Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: Cherry91 on June 14, 2013, 09:20:34 AM

Title: Changing the Channel?
Post by: Cherry91 on June 14, 2013, 09:20:34 AM
Hi, this is my first post here so please bear with me if I haven't got it quite right.

I recently completed university, and returned to my parents' home until I can find a job and get the money together for a place of my own. My parents and I have agreed that once I have a job, I will pay them rent (but less than I would pay in a place of my own) and also pull my weight around the house.

My parents and I eat dinner together most nights, and often eat in the living room with the TV on. That's where the problem lies. My parents watch a soap opera that is completely and utterly steeped in misery. I used to watch it with them years ago, but as it became more and more grim, I became put off. When we eat in the living room, my parents almost always put on their soap opera, and it often makes me uncomfortable while I eat. Also, the show is on at least 4 times a week, often more, so there's almost always an episode recorded. My parents know I dislike the show, as it's come up in conversation in the past, and if they put it on while I'm in the room when we're not eating dinner, I will go and do something else.

I fully acknowledge that it's my parents' house and my parents' TV, but is there any way I could politely request that we watch something else?
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: MrTango on June 14, 2013, 09:34:01 AM
Welcome!

I think there's no harm in saying "Hey, mom/dad.  Is there any chance we could watch something else while we're eating?"
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: BeagleMommy on June 14, 2013, 09:38:06 AM
You can, by all means, ask if you could put something different on TV while dining with them.  However, you should be prepared that they will say no to your request.  Since this seems to have become a tradition/pattern they may not want to change.

As long as you don't become demanding or petulant you can always ask.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: NyaChan on June 14, 2013, 11:20:36 AM
I would ask for a change, but be prepared for it to be turned down.  My dad does this with the news at dinner sometimes and when I'm not in the mood, the easiest way to deal with it is to start a conversation.  Pretty soon they either turn the tv off because they can't hear the conversation enough to respond or I get distracted enough not to care that death and gloom is pouring off the screen.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: CakeBeret on June 14, 2013, 11:26:20 AM
I would talk to them at a non-meal-time and say something like "Hey Mom and Dad, Morose Soap Opera is really not my favorite. Can we pick a different show to watch together a couple nights a week?" Try to find a show that everyone will enjoy. Don't ask them to stop watching Morose Soap Opera every night, but see if they'll compromise on one or two nights.

Good luck!
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: Roodabega on June 14, 2013, 11:36:31 AM
If you ask and they answer "no", would it be possible to respond in a cheery voice: "OK then, I'll just take my dinner to my room and watch tv/do something on my computer"?  As long as you are polite about it, I can't see that it would be a problem.  Possibly it would get them to change the program.  Either way, you get out of watching a program that you don't like.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: cb140 on June 14, 2013, 11:48:17 AM
I think I'm with most of the previous posters in saying that there's no harm in asking nicely, but you have to be prepared to accept a No, even though in my personal opinion that would be a bit churlish of your parents - surely there must be something that you all enjoy equally? My son isn't quite as old as you (he is 17) but what we do is say that if its something *only* he likes, he must watch it when we are busy doing other things, but if we are having dinner together in the living room, we will find something we all want to watch.

Interestingly, I wonder what people's views would be if the OP *was* paying her parents rent? Would that give her increased rights over the tv?
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: #borecore on June 14, 2013, 12:20:43 PM
I think I'm with most of the previous posters in saying that there's no harm in asking nicely, but you have to be prepared to accept a No, even though in my personal opinion that would be a bit churlish of your parents - surely there must be something that you all enjoy equally? My son isn't quite as old as you (he is 17) but what we do is say that if its something *only* he likes, he must watch it when we are busy doing other things, but if we are having dinner together in the living room, we will find something we all want to watch.

Interestingly, I wonder what people's views would be if the OP *was* paying her parents rent? Would that give her increased rights over the tv?

Unfortunately for the OP, not really.  I think she gets 1/3 say, so she can make her opinion known (and should), but rent or no rent, she wouldn't be able to unilaterally overrule the other two adults in the home.

If I were in this situation (the closest I've come is my mom and two younger siblings when home from college for the summer), I compromised by staying as long as it took me to eat, then getting up whether the show I didn't like was over or not.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: bopper on June 14, 2013, 01:07:28 PM
You could tell them that the show really bothers you to watch while eating, but you understand that this is their house and this is what they like to do.
Perhaps you could say that you will eat with them 2 days  a week without the show, and the other days they can watch the show and you will eat elsewhere.
Or you could take a course or get a part time job that is during the dinner hours so you cant eat with tham.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: AvidReader on June 14, 2013, 03:02:57 PM
OP, could you opt out and dine elsewhere, like in the kitchen or dining room and use the opportunity to catch up with the newspaper, a magazine, or a book while your parents are enjoying their show? 
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: TootsNYC on June 14, 2013, 03:18:04 PM
There are 2 of them to one of you--are you proposing that they miss it entirely?

If so, don't even bring it up.

If you can TIVO it to read later, then I would say, "Mom and Dad, I find it upsetting to watch that show while I'm eating, and it interferes with family conversation. Can I fix it so that the show is recorded, and you can watch it after dinner?"

Otherwise, I would suggest you take your food elsewhere, from the very beginning. That's the price THEY pay--they don't get to eat with you if you need to avoid that sort of negativity.

And you have my strong, strong sympathies.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: whatsanenigma on June 14, 2013, 03:34:22 PM
Whatever you do, I would advise going around it from another angle, with less focus on "let's not watch this show" and more focus on "let's watch this specific, other show".

Maybe you could suggest watching movies together, for example.  Your meal probably doesn't last the length of time of a full movie, so you could watch it in segments.  Something to look forward to every night (the continuing movie) and something specific to talk about at the table and after.

Or maybe there is another show that you like and want to share, and you could suggest that you watch that show instead.

It's even possible, depending on your family dynamics, that you could say that dinner is the only time you really get to sit with them and you would like to talk and have more elaborate conversations than watching tv at the same time allows for.  Tell them you want to get to know them better and them to know you better.   Basically, no tv at all during the meal.

Good luck on this one, I hope it all goes well.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: TootsNYC on June 14, 2013, 03:45:27 PM

It's even possible, depending on your family dynamics, that you could say that dinner is the only time you really get to sit with them and you would like to talk and have more elaborate conversations than watching tv at the same time allows for.  Tell them you want to get to know them better and them to know you better.   Basically, no tv at all during the meal.


This would be my own preference!
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: sweetonsno on June 14, 2013, 03:56:05 PM
I don't think you can try to demand that your parents not watch their favorite show because you dislike it, especially if they would otherwise miss it. I think your best bet is a two-pronged approach: first, say that you really would like to have dinner be a time when you can all come together and talk about your day; then, offer to Tivo the show so they can watch it after.

If that really wouldn't work with your family dynamic, you can certainly ask if they'd be willing to watch another show during dinner (again, offer to Tivo the soap if necessary). As with all of the other posters thus far, I agree that you have to be willing to accept a "no." (Unless TV-watching is considered family bonding time, you can probably get away with just excusing yourself to another room during dinner and/or leaving as soon as you have finished your meal.)
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: TootsNYC on June 14, 2013, 04:03:31 PM
Since part of your agreement is to carry your own weight in terms of household matters, what if you became the person in charge of cooking dinner?

And you can cook while the show is on (wear headphones to block it out, and to help you concentrate), and eat after!!
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: jilly on June 14, 2013, 04:18:30 PM
Since part of your agreement is to carry your own weight in terms of household matters, what if you became the person in charge of cooking dinner?

And you can cook while the show is on (wear headphones to block it out, and to help you concentrate), and eat after!!

This is a great idea, you get to avoid the show while doing your share and your parents get to enjoy their show with no chit-chat.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: CakeBeret on June 14, 2013, 04:42:40 PM
Since part of your agreement is to carry your own weight in terms of household matters, what if you became the person in charge of cooking dinner?

And you can cook while the show is on (wear headphones to block it out, and to help you concentrate), and eat after!!

This is a great idea, you get to avoid the show while doing your share and your parents get to enjoy their show with no chit-chat.

Agreed! I love this idea.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: scotcat60 on June 15, 2013, 09:08:45 AM
I don't think you can try to demand that your parents not watch their favorite show because you dislike it, especially if they would otherwise miss it. I think your best bet is a two-pronged approach: first, say that you really would like to have dinner be a time when you can all come together and talk about your day; then, offer to Tivo the show so they can watch it after.


I'd go for this too.

How long does the show last? If it's only half an hour then perhaps you could live with it. My Dad used to like wildlife programmes. Mum and I were not so keen, but we would sit and watch with him, if we had nothing else to do. He sometimes complained that  things I liked were rubbish, but Mum would say "Well Scotcat 60 likes it" i.e. it's part of family life that you can't all agree perfectly on what you want. You can't insist on people changing their habits just because you don't like something. So recording the show, or doing something else while it's on is a good compromise.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: artk2002 on June 15, 2013, 09:36:11 AM
If we were doing something during dinner that upset one of my sons, I would absolutely want to know about it, so that I could fix it. Even if that means missing my favorite TV show. I would think very badly of a parent who refused to accommodate their child in that situation. There are times when "I'm the parent, this is the way things will be" is appropriate and times when it isn't.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: delabela on June 15, 2013, 10:27:46 AM
If we were doing something during dinner that upset one of my sons, I would absolutely want to know about it, so that I could fix it. Even if that means missing my favorite TV show. I would think very badly of a parent who refused to accommodate their child in that situation. There are times when "I'm the parent, this is the way things will be" is appropriate and times when it isn't.

Good point.  They should be given the opportunity to fix the situation.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: Cherry91 on June 15, 2013, 03:06:37 PM
Hello! OP here.

Thank you for everyone's responses so far. There's been some good advice on ways to approach the issue.

For reference, my parents' have a satellite package that allows them to record TV shows. They set their TV to record all episodes of the show and watch them at their leisure. This means that it isn't possible to avoid the show when its on as some people recommended. When we sit down to eat, my parents play the most recently recorded episode of the soap.

Also, there's not anywhere else in the house I could really eat to avoid the TV. Our dining room and living room are one large room with a panel partially separating the two areas, so even if I couldn't see the TV, I would still be able to hear it, and nowhere else in the house is really dining appropriate.

But thank you to everyone who responded.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: Twik on June 16, 2013, 09:53:52 PM
Who misses Tv shows these days? Between repeats, tiVo, multiple channels showing the same thing at different times and DVDs, I doubt the parents have no options.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on June 16, 2013, 10:11:21 PM
Hello! OP here.

Thank you for everyone's responses so far. There's been some good advice on ways to approach the issue.

For reference, my parents' have a satellite package that allows them to record TV shows. They set their TV to record all episodes of the show and watch them at their leisure. This means that it isn't possible to avoid the show when its on as some people recommended. When we sit down to eat, my parents play the most recently recorded episode of the soap.

Also, there's not anywhere else in the house I could really eat to avoid the TV. Our dining room and living room are one large room with a panel partially separating the two areas, so even if I couldn't see the TV, I would still be able to hear it, and nowhere else in the house is really dining appropriate.

But thank you to everyone who responded.

What about the kitchen? Could you eat there without hearing/seeing the show?

If not, I'd sit in the dining room with my back to the TV and wear headphones to block the noise.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: TootsNYC on June 16, 2013, 10:45:12 PM
Honestly, if I were in your shoes, I'd probably feel even MORE strongly than you do about avoiding it.

And I'd broach the idea. If my parents didn't go for it (and I can see that at dinner time might be one of the few times they can sit down to watch anything), I'd find a way to MAKE my bedroom dining appropriate.

I'd get an oversize TV tray or some other small folding table, and put it in my bedroom and play music while I ate.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: hannahmollysmom on June 17, 2013, 01:19:33 AM
To be honest, I'm sure this is a routine they got into while you were at University. Hard to break old habits now. If it bothers you that much, I opt with the other posters that said you should just go off into another room to eat. They may take the hint after awhile.

Maybe you could mention that they watch it every other night, and you get to pick on the odd nights.

Many years ago, I moved back home after being away for a few years. I stayed up later then my folks. The only TV was in the living room. I would turn it down low, but they still said it kept them awake. That is when it made me realize, it was their home, and they were used to doing things a different way than me.

Us older people get set in our ways and routines. Last year, my daughter and family lost their electric for a few days due to a storm. They stayed with me. After a couple of days of my routine being upset, they finally got their power back and went home. I was so relieved. While I love them dearly, it was an adjustment to my daily routine.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: stormyskies on June 18, 2013, 05:11:07 PM
It's even possible, depending on your family dynamics, that you could say that dinner is the only time you really get to sit with them and you would like to talk and have more elaborate conversations than watching tv at the same time allows for.  Tell them you want to get to know them better and them to know you better.   Basically, no tv at all during the meal.

My choice would also be to make dinnertime TV-free. It will give you all a time to relax and actually talk to each other. TV-free meals are also better for your health. I've battled my weight for many years, and one thing that all the experts agree on it that people who eat with no distractions pay more attention to what they are eating, enjoy their meal more, and are less likely to overeat.
Title: Re: Changing the Channel?
Post by: stormyskies on June 18, 2013, 05:28:35 PM
You have my sympathy. My mom is addicted to judge shows, which I despise, and she has dozens of them stored on her video player.  Even when I leave the room, the obnoxious voice of one particular judge seems to permeate the entire house (complete with my mom talking back to the TV as she  sanctimoniously agrees with said obnoxious judge). It's like hearing fingernails on a blackboard.

The only escape, it seems, is to walk outside or to put on headphones and listen to something more agreeable.

Some people can tune out extraneous noise, and some can't. You might have some luck if you make conversation instead. You could say something like, "I'd love to hear that story, dad, do you mind if I pause Morose Soap Opera? I can't concentrate on two things at once, and I want to give you my undivided attention."

If that strategy doesn't work and you find the program insufferable, I agree that it's perfectly reasonable to excuse yourself.