bristled a bit at this moment: You lay down the plate of mac and cheese, sliced
apples and carrot sticks in front of your 6-year-old lunch companion and with
nary a comment she digs in. Moments later, she calls from the table: “I need
wouldn’t bristle as much if the lunch companion were your own child. But she’s
your child’s playdate, and the absence of pleases and thank yous feels all
the more striking when you’re waiting on a guest. If I would immediately
correct my own child, replying: “May I have more water, please?” why wouldn’t I correct the other still-forming,
untrained beast in my home?
Many mothers just
ignore bad—or the absence of good—behavior in a guest. I’ve seen it many
times. They just wordlessly fetch the water or the juice or refill the bowl of
Goldfish crackers. These children are only in your house for a few hours, so
what’s the point of turning yourself into an ogre?
Well for one
thing, I would want another mother to correct my child. Shame her! It always hits harder when it comes from someone outside
the familiar yip-yapping of your own house. Maybe if someone else says it,
But what if the
other parent doesn’t care? Then do it for the sake of the child, and of your
child. Showing your kid what’s acceptable and what’s not is just as important
in these situations. You don’t have to be a total jerk about it: “Were you
raised in a barn? We say please and thank you in this house!” But a gentle
reminder? Why not?
We all know the kids I’m talking about.
Of course it gets
trickier the older the child gets. I can get away with, “I didn’t hear ‘thank
you,’” when I’m talking to a 2nd grader, but a 5th grader? Correct manners
in a 10- or 11-year-old, and you tread dangerously close to mortifying your
I also don’t
correct if the other mother is present (duh), or—and this is kind of a weird
caveat—if the child is particularly shy. I’m not going to push a kid further
into his shell (who’s barely peeking out in the first place). Someone who has to
muster the courage to even ask for water is going to get that water, no
questions asked (or autocorrects given).
No, we all know
the kids I’m talking about. His lack of manners is usually just the tip of an
iceberg of general lawlessness. He blows into your house like a tornado,
approaches you five minutes after he's been dropped off and declares, “I’m
hungry!” Then shakes his head at every morsel you offer, breaks a couple toys, and
leaves. It’s not gratifying in any way to have that kid over, because not only
are you treated like a low-rent house frau, but your child is picking up bad habits