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May 2011
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Ys [userpic]

Spawned by a conversation with my husband (fenton, who may make a poll of his own, he's playing with his new permanent account) and his sister (zylch, who doesn't (yet) have a paid account and so just has a post on the subject).

Hypothetical situation: You throw an annual holiday party for your colleagues, who range in age from 23 to near on retiring. This is the only social event that you host/attend in a given year (no, not even having friends over for dinner or movies). You have two children whose ages range from 3 to 10 during the years that you do this.

ETA: It is generally polite to ask one way or another, when you're not the one hosting. In this poll I'm not talking about failing to ask or making blind assumptions, I'm asking, "What's the general cultural assumption/norm in your world?" At one point in the poll I made a comment about asking first; what I meant there was really something like, "It varies so much that I have to ask every time or I wouldn't know," or something along those lines, not "I ask to be polite." Just FYI.

Poll #511085 Parties and Children

How do you deal with your children during the party?

They're treated just like anyone else who's attending the party.
Allow the children to be present until their normal bedtime, at which point they are put to bed.
Feed them dinner early, present them briefly to your colleagues, and then send them to go play quietly in their rooms. (Think Sound of Music.)
Don't allow them to meet the guests at all. Demand that they play quietly in their rooms the whole time. If possible, pretend that they don't exist. (Think Harry Potter.)
Something else. (see below)

If not one of the above, how do you deal with it?

Do you expect the same basic convention when you go to a party someone else is hosting?

Yes, but I ask first because it varies in my social group
No, most of the parties I go to have different standards
Something else. (see below)

Other parties-and-children expectations:

If you have kids, do you expect to bring them with you to most parties? Do you expect other people to bring their kids to most parties you go to?

Yes, it's rare that I go to a party where children aren't expected
Yes, but there are generally arrangements made there for the kids seperate from the adults
No, parties are for getting away from the kids
Something else. (see below)

Yet more other parties-and-children expectations:

Do these expectations change significantly in your mind based on whether the party/gathering is "formal" or "informal"? (For these purposes, assume "formal" means "the most formal thing I ever bother to go to/host"...if you don't ever go to White Tie dinners, then don't answer as to what you would expect there. This is about what you generally do/assume/experience.)

Yes, very different assumptions between formal and informal gatherings
Only subtle or occasional differences
No, not really all that different
Something else. (see below)

What else about formality?

I'm sure I forgot some important bits. Feel free to tell me in comments.

Current Mood: curiouscurious

I didnt take the poll but I will say that I am increasingly irritated by people who make *assumptions* about bringing their kids to things that are *clearly* not intended for them.

I am going out next Tuesday to dinner with some friends, at a restaurant chosen because of the quality of their food and margaritas. It's not cheap. Someone I dont know, but who knows someone *else* who is going (and hence was invited by that person) just assumed their four year old was included in the invite. *THAT* irks me. It *should* be pretty clear by the nature of the event that this isn't something one necessarily wants kids to attend.

But for some reason this concept sailed right over their heads.

I agree, but that's a fairly different phenomenon than what I'm talking about. It's always polite to ask, but there are generally cultural assumptions about what the answers will normally be. (There are always exceptions in any culture, of course, but I'm mostly looking at the norms.)

There's a reason for this questioning, of course. *grin*

I do not think there was a single failed assumption here. I think there were two. You are assuming something is obvious that clearly wasn't. They are asssuming someone is welcome who clearly wasn't. Neither party specified kid details in communication, so I hold both responsible, possibly the organizer of the event most responsible as they were presumed to be giving details out as appropriate. Not more so if there wasn't a concrete organizer and it was more of a friend invites friend who invites... sort of situation.

I think it's a damn sad hting, personally that anyone is expected to leave their kids out of their life as their default based on some sort of guess at activity cost, attire, etc.

How bout *adult evening*? With copious drinking?

Had I been the one to invite this person I would have made it quite clear, but it was exactly as you said-- friend invited friend. I just really did not anticipate this being a kid-friendly event, and in fact, it probably *wont* be, whether one is present or not.

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I can generally take my kid to most outings because most of my friends are the same emotional age as the child (five).

Thanks for making me giggle.

Heh. Yes. Me too. :)

Since the poll specifies that we're talking about my child...

Elayna just stays with us til her natural bedtime, at which the entire group choruses "Goodnight, Elayna!" and she blushes and we go tuck her in.

Elayna's mature - she's an only child growing up in a social circle largely devoid of other kid, so she regards my friends as her friends. And vice versa. So she may be an exception.

At the gatherings of others? People usually make it pretty clear when she's invited. I ask if it isn't clear. And, of course, some stuff, it's clear from context (I got an eVite to a "Let's Get Stinkin' Drunk!" party).

Formality... again, it's usually specified. She wasn't invited to my friend Nickie's wedding - which I deduced from the invite being addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. Adam L.", with no "and Elayna S." or "and family". Pretty basic with formality - if the child has not been expressly invited, do not bring the child. She *has*, on the other hand, been invited to dark_blade's wedding, where I expect she'll have fun playing with dark_blade's few-years-younger brother; there'll be a kid table. dark_blade is one of her favorite grownups, and she's dark_blade's favorite non-family kid...

Any questions? Because obviously I don't know if I'm addressing what you're seeking info on. :)

That's pretty much the way our child is being raised. Only child, considers our friends to be *his* friends.

If it's a booze-it-up party or the host says NO KIDS, or it's a restaurant, we generally try to find someone to watch the child, because in the first two cases it'd be inappropriate, and in the last case he'd drive me UP A WALL because "restaurants are boring".

No, I think you've covered the general gist.

Mostly I was/am looking for cultural assumptions among my social circle about events and children. (Yeah, some of my social circle is childfree and that changes the assumptions some, but still.)

I should add a comment about rudeness/asking to the main post, it occurs to me...

Too many people assume kids are not welcome anywhere. I have friends with kids where I rarely or never see the kids. Just becuase we havn't been fortunate enough to have kids of our own, doesn't mean we don't like them. I rememeber my Grandpa's client parties. Kids (cousins and myself) were allowed. We had to put up with people rubbing the tops of our heads, and we had to eat adult knoshes: brie, cavier, and champange - but ultamitly we were treated well. Ocassionally an adult would actually strike up a conversation with us, or we'd sit under the tables, the tableclothes forming tents. Frankly, being short and quiet, many adults probobly didn't even notice us. Watching Grampa entertaining and holding court is a precious memory. He was proud of our manners. By-the-by, I had more socialite abilities at age 6 than I do now, I'm much more likely to cause a scene or say the wrong thing than i used to. Times have changed. Children are no longer expected to act like little adults. I get that. I don't know if thats for the best though.

I find this question odd. This sort of ambiguity just doesn't happen in my life. Maybe it is because I mostly hang out with other families. Or maybe it is because I almost never take my kids out past their bedtimes, so it never occurs to me to wonder if evening parties are open to kids. But...really, this question just never arises. I can't remember the last time I got a party invite in which kids' presence or non- was not explicit, or at least obvious (such as "you and your family are invited to the Smith residence for a BBQ" or "there will be sushi for the adults and chicken nuggets for the kids" or "Johnny is turning 5, please come celebrate with us" or something). Kids are included in most party invites; the few that don't include kids are usually phrased delicately ("our home is not childproof" or "there will be rated R activities going on, so please leave your under-17s at home") or, again, it is obvious (such as kinky sex parties. Um...duh.)

If at some point it WAS ambiguous, I would surely ask before bringing my kids.

Oh, couple more comments on the topic.

Back before I procreated, I wasn't much of "kid person". When I hosted parties, as I did semi-regularly, I wasn't too keen on having kids there. On the other hand, I didn't want my few friends with kids to feel left out. So I always explicitly stated that kids were acceptable (unless it was an adult-themed party) but I wouldn't say I was actively encouraging. Now, as a parent, were I to receive an invitation like that, I would not bring my kids -- no fun for parents, kids OR host.

Now, as a parent, I often use parties as an excuse to get out of the house and get a break from my kids, even if the invitation says kids are acceptable. (This is especially true if the party is in the evening...I'm the Bedtime Nazi, my kids don't stay up significantly past their bedtime for hell or highwater) As such, I have to admit for having less patience for ill-behaved kids at mostly-adult parties than I did even before having kids: if I had wanted to deal with cranky kids, I'd have stayed home with my own! Many parents in my social circle don't share my attitude about bedtime, and don't have a problem with keeping their kids out 2, 3 or even 4 hours past their bedtimes. Unfortunately sometimes their kids don't deal as well with schedule variations as the parents would wish and, as kids do, get hard to manage as the hours wear on. I will admit that I wish those people would take their kids home at bedtime.

I think the situation likely indicates that both parties thought the answer was obvious, but they had different values for X when they solved their going out equations. While you may not have the same on this issue, personally, probably partially because your peer group is fairly homogeneously parents, there is probably some topic about which "obvious manners" were differently interpreted between two parties in your life. How do they resolve that? Is it productive to be annoyed and assume that what is obvious to you is or should be obvious to someone else (for whom it clearly wasn't)? That is the point I was trying for above. It has almost nothing to do with a 4 year old being or not being invited, literally, and everything to do with useful handling of conflicting assumptions when they crop up on some subject at some point. Is it worth losing a potential friend by judging them poorly for a different cultural assumption from yours instead of just confronting the difference and clarifying?

To me, this is like being annoyed that your child falls down when learning to walk. Humans are so diverse that at some point, somewhere, failure will happen in communication that seems obvious to both parties involved. To me, at least, being annoyed at standard human behavior and variation seems rather phyrric as moral victories go.

That may be your point but it wasn't mine. I have no awareness of the situation described by ysabel, and therefore no opinion on what happened. I'm answering her stated question about what my social assumptions and expectations are about bringing kids to parties. She proposed the topic; I'm simply responding with my opinion. I haven't once said what I would do/say if someone brought kids to a party when I didn't think it was appropriate. Since you ask, my answer is: be as gracious and accomodating as possible. That's the host's duty at all times.