No Phone Zone: Are Cell Phones Okay in the Library?

Q: In your book Emily Post’s Guide to Good Manners for Kids, you give quite a few suggestions as to where kids should turn off their cell phones. Why did you not mention libraries? Cell phones have become a problem for us (patrons and staff) too.

A: You are correct.  Children and adults alike should either turn off cell phones or put them on vibrate.  If they must take a call, they should go outside to take the call. In such a short book it would be impossible to list every situation that would require a child to turn off a cell phone, but we will make note of your suggestion for future revisions.

Respect your Elders: Is it Improper to Call an Elder by their First Name?

Q: I am recently married for the first time. Sam, my wife’s 11-year-old godson, has referred to my wife as ‘Aunt Sue’ ever since he was a toddler. However, he calls me only by my first name. For proper respect to an elder, I think he should call me ‘Uncle John.’ I’ve been reluctant to bring this up with Sam or his mother; for fear that they’ll view me as too prudish. Sam calls his stepfather by his first name, so he probably doesn’t see a problem with calling me by my first name. But deep down, I’m not comfortable with it. Do I have a legitimate concern, or am I an old-fashioned prude?

A: A child calling an adult by first name without being invited to do so may be perceived as rude.  However, since Sam calls his stepfather by his first name, he probably thinks it’s fine to call you by your first name especially if his mother hasn’t said anything.  Nonetheless, it would be fine to tell Sam and/or his mother that you would prefer to be called “Uncle John” since he calls your wife “Aunt Sue.”  Neither should object.

“Snap, Crackle, Stop!”: How do I get My Kids to Chew With Their Mouths Closed?

Q: Help! I have 3 children ages 10,9 and 7; I cannot get them to close their mouths when they chew. Any ideas on how to stop this horrible habit?

A: You should check with the pediatrician and make sure that they don’t have blocked nasal passages first. Sometimes this is the case so chewing with an open mouth allows breathing to take place at the same time. If there is no problem, then just be consistently firm that this is unattractive, that people will laugh at them or not invite them to be with them because it is such bad manners, and that they have to practice not doing this, at home, every day so they don’t do it in public out of habit. They are old enough to understand that this would be embarrassing to them, and could even lose them friends.

Perplexed Party Planner: What to do When There are not Enough Goodie Bags?

Q: I am having a birthday party for my soon to be five year old. I have made goodie bags for the kids that were invited. My dilemma is that often parents will bring their other children. What do I do when I don’t have enough for the other kids that were not invited, but their parents brought them anyway? I was thinking about giving those kids a lolly pop or something… What do you think? What’s proper not to hurt ones feelings?

A: A lollipop is fine – there is absolutely no reason for you to have to make extra party bags for uninvited siblings – but I understand that you don’t want to send them away empty-handed, either. A lollipop is a nice gesture and is sufficient.

 

Unsolicited Sitter: How to Tell Your Neighbors You Aren’t Responsible for Their Children

Q: I have a neighbor who just sends her three and five year old girls out to play whenever I’m out with my kids. She never talks to me to tell me her kids are coming over, she just lets them come over unsupervised assuming I or other neighbors would be willing to watch them. What should I do because I’m not a free babysitter and the favor is never returned?

A: The next time her children arrive take them right home again. Tell her you knew she must be worried about them because they just arrived by themselves, as you would be worried about your children if they wandered off. Then wish her a good day and depart. If she says she thought they could play together, tell her that would be very nice but you are not able to supervise them all right now, and it would be great if she would call first to set up a play date so you can be sure to clear the time.