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.

Proper Prensentation: Should Kids Open Gifts in Front of Guests?

Q: When I was a child and had a birthday party we always opened the presents during the party in front of friends and family. Now the child never opens any presents in front of their guests. Is this an etiquette issue or what? Is it not proper to open the presents until all guests have left the party. Is there an age matter with this as well. This is happening even for toddlers. Thank you for you response.

A: Some parents prefer to avoid all of the confusion that opening gifts in the presence of guests could create and wait until everyone has gone home.This is fine, but it’s important to remember to send thank-you notes to those who brought gifts.

To Each His Own: A Baby Shower for Every Child?

Q: Is it appropriate for a person to have multiple baby showers? I have a friend who wants a shower and this is her 5th child in 6 years!!!!! She always quotes Emily Post, so I thought I would go straight to the source.

A: Yes, every baby is entitled to be celebrated with a shower regardless of how many siblings he or she has.

Sharing is Caring: Is it rude to not offer food in the house to the whole family?

Q: Is it considered bad manners to have food in the house that is not being offered to the whole family?  For example, a teenager orders a pizza and doesn’t offer to share with anyone, or, a parent brings home donuts for oneself, knowing the kids are not permitted to have any.

 

 

 

A: It is not very considerate for one member of the family to order or bring food in for him or herself and not share or offer to include everyone else.  The exception is when everyone is on his or her own for meal preparation.  For example, if the teenager doesn’t participate in family meals or buys his or her own food.  Parents who eat forbidden food in front of their children are giving a very mixed message and should reconsider this practice.  Home is the best place to learn generosity and consideration.  One can say something along the lines of, “I’m ordering a pizza — would anyone like to join me?” or, “I’m getting a glass of water — can I get one for you?”

 

Skipping the Thank-you’s: How can I tell my friend it’s not necessary to send a thank-you card?

Q: I once received a card with a gift for my newborn requesting that I not send a thank-you note and use the time for my family.  I found it very useful at such a busy time.  I would like to send the same thing to a friend but am not sure how it should be worded.  This one was very simple and polite.  Do you have any suggestions?

 

 

A: You may simply say what you wrote: “Please don’t feel it’s necessary to send a thank-you note.  I would rather you just enjoy the time with your family and new baby.”