeal of a baby whose eyes are open, but upset?

I’m curious to know if anyone else has encountered this. I just keep smiling and saying no, the baby is resting, but I’m starting to become tired of it myself.

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Elizabeth April 26, 2013 at 12:41 pm

That is truly one of the more bizarre things I’ve heard lately. Who are these people?? I think you are doing the right thing by politely declining, and perhaps the silver lining of the whole situation is that they are actually asking you first instead of just going ahead and pinching her. But wow! If it’s the same person or few people everytime, you may want to draw a firmer line, something like: “You asked this a few times, but it’s just not a good idea. Hopefully next time we run in to you she’ll be awake, and as she grows older it’ll be more likely to happen.”

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Nina April 26, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Congratulations on your little one, Chocobo!

Like Elizabeth, I have never heard of this one, but if these are people regularly in your life and who might be alone with the baby for a few minutes (if you were in the bathroom, say) I would be inclined to say something a bit stronger. “Oh, no, she’d be so upset–please don’t.” Or “Please don’t–you wouldn’t want her to remember you as the one who hurt her.”

I am not a parent myself, so perhaps this advice isn’t exactly right, but I do know lots of sweet little babies–the thought of someone deliberately hurting one, even a little bit, is so distressing!

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Alicia April 27, 2013 at 2:45 am

Congrats on the baby!!
I have never heard this pinch idea but my sisters dealt with people wanting to wake up their kids. One of my sisters used to say that the best idea is to let sleeping babies and dogs lie. I think sleeping babies are adorable and fail to understand why anyone would want to wake a baby. However if they want the kid with open eyes a picture on your phone could be shown. I know with a friend who recently had a baby I asked to see a picture of the baby with open eyes when I went over to meet the kid and she was sleeping.

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Jodi April 28, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Congratulations, Chocobo! Babies are wonderful — I wish you all things wonderful with the new addition to your family. Now, as a mom to three, I will say I have never heard of anyone asking if it is okay to pinch a baby to wake them up, but I will tell you what my reaction would be… Anytime someone wants to do something that is not in the best interest of your child, ie. will hurt them, and a pinch does hurt, no matter how “friendly” the intention, politeness can go out the window. Responding with a plain “NO!” and stern expression is appropriate, as is moving to place yourself between the person and your baby.

Quite honestly, anyone who asks this is an idiot; if you have need to wake a baby (for a feeding, a photo, or what have you) there are other, kinder ways to do so, such as rubbing the soles of the feet. The only explanation owed someone who wants to do that is “It’s mean and I am not going to allow my baby to be hurt.” The photo on the phone is an excellent alternative if someone wants to see a photo of the baby awake.

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Erin April 26, 2013 at 4:21 pm

I need help with regards to wording on a wedding invitation. My (bride) dad and stepmother are hosting, but I also want to include my mother and stepfather, and the groom’s mother and father. Any ideas on how to make this happen???

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Alicia April 27, 2013 at 2:52 am

“Together with their families” is easiest way to include everyone
But you could do
Mr and Mrs Bridesmom with Mr and Mrs Bridesdad
invite you to the wedding of
Erin Bride
to
Nice Bridegroom
son of Mr and Mrs Bridegroom

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Cyra April 29, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I think putting the bride’s and groom’s names first is a nice way to avoid the whole “which parent goes where” question. My wedding invitations were worded:

Bride
and
Groom,
together with their parents
Mr. & Mrs.
and
Mr. & Mrs.

You could easily add a third couple in to that parental list.

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Sarah B Martin April 27, 2013 at 9:40 am

Dear Sir/Madam, or group,

I often feel like a bit of an [expletive] when an old acquaintance from childhood or high school ‘friends’ me on Facebook and I merely accept the request without a response in return. I am not a regular Facebook user, and admit to not fully understanding proper ‘netiquette.’ But, I do subscribe to common social mores in regular life and typically wonder whether these overtures warrant a ‘thank you,’ a ‘hey, how are you,’ or ‘wow, it’s been a long time.’ My sense is no – that you accept it and forget it – but please advise as to what is the appropriate behavior.

Thank you, kindly,
Sarah B Martin

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Elizabeth April 28, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Sarah,
There is no right or wrong way to accept a friend request. When I friend someone, I normally do include a brief note. Sometimes there’s a reply, and sometimes there isn’t. If you accept a friend request, and you want to message them or post a greeting on their wall, go right ahead – there’s nothing wrong with it.

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Chocobo April 29, 2013 at 9:38 am

I agree with Elizabeth. Connecting on Facebook is fairly impersonal. If someone sends a friend request to you without a note, you need only reply the same way: accept or decline.

However, if someone sends you a request along with a personal note, such as “Hi Sarah, it’s been a long time. How are you?” then a reciprocal reply is warranted.

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Katherine April 27, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Hi there,

I share an apartment with 2 other people. One of whom is a female my age (25) and the other is a male who is 30 years old.
While I find that he is mostly well mannered and extremely considerate around the house, the other housemate, myself and guests of ours who visit the house find that he talks a lot and says a lot of things that are in poor taste. For example he will make jokes about certain illnesses or diseases (once he said something about a condition my friend actually suffers from and she was extremely hurt) or he will talk non stop about women’s appearances and about things of a private sexual nature.
I have given him warnings and suggested he should be a bit more careful about what he says but he still continues to do it. I am at a stage where I don’t feel comfortable to bring friends to my house for fear of insult or ruining their day.
In every other area he is a delight to live with but almost every time he opens his mouth I get frustrated with him. A lot of his friends make similar jokes but they at least spare me the sexual references and personal stories.
Does anyone have any ideas how I could handle this situation better short of asking him to move out?

Thanks in advance

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Elizabeth April 28, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I don’t know if your roommate would be receptive, but it sounds like a problem of sufficient weight that one or two well-chosen lines will not be sufficient to address it. I think it might be time for a heart-to-heart with your roommate – the kind where you sit down over a cup of tea and express that certain things he does makes you uncomfortable in your own home, to the point where you avoid inviting friends over to avoid the embarrassment. Have a short list of specific requests: “You’re a really great roommate in X, Y, and Z ways, but there’s one problem I’d like to seriously address with you. I would really appreciate it if you didn’t comment on women’s appearances and if you would avoid making sexual jokes. As a woman with female friends, it makes us really uncomfortable and we don’t appreciate it. The jokes about illnesses are also not playing well, and since you are a nice guy at heart, I’m sure you don’t want to offend.”

Good luck. If he doesn’t change, asking him to move out may be your only recourse, though.

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Alicia April 28, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Do you have any private space ie could you have friends over without including roommate or are there house rules about when it is or is not acceptable for roommate to be part of social gatherings.

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Rusty Shackleford April 28, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I recently went into a restaurant where you order your food, sit at a table, and wait for your number to be called. My wife and I spotted a booth, where two people had just got up and left, leaving their dirty dishes (there was a napkin in the soup). My wife, desiring the booth, bused the dish, and was about to sit down, when another patron, sitting at an adjacent table, claimed the occupant of the seat was merely in the bathroom. My wife put the dish back on the booth table, and we searched for another seat. As soon as we left, we noticed that the patron who had previously told us the occupant was in the bathroom, bused the dirty dish herself, and took the booth. I asked the patron why she did that, and she told me that she had been waiting for the table before us. I was somewhat floored by that response. I get wanting to upgrade your seating, and I’ve done it before. But 1) are you really waiting for a table if you’re sitting at another table already, 2) Why not just say you were waiting for the table at the outset, rather than tell a story about the previous occupants being in the bathroom.

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Elizabeth April 28, 2013 at 6:59 pm

How odd. I personally would not want to interrupt my meal once I’d chosen a table and received my food. And it’s pretty sad for that person to have lied about it instead of saying that s/he was waiting for the table – or, like a normal person, just accepting the table they originally chose. In the future, perhaps the lesson is to go with your gut? I guess you could have said, “No, I’m pretty sure they left.” and taken the table. But really, who cares??

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Catherine April 29, 2013 at 8:42 am

One of my siblings is planning a small 60th wedding anniversary party for our parents and they want to have a lunch catered. They’ve suggested that all the siblings split the cost. My question is: should we be expected to help pay for the catering if we will not be attending the party?

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Elizabeth April 29, 2013 at 9:08 am

People will ‘expect’ all kinds of things that they’re not actually entitled to, and it sounds like this is one of them. If you would like to pay a share of the costs, you certainly may, it sounds like a nice gift to your parents. But if you don’t or can’t, you just say, “I’m sorry, I’m afraid that won’t be possible.” Be upfront, though, so they know not to count on funds from you.

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Anita April 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Can I wear a black dress to a summer wedding that begins at 5:30pm. The couple will be married out doors at a country club and the reception will be held in a ball room

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Elizabeth April 29, 2013 at 4:58 pm

It depends. Many people (here and elsewhere) will say no, that black is a funerary color and that it should simply not be worn to weddings. I understand that this attitude is more prevalent in the American south. Where I live (in the north), it is extremely common to wear black to an evening formal wedding. Oftentimes it will be dressed up with a colorful shawl or jacket, but not always. If you are concerned as to how it will be received, you might err on the side of caution and wear a different color.

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Alicia April 29, 2013 at 8:37 pm

I agree it depends on the families. I personally hate black at weddings and I come from a family where that would be a sign of disapproving of the wedding. But I have been to friends weddings where most the ladies wore black. In general I avoid it and wear other colors. This is a great time to pull out the non black dresses in your wardrobe.

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