073: How to Handle Sticky Social Situations with Returning Champion Miss Conduct

Today Robin Abrahams, author of the weekly Miss Conduct advice column in Boston Globe Magazine, returns for her second hangout on We Turned Out Okay! (Robin and I first spoke last fall, in episode 42, so click here or go to weturnedoutokay.com/042 to hear our first conversation together.)

In honor of Mother’s Day Robin has a special article coming out in this Sunday’s Globe Magazine, “A letter to moms from a woman without children;” in it she makes some very kind and wonderful promises to her friends with kids, such as “I will take the lead in scheduling social events, because you’re managing more social calendars than I am.” We start today’s conversation talking about Robin’s article – and then move on to her delightful book, Miss Conduct’s Mind over Manners: Master the Slippery Rules of Modern Ethics and Etiquette.

In this guidebook for modern living – for getting along with other humans – is a tiny, wonderful few pages about breast-feeding in public; Robin and I talk about the perils of both breast-feeding and formula feeding in public, since both leave parents equally open to beratings from strangers! Robin shares great advice with us about how to deflect criticism, from strangers and friends and family.

Next, Robin answers some listener questions:

  • Anne asks “I’m considering homeschooling my preschooler next year, and I’m getting major pushback from my husband’s family. (My husband is on board, just not his parents and siblings.) They live nearby and we do see his parents a lot, how can I keep family relations positive in the event that we homeschool their grandson in the fall?”
  • MJ, who is planning a family trip involving traveling in the same car with her estranged mother-in-law for ten days, asks “please help me with easy situation diffusers and ways I may not have thought about to keep this trip as conflict free as possible…”
  • I wonder “what happens if you’re at the playground and a parent scolds your child – for doing something perfectly within his rights, in your opinion?”, a situation which I found myself in a few years ago.

Robin shares great advice for each of these situations, so you’re sure of some great takeaways from our conversation!

Today’s show is sponsored by Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics: Key Tools to Handle Every Temper Tantrum, Keep Your Cool, and Enjoy Life With Your Young Child, the book I wrote for you if you are the parent of young children!

It’s getting some great reviews, including this one from Heidi de los Andes: “I really enjoyed this quick, clear and caring parenting book. Just like the author advocates in dealing with children, she couches her advice from a position of empathy. The book draws from the same general philosophy of instilling self-reliance as the Free Range Kids book by Lenore Skenazy… I also appreciated that it was a quick read (about an hour) and had lots of tricks and techniques you can start using right away.”

It’s available as an E-book in Amazon right now… To check out Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics click here or go to Amazon.com and search the name. I hope it helps you in your everyday parenting!

072: Manners and Etiquette from a Kid’s Point of View – Your Child Explained

“Wait a minute” – I hear you thinking – “aren’t Your Child Explained episodes a Thursday thing?”

You are absolutely right, ordinarily the Your Child Explained airs on the Thursday after a guest episode. But this is an unusual week because I’m interviewing the guest tomorrow, Wednesday, May 4, so that you can get your questions to her and she can answer them for Thursday’s show…

Which you’ll want to do, because returning champion Robin Abrahams, whose weekly “Miss Conduct” column in the Boston Globe Magazine answers etiquette questions with her own brand of caring-yet- Seinfeld-ish, humor, is an expert in the rules that allow us to all get along together.

Go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact to ask your toughest questions about confusing social situations. Miss Conduct fields thorny questions all the time and is a wonderful resource for you if:

  • while investigating homeschooling your young child, your mother-in-law informs you: “no grandchild of mine will ever homeschool”
  • a friend chooses your daughter’s first birthday party as the perfect venue to persuade everyone attending that her candidate in the upcoming national election is the best candidate
  • you think a coworker might be pregnant, and you want to congratulate her, but you’re not sure if she is or not; should you speak up?

In today’s Your Child Explained episode – a precursor to my conversation with Miss Conduct – we consider manners and etiquette from the perspective of our young kids.

I share an embarrassing situation in which, at age four, one of my boys “congratulated” an overweight pizza restaurant employee, enthusiastically telling her “wow – you’re really fat!”

Kids just don’t have a filter, for better or for worse.

Everyone who hears my four-year-old gasps in astonishment. The employee to whom my son directs his remark flushes; tears come to her eyes.

What do I do at this moment?

Click here or go to weturnedoutokay.com/072 to find out – and if you haven’t gotten it yet, click here or go to Amazon.com to download my e-book, Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics: Key Tools to Handle Every Temper Tantrum, Keep Your Cool, and Enjoy Life With Your Young Child. It’s finally launched and ready for you to start learning the tools that will make every day as a parent calmer and happier!

Back in the pizza restaurant, I thought about how, as parents, we’re not raising young kids – we are hosting ambassadors from another planet. Our kids are aliens, just learning how the world works here on earth. When my boys were quite young I read an essay describing kids in this way; ever since, remembering that essay has helped me stay calm when, whether through their words or their actions, my kids commit a mortifying error.

So rather than shouting at my child to apologize, rather than embarrassing him more than he already was (for, as soon as the words were out of his mouth he knew he had committed a grave mistake, although he didn’t know why the words were such a problem), I apologized as sincerely as I possibly could, led my boy to our table, and answered his inevitable questions about why what he said was so bad. I helped him understand that it’s not he himself who was bad – it was his words, and they could be changed to reflect his truly good heart.

What story do you have about the lack-of-filter on your young child? Let me know! Go to weturnedoutokay.com/contact (also, send in your questions for Miss Conduct)!

Key Links

Miss Conduct’s Mind Over Manners: Master the Slippery Rules of Modern Ethics and Etiquette, the book that will help you navigate today’s social rules, is available in Amazon.

Ask Miss Conduct a question over at the Boston Globe Magazine by clicking here; ask her a question for the Thursday, May 5 edition of We Turned Out Okay by going to weturnedoutokay.com/contact
Grab your copy of Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics, my e-book helps parents of young children maintain their sanity and do a lot less yelling, by clicking here; learn more about the book by clicking here or going to positivedisciplineninjatactics.com.

042: Miss Conduct – Boston Globe Magazine’s Advice Columnist Robin Abrahams – Is My Guest Today!

Robin Abrahams, a.k.a. Boston Globe advice columnist Miss Conduct
Robin Abrahams, a.k.a. Boston Globe advice columnist Miss Conduct

It can be tough to find time to read the paper on a Sunday morning. In fact, I generally don’t finish it until much later in the week! But Sundays, I always find time for a favorite column, Miss Conduct, because author Robin Abrahams – stand-up comedian, doctor of research psychology, researcher at Harvard business school and professor of psychology and writing – shares great relationship advice in her own special, fun way.

When Robin agreed to come on my show, I did a little happy dance! And… I did another little happy dance when we had our conversation 🙂

Highlights include:

1) Robin’s most favorite question she’s ever been asked – and why

2) how the Miss Conduct column is similar to Seinfeld

3) outstanding advice for listeners in the midst of the crazy-busy month of December (or, any crazy-busy time leading up to an event): include the children in the lead-up to the big event, and try to spread the joy out over several days… I’m heeding this advice and it’s really helping me enjoy the season

I hope you find our conversation lively, fun, and above all helpful as you navigate this next crazy few weeks, which for most of us is going to be pretty darned busy!