Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: spookycatlady on March 07, 2013, 12:17:44 PM

Title: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: spookycatlady on March 07, 2013, 12:17:44 PM
I was waiting for a group meeting to start, milling about with the other attendees.  We all kind of sort of know each other and engage in chit chat before the meeting. 

I mentioned that I bought something at Small Pricey Grocery Store. One of my acquaintances looked at me a bit sideways and said, “I never go there… I wouldn’t know.  It’s so expensive.”

My husband and I are frequently questioned about our reasons to shop there and I responded truthfully, but lightly, “We shop there because there are never any kids at this store.  No meltdowns in the candy aisle.  Haha, tantrums are the worst, amiright?” 

All of the other women in the room were parents (I’m not), so I was really hoping that I didn’t rub anyone the wrong way, but I immediately regretted answering the way I did.  Even though my initial feeling was that no one enjoys a temper tantrum, so it was a safe thing to mention.

My acquaintance launched into a description of a meltdown she saw the other day in Large Discount Grocery Store and what her internal reaction was.  She wanted to tell the parents to take the kid out of the store.  Her story telling tone was harsh and judgemental.  Her kids are adolescent and I got the feeling that she had been waiting for a chance to pontificate On Parents Today.

Another woman piped up, “I would have been furious with you if you had said that to me.”

Acquaintance says, “The parents weren’t addressing the situation properly and they had to do something.”

Tension levels went WAY up and I felt pretty gross for starting the subject.  Conversations do have a life of their own, but parenting discussions are such a minefield, I feel like I made a tactical error that lead to the entire group being uncomfortable.  I probably should have just said something bland like, “Oh, we like it. It’s a nice little store.”

Given the passionate viewpoints people have on parenting and discipline, I’m wondering if these are topics that shouldn’t be brought up in social situations, much like religion and politics? 
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: guihong on March 07, 2013, 12:22:03 PM
You're probably right at that.  You can see how many different styles and opinions are right here.   I think the reply you came up with later (it's always later) was a good one. 

I've shopped in the same store (I think) and usually say to the same comment:  "Once in a while, for a special treat.  And I like the soaps".
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: siamesecat2965 on March 07, 2013, 12:39:12 PM
Yeah, I don't have kids either, but I can see myself saying something along those lines, and then thinking, carp, i should have said something else.  I don't think you were rude though. Not everyone is going to agree with everyone else. And you couldn't help that someone else started in on the same subject....
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: HonorH on March 07, 2013, 12:48:35 PM
I think you had an error in tactics there. I wouldn't have said that in a roomful of parents. You weren't rude, per se, but it's the sort of thing parents could take offense to, or that childfree people could take and run with - which happened. I'd just have said something like, "Well, they have a particular Thing I like, so we indulge occasionally."
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: TootsNYC on March 07, 2013, 01:41:31 PM
I agree with you, that was an error on your part.

However, you aren't responsible for the rudeness and ill judgment the OTHER woman displayed, so don't take too much responsibility onto yourself.

And I want to encourage you to *never* feel that you  must justify why you go to small pricey grocery store. When people say "I wouldn't know, I never go there, it's too expensive," just say, "Oh!" brightly.

And stop. Bite your tongue, literally (like, with your teeth, but gently) if you have to. Don't say another word. Then after about two beats, continue on with the ORIGINAL topic, which was the thing that you bought, so say, "it's really delicious," or "we enjoyed it with lentils."

(also, you might think about why you do mention that grocery store, given that you get quizzed about it--are you trying to make a statement? You *can* just leave it out of your original statement: "I bought something at Small Pricey Grocery Store."
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: Tabby Uprising on March 07, 2013, 01:49:13 PM
I agree with you, that was an error on your part.

However, you aren't responsible for the rudeness and ill judgment the OTHER woman displayed, so don't take too much responsibility onto yourself.

And I want to encourage you to *never* feel that you  must justify why you go to small pricey grocery store. When people say "I wouldn't know, I never go there, it's too expensive," just say, "Oh!" brightly.

And stop. Bite your tongue, literally (like, with your teeth, but gently) if you have to. Don't say another word. Then after about two beats, continue on with the ORIGINAL topic, which was the thing that you bought, so say, "it's really delicious," or "we enjoyed it with lentils."

(also, you might think about why you do mention that grocery store, given that you get quizzed about it--are you trying to make a statement? You *can* just leave it out of your original statement: "I bought something at Small Pricey Grocery Store."

This is what I was thinking.  The first woman's comment about where you shop sounded judgmental to me, so if there was an instigator here it was her!  ;)  One should never feel as though they have to defend where they chose to grocery shop.  Yeesh!  I like Toot's suggestions for responses should it happen again.

As for your comment, eh, I can see where it could open up a can of worms, but I still think you had good intentions.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: Drunken Housewife on March 07, 2013, 02:11:00 PM
The remark about how expensive that store was comes off as putting the OP on the spot.  That was the first issue. 

But I would gently discourage the OP from making remarks about avoiding places where children may be, especially in large groups.  (Different if it's a small group, where you are confident no one is a parent).  As a parent, my hackles would go up the moment I heard that.  It's quite likely to lead to child-bashing. 

As for kids in grocery stores:  Sadly families need to eat, they need to buy groceries, and grocery stores can be very difficult in particular.  Little kids see so many tempting things around them, and even the best of parents on top of their parenting game can have a kid lose it and go into loud crying at a grocery store.  When mine were toddlers, I found grocery shopping to be practically the most difficult part of our lives, and I did my best to go at off-hours when it wasn't crowded so we could get in and out faster.  A little understanding goes a long way.  Not everyone can go shopping without their kids (who can afford to hire babysitters for running all the errands?). 

Anyhow, the OP was not the rudest person by far at that meeting, but I do think a remark about going somewhere for the reason of avoiding families with small children is highly likely to lead to rudeness and upset people.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: amylouky on March 07, 2013, 02:22:07 PM
I think a better response might have been, "Yes, it's a little higher but we like it. Bean dip?"

I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to avoid places that are likely to have lots of children.. I'm a parent and even I like to go to adult places sometimes. But actually saying that you don't want to be around kids is definitely likely to cause some friction among a group of parents.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: JeanFromBNA on March 07, 2013, 02:26:32 PM
I mentioned that I bought something at Small Pricey Grocery Store. One of my acquaintances looked at me a bit sideways and said, “I never go there… I wouldn’t know.  It’s so expensive.”

I don't like to indulge reverse snobbery anymore than real snobbery.  Maybe in the future, you could say something like, "I enjoy it because we can get our shopping done much more quickly."

Personally, I don't criticize parenting when in a group, no matter how well-deserved, as a non-parent.  It's just a huge minefield, and you're bound to hit one sooner or later. 
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: lowspark on March 07, 2013, 02:33:16 PM
I agree that the "that store is too expensive" remark is what caught my attention and I thought that was going to be what this post was about. I think she was pretty rude to say that. If she doesn't want to shop there, that's her perogative. But I don't get the point she was trying to make by making that remark. Was she trying to make you feel bad?

I get Toots's advice about leaving out the store name in the conversation, but I could also see it being relevant to what you were saying. Was it?

As far as the parenting comment & following conversation, well, you can't control how other people react to those kinds of conversations. It probably wasn't the best thing to say but on the spur of the moment, it probably just slipped out. I'm a parent (my kids are grown up now) but I don't take every parenting comment people make personally. I wonder if the woman who took offense at what your acquaintance said has out of control kids and knows it. And that's why she took the comment to heart instead of just letting it go.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: pierrotlunaire0 on March 07, 2013, 03:08:35 PM
First off, it sounds like the one woman was looking to rile up a little confrontation: first, OP overspends, and when that didn't work, she went after parents. 

Secondly, I have on occasion attempted to deflect some comment, just like the OP, and inadvertantly opened a can of worms.  The best I have come up with is a "Sorry, I didn't mean to offend." 

Quite frankly, if the OP hadn't made the reference to small children, it sounds like a volatile group anyway, and something would have happened.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: sweetonsno on March 07, 2013, 03:45:40 PM
First off: not your fault. The tension and anger were due to a series of unfortunate comments.

I think it would have been more tactful to phrase your comment on why you enjoy going there on occasion in a more positive way: not saying that there aren't any tantrumy kids, but that it's usually quieter and calmer. "Yes, it is a bit pricer, but we like that it's quieter and less crowded than other stores."

I am sympathetic to both the woman who mentioned wanting to kick the meltdown child and his parents out of the store and the mom who has probably dealt with her own meltdown child in a public place. It would have been more tactful for your acquaintance to just say, in general terms, that tantrums are a big pain to witness. It would have been more tactful for the other woman to just agree that meltdowns are annoying rather than escalate it into an argument.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: oceanus on March 07, 2013, 04:40:02 PM
Quote
The remark about how expensive that store was comes off as putting the OP on the spot.  That was the first issue. 

But I would gently discourage the OP from making remarks about avoiding places where children may be, especially in large groups.  (Different if it's a small group, where you are confident no one is a parent).  As a parent, my hackles would go up the moment I heard that.  It's quite likely to lead to child-bashing. 


This.

Sometimes (though not always) a remark about shopping at an expensive store can come off as "Gee, lucky you. Must be nice to be able to afford to shop there".

I never explain/justify my store preferences - whether I get something at a more expensive store or the dollar store.

Where you choose to shop is your business.

However, remarks about preferring a place because there are no kids running around can get parents' hackles up.  I don't think OP was rude, but it's something to keep in mind.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: Lynn2000 on March 07, 2013, 04:59:17 PM
I agree with you, that was an error on your part.

However, you aren't responsible for the rudeness and ill judgment the OTHER woman displayed, so don't take too much responsibility onto yourself.

And I want to encourage you to *never* feel that you  must justify why you go to small pricey grocery store. When people say "I wouldn't know, I never go there, it's too expensive," just say, "Oh!" brightly.

And stop. Bite your tongue, literally (like, with your teeth, but gently) if you have to. Don't say another word. Then after about two beats, continue on with the ORIGINAL topic, which was the thing that you bought, so say, "it's really delicious," or "we enjoyed it with lentils."

(also, you might think about why you do mention that grocery store, given that you get quizzed about it--are you trying to make a statement? You *can* just leave it out of your original statement: "I bought something at Small Pricey Grocery Store."

POD to this. It was the same woman who made the remark about the store being expensive, AND told the story about witnessing a tantrum, right? Her remark about the store was unnecessary and judgmental. Then, the OP's remarks about avoiding tantrums were awkward and probably a poor choice, but not necessarily rude I think.

Then the first woman decided to run with that and told the tantrum story, apparently with a little too much glee and venom for the other parents--the story itself wouldn't have to be rude, I could see the conversation just being awkward and seizing on the first thing my keyword search brought up, which was a tantrum I'd witnessed the other day, but if you get too carried away judging people in your story, you may find that some of the people around you identify with them more than with you. For example, she probably could have told the same story but been like, "Yeah, it was awful, poor little guy, he just didn't know how else to express himself I guess," and probably no one would have been offended.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: TootsNYC on March 07, 2013, 05:59:16 PM
I think a better response might have been, "Yes, it's a little higher but we like it. Bean dip?"

I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to avoid places that are likely to have lots of children.. I'm a parent and even I like to go to adult places sometimes. But actually saying that you don't want to be around kids is definitely likely to cause some friction among a group of parents.

Actually, saying that you want to avoid ANY group of people is likely to cause friction.

"We like going there because there aren't as many hipsters."
"...aren't as many seniors."
"...aren't as many poor people."
"...aren't as many yuppies / DINKs."

It's just best to leave that sort of negative out of the conversation. What possible good does it serve?
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: Hmmmmm on March 07, 2013, 06:30:02 PM
I think you are right that your initial response was not the best. It was "kid bashing" and negative. You could have said "Oh, we like it because it's seldom crowded." which is positive instead of a "we shop there because 'X' people don't" which is negative.

The subsequent interaction between the other women was not your fault.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: AndreaBeth105 on March 08, 2013, 09:31:47 AM
I think a better response might have been, "Yes, it's a little higher but we like it. Bean dip?"

I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to avoid places that are likely to have lots of children.. I'm a parent and even I like to go to adult places sometimes. But actually saying that you don't want to be around kids is definitely likely to cause some friction among a group of parents.

Actually, saying that you want to avoid ANY group of people is likely to cause friction.

"We like going there because there aren't as many hipsters."
"...aren't as many seniors."
"...aren't as many poor people."
"...aren't as many yuppies / DINKs."

It's just best to leave that sort of negative out of the conversation. What possible good does it serve?

I agree with both of these.  So how about saying "I just really enjoy the shopping atmosphere" instead?  Only you need to know that "shopping atmosphere" is code for "lack of tantruming children" and yet it's a way to share what you really enjoy about the store: the chance to shop in a soothing, adult environment.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: perpetua on March 08, 2013, 10:14:04 AM
I'm going against the grain. OP, I think you were fine. It's not on you to sugar coat something in case parents get offended that other people don't enjoy having to shop around kids melting down in the aisles.

Not everything in life has to have a positive spin put on it.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: Shoo on March 08, 2013, 12:15:40 PM
I'm going against the grain. OP, I think you were fine. It's not on you to sugar coat something in case parents get offended that other people don't enjoy having to shop around kids melting down in the aisles.

Not everything in life has to have a positive spin put on it.

I think I agree with this.  If someone asks me why I don't like to shop at Walmart, I do not hesitate to say it's because every single time I go to a Walmart, there is at least one, if not multiple, children screaming and crying and I can't get away from it.  If someone identifies a little too closely with that, well, I think that's their problem.  I don't feel the need to apologize for not liking the sound of children screaming and crying.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: Dragonflymom on March 08, 2013, 07:02:00 PM
I'm a parent, and sometimes I like to go places without kids too :)

I think you were fine, and this other lady seemed like she was looking for a fight from the beginning.  Self righteously judging you on where you choose to shop because its too expensive, or too cheap, or whatever, is not cool.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: TootsNYC on March 09, 2013, 10:20:50 AM
I'm going against the grain. OP, I think you were fine. It's not on you to sugar coat something in case parents get offended that other people don't enjoy having to shop around kids melting down in the aisles.

Not everything in life has to have a positive spin put on it.

I think I agree with this.  If someone asks me why I don't like to shop at Walmart, I do not hesitate to say it's because every single time I go to a Walmart, there is at least one, if not multiple, children screaming and crying and I can't get away from it.  If someone identifies a little too closely with that, well, I think that's their problem.  I don't feel the need to apologize for not liking the sound of children screaming and crying.

Nobody asked the OP this.
The lady *may* have been sort of asking, "why do you shop there."
But even then, I think there are less fraught ways to say things like this. The rest of us shouldn't have to listen to the details of your pet peeves, etc.

It's uncomfortable for us to listen to. And it opens the door to an extended conversation (as happened here) that is even MORE unpleasant to be in.

The lady who vented about rude kids (and the OP's "tantrums" comment) were really unfair to the listeners. It's an unpleasant topic--I don't want to be in that conversation at a social event or whatever.

It may be true. That doesn't mean you are polite to share it.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: Hmmmmm on March 09, 2013, 12:27:28 PM
I'm going against the grain. OP, I think you were fine. It's not on you to sugar coat something in case parents get offended that other people don't enjoy having to shop around kids melting down in the aisles.

Not everything in life has to have a positive spin put on it.

I think I agree with this.  If someone asks me why I don't like to shop at Walmart, I do not hesitate to say it's because every single time I go to a Walmart, there is at least one, if not multiple, children screaming and crying and I can't get away from it.  If someone identifies a little too closely with that, well, I think that's their problem.  I don't feel the need to apologize for not liking the sound of children screaming and crying.
But she wasn't asked why she didn't shop at other places. She wasn't even asked why she shopped at this store. But she chose to focus on a negative to counter what she viewed as a negative comment by the other person.

While many of us choose to not shop certain places because of a negative factor, I would think we have positive reasons for choosing the stores we like.

Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: perpetua on March 09, 2013, 01:32:57 PM
Why does everything have to have a positive spin on it all the time? A negative statement isn't rude in and of itself. The OP was honest about her reasons for shopping there and that wasn't rude either.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: SiotehCat on March 09, 2013, 01:35:21 PM
I'm going against the grain. OP, I think you were fine. It's not on you to sugar coat something in case parents get offended that other people don't enjoy having to shop around kids melting down in the aisles.

Not everything in life has to have a positive spin put on it.

I think I agree with this.  If someone asks me why I don't like to shop at Walmart, I do not hesitate to say it's because every single time I go to a Walmart, there is at least one, if not multiple, children screaming and crying and I can't get away from it.  If someone identifies a little too closely with that, well, I think that's their problem.  I don't feel the need to apologize for not liking the sound of children screaming and crying.
But she wasn't asked why she didn't shop at other places. She wasn't even asked why she shopped at this store. But she chose to focus on a negative to counter what she viewed as a negative comment by the other person.

While many of us choose to not shop certain places because of a negative factor, I would think we have positive reasons for choosing the stores we like.

But not wanting to shop somewhere because its mostly childfree sounds like a positive reason to me. Shopping there sounds great after that.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: Tabby Uprising on March 09, 2013, 01:52:54 PM
Why does everything have to have a positive spin on it all the time? A negative statement isn't rude in and of itself. The OP was honest about her reasons for shopping there and that wasn't rude either.

No, the OP wasn't rude.  Things don't always have to have a positive spin either.  However, negativity can beget negativity.  Negativity can put people on the defensive.  And certain topics are known to have the potential to be contentious.  It's not rude to discuss hot topics.  It's fine not to be all sunshine and rainbows about everything, but know that introducing a hot topic into a mixed group can ignite heated comments.  And if you're having a light conversation amongst a mixed group of people just killing time before an activity, it might sour the atmosphere somewhat to go from small talk to contentious, hairy, angst-fest right before your Painting with Kittens class. 

Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: oceanus on March 09, 2013, 02:06:53 PM
Quote
Negativity can put people on the defensive.  And certain topics are known to have the potential to be contentious.  It's not rude to discuss hot topics.  It's fine not to be all sunshine and rainbows about everything, but know that introducing a hot topic into a mixed group can ignite heated comments. 

So true.

I once remarked (casually, I thought) that I don’t like going to a particular person’s house because there are always so many loud, barking dogs in the neighborhood.  I received a couple of defensive replies.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: citadelle on March 09, 2013, 04:16:31 PM
Quote
Negativity can put people on the defensive.  And certain topics are known to have the potential to be contentious.  It's not rude to discuss hot topics.  It's fine not to be all sunshine and rainbows about everything, but know that introducing a hot topic into a mixed group can ignite heated comments. 

So true.

I once remarked (casually, I thought) that I don’t like going to a particular person’s house because there are always so many loud, barking dogs in the neighborhood.  I received a couple of defensive replies.

I believe it! Some people are as defensive about their dogs as others are about their children.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: TootsNYC on March 09, 2013, 05:10:16 PM
Why does everything have to have a positive spin on it all the time? A negative statement isn't rude in and of itself. The OP was honest about her reasons for shopping there and that wasn't rude either.

Because it's awkward for the rest of us. This is a casual conversation--it's not a vent fest.

It's rude to the rest of us for you to criticize something in such a gratuitous way in a conversation that is not about that sort of stuff.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: perpetua on March 10, 2013, 04:34:17 AM
Why does everything have to have a positive spin on it all the time? A negative statement isn't rude in and of itself. The OP was honest about her reasons for shopping there and that wasn't rude either.

Because it's awkward for the rest of us. This is a casual conversation--it's not a vent fest.

It's rude to the rest of us for you to criticize something in such a gratuitous way in a conversation that is not about that sort of stuff.

I didn't see it as a vent at all, it was just a statement of fact.

I don't agree with your position, but then I can't abide the notion that everything must be positive and happy-clappy all the time and nobody's ever allowed to say anything even slightly negative,  so perhaps it's me.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: Venus193 on March 10, 2013, 07:25:36 AM

I didn't see it as a vent at all, it was just a statement of fact.

I don't agree with your position, but then I can't abide the notion that everything must be positive and happy-clappy all the time and nobody's ever allowed to say anything even slightly negative,  so perhaps it's me.

It's not just you; I agree.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: Mikayla on March 10, 2013, 11:58:56 AM
Why does everything have to have a positive spin on it all the time? A negative statement isn't rude in and of itself. The OP was honest about her reasons for shopping there and that wasn't rude either.

I think you're creating a false distinction.  For one thing, nobody has called the OP rude.  That's because she wasn't.

The issue is whether it could have been handled better.  If it was a one on one interaction, I completely agree with you.  But in a roomful of parents, even though OP is not at all responsible for the rudeness and escalation of the others, that doesn't mean there might not have been a better response, which several PPs have given. 

I actually think the second person was the rude one, starting with the reverse snobbery in her original question. 
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: Two Ravens on March 10, 2013, 12:13:37 PM
I agree that the "too expensive" lady started the awkward situation.

But that got me thinking. Would the OP's response still be appropriate if the first lady had said, "Oh, I never go there. It's too far from my house."? There's no value judgement there.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: Twik on March 11, 2013, 12:13:05 PM
No, because there's no implication that there's anything wrong with the store, at least for people who live nearer.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: TootsNYC on March 11, 2013, 01:01:15 PM
I didn't see it as a vent at all, it was just a statement of fact.


Just because it's a fact (and it's not, really, it's your opinion) doesn't mean you have to say it.


Quote
I don't agree with your position, but then I can't abide the notion that everything must be positive and happy-clappy all the time and nobody's ever allowed to say anything even slightly negative,  so perhaps it's me.
This is a false dichotomy. You are *not* actually presented with the choice of being "positive and happy-clappy" or saying negative things.

You have many, many more-polite options in between. Including silence.

And honestly, if you're going to drop gratuitous criticisms into casual conversations with people you aren't particularly close to, I bet you they would rather you stayed silent.

Is it necessary for you to volunteer that you dislike WalMart because of loud and unattended children? You said "if someone asks me why I don't shop there," but DOES anybody ask you?

AND...can't you find other less polarizing ways to explain a negative?

Negative comments can turn the whole conversation negative (as they definitely did in the OP's example). That is part of the reason they are not appropriate in most conversations--and definitely not in a casual one.
Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: perpetua on March 11, 2013, 01:21:02 PM
I didn't see it as a vent at all, it was just a statement of fact.


Just because it's a fact (and it's not, really, it's your opinion) doesn't mean you have to say it.


It was indeed a statement of fact. I was referring to the OP's position that she chose to shop at wherever because she doesn't enjoy shopping at places where there are children. That is actually a fact. And the OP has every right to state it if she wants to.

Title: Re: Conversational responsibility...
Post by: turnip on March 11, 2013, 02:52:17 PM
I didn't see it as a vent at all, it was just a statement of fact.


Just because it's a fact (and it's not, really, it's your opinion) doesn't mean you have to say it.


It was indeed a statement of fact. I was referring to the OP's position that she chose to shop at wherever because she doesn't enjoy shopping at places where there are children. That is actually a fact. And the OP has every right to state it if she wants to.

But this isn't 'constitutional right's hell'.   I believe it is rude to express your preference to avoid a particular sub-group of people, whatever that sub-group might be and however reasonable your objections to them might be.     It is a topic best avoided.