Identity Crisis: How to sign a thank-you note from a toddler

Q: I have a 2 year old and I have note cards with her name printed on the front. When I write the thank-you note on the card do I sign my name and write the note from me, the mother, or do I write it in the 3rd person as if the child is writing it and sign her name to the card?

A: You do not write as though your two-year-old had written the note. You can have her draw a picture on her note card and enclose a note from you, but patently she would not be writing a heartfelt thank-you note at her age and it is best not to pretend that she has or use this as a contrivance. As she gets older, you can encourage her to continue with pictures, and eventually with writing her name, until such time as she really can write her own thank-you notes. It is a great way to build an excellent habit.

Traveling with Tots: If the kids are sick, reschedule

Q: Friends with young, sick children visited with us last weekend. When one has sick children (babies and toddlers who share toys and put them frequently in their mouths), what is the proper etiquette when invited to someone’s home who also have young babies or toddlers? Should they postpone or cancel until their children are feeling well? Once a family is in this situation, what is the most tactful way to handle it so that your guests feel welcome, but your children’s health is protected?

A: It is not correct to take children who are unwell to someone else’s home without notice…it is their obligation to say “Jenny and Ben both have colds. I don’t want to impose their germs on your household so I’m afraid we have to postpone our visit.” You then say how sorry you are, or you can say it’s okay, come anyway. No one should assume their sick children are welcome in another’s home. It is understandable for you to cancel, under the circumstances, rather than set up a situation where your children are exposed to germs that make them unwell.

Handwriting is Hard: Allowing children to type thank-you notes

Q: Is it appropriate to allow children to type their thank-you notes instead of handwriting them? My 10 year old son gets very frustrated when writing and tends to make numerous mistakes, causing him to have to start over, but he is a fantastic typist. I allowed him to type his thank-you notes after this 9th birthday and this method went so much more smoothly for him. I am an advocate for teaching manners to my children and don’t want to steer them in the wrong direction. What do you feel should be the developmental progression toward handwritten notes from children?

A: You put the focus on the important component – offering thanks and writing thank-you notes. If his handwriting is difficult to read, there is no reason he can’t use the computer to write them. As his small motor skills develop he may find it less of a task to hand write, which is preferable, but for now this is just fine and he should be commended for writing and sharing his gratitude with those who gave him gifts.

Birthday Bonanzas: Do siblings all need to be included?

Q: I am in the process of planning a birthday party for my soon to be four year old son. Many of the children that he is friends with have older and/or younger siblings. Some of these friends are neighbors in which our families are friends. But some of my son’s friends are from preschool, etc. Do I need to invite my son’s friend’s siblings to the party as well or is it okay to just invite the child my son is friends with? Also, how should I address the invitation?

A: No, there is no reason to invite the siblings of your son’s friends. They will be invited to their own friends’ birthday parties and needn’t be a part of your son’s party. You address the invitation specifically to those you are inviting. If Jason is your child’s friend, you invite only Jason. If you are inviting two children in a family, you use both of their names. You do assume some parents or a parent will stay, however, unless you make it clear when they respond to the invitation that you have plenty of help so they can certainly take the time and do something else because there will be good supervision, although of course they are welcome to stay. By next year, most parents will not feel the need to stay.

Namesake Norms: Will he be a Jr., II, or III?

Q: If my husband and I have a son, we would like to name him after my father-in-law, whose name was John Andrew Jones, Jr. and who has since passed away. My mother says we would simply name him John Andrew Doe, since his namesakes are both deceased. I, however, would like to name him John Andrew Doe III – even though I realize it’s not necessary to differentiate the child from his grandfather or great-grandfather.

However, I’ve also been told that that the ‘III’ is not appropriate if the name has skipped a generation (my husband doe not carry the namesake), and that instead I would use ‘II’ or nothing at all. I want to honor my father-in-law and grandfather-in-law, but at the same time I don’t want to do something that is completely inappropriate.

A: You are correct, and it is correct to use III. It doesn’t matter if the relatives sharing the name are living or deceased, the point is that your son would be the third in line to carry the name.