There are rudimentary social skills that we all learn at a young age about how we conduct ourselves away from our own nest. When we enter another person’s home, we give silent agreement to their rules. If there is a ‘no soliciting’ sign on the outside of the door, it would be rude for us to urge our children to buy candy or Girl Scout cookies. If there is a corny ditty about not smoking, we don’t. And, if we know that in their home, swearing is inappropriate, we watch our language.
I teach my children that when we are at someone else’s home, if their rules are different than ours about things, we either follow their rules or we go home. It may be ok, for example, in our house to get water without asking. Other families may require that you ask for any food or drink. It won’t hurt them to ask for water so they do it.
We know some families who only allow children who have reached the ‘age on the box’ to play the game. This ensures the liklihood of being able to play the game without adult supervision and saves time and hassle for the mother. We don’t allow our children to go to their home and say “well I can play this at my house”. They play by whatever the rules are where we go no matter how silly or foolish we think it is. If the rules are burdensome or unjust, we have been known to cut a visit short and leave.
How rude it would be, if a host asked that we not discuss politics or religion at their party in order to avoid those controversial subjects and we complained. We are enjoying their hospitality. They are taking their time and resources to host this event for us and we have the audacity to ignore the simplest request of us. Is there nothing but religion and politics to discuss anymore? Honestly, I happen to love both topics but I can find a dozen other things to discuss!
I’ve been in situations where people have shown little to no regard for the ‘house rules’ at gatherings. Plates and drinks have been carried out of eating areas in spite of repeated requests to the contrary. Carpets have been stained but worse, relationships and reputations were ruined.
I think sometimes our new casualness isn’t the ‘easier more comfortable’ road that we all thought it would be when we shluffed off the restrictions of overt formality. Now, instead of worrying about pesky things like RSVP’s or thank you notes, we get to worry about nonsense like courtesy and respect.