February 9, 2009

Manners & Etiquette

Rearin’ the Petites Monday

It is Buttercup Farm’s first official Rearin’ the Petites Monday!

ANNOUNCEMENT: When I started “Life At Buttercup Farm” (blog), I dreamed of creating a small forum for PURPOSEFUL parents who have OPINIONS about raising children. My goal is that on Mondays, we will ELABORATE on a topic by sharing ideas, thoughts and opinions. I know that we can learn from each other and inspire others by sharing our best practices when it comes to raising our children. RULES: OPINIONS ARE ALLOWED however, this is a judgement-free zone. Every parent has a different way. In that vein, I ask that we keep the flavor of this forum positive and helpful.

Our topic this week:

A few weeks ago, my oldest daughter (8 years old) went to a birthday party where the birthday girl received a new cell phone from her parents. I have come to find out that 3 girls in my daughter’s 3 grade class have them. I have to tell you, I am SHOCKED to say the least and disagree with that philosophy completely.

Recently I have had lots of questions about “PHONE ETIQUETTE”. For example, when is it appropriate for a child to get their first phone? What should the rules be when they are given the responsibility of having a cell phone. What type of cell phone usage is appropriate in the home?

Last week, I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with Virginia Johnson, an expert on Manners and Etiquette.
Virginia is the founder/owner of The Contemporary School of Etiquette.

Listen to our conversation and learn what Virginia has to say about 1) Technology Etiquette for Children 2) Which manners Virginia focuses on when she starts teaching children at the Contemporary School of Etiquette.

Interview on Manners

I want to hear from you on this subject. What do you think is appropriate for kids and cell phones? What has worked? What would you do differently? Do you have additional questions for Virginia?

I have already started a new list of questions for her. I want to know how old should a child be before they are allowed to answer the home phone? When is it appropriate for children to call another home?

There are two ways to respond to today’s post. You can leave a comment and/or question in the comment section below OR you can link a post you have written on the subjects presented today from your blog. Click on the Mr. Linky logo below to link a post!

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Down home friends and what they say...

Comments (4)

Melanie Tindale said:

I’ve given some thought to this subject - I know that one day we too will face this dilemma. When I was in school, I got my first cell phone when I started driving, for emergency use only. Clearly, times have changed. I think that could be justification made for an “emergency-use only” cell phone at the age when a child starts participating in after school activities or other extracurriculars. I’m thinking generally around the middle school age.

Home phone conversations with other buddies I think can begin earlier, third or fourth grade-ish, or whenever the child is socially ready to carry on a phone conversation, as long as they respect the other parents’ rules, i.e. no phone calls after 8pm, etc. and if it’s a social call, not until after schoolwork is done.

I think answering the home phone is safe for a child by around second grade, but some instruction should be given. Kids should be taught how to answer the phone, take simple messages, and once they’re old enough to stay home alone, be instructed to never tell anyone on the phone that they are alone in the house.

By the time we are dealing with this for Jillian, the “rules” of the game will no doubt have changed again! I’m interested to see the rest of your readers’ thoughts on this subject!

Kathleen von Raesfeld said:

Thank you so very much for hosting this interview and sharing with your audience. This is my first visit to your blog and I will return. I also am the mother of 2 wonderful daughters and am trying to teach them to behave like ladies. I had the distinct privilege of learning so much from my own amazing grandmothers and of caring for them before they passed away. I truly miss their wisdom and am so grateful for their role in my life. Thank you for providing this resource. I may even let them listen to the interview so that they realize that I am not the “only” mother who thinks 8 is too young for a cell phone. Eight is also far too young to be left at home alone!

You are 100% correct that this “crutch” impedes children from staying connected with their surroundings and growing their own sense of self worth and awareness of danger actually. Thank you for this excellent point, I agree. We parents are tasked with supervising more heavily but I believe that in the long run this will be interpreted that we care because we do. I also think this keeps us connected. It will not be long and these children will be off at college then married, I want to create all the memories I can in person - role playing, storytelling, reading books together. Your concert series looks like so much fun… what a great time for memories!

Joan Zakel said:

This is a very interesing and appropiate subject to discuss for both children and adults. Children learn how to behave from the adults around them. As parents we are always very conscientious about teaching our young children appropriate behavior and manners, but we sometimes don’t practice what we preach in our adult lives. Parents must set the behavior that they want their children to emulate. Ultimately, I feel that the key to teaching your children good manners is common sense. If you can instill common sense in your children, they will make the appropriate choices.

On the subject of cell phones, I believe that it is hard to set an age that is appropriate to own a cell phone. Each child has a different level of maturity, so individually, the parents must determine when they can receive the technology. It is also the parents responsibility to show the children how to correctly use the technology. If the parent continuously talks on the cell phone when they are in the presence of their children, the children will take on a very lax cell phone etiquette. Just as parents make their children read directions before using a new toy or technology, the parents must be responsible enough to set guidelines on the use of a cell phone from the very beginning.

Jena Peay said:

First, love this new Monday column.

I have a 7 year old daughter who doesn’t just want a cell phone, she wants an IPhone. She knows that she is NOT getting any kind of cell phone, but wants to know when she will be old enough for one. I’ve been very honest with her and have told her that I have no idea myself. This is a very interesting topic and I look forward to reading more of your ideas.

I was recently at a birthday party for a child turning 6. This adorable kindergartner sat down and pulled a cell phone out of the front pocket of her overalls. She told me that she needed to text her Dad to come and pick her up. Seriously. Now, I don’t know her family’s circumstances that day so I won’t judge too harshly, but just the image of a very petite, 5 year old girl, wearing overalls, and texting almost gave me a heart attack (and a good laugh). I just hope that her parents weren’t relying on receiving that text to come and get her. Let’s assume that she was nervous about being dropped off at the party and her parents gave her the phone to make her feel more secure. Although, personally, if my child was nervous about being dropped off, I would stay with her. (another topic)

Anyway, my feeling is that you will “just know” when your child is ready for the responsibility of a cell phone. My child may get one in 3 years, maybe 5, maybe 7. There will absolutely be rules. Rules like the phone stays on its charger in the kitchen at all times. There will be no late night texting! I reserve the right to disrespect my children’s privacy and check phone logs if it is warranted. The same goes for computers, although this is a different topic. And absolutely, there will be no cell phone use at meal time.

Again, I am not anywhere close to actually having to make these decisions, and I am sure that I will change my mind several times between now and then. Good luck to all of us dealing with the parenting challenges brought on by technology!

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