Dear Aunt Becky,

Judge Judy has a saying: “How can you tell when a teenager is lying? His or her mouth is moving.”

Judge Judy is a pillar of our society. Do we teenagers owe it to her to lie when we otherwise wouldn’t, just to avoid the rude act of contradicting ones elders?

Alexis

Dear Alexis,

Would you really take advice from someone who looks as though she’s been mummified?

Thought not.

Love,

AB

Hello my dear!

I was reading your post today, and you mentioned you have PTSD, and it just made me think, “if this bitch can do it, and deal with kids, and be amazing, WTF is my problem?”

So I just want to know, how the hell do you do it!? The anxiety/panic attacks are fucking killing me! I’ve been dealing with this for years, and it still has a nasty grip on my everyday life.

And another question… I have just moved to a place to get a fresh start, and I have an awesome support group here, but no one knows about the PTSD, or the crippling panic attacks I get, so how do I explain it to them with out coming off crazy? Because I feel crazy when I talk about it!

Thank you so much for your awesomeness! You amaze me, and I am so happy that I have found you and your blogs! Love to you!

Millie

Dear Millie,

I’ve managed my PTSD with a combination of therapy, better living through chemistry and more therapy. Oh, and writing. OH, and my roses. There are days when it still gets it’s wily grips on me and I fear I’ll never again be normal.

Those days, I remember that “normal” is bullshit and I’m perfect just the way I am. I gently suggest you try some therapy and medication to stave off the worst of the panic and anxiety. And when all else fails, try something soothing. Like gardening. It helps your mind be free to work through all of the panic while doing something with your hands. Very therapeutic.

Or, if you’d like, you (that means ALL of you, Pranksters) are invited personally to share your experience on Band Back Together. Writing has saved my life more than once.

As for telling people about your PTSD, there’s no need to do so. I mean, right away. Of course you need a support system, but not everyone will be able to understand how you feel. Perhaps your therapist can give you some support groups in the area so you can find some people who fully understand you.

I wish you the very best.

Hi Aunt Becky!

Disciplining other people’s children: lots of different opinions, OK. What about “mannering” other people’s children? Is it horrible to prompt little Billy-not-my-kid to say “thank you”/blow his nose/ask politely, or will Billy’s Mom have a conniption, like I’m judging her parenting?

A totally different, but related (I swear!) question; My sister-in-law (about my age) has Down Syndrome, and thus is at about the intellectual level of a child (give or take, in various categories). She has horrible manners, due in *part* to her disability (stubbornness, unwillingness to compromise), but mainly thanks to inadequate parenting (I love my MIL dearly, but I can see it even in my husband).

So is it weird to correct my SIL’s manners (not in public or anything)? Prompt her to say “thank you” when I hand her $20 for lunch, or someone goes out of their way to help her? Pranksters, if you were my MIL, would you be hurt, thinking I was critiquing her parenting skillz?

Raising youngsters of my own, and being used to constantly prompting manners, it’s getting harder and harder to not prompt my SIL (and other children we’re around). Hell, my toddler is more polite than she is!

What do you and your Merry Band think, My Dear Aunt Becky? Offensive? Or might I actually do some good? As of yet I’ve kept my mouth shut, but it’s getting harder and harder.

Ta!
Mrs. Manners

Dear Mrs. Manners,

As someone who routinely swears in front of her children (WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?) it may surprise you to learn that I’m surprisingly anal about manners. As in, I’d be shocked and horrified that someone corrected my children before I, in fact, could. However, on the off-chance I was too distractible by the SkyMall kitties and didn’t prompt a “THANK YOU” out of my crotch parasites, I’d be amenable to someone reminding them.

However, if it was simply someone correcting them without first giving me the opportunity to do so, I’d be a little annoyed. Not terribly annoyed, mind you, but annoyed nonetheless.

So what say you, Pranksters? What are your thoughts on that? And, frankly, anything else.

Comments = full of the awesome. Like gravy. I can haz an RSS RSS feed .

20 Responses to Go Ask Aunt Becky

  • Missy says:

    Parenting other people’s kids – totally depends on the parents/kids. I have some good friends who suck at correcting the backtalk and enforcing manners and rules with their two kids. One day their son was being a little punk-ass prick to his grandmother while his parents were talking to other people ignoring him. So I bent over and whispered in his ear something to the affect of “stop being a punk, you need to respect your grandmother, do you know what that means? Now knock it off” He looked at me with his mouth gaping and said “okay” and immediately stopped. His grandmother winked at me.

    His mother saw the whole thing, but couldn’t hear it. When there was a lull in the conversation, she asked across the room what I said to her son. I told her exactly what I said and everyone heard it too. She laughed and said “Good! He’ll listen to you better than he will me!” and that was the end of it.

    I couldn’t get away with that with everyone, but sometimes when parents don’t want to be bothered, they appreciate the help so that they don’t have to. Sad but true.

    • ronetta says:

      this is so true! i’ve noticed that my boyfriend’s parents are this way with their youngest children (ages 6 and 8)…for the most part, they are good kids (read: they know right from wrong but don’t always do what they know–typical 6 and 8), but there are certain times they get really out of hand and the parents are too tired or doing something else away from the children. seeing as though i don’t have children of my own, i’ve felt strange in correcting/reprimanding them on their manners, but the parents trust my judgment and know i’m not going to say/do anything to harm or “un’-teach them.

      then again…people are always wanting me to keep their kids. lol.

      but i totally agree with you here–depends on the rapport with the parents and how well the kid knows you. i think you did a fine job with the timing and execution :)

      i love mommy blogs, by the way. :)

  • I think other people should occasionally correct my kids. That way they know IT’S NOT JUST ME! All grown ups are picky bitches. 

    Seriously though, people should feel ok to help guide other’s children. Perhaps their parents are busy with skymall kitties, or whatever. The ones that make me want to go all homicidal with my eyeball laser beams are the parents who, after interacting with my child, tell me that they didn’t say please, or thank you. Or what ever. 

    Kids are like dogs. They need immediate correction. 

    If you are close enough to interact with my child, you are close enough to politely, gently, help guide them in what you expect from them. 

    In a perfect world, my child will have listened to me any (ANY!) of the 800 thousand times I’ve suggested those niceties, and if not, I will be on hand to remind them, but if not, be part of the village. 

  • TheBeerLady
    Twitter: TheBeerLady
    says:

    Ahhh, parenting other people’s children. The great dilemma. I generally try to avoid it at all costs, but mostly because I don’t want to have to stress myself by not punching them in the face when they say, “Well, if you actually had children you’d understand.” Last time I heard that, I restricted myself to responding, “Well, if little Billy is old enough to read the menu for himself, I feel fairly comfortable in going with the idea that he’s also old enough to understand the concept of not picking his nose and eating it off his finger while he’s reading that menu.”

    I’ve given myself sort of a rule to be used in most situations (like outside of those where we’re close enough friends/family that I’m confident I’m reacting the same way Mommy or Daddy would). If it doesn’t involve the risk of immediate bodily harm or absolute disgust (see above nose-picking incident), then I’m going to make every effort to let Mommy or Daddy handle it, whether it’s by giving them the chance to step in first or by gently prompting them to do so. You know, like “Hey, Mommy, just wanted to check – is it OK if little Tammy Faye has a Budweiser instead of apple juice with her PB&J? No? Thanks.”

    Of course, that said, I have been known to spank other people’s children. Like a total stranger’s child. In public. Hey, I warned him first.

    • Carrie says:

      Wow. That’s pretty hardcore. Even though I worked in childcare for years, one of my hard and fast rules is that I don’t hit other people’s children. And often I was actually given permission by parents to do so. Given the possible liabilities involved, among other things, it’s just not a line I’d ever be comfortable crossing.

  • Bailey says:

    I think it’s okay to correct other peoples’ children nicely once it is clear that the parents are not going to do so.

  • Kate says:

    I’m also a little anal about manners (to the point where “please” was the third or fourth sign my son learned) and I think that if a child is requesting or has received something from you it is completely acceptable to prompt a “please” and/or “thank you”. As for Mrs. Manners’ SIL I think it’s ok to prompt her as well. There’s a family that my family has been close friends with for 30+ years where one of the adult daughters has Downs and I see her family reminding her of stuff like that all the time (and her mother’s parenting skills were great).

  • Millie – I don’t have PTSD, so take this with a grain of salt…but I wouldn’t tell people until you know their empathy level. Are they someone you can share something personal with, without them being all judging? I agree with AB (obviously, she is genius) about finding a therapist and a support group (outside of friends/coworkers/church/etc). You have no obligation to tell anyone anything. Much love.

    Mrs. Manners – I don’t have problems with family and close friends (and teachers/ladies at church) saying something to my child- IF it is said with love and in a helpful NOT judgmental way. I do have an issue with someone in the grocery store saying something about my child when they neither know my child nor our situation.

  • c8h10n4o2 says:

    As someone with PTSD & anxiety/panic issues, I don’t really use it as a cold open with new people, but if I feel something brewing, I mention something like “whoops! Panic attack brewing!” so that they don’t freak and call 911, or else I bring it up jokingly saying something about my klonopin stash. The more you can joke about it, the less it runs your life, in my experience.

    As for other peoples’ children: My friends’ kids? Correction is no problem, especially at big gatherings. I’ve also chosen my friends for being responsible, courteous people who want to raise responsible, courteous people, so that helps. Strangers’ kids? It kind of depends on the situation. In your house? You have a right to expect certain behavior and not put up with shit from anyone, regardless of how young they are. If the parents get offended, then they’re dicks who you don’t want in your house anyways. As a former server, though, I wanted to shake children and slap their parents on a regular basis, but I couldn’t because of tips/potentially being fired. Everything else is at your discretion. Frankly, though, even the kids with parents who get offended at everything need to learn that the world will expect certain behavior from them, and they might as well learn it now, as opposed to, say, college or their first job.

  • Alexis
    Twitter: theangelalexistwitter.com
    says:

    Dear Auntie,
    I’m glad you don’t think I should be taking advice from corpse.

    Regarding the parentsing of others’ children, in my parents’ social and close familial circles, it is considered acceptable to somewhat parent others’ children. When other kids are in our home, although my parents don’t punish them, the friends are subject to the same advice, prompting for polite reponses, reminders of what acceptable table manners are, and so forth, that my brother and I have to hear. Our firends are accustomed to it by now and are not particularly traumatized. I asked my dad about this. He said he’d probably touch another [un-related] kid only to perform a Heimlick maneuver, which he’s actually had to do for one of my brother’s friends who was gobbling his food too fast, or some other life-saving procedure. Otherwise, he probably wouldn’t do it. My mom said she’d stop a little kid from running into the street no matter whose child it was, but that’s about as far as she’d go. Both parents said they’d break up any kid fight they saw if the kids were smaller than they (bigger if they knew the kids personally) and didn’t appear to be in possession of weapons.

    Thanks,
    Alexis

    http://alexisar.blogspot.com/2011/10/youre-probably-not-going-to-believe.html?spref=bl

  • amy says:

    Re: Manners.

    I continuously correct my (mostly grown) coworkers’ manners, so i fully endorse correcting other people’s children, and other adults’ manners. And I encourage other people to correct MY children’s manners. We’d be a lot better off if we all could remember, and encourage everyone around us, to use a simple “Please”, “Thank You’ or “You’re Welcome”!!!

  • Amy says:

    The times I have caught a bit of Judge Judy all I think of is WHAT A BITCH!

    I once had a boyfriend in University whose table manners were so disgusting I had to call him on it and encourage, you know, not eating like a complete animal. (I encouraged nicely and positively.) He brought it up during one family meal and the father hated me from that moment on.

    But hey, if I am interacting with people I expect them to treat me with the same respect and courtesy I give them. Worked with developmentally challenged individuals for years and they too, in my eyes, should be encouraged and expected to the best of their ability to have manners! I say go for it.

  • Katya says:

    I had an email war and lost a friendship over the issue of “disciplining others’ children”. She told me she was uncomfortable with my telling her son “something’s mine” if he was grabbing at it and telling him “no” to enforce something she had told her son. I told her I was only 1) protecting her son’s safety; 2) protecting my and my daughter’s stuff; and 3) enforcing something she’d told him to do or not to do.

    It was a really painful experience and I don’t recommend it to anyone. That said, when people correct my kid’s manners or whatever, I encourage it. I’m a full believer in “it takes a village” and with regard to the SIL with Down Syndrome, I say give her the feedback. If she gets snarky with you (or the MIL does) explain it from your perspective of why manners are important (they show you care about others, appreciate others, show you don’t have an attitude of entitlement, etc) and how her lack of manners makes you feel (when she didn’t thank you for $20). At some point, she’s going to have to learn that people will like her less if she is rude and doesn’t use manners.

  • Carrie says:

    As afr as correcting other people’s kids goes, I don’t have children of my own. But I was a nanny for many years. And there are a few lines I draw regardless of whose kid you are. First, I take no crap from anyone’s child whether it be friend, family or stranger, in public or in private. Second, if you’re in my house, you live by my rules. If the adult responsible for the child is within earshot but being lax, I find some variant of “I can’t imagine that your father thinks that langauge is appropriate because I’m pretty sure you were raised to be better than that” provides the child with notice that the behavior is unacceptable AND a nice dose of shame for the parent.

  • Chris in PHX says:

    Oh Hell yes I will correct your snot bag in public but dont stop there…remeber they’re acting like that because their parent let them…. big assholes breed little assholes, and the cycle needs to be broken somewhere.

  • La Printemp says:

    Millie – Even if the people you have moved closer to (the support system you mentioned) are not new to you, they are obviously going to be new to your stressful situation. My advice, from experience, is to follow your gut on when to tell each one. And I have to stress that it is probably best that you do it individually, when YOU feel the moment is right. Sometimes that is before they witness you in an episode of stress, sometimes it is after. But don’t feel that you need to answer to anyone. If they witness something, but you’re not ready to divulge, then don’t. But I have to say, it’s great if people around you know, the support system gets that much stronger. :) Hugs to you. And YES to the therapy AB promoted. An objective, professional opinion and support system are the keys to getting better, faster.

    As for Mrs. Manners – heck yes, say something! A parent or guardian relinquishes any right to be agnry about a polite correction of their child’s manners as soon as they stop paying attention to said child. They are imposing their child into your airspace. When they do that, it becomes your right to tell ANYONE, child, adult, animal, politician, etc… that you don’t appreciate the way you’re being treated and to offer a better suggestion. The manner in which you do this can always be judged, however, so tread lightly, because as someone else mentioned, oh, the liability! Definitely don’t manhandle someone else’s child or dependant (including an over 18 offspring, regardless of mental aptitude) because you NEVER know where that will lead. If you feel the need to do so, walk away. If you’re the current caregiver (i.e. daycare provider/teacher) and the parent gives you permission, you may want to consider not looking after that child, unless you’re truly comfortable carrying out any such punishment. I know I would balk at such an opportunity.

    That’s my diatribe, sorry for the length.

  • Renee says:

    If a stranger spanked my child I would punch them in the face then kick their genitals into their brain. NEVER ok. As a STRANGER you have no clue why a child is behaving the way they are. And I don’t care if you majored in child development (which you CLEARLY havent) You don’t know ANYTHINg about that child, such as if they have special needs, disabilities, or an ASD. Plus I would legally press charges against you for assaulting my child.

    That said, I have no problem having other adults verbally correct or guide my children when in the appropriate tone of voice and circumstance

  • kay says:

    I regularly correct my sisters’ children in front of my sisters. I wouldn’t correct a strangers children, but a family member is different. When I “parent” my siblings children I think they appreciate it, in fact I know they do. There is definitely a line that you shouldn’t cross, like spanking or yelling, but to simply remind a child close to you, say that of a sibling, cousin your close to or intimate friend seems fine to me. I find myself incapable of repressing the inclination and with the exception of my sister in law one time I’ve never had that met with any animosity and I’ve often been thanked for it. The time with my sister in law was bogus as her daughter was getting into something dangerous and I did yell at the child no don’t do that or stop… something like that. Well long story short the child started crying and my sister in law got all pissy, my sentiment is next time I could just let the child hurt themselves rather than correct them when she’s not looking, but I’d rather she be irritated than the child be injured so she’ll just have to get pissed.

  • Heather says:

    I have lost my relationship with my sister over what she sees as my children’s lack of manners. She is appalled that they don’t say please and thank you enough and says that means that they are entitiled and will grow up to be horrible people. And now we are a “damaging influence” on her blessed, sunshiny, perfect family. So, if you want a please or thank you, ask for one and move the fuck on. Don’t make into some global issue about character or the value of the parent. I mean seriously, your MIL has a disabled child that takes a life-long giant committment from her. If “thank you” is the biggest problem, hallelujah, your life is sublime.
    My children suck at saying “thanks for the cheese sandwich” despite my 3,000+ reminders. Yep. But they don’t call people names, or smack other kids, or trip people. They look out for someone that feels left out and include them, they accept people that are different. They share all of their things. They do not fight with each other. Don’t throw them under the bus because they suck at one thing.

  • Lynette says:

    Re: the PTSD issues and “Feeling normal’

    My friends and I have a saying: Normal is just a setting on the dryer. :)

    I don’t think very many people every really feel ‘normal”.

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