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–WG, Bar Barbor, ME
- The etiquette goes back to when ladies exited horse drawn carriages while managing layers of a long skirt with petticoat as they jumped to the ground. It was useful to have a gallant companion there to lend a hand.
- The need for another person to lend a convenient hand or have the strength to open a heavy door on a date no longer exists.
About decoding curiously intriguing kisses and hugs, such as in XOXO? What do they say about relationships.
Tell us Didi, if you wouldn’t kiss someone in real life, then why would you add kisses at the end of a text, IM or email? Most of my friends end their messages with x or xx or xxx, but I wouldn’t kiss most of them when meeting and greeting face to face.
–SP, Cambridge, MA
- XX are two kisses for friendship.
- XX says kiss kiss and also bye bye.
- XXX are three kisses and an an expression of love.
- XOXO are kisses and hugs.
- xXx is more often used abroad: the small x represents a small kiss on the left cheek, X a big smack on the lips, followed by another small kiss on the right cheek.
- XXX can mean that the person is straight edge, as in I went to this party and did not drink because I'm straight edge XXX.
- XXX is a lifestyle signal clarifying that the sender doesn't smoke, drink or do drugs. The no-nos can also include even abstinence from sex and/or that the sender is a vegetarian.
- X represents a kiss, although the custom of using X as a symbol for yourself (as your own name) dates back to when most people simply marked an X is they didn't know how to write their name, and sealed their mark with a kiss.
- There are religious theories that illiterate Christian usage of X, symbolizing the cross that stood for Christ -- as in Xmas -- to sign their name.
- Whereas people of the Jewish faith used a circle, the symbol O, for their mark, which in Yiddish means "kikel."(Many etymologists think this is how the derogatory racial slur for Jewish, "kike," came about.)
- Here is a stretch: Many believe the O made the jump to mean "hug," because looking down at the circle it looked like two people embracing.
- You might hug an acquaintance, and also kiss someone you felt about more deeply.
- One doesn't want to be presumptuous and go for the kiss first if you haven't ever hugged the person first.
This is a question about toddler etiquette and not about parenting. Some parents are out of control about letting their small child act out their feelings and rights as a free spirit, but then what? The toddler gets out of control.
–AJ, Foster, RI
- Nor is it about setting boundaries that compromise their unalienable rights.
- Do prep work. Let the child know what to expect.
- Sit down on the floor with your toddler, make eye contact, and talk to him or her about the adventure they are about to undertake on a playdate with another toddler, at a birthday party, or on a visit to the grandparents at Thanksgiving.
- Hitting: Be nice. No grabbing, hitting, spitting, kicking or biting. If you've ever spent time with a toddler you know that they don't hit only once, they'll repetitively hit that stick at least ten to twelve times until they're calmed. Most often, physically taking the hitter out of the room gives you both a chance to change the channel in her/his brain.
- Annoying: When a child is being obnoxious there's not much you can do but let it play out until he decides it is boring to be annoying.
- Snacking: Snacks should be divided into separate containers (cups, plates, bowls) to avoid a possible tantrum from a grabbing fellow hoarder.
- Sharing: Toys should be shared, but if a toddler isn't ready to give up their favorite truck or doll, it may mean that he isn't ready to understand the concept. Distract with other toys.
- Dancing and singing always change the tone, so turn on and turn up music.
- Eating: When they're ready to experiment with flatware and new foods, they'll become curious if they see utensils and different foods often. The worst things you can say are, "Look at how nicely Jack uses his fork," or "Wow, watch Serena lovingly eating her broccoli trees."
- Disruptive: Again, extract and distract your toddler. When you're alone with her/him, sit down together and while making eye contact, gently explain to her/him the consequences of exactly what s/he did that you didn't like.
- Snobbery: Don't allow your toddler to be a snob. A child who snubs by ignoring and refusing to talk to someone who is trying to make contact and connect is rude. Selective hearing is not a social skill and shouldn't be tolerated. It is disrespectful and unfriendly. If s/he doesn't like Uncle Tom's pipe tobacco breath, then s/he can stand back and talk to him nicely by answering a question before moving away.
- Potty training: Don't use food to bribe a toddler to sit on the potty. Keep a surprise small toy -- a poop prize -- on hand for after s/he's used the potty. Make it a reward for not having had an accident. While potty training in someone else's home, keep her/him close by, even if you have to put her/him on your lap.
- Bedtime: Stay on her/his sleep schedule to avoid a melt down.
How to stop crying and pining over unrequited love?
Since my ex and I broke up, I can’t seem to love any other guy. I can’t get him out of my head. Every time I have sex with a new guy, the last thing he does makes me want to break off the relationship. Most often or perhaps all the time, they come back begging but I would have already moved on in less than a week and the process continuous as I look for love.
My ex and I broke up about a year ago. The relationship was not balanced, but I still hold him dear to my heart and respect him for the things he taught me and for his sincerity. I can’t lie I still love him. No matter how much I try, I just can’t come across anyone to love like I loved him.
- Then hide the letter. When you're feeling extremely sad, take out the letter and reread it. Eventually you will stop reading the letter.
What about restaurant hospitality advice and etiquette?
When a waiter is carrying something or briskly walking past to fetch an order, is it correct etiquette for him or her to crossover in front of an approaching guest? We have great discussions about this at the restaurant where I work because we’ve had a lot accidents when waitstaff collided with guests? Who has the right of way, the waiter or the guest?
–CD, Newport, RI
- The guest or client has the right of way. It goes along with "the customer is always right." Waitstaff should be trained to respect the guests in the restaurant by letting them pass through first.
My question concerns how to handle a friend’s disclosure of their terminal illness.
- Is it possible that the terminally ill member gave her consent?
- Before doing so you would, of course, have to tell your terminally ill friend about your plan. Which means mentioning that the whole garden club knows about her brain tumor.
- Just be sure that you have a list of her favorite foods as well as those she dislikes.
My question is about parent sitting mom and dad.
I am the 35-year-old second son of parents who had a contentious divorce. My siblings are married with children and live plane rides away.
I, however, am between both parents geographically. I have a two-hours drive either north or south from my house to one parent or the other. I do the lions share of the parent sitting. It has become my lot in life to entertain them separately twice a month. Since I am a workaholic, it means four Saturdays a month are spent with one or the other.
I have no life outside work. How do I ween them before they get too old when I’ll be feeling even more guilty?
- Try whittling down your visits to holidays.
- Start by begging off one Saturday a month, bringing you down to having two Saturdays when you're fancy free.
- Once they get used to not planning on seeing you so often, they'll start making other plans.
- Whittling down your Saturday obligations may take some socializing on your part.
My question is about preparing our student with social skills and manners.
Not to boast, but our son is extremely intelligent. However, he seems to lack certain social skills. As parents, what can we do to help him fit in better?
–PW, Seattle, WA
- Early on help him to identify and discuss his emotions, and to be able to self soothe, wait patiently, problem solve, delay gratification, and maintain control over his emotions.
- Good manners and social skills will take him a long way with his teachers as well as the other students. He should be able to carry on a conversation with a person of any age. And be able to stick up for a friend by speaking up. He should know when to keep a secret and when to refuse to keep a secret.
- Talk about the importance of being a good listener, and when to recognize when he's made a mistake and needs to apologize.
- He should be able to talk over a disappointment or disagreement and be able to say I love you and give a big hug to those who are that special to him.
- Help him to understand that there will be times when he has to be flexible and go to a contingency plan if something doesn't pan out as planned.
- Hold the door open for people.
- When walking never crossover in front of another person, because you could trip them up.
- Let women on elevators and escalators first.
- When talking face-to-face remove earbuds and sunglasses.
- Never touch or push people away, unless the touch was inappropriate.
- Don't ask personal questions, such as how much do your parents make?
- Get comfortable with hand shaking and introducing himself by saying, "Hello, my name is ..." when he meets someone new.
- Make introductions if you're not positive that people know one another. Even if he just says, "Jack this is Oscar."
- Don't whisper in front of another person: it's rude.
- Basic table manners: eating with a knife and fork, not blowing his nose at the table, and not chewing with his mouth open.
- Always, say Please, Thank you, You're Welcome, and "Excuse me, please."
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- Set boundaries.
- When leaving a voicemail or message for him, say "Mr. Jones here." Referring to yourself as Mr. Jones in his presence should help.
- Correct someone who is overly familiar by assuming that you've got a nick name.
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- But first talk to him suggesting that there are many options for treatment in addition to 12-step programs and residential treatments.
- You can have a positive impact on his motivation to learn new patterns of behavior.
- Addiction and shame go hand and hand. If your friend is to be saved, compassion from his friends and family may be the only thing that counteracts the isolating, stigmatizing, debilitating poison of shame.
- Shame and addiction are deeply intertwined. For example, alcoholics may be prone to shame by disposition and they may drink, in part, to cope with chronic shame and low self-worth. In addition, drinking can, in turn, cause shame, creating a vicious cycle. -- Beverly Engel
- Don't be one of those friends who has chosen to stay with him in denial about just how serious his problem is.
- Be compassionate by showing him respect and optimism.
- Keep reaching out to him.
About ladies first. Is it bad manners or condescending to let a woman go through a door first? Sometimes I add insult to injury by standing there like an idiot because I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing. Opening the door for her and letting her pass through? Or open the door and pass through myself before holding the door open? Or totally ignore the person behind me and rush through?
What is a gentleman to do?
–JT, Portsmouth, RI
- There's a French theory about the origin of ladies first. The lady went first to give the gentleman protecting her from behind time to draw his dueling sword, if villains were waiting to ambush them in the street.
- The same holds true for etiquette and manners in the work place and public buildings.
- When it comes to dating, well there's a whole other nuance there -- even without the threat of being ambushed on the street.
–Allison, Madrid, Spain
- Of course it is always much better to address the person by name: Dear Mr. Brown or Dear Ms. Greene. So if you are writing to the personnel director, for instance, discover his or her first and last name on the company website and address the email or letter to him or her. If her first name is Olivia and you don't know if she likes to be addressed as Ms. or Mrs., use Ms.
- When you're already familiar with the person, use their first name only, e.g. "Dear Vanessa."
- When in doubt, follow how the person signed off in previous correspondence. But be careful to observe that even though his name appears as Robert J. Adams on his letterhead, he may have used Rob -- and not Bob or Bobby -- in the closing of a letter to you.
- Otherwise, opt for the formality of Mrs., Ms., or Mr. until you assertion what first name to use.
- In conversation, when you don't know the their first and last name you wouldn't say, "Hey, boy" or "Hey, Miss," you would say "Sir" or "Mam" to grab someone's attention or express your appreciation.
- Sir and Mam are both general-purpose words of respect used in polite conversation when you don't know the stranger's name.
- You wouldn't use the title Mr., Ms., or Mrs. unless the title is in conjunction with the person's last name: Mr. Brown or Ms. Greene.
- Use a subject line when possible.
- The tone of the sign-off, or closing, depends on the salvation. So if' you've addressed the letter Dear Ms. Greene, then the sign-off is Sincerely yours, or Kindest regards.
- But if you've addressed the email to Dear Sir/Madame, then close with Yours faithfully, or Yours truly.
–Janis, Philadelphia, PA
- Extend your left hand -- instead of the customary right hand -- toward the person when you expect that someone is coming in to smack you on the lips and hold his hand warmly and securely.
- keep it stretched out as though you have a cold and don't want him to get too close.
- The warm flesh of your hand may be all the body contact the person may really need. Unless he wants to showoff that he's more intimate with you.
- Keep holding the person's hand as you chat and the person will take in the message from the warmth of your hand and stance of your body language. A sweet, sincere handshake is enough.
- The only problem with this is that if there is a difference in height between the two of you, it would feel awkward.
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My question is about parenting etiquette.
How do we raise boys to respect women? I have a hard time being around children, especially disrespectful boys. I’m not saying boys should behave more like girls, I’m asking how to get boys to treat women better?
- When babies and toddlers throw food on the floor or don't put away their toys and mothers or women caregivers clean up the mess, women perpetuate the message that they are there to clean and tidy up.
- However, after a day of work, grocery shopping and getting children ready for bed and school the next day, most of the time it is easier to not make a fuss and we clean up the mess ourselves.
- To quote Gloria Steinem, "I’m glad we’ve begun to raise our daughters more like our sons, but it will never work until we raise our sons more like our daughters.”
Accepting A Compliment