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One Geek to Another - Parenting Etiquette
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  Click here to go to the first special guest post in this thread.   Thread: One Geek to Another - Parenting Etiquette

  1. #1
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    One Geek to Another - Parenting Etiquette

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    Every social group has its own expectations when it comes to parenting, co-parenting and child care. Geekdom is no different. In fact, the ranges of views on these issues within the geek community can often lead to misunderstandings and uncomfortable situations when it comes to the issue of parenting styles. While there's no one "right" way to raise kids, when it comes to parenting etiquette, there are definitely some common faux pas made, and (perhaps because of the social flexibility that geekdom often exhibits), they are as common or more common in geek communities than in other environments.

    Not All Events are Kid-Friendly
    Some geek activities are clearly adult-focused. If the plans are to see an R rated movie (whether in someone's house or at a theater), the assumption should be that it's a kidless event. Likewise, activities held in bars or with adult (sex or violence) themes should be assumed to be grown-up only.

    In some cases, the event announcement or invitation is not specifically family or adult oriented by default. If, for example, a couple without children invites a couple with children for a movie viewing, they may not be anticipating a family outing. It would be polite for them, in this case, to specify their expectations in the invitation, so as to allow the parents to accept or decline based on their own desires and resources. "I know it can be hard to get a sitter, but John and I would love to have the two of you over to watch the season premiere of Supernatural. If we gave you guys enough notice, do you think you could get away for an evening out with us?" Or, if the children are invited - "We'd love to have you all over for movies. Do the kids like popcorn?"

    And some events can even include both. A friend of ours frequently has parties where the invitations let folks know that the gathering is "family friendly" until 9pm, and then turns "grownups only". If the expectations are made clearly and politely in advance of the event, most of the hard feelings can be avoided.

    Ideally, if there's any ambiguity about the nature of the event, the host should specify in the invitation if they have a preference for family-friendly or adults-only. It's their call, if they're hosting the event, and as long as the invitation is handled politely, parents shouldn't be insulted if they're invited to an event which is specified as "grownups only, please." If the invitation doesn't specify, and there's any question in the parent's mind that the event isn't family-friendly, they should ask the host ahead of time.

    Sometimes, due to misunderstanding or miscommunication, a parent will show up at an event that was intended to be for grown-ups. In this case, they have two polite choices, depending on the nature of the event. Either, excuse themselves (and their children) after letting the host know politely that they misunderstood the nature of the event, or (if the event is not something where the presence of children will disrupt the enjoyment of the rest of the group or be inappropriate for their children) attend the event while keeping a PRIMARY focus on the whereabouts and activities of their children to ensure their presence doesn't adversely affect the rest of the attendees.

    What Makes A Village
    There is an adage that "it takes a village to raise a child." And, while we do believe that children do well in an environment where they are surrounded by safe, sane, loving adults, not every geek community is a village. Unless the members of the community have ALL agreed to be part of a co-parenting arrangement (formally or informally), then it is not only impolite, but downright dangerous to hand over the parenting of a child to a social group. A village is not a village unless it has, to a member, agreed to be one.

    This, actually, is a major pet peeve of this Geek. Even at family-friendly events, parents are responsible for their children's activities, needs and behavior unless they've formally been handed off into someone else's care. Do not show up to any event, no matter how kid-friendly, and abandon your children to the collective care of the gathered group unless you are certain that you have established a mutual social contract with that group to do so. You are responsible for their needs (food and drink, appropriate clothing, sunblock, medicine, sanitary needs, etc.) You are responsible for their safety (lifeguarding near water, supervision on dangerous terrain or during hazardous activities). You are responsible for their behavior (aggressive play, stealing, leaving the area, breaking things, politeness, etc.) Don't just show up and leave them for the host or other parents to take care of.

    It doesn't matter whether we're talking about a small group of gamers, an SCA branch, a party full of Browncoats or a science fiction convention - no group of people who are not the parent of a child should be forced involuntarily with the parenting responsibilities for that child. The reasons for this are two-fold.

    Firstly, parenting responsibilities are just that - the responsibilities of the parent. To assume that someone else will keep an eye out for your child's safety and well-being without having asked them is presumptuous. To allow a child who is young enough to need supervision in a given situation to wander without that supervision is negligent. To foist your parental responsibilities off on someone else without asking, by not being present to fulfil them, is the height of rudeness.

    Secondly, while social communities give the illusion of being of one mind about things, especially at a larger level, that impression is exactly that - an illusion. A convention, for example, is a collection of people who have only one thing in common - they're all present in the same place at the same time. There is no assurance whatsoever that they all have any other factor - including morality, legality or sanity - in common. And yet, many parents allow their "too young to be responsible for themselves" children to wander unsupervised at conventions (or faires or festivals or events) as if the presence of a geekish community is the equivalent of parental supervision. To suppose that every other geek (or person at a geek-event) is 100% trustworthy with your child is a dangerous assumption to make. Entrusting your child's care to friends (assuming they're willing to take on that responsibility) is one thing. Assuming that any given person who happens to be near them at any given time is worthy of that trust is dangerous and irresponsible.



    Have questions about how to handle a geeky situation? Need advice on social etiquette relating to games, movies, fan groups, conventions or other geek-ful settings? Send us an email and your question may get answered in one of our future "One Geek to Another" columns!

    For more information about your One Geek to Another hostess, check out Jess' website at: www.JessHartley.com

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    I couldn't agree more ! Being a geek and a parent , nothing is more annoying then seeing other parents not exercise etiquette or responsibility for there children . Gaming night is hosted at my house , we make sure that when its appropriate to let the parents in our group know that it is kid a friendly event . We make extra preparations for these nights , making sure we have plenty of kid friendly activities for the children , make sure the kids have a safe environment to play ( well , as safe as kids can be ! ) . During these nights we plan our games to require very little focus so when the children in the house require attention its not a Major distraction . Usually a game of Mutant Chronicles Siege of The Citadel or some Munchkin card games . The parents still get a night of fun and the kids all get to play together .

    Now , when we do not have a kid friendly night , usually during our heavy RPG playing we make sure this is known ahead of time . We also make sure the game doesn't start till our children are snug in there beds . I don't want to ruin someone else's game night by having to stop the game every 20 minutes because one of our children needs attention . Which leads me to my last point , being a responsible geek parent .

    While board games and role playing are my favorite past time , it never interferes with being an attentive and loving parent . The games come after homework , dinner , bath and story time are over . I don't want my children thinking any game would take away attention from them . For example , if my 8 year old says " Dad i need your help " he will never hear " Right after this combat is over son " . Also , some of our games take a very adult turn , subjects and discussions that take place are not for most children's ears .

    There is my 2 cents worth , thanks for writing articles that get me thinking beyond how i can keep my halfling magic-user alive the next adventure !!

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    I agree with Heinlein's advice to seal them in a barrel and feed them through the bunghole until they're eighteen myself. However being that my one son is thirty, and is a certified (or certifiable geek himself I believe my curmudgeon credentials are complete, so...get off my lawn!

    On a more serious note I note that your advice is profoundly obvious and shameful that it has to be given. I also know that it has to be given, which is profoundly shameful.

    On second thought, get on my lawn. It grows too fast.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    My favorite game console is a table and chairs.
    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    Quote Originally Posted by JessHartley View Post
    There is an adage that "it takes a village to raise a child."
    I disagree with this position since this mentality takes away from parental responsibility and obligations. The only people that are to be involved in raising a child are the parents, including all discipline. I'm reminded of another adage, "Too many cooks spoil the supper." If you are a child that has 10 different sets of parents and they all have different sets of standards/morals the child is going to end up being confused over what standards/morals they should follow. There should be only one set of standards/morals that a child has to adhere to, which are the ones set by their parents. Everyone else can go get stuffed since they are not legally liable if the child gets in trouble. Your message is good, but this portion of your thinking detracts from your overall message.

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    Being a parent myself, I can appreciate the idea that it "takes a village." There is an unbelievable amount of work that goes into raising children -- particularly young children. Even in a single income family with only one parent working and the other as the primary caretaker, it is difficult. Most nights, the first point that my wife and I have free is about 9:00 when both of our boys are finally in bed. There's precious little time left for just the two of us, since at 6:30am the cycle begins anew.

    While I don't ascribe to the belief that it takes a "government" to raise a child, I do think that a strong community of friends and relatives who help each other out is the most ideal situation for raising children. Were it only that I had family still here in the Washington area...
    Robert A. Howard
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    Being a parent myself, I can appreciate the idea that it "takes a village." There is an unbelievable amount of work that goes into raising children -- particularly young children. Even in a single income family with only one parent working and the other as the primary caretaker, it is difficult. Most nights, the first point that my wife and I have free is about 9:00 when both of our boys are finally in bed. There's precious little time left for just the two of us, since at 6:30am the cycle begins anew.

    While I don't ascribe to the belief that it takes a "government" to raise a child, I do think that a strong community of friends and relatives who help each other out is the most ideal situation for raising children. Were it only that I had family still here in the Washington area...
    I am a parent as well and I rarely asked my friends or family to instill values or other parental responsibilities into my daughter. That was my wife's and my job to do so. Asking relatives and/or friends to watch the kids is a completely different matter. Asking your family or friends for advice on handling problems stemming from your child's behavior is also a different matter since ultimately you are the one instilling the standards/morals that you want your kids to have.

    I'll contrast this with my brother and his wife's views on raising kids which was 'it takes a village to raise a child'. They never disciplined their kids nor taught their kids right from wrong. They expected everyone that was over at their house to do the disciplining and teaching moral values in their kids. My brother and his wife never lifted a finger to establish the rules of the house nor the expected standards/morals in their kids. It was up to every one of their friends and family members to do it for them. My niece and nephew had no boundaries and ran wild all over the place to the point they almost harmed themselves. They were confused by the conflicting standards of behavior and the morals from such a diverse group of people. What may have been alright with one person it wasn't alright with another person. There wasn't any consistency for what they were being punished for and who is the blame for that?

    Being a parent is a tough job that doesn't have a set of instructions. However, it doesn't give parents the excuse to say well I don't want to raise my kids and let others do it for them. I'm reminded of a sign on Harry Truman's desk that said, "The buck stops here." Children are a parent's responsibility to raise with the values that are beneficial to society and to instill boundaries in them. The buck literally and legally stops with the parents. This is my view on raising kids and it worked out much better than my brother and his wife's kids.
    Last edited by Richard Littles; 11-27-2009 at 11:37 PM.

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    I will also note the the proverb "It takes a village" comes from the authoritarian background.of tribal life, where the elders set the standards and you are expected to live by them. Don't like the standards? Tough.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    My favorite game console is a table and chairs.
    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    Exactly, and Jess addressed that in her article. A village can only work in the rearing of children if the village has the ability and authority to discipline the kids when they stray. In modern culture, most parents are offended when another adult disciplines their kids.

    I'm in with tesral on this one though, it's sad that this needs to even be listed, but I know far too many people who make me even sadder to know it has to be listed. We recently got back in touch with an old acquaintance after about a decade. She's now a single mother of one, and her two year old walks all over her. She asked for parenting advice, and when we gave it (discipline, have it and enforce it) she said "But I love him!"

    After my eyes rolled back to where they belong, I said "That's exactly why you have to discipline him." Ah well...

    I typically host on game night, and my oldest child is now a part of the gaming group. I make sure people know he's going to be there before they ever get here. I also make sure they know about my other kids, pets, etc. because folks should know what kind of event they are getting into, and have the ability to opt-out politely if it's not their kind of event.
    --
    Grimwell

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    It does take a village to raise a child AND too many cooks can spoil the dinner. Parents need help raising their kids, particularly with the society of information overload that we live in today. However, ultimately, barring parents who don't understand or can't grasp what is considered acceptable behaviors/morals for children, the village must ultimately submit to the overall authority of the parents themselves in regards to their kids.

    For instance, when I tell my kids no they can't have something or its time to settle, I mean it the first time I say it, and will not repeat myself. With my boys being 3 1/2 and 2 1/2, this equates to having to take away an object or physically move the child only about 50% of the time, the rest of the time they cry for as long as it takes me to say "stop crying", but comply with order. Others in my family, will indulge them, which is their choice, except when they do so when it contradicts what I've said. My Mother-In-Law, who I am incredibly grateful for all of her assistance in watching the children once a week so that I can have a normal days rest (I work third shift, wife works first), she stopped contradicting my wishes...even though she takes opportunities to tell me that they are just babies and I shouldn't be so 'harsh' with them.

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    Exclamation

    Parents should start teaching kids what is right and wrong as soon as they go through your door the 1st time. my little cuzzens already know table manners at the age of Dillion 3, Coner 1 1/2. they use regular cups set on the table without spilling. They already know how to clean up there room without being told I was impressed for such young kids to do all this on there own with aldult supervision.

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    Im going to comment on the "it takes a village".

    You may think as a parent you are the only one responsible for adhering morals to your child. You are not.

    There is also their teacher, their friends and anyone you assign (Even temporary) care to.

    If you leave your child in my care, the child will adhere to my morals and standards while in my care. I do not care if you let you children swear, when in my care, they will not. Maybe you let your children stay up until X o'Clock, while in my care they go to bed at Y o'Clock. If you do not like this, then you can maintain care and control of your own children, put them through homeschooling and let that be the entire begining and end of your waking life.

    As soon as you shift even temporary responsibility and liability of your children to someone else, someone else is impacting their morals and standards. Much as your own was shaped not just by your parents but your grandparents, teachers, friends and friend's parents.
    Check out my Blog! zzarchov.blogspot.com

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    I can agree with this assessment. I am a parent myself and both my wife and I game. We also know enough people of similar interest who also have children.

    We tend to be notice which events are child friendly and which are not. We also ask if the invitation is not totally clear.

    Right now we are teaching our son how to play RPGs. He has mastered the idea of a good sword and board and he now wishes to play a druid so he can have a pet. We encourage his learning of the rules as it helps him hone his math skills and his reading comprehension.

    Our friends are respectful of what we are doing and they are also very encouraging and patient when he asks a question about their character or why they did what they did. Then again in Pathfinder Society play he is one of the most sought characters to play with as his PC is just a event wrecking machine.

    I count myself lucky.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zzarchov View Post

    If you leave your child in my care, the child will adhere to my morals and standards while in my care. I do not care if you let you children swear, when in my care, they will not. Maybe you let your children stay up until X o'Clock, while in my care they go to bed at Y o'Clock. If you do not like this, then you can maintain care and control of your own children, put them through homeschooling and let that be the entire begining and end of your waking life.

    As soon as you shift even temporary responsibility and liability of your children to someone else, someone else is impacting their morals and standards. Much as your own was shaped not just by your parents but your grandparents, teachers, friends and friend's parents.
    Amen brotha, I agree 100% with you. They may pick up most of their ideals and morals from their prime parent/s but they learn from whom ever may be aiding the parent aswell. I try to get together with my old gaming gang every week to role play or just hang out. My wife works at night while I work during the day (Sorta like lady hawk) so i'm watching the kids for a large portion of the day every while my friends are over on the weekend. They lend a hand being that it can be troublesome running a campaign and chasing around children. Though we have had issues with gamers who had probelsm with children in general and treated mine like some sort of strange creature. We ended up having to ask them to leave because that sort of thing is not good for the kids. (I'm not joking when I say she treated them like wet dogs... The poor things cried because she wouldn't say hello..)

    My childern are young so I have yet to take them to any geeky gatherings but I do hope one day that thay would find an intrest in some of the same things that I had grown to love.
    "It's too late. You've awakened the Gazebo. It catches you and eats you."

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    Some people should get sterilized early in life for the sake of the children.

    Matthew was passed from person to person during his first year during games. Baby around the circle. He was kind of a fixture of the game (at my place incidentally).

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    My favorite game console is a table and chairs.
    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Littles View Post
    I'll contrast this with my brother and his wife's views on raising kids which was 'it takes a village to raise a child'. They never disciplined their kids nor taught their kids right from wrong...

    Wow, sounds like my cousin.

    Yes, I am in 100% agreement with you. Expecting the "village" to raise your child is asking for trouble. Kids shouldn't have to be disciplined by friends or the public. Nobody likes disciplining other people's kids... it can get ugly and personal REALLY fast. I've seen it happen more than once.

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