General Etiquette > Family and Children

Guest/Host TV Etiquette (Long-ish)

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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?

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.) 

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.

Miss Tickle:
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.

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.


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