General Etiquette > Techno-quette

Dear Abby - answering and returning phone calls

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Basically, a woman says she and her daughter have a difference of opinion on answering the phone.  Daughter thinks its ok not to answer if you're busy; mom says no, you should, but simply tell the caller you are busy, and you'll have to call them back later.

Mom also says daughter does this to her, and sometimes she won't call back for nine hours or until the next day, and daughter has been "watching a movie or walking the dog" Daughter is also in her 20's, married with a family.  Mom says she gets upset and nervous if she doens't hear from daughter, but also that when she answers daughter's calls, and says she's busy, daughter gets annoyed and says well, you shouldn't have answered the phone.

I pretty much agree with Abby, except for her telling mom that daughter not returning the call within 9 hours shows a lack of respect for mom's feelings. We all get busy, and to me, mom seems to be a tad overbearing.  I know I speak to my mom every day, and sometimes when she's not home, and is gone for sometime, I do get a tad anxious, but that's MY issue, not hers.  And she always calls me back when she's home.  So I don't thnk the daughter is showing any disrespect; I think she's living her life, and she calls mom back when its convenience for her.

Although Abby does go on to say perhaps mom calls too much....


--- Quote ---Mom also says daughter does this to her, and sometimes she won't call back for nine hours or until the next day, and daughter has been "watching a movie or walking the dog"

--- End quote ---

Well, if I'm relaxing after a long day of work by watching a movie in the evening, or reading to my kids, or anything that I don't want to interrupt, it's probably too late when I'm finished to return a call, so it won't be returned until the next day. In this I disagree with Abby. 

I agree with the daughter that if you're too busy to take a call, you shouldn't answer. If it's important I'll leave a message.  There is never anything wrong with not answering the phone. My phone is there for my convenience and I won't answer it if I don't want to. 

I also think the mom needs to loosen the apron strings.  Her daughter is an adult with a family of her own and doesn't need to check in with her parents daily. 

My mom does this too.  She calls me at work at 9 am and then gets mad that I don't call her back until after 7 pm when I have finished cooking dinner and eating.  But she also knows that I can't talk during the day.

Wow.  I only answer the phone when I feel like it and I very specifically don't say on my VM that I'll call back, because well... I might not.  Just because someone calls me and wants me to call them doesn't mean I have to.  Any outgoing calls I make are 100% my choice and my choice alone.

I definitely think the mother sounds overbearing, and I agree with Abby "also possible that [the mother] may be calling too often."  I have what I feel are very good and healthy relationships with both of my parents - and I speak to then no more then once a week, sometimes its a month in between talking.  Maybe there's a few emails or FB messages between speaking, but geez, like Abby says bad news travels fast, unless there is something to say, I'm not going to waste my time idly chatting.  I get it some people enjoy chatting, which is totally cool for them, but its not cool to expect everyone to be the same and super eager to call them (or call them back) over unimportant matters.

My parents and I had a HUGE fight about this several years ago when I moved across the country. They wanted me to call every single day, and I thought that was overkill. They also think that I should return any and all missed calls within the same day. I ended up "winning" because circumstances were in my favor; it's not like they could force me to call them all the time. Once my mom tried to manipulate me into seeing things her way (by pretending that she had had to go to the hospital...long story) and it blew up in her face when I decided to not talk to her for eight months as a result. After that, they decided to move on to text messaging instead, which wasn't any better. That blew up in their faces as well when they yelled at me for not responding to my texts promptly and I decided to not go home for Christmas that year because I didn't want to deal with them. It's annoying to have to use this type of tactic (i.e. "stop badgering me unless you want to lose me completely") but tbh my parents don't respond to anything else. I can talk until my face turns blue, but they only sit up and pay attention when I do something like this. It's frustrating.

Honestly, my take on this is: I got a cell phone for my convenience, not anyone else's. It is not an electronic leash for people who feel entitled to get in touch with me 24/7.

It's for this reason that I can never, ever see myself moving back to my hometown. My parents would probably flip a lid if I didn't see them everyday. I love them but dang, they're smothering. And they wonder why I wanted to move across the country in the first place....


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