Open Thread

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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.


  1. Suzie Roberts

    I am a home daycare provider. Over the years, it has come to my attention how kids today are NOT taught manners at a very young age. I am a child of the 60s so I understand things have changed. However, today children are given so much freedom and entitlement that I am just shocked with the expectations kids have.

    1. In my day, if a an adult (non parent) was on the phone, not only do you NOT interrupt, you do not ask their business by asking who that was they were talking to.
    2. In my day, you were patient. Today, kids are so impatient as if they did not hear you say you would be with them as soon as you finished the task you were doing.
    3. In my day, if adults were have a conversation, children went in the other room. Even if it was casual. Today, kids think they are part of adult conversation and want to chime in.
    4. In my day, you NEVER asked someone outside your family to buy you something. Yes, kids ask their moms for toys or whatever. However, today I notice children I am not related to will ask me to buy them a toy or candy at a store. I am talking about kids of all ages on this one.

    These are just a few that I wanted to post. I would love feedback on your thoughts. I think I will keep a log and submit them.

    • Elizabeth

      Vanna had great suggestions. I would just add that many, probably most, parents do not send children out of the room during adult conversations. In fact it’s probably important for their language development that they don’t. In any case, the children are not rude for not following rules that they don’t know, and the are not mind readers. Whatever rules you’d like to have, you should make very clear, possibly even writing them on a poster which you can refer to as reminders are needed.

  2. Vanna Keiler

    Hi Suzie. My feedback/response would be to avoid pigeon-holing any one generation for their parenting (or lack of) skills and look for solutions to your present daycare dilemmas with these children. You may want to discuss some of these issues with the parents, but if you do not think they will take kindly to your criticisms, you can “train” the children to behave with you the way you would like. It would be particularly helpful that you are giving them some social etiquette training and I’m sure the parents would be thrilled that you are such a good role model as well as being an excellent home care provider.

    For example, let the children know in advance that when you are on the phone (assuming you have approval of the parents to communicate with other adults while supervising the children), they are not to interrupt you unless it is an emergency. Say it kindly but firmly. If they interrupt you while you are on the phone again, shake your head and turn away from the children. Repeat as necessary. Do note that kids WILL be kids, but ultimately children tend to want your friendship and approval, so keep at it with a smile and hopefully they will eventually capitulate!

    Let the children know in advance that you will not be purchasing them anything when you venture with them to stores. Remember however, that a store is an appealing venue for children, and they will naturally want to “get” something. Perhaps arrange some allowance in advance with the parents so that perhaps you COULD actually purchase something with money the parents have given you for them. Discuss this with the parents: perhaps they may have a solution. Sometimes the shopping impulse children have is because they are bored shopping and want to be a part of the process (e.g. look for things they like as well). Perhaps try and engage them when you are shopping and get their participation (e.g. “What cereal would YOU like?”).

    Regarding impatient children, training them to be patient would be another solution as well. As they become used to your expectations and you their quirks and behaviors, I’m sure the “power struggles” will lessen and the children will enjoy the rules and what they perceive as quirks in behavior on your part.

    Lastly, it seems that you may be a bit burnt out. Perhaps the children you are providing care for are a handful, perhaps one or two are “precocious”. I would just chalk it up to the hazards of the job: children do use up a ton of energy because they have so much of it! Hope any of my advice was helpful. Perhaps some others would like to weigh in with suggestions.

  3. Sophia

    Dilemna! My daughter was recently married. Guests were invited to bring a date if the person was known to our family. A close cousin’s adult daughter was not given the option of bringing a date given that she was in a new relationship, & he was a stranger to us. The cousin called herself asking if her dau could bring a date. The reply was “no” w/ a polite explanation. She was not happy w/ the answer. The adult dau did not come to the wedding. The cousin, her husband & a son did attend the wedding. Their gift was a $25.00 check in a card signed by all 3 of them.
    We did not have certain expectations for gifts. But, this gift seemed more like a message of who was really in control, & upset about our guest guidelines.
    This cousin’s son is getting married this fall. How should we handle the gift? My initial response is to give a small check, but the correct thing would be to give a generous gift as I normally would have. Are my angry feelings legitimate? This is a family that lives very comfortably, owning 2 homes, good jobs,etc. I wish I could just let go of this ‘baggage’. What do you think?

    • Alicia

      Feelings are always legitimate they are our feelings. However, as polite adults we control how we respond to our feelings. Honestly your daughter should never have told you how much money people gave you for her wedding. You also never know someones real budget unless you are their accountant.

      Female cousin once removed was not required to attend if she did not like the invite for whatever reason including lack of date. Now it was rude of cousin to ask for additional invite but this is done and over and time to move on after the wedding.

      A wedding gift should be based on your budget, closeness to the couple, and joy at the wedding. So give to your cousin once removed based on these things not based on how much he gave to your daughter.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      I agree with Alicia and I also think if you want to avoid sending a message (positive or negative) it’s better to give a physical gift rather than money. That way it’s harder for the gift to be judged based on its value and it will be judged more by the thought you put into it.

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