Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: CrochetFanatic on February 13, 2013, 07:48:46 PM

Title: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: CrochetFanatic on February 13, 2013, 07:48:46 PM
I wasn't directly involved in this, and nothing really came of it, but it got me wondering.

A bit of background info.  My uncle and his family are very sneaky now about getting us to watch their kids while they're over here or we're over there.  It's been my observation that they employ the TV or family/friends who come over to keep their kid in one spot, but I'm basing this off the way they would just disappear the moment I start to interact with Cousin.  I'd look up, do a double-take, and think to myself, "Wait a minute, I didn't agree to be a babysitter for the duration of my visit..."  Gently leading Cousin to her parents usually resulted in my grandmother giving a snarky, "Well, couldn't you watch your cousin for a bit?  Cousin loves you!"

A few days ago, my uncle was having his 40th birthday party.  It was a surprise party, and I counted at least 14 people there besides my mom, my brother, and myself.  None of which I knew, but I've seen a few of them before.  It was pretty nice, but almost everyone stood around and socialized in the small dining room, effectively blocking the table so that it was hard to get to the snacks.  I managed to snag a few crackers and some cheese, but very few people went out into the living room.  Their three-year-old daughter spent most of her time in the living room, showing off her toys and so on, and the baby was pretty much glued to my grandmother's hip because she would scream if she was put down.  Their mother was in and out of the living room, but they weren't really watching their toddler, which is typical when they have people over.

There are a few things I could gripe about, but that's beside the point.  This is the thing that got me thinking.  The TV was on when we got there, tuned in to a kid's show, which Cousin wasn't actually watching.  The few adults that would occasionally come in and sit down weren't bothered by this that I could see, but when my uncle's wife asked them if they wanted to watch something else, they suggested some awards show that was on.  I think it might have been the Grammys, but I can't be sure.  I wasn't watching TV myself.  So, the channel was changed to the show the guests wanted to watch, and I counted three people who were actively watching.  They would get up and socialize some more, then come back to see what was currently happening on the TV.

At one point during the evening, Cousin started asking to watch a particular channel, and our grandmother said that they were watching something else right now.  A little while later, Uncle's wife comes in with Cousin, holding her hand and leading her to the couch.  She picked up the remote, simpered, and said, "It's Disney Junior.  Sorry.  :)" and changed the channel.  I was a little surprised, but didn't particularly care what we watched.  My mom later told me she couldn't believe it, after a big show was made of asking what people wanted to watch.  I could tell that the people who were watching the show were offended and annoyed by the way they sort of looked at her askance, but nobody said anything.  Now, I want to make it clear that nobody was being a couch potato and ignoring my uncle on his birthday. 

On the flip side, other times they've been over here and we were watching something, they would expect us to change the channel if they or their daughter wanted to watch something else.  "We're guests.   ;D"  They don't do this all the time, but it has happened, so I was surprised that she would disregard her guests' wishes after specifically asking them what they wanted to watch.

I realize that it's their home, and they have control over the TV.  Was she rude?  And would it be rude for us to insist on watching what we wanted to watch when they're guests in our home?  The only problem I personally had was the way she went about doing it, but my way of thinking has sort of been, "Your house, your rules; our house, our rules" in terms of the TV. 

What do you think?
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: snowdragon on February 13, 2013, 07:56:16 PM
My TV - I decide what's acceptable, there are somethings that are banned in my house. HOWEVER, if a bunch of folks are watching TV it should be some all parties will enjoy not just one person. And turning the channel was rude.

 I would stop acquiescing to their demands in your home and accept that in their they will treat you as if your wishes don't matter ( changing after asking what folks prefer just tells me that the guests preference to this host.) 
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: Sharnita on February 13, 2013, 09:23:59 PM
I think it can depend.  I don't think the adults need to give in to the kids all the time.  OTOH, if this party is mostly for the adults then this entertains the kid(s) so the adults can socialize in peace.
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: Miss Tickle on February 14, 2013, 12:20:35 AM
In your Uncle's house he and his wife decide. I wonder if your Uncle's wife was getting pressure to change the channel to the awards show by some boor at the party who'd rather watch TV, and wanted a little support for what was keeping the toddler from being underfoot.

In your own home you of course have every right to turn off the TV to concentrate on your guests.
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: jaxsue on February 14, 2013, 06:06:15 AM
When it came to entertaining my parents had a strict rule: no TV when we had company. I like that policy (exceptions are TV viewing events like the Super Bowl, etc.), because when the TV's on it tends to dominate a room.

If I'm a guest at someone else's home, however, I'd never comment that I don't like the TV being on, nor would I change the channel. It's not my place.

But some of my former in-laws felt otherwise. Sometimes I'd host Thanksgiving or Mother's/Father's Day, and there could easily be 20+ people in my home. One BIL would turn on our TV to a sports show (he seemed to follow every sport avidly!), or FIL would turn on the news channel or a fishing show.

It bothered me, especially because it was somerthing few people wanted to see, and I think it's rude to turn on other peoples' TV without so much as asking. If I'd had a separate TV room, maybe it wouldn't have been so bad, but the TV was in the living room.
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on February 14, 2013, 06:16:43 AM
Oh yes, the old "When you're in my house the host dictates what's on tv but when I visit you it's the guest's right to dictate what's on the tv!!" double standard.   ::)

I'm not quite sure on how to call them on that politely but I'd be tempted to say the next time I was at their house and they tried to change the channel, "Oh but I thought the guest had the right to choose the tv program?"
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: VltGrantham on February 14, 2013, 08:06:08 AM
I wouldn't say anything either way, except that perhaps in future, I'd decline invitations to their home.  Unless it's a TV event (i.e., Superbowl, Oscar Night party, etc.) I see no reason for the TV to be on during a party.  If the kids need entertaining, the easiest way to do this is to hire a babysitter to attend to them while the parents enjoy their event.

(However, we used to do that and would then have people bringing their children and expecting the babysitter we provided for our daughter to watch their children too--not happening.)

If you are watching something at someone else's house and someone tried to take over the remote, I would point out that I too was a guest and happened to be watching whatever.  Then I'd let them know what time my program was expecting to go off and let them come back at that time.
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: Thipu1 on February 14, 2013, 08:08:07 AM
I agree with the,'No TV when we have guests' rule when the party is only a few hours long.  However, when it's an event like our old Thanksgiving gathering, things are different.

When people are in and out of the family home from Tuesday to Sunday, TVs will be on.  Some will be watching a game in the living room while the little ones are watching a DVD in the back room.  As near as I remember, there have never been any arguments about what to watch.  But then, the family's pretty easy going and football games or the Macy's parade are as much a part of the holiday as the turkey.

Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: CrochetFanatic on February 14, 2013, 08:45:08 AM
We generally keep the TV off for Holiday visits as well, but if it's a casual get-together and nobody's watching anything we usually don't mind.  Arguments here have really been few and far between.  I couldn't really decline this invitation, because even though I've pulled back quite a bit, it's a milestone birthday.  I never would have heard the end of it, and my uncle would have been (justifiably so, I think) hurt.

I thought Uncle's Wife was well within her rights, as it was her house and her TV, except for the fact that she had offered without any prompting to put on a channel adults would be more interested in, then did an about-face without seeming to care what anyone else wanted.  It didn't really bother me at the time, but as I thought about it more I was wondering if the fact that she offered to put on a program for her guests might have changed the tone of the situation.  I wasn't sure if this was some sort of etiquette snag, or if I was just reading too much into it.  At the time, I just sort of thought, "Oooookay, that's a little weird, but whatever..."

I got a mental picture of someone offering a plate of food to a diner, then picking it up before the person is half-way through, informing him or her, "You're done."  That's not a very good analogy, though, and is out of proportion to what happened with the TV.  That was actually pretty tame, I just thought she was a bit curt.  Sorry, I'm getting my thoughts across very badly.  I'm not quite awake yet.
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: BeagleMommy on February 14, 2013, 09:18:07 AM
We (meaning DH and myself) don't put the TV on when we have company.  The only exception to this is on New Year's Eve when we turn on the TV to watch the ball drop.

I'm not sure if what your aunt did is rude or not since it is her house.  When DS was small we used to keep a TV in a separate room available with appropriate movies/shows if he got bored with the adult party.
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: TootsNYC on February 14, 2013, 09:25:41 AM
Their mother was in and out of the living room, but they weren't really watching their toddler, which is typical when they have people over.


I don't understand this. Maybe it's a "you had to be there" thing, but I have never watched my toddler *IN OUR OWN HOME* when we have guests.

There is no place in my home that my own child can't go. And I absolutely figure that especially when it's family, any truly *dangerous* behavior can be stopped by whatever relative/grownup/friend is nearer. In case of injury or tantrum, I'm in the other room, so it's not like I'm really ignoring her. Anything else falls into the category of "interacting with her own visitors"--something she has a right to do.

And at a family member's house, or at her own, I'm not sure why you'd lead the child back to her mother. She's not a package or even "someone else's child"; she's a visitor in her own right. Or, it's HER house.

As for the TV, well, that's why my mother wouldn't have allowed the TV on for ANY reason, not even a kids' show.

If the aunt wasn't willing to teach her child how to delay gratification by saying, "I'm sorry, honey, the grownups are watching something else right now," then she should have not been so curt to the grownups.

(and the visiting grownups SHOULD be interacting with the kid a bit more--no fair getting absorbed in the TV show and then being upset that the kid is bored! Of course she's bored; the grownups are BEING boring--which is another reason why the TV should be off, in my opinion)
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: Rohanna on February 14, 2013, 09:28:39 AM
Without knowing the show that was on, is it possible that it was something the parents weren't comfortable having on around a small child? There's a lot of shows that I won't let my kid watch that someone else might not think would be a problem.
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: Yvaine on February 14, 2013, 09:31:21 AM
Without knowing the show that was on, is it possible that it was something the parents weren't comfortable having on around a small child? There's a lot of shows that I won't let my kid watch that someone else might not think would be a problem.

It was the Grammys or something similar.
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: Sharnita on February 14, 2013, 09:35:01 AM
I could see parents not wanting their kids watching that.
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: Calistoga on February 14, 2013, 09:35:52 AM
Rude on her part? A little, because it sort of seemed like she was scolding everyone for changing the channel in the first place. It definitely could have been handled better. If there was some kind of understanding to begin with that the TV was only on to keep the small child in that room, then yeah. But honestly I feel like this would have been a good time to teach Tiny Child the concept of sharing.

At your home? Your discretion. If the TV isn't being used and she asks to turn the tube on so Tiny Child can watch cartoons, I wouldn't fuss. If you happen to be watching it and she asks, no is totally appropriate. If Tiny Child (or anyone for that matter) is using the TV and you would like to watch something else, it wouldn't be particularly polite to change the channel.

For me there's no cut and dry answer to guests VS hosts on the TV. Ultimately the host has the final say about what should be on TV, but being a TV nazi isn't polite or endearing. You definitely have the right to change the channel, but there are polite and impolite ways to do it.
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: CrochetFanatic on February 14, 2013, 09:53:13 AM
Their mother was in and out of the living room, but they weren't really watching their toddler, which is typical when they have people over.


I don't understand this. Maybe it's a "you had to be there" thing, but I have never watched my toddler *IN OUR OWN HOME* when we have guests.

There is no place in my home that my own child can't go. And I absolutely figure that especially when it's family, any truly *dangerous* behavior can be stopped by whatever relative/grownup/friend is nearer. In case of injury or tantrum, I'm in the other room, so it's not like I'm really ignoring her. Anything else falls into the category of "interacting with her own visitors"--something she has a right to do.

And at a family member's house, or at her own, I'm not sure why you'd lead the child back to her mother. She's not a package or even "someone else's child"; she's a visitor in her own right. Or, it's HER house.

As for the TV, well, that's why my mother wouldn't have allowed the TV on for ANY reason, not even a kids' show.

If the aunt wasn't willing to teach her child how to delay gratification by saying, "I'm sorry, honey, the grownups are watching something else right now," then she should have not been so curt to the grownups.

(and the visiting grownups SHOULD be interacting with the kid a bit more--no fair getting absorbed in the TV show and then being upset that the kid is bored! Of course she's bored; the grownups are BEING boring--which is another reason why the TV should be off, in my opinion)

Let me just clarify a couple of things here.  I was stating a simple fact, not implying that she didn't have the run of her own house, nor that she doesn't have the right to interact with visitors.  Babysitting is sort of a sore spot with us and them, because we were basically used a little over a year ago, and it blew up in our faces when we had to stop babysitting on a twice-weekly basis to attend to our own personal problems, which were extensive.  I don't want to get into that, though.  The reason I led her by the hand to her parents was because I had to use the bathroom, and there was no one else in the living room with her the two times I did this.  I didn't feel the need to add this bit, for obvious reasons.  This was after the one time I did leave her in there by herself, figuring she'd be fine in her own home, and I got bawled out for "letting" her color on their walls with crayons.  I was covering my butt, plain and simple.  Family or not, she is someone else's child. 

As for the party, she wasn't being ignored.  I was playing with her, my mom and my brother were playing with her, the guests who were in the living room with her were interacting with her as well.  She wasn't bored, trust me.  I'm not sure why I'm being scolded here.
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: bah12 on February 14, 2013, 09:58:14 AM
Besides the SuperBowl, we don't have the TV on when we have parties or guests.  Nor do we allow our DD to watch more than an hour of TV a day (if she's good).   That being said, I do have parents that like watching TV and when they are over, the TV is normally on.  I kind of see having "guests" that are also family as a little different. And while it would be great to defer to the preference of family members when deciding what to watch, I don't think that there is much wrong with deciding that a toddler can watch their program instead.  It's kind of unfair (IMO) to have people over, (I would think for the purpose of conversing and socializing), have no one over that interacts with the child, expect the child to be occupied and not interrupt the adults, but also insist that the TV be tuned into something the adults are only half paying attention to.  Is it rude to let the guests watch what they want and not the child?  No.  But it's also not rude to let the child watch their preference when guests are over.  Unless the party was specifically for the grammy's or a tv watching event, then I don't have a problem with parents tuning the TV into the Disney Channel even if other adults want something else on. 

Now, I'd have a different opinion if the parents of the toddler were guests in someone's else's home and insisted the toddler watched what she wanted.  In both cases, I would side with the decision of the owner of the TV.
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: CrochetFanatic on February 14, 2013, 11:57:39 PM
First, thank you to everyone who gave me their thoughts on the matter.  I was sort of thinking along the same lines, that she wasn't rude per se, and that it was her choice, curt or not.  I was just double checking here, and I have a clearer picture of things now.

Second, I want to apologize.  I have very mixed feelings about them after some of the things that happened between us, and I let that color my first post.  Also, to TootsNYC, I'm sorry for taking offense and responding the way I did.  I think I might have been rude in my own thread, which wasn't my intention.
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: m2kbug on February 15, 2013, 02:35:41 AM
If I had a bunch of people at the house who wanted to watch the Grammy's, we watch the Grammy's.  The kids can certainly find something else to do.  There are plenty of toys or they can color or play in the yard.  I wouldn't cater to Disney channel or Sponge Bob. 

I have had the TV on for kid programming or video games. The adults can socialize and the kids can do their thing, but if the TV is intrusive on the gathering, keep it off or tune into a music channel or something. 

I think it was rude to change the channel to kid programming when the adults had decided they'd like to tune into the Grammy's. 

Usually TV isn't on the agenda when there are people at the house, but occasionally it gets turned on to follow sports or something.  This has never been an issue for me, but I don't think I would put the TV on kid shows at the expense of my adult guests who collectively decided they'd like to tune into the Grammy's or catch a comedy show or whatever.  The kid can survive a few hours without TV.  Those channels are re-run central, they won't miss anything, and will have an opportunity to watch whatever show a dozen times over.  I've watched SpongeBob shrink his village a million times by now and the rusty spatula. 

I don't understand this problem with "not watching the child."  I never have to be glued to my child at home.  My children know the rules and are free to go anywhere in the home or back yard without me being attached to them at all times.  Being stuck in a room with the toddler and the parent leaves the room, does not make you automatic babysitter.  It's probably typical the child watches a show or entertains himself while mom and dad are dealing with dinner or chores or other household tasks so I'm sort of wondering if you placed this babysitting requirement or obligation on yourself unnecessarily. 


Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: CrochetFanatic on February 15, 2013, 03:49:16 AM
No, not really.  At least, I don't think so.  I've gotten, "Aren't you watching her?" more than once when I've tried to leave the room on other occasions, so I got the idea that they just sort of assume that I will.

I don't want to make it sound like I don't want anything to do with the kids, because I do interact with them when we meet.  It's actually a lot of fun.  I just haven't had much luck in setting limits to what I'm willing/able to do, and my attempts have been pretty clumsy so far.  I'm not all that good at asserting myself if I'm anticipating trouble for doing it.  Plus, the three-year-old figured out the baby gates, and they have a steep staircase without carpeting. 
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: m2kbug on February 15, 2013, 10:28:55 AM
For whatever it's worth, CrochetFanatic, I never drew the conclusion that you didn't interact with or enjoy this child, and I don't think you projected that (and I hope I didn't).  But if this child cannot be left alone for two seconds without getting into trouble or putting herself in danger, the parents need to deal with the constant supervision.  This really isn't your responsibility unless they ask you to babysit and you agree to the terms.  It's one thing to keep an eye out on each other's kids and another thing entirely if this child cannot be trusted and you're stuck with the role because the parents aren't doing it.  I think taking the child to her parent so you can use the restroom or talk with other friends and family is fine.  I'm quite surprised you can't even make use of the potty without the child getting up to no good. 
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: TootsNYC on February 15, 2013, 10:37:14 AM
No, not really.  At least, I don't think so.  I've gotten, "Aren't you watching her?" more than once when I've tried to leave the room on other occasions, so I got the idea that they just sort of assume that I will.

I don't want to make it sound like I don't want anything to do with the kids, because I do interact with them when we meet.  It's actually a lot of fun.  I just haven't had much luck in setting limits to what I'm willing/able to do, and my attempts have been pretty clumsy so far.  I'm not all that good at asserting myself if I'm anticipating trouble for doing it.  Plus, the three-year-old figured out the baby gates, and they have a steep staircase without carpeting.

Maybe your problem is that you're not incredulous back to them.

"No, I was in the bathroom!"

"No, I want to get something to drink!"

"Does she need watching? This is her own home!"

I think it's hard when you've been the kid, and you sort of believe that grownups are always right, and then you get to a point where they're not but you don't believe you can say that.

But you can.

Absolutely you can look at them as if they've suddenly grown three extra heads. (It's a VERY useful expression.)

And blithely ignore them.

One of the most valuable of things to be able to do is to translate comments like "weren't you watching her?" into CharlieBrown Grownup Speak: "Wah wah wah wah wah, wah wah wawh."
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: MrTango on February 15, 2013, 10:40:05 AM
No, not really.  At least, I don't think so.  I've gotten, "Aren't you watching her?" more than once when I've tried to leave the room on other occasions, so I got the idea that they just sort of assume that I will.

I don't want to make it sound like I don't want anything to do with the kids, because I do interact with them when we meet.  It's actually a lot of fun.  I just haven't had much luck in setting limits to what I'm willing/able to do, and my attempts have been pretty clumsy so far.  I'm not all that good at asserting myself if I'm anticipating trouble for doing it.  Plus, the three-year-old figured out the baby gates, and they have a steep staircase without carpeting.

Maybe your problem is that you're not incredulous back to them.

"No, I was in the bathroom!"

"No, I want to get something to drink!"

"Does she need watching? This is her own home!"

I think it's hard when you've been the kid, and you sort of believe that grownups are always right, and then you get to a point where they're not but you don't believe you can say that.

But you can.

Absolutely you can look at them as if they've suddenly grown three extra heads. (It's a VERY useful expression.)

And blithely ignore them.

One of the most valuable of things to be able to do is to translate comments like "weren't you watching her?" into CharlieBrown Grownup Speak: "Wah wah wah wah wah, wah wah wawh."

I'd be hesitant to be incredulous back to them (because I think that would be more likely to escalate the situation).  Instead, I would respond in as flat a tone as I could manage: "No, I was not watching her.  She is not my responsibility."
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: snowdragon on February 15, 2013, 11:40:38 AM

At your home? Your discretion. If the TV isn't being used and she asks to turn the tube on so Tiny Child can watch cartoons, I wouldn't fuss. If you happen to be watching it and she asks, no is totally appropriate. If Tiny Child (or anyone for that matter) is using the TV and you would like to watch something else, it wouldn't be particularly polite to change the channel.

If the parent turns the tv to something banned in a particular house, or turns it on with out permission, I see nothing wrong with the home owner having the spine to turn it off. Tiny Child or not they should not be using the home owner's property either with out asking first or outside the bounds of the home owners beliefs.
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: JonGirl on February 18, 2013, 04:49:22 AM


I do not put up with people doing that with my tv. at all...
My ds is 8 and the only cartoons we allow are The Simpsons, Family Guy and especially American Dad.

Yeah, and look after your own kids in my house.  :(
Title: Re: Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)
Post by: gorplady on February 22, 2013, 04:13:51 PM
At our house, the television is generally not on when we have company over.

If it were turned on by guests, because they absolutely had to watch a movie or tv or whatever, I reserve the right to decide if something is out of line. For example, since I  have young children, and my guests want to watch "Friday the Thirteenth," it's just not going to happen. My tv, my rules. I'm the one that will be up at 3am with them while they have a nightmare.

If my kids want to watch tv, the answer is generally no, but there have been times where we've put the laptop upstairs in the playroom and all the kids have hung out in there to watch a kids' movie and chill out after play time. (This would happen, say, after they've eaten a major meal, they need some down time, and the grownups want to eat and socialise.)

If an adult went in there and turned off what the kids were watching to watch what they wanted to watch, I am not quite sure what I would do. I would think it very rude and probably let them know that this is the kids' area and invite them to rejoin the party downstairs.