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frogfactory
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« Reply #75 on: December 15, 2012, 2:40:53 PM »

I self-identify as a feminist and I don't see this line of analysis as saying feminism=evil.  The way I understand this argument, it's not the "feminist" "ambition" that's the problem (or "evil"), it's what happens when that (otherwise potentially positive and healthy) ambition suddenly gets channeled into a single, all-consuming task--child-rearing.  The phenomenon being described, I think, is when the perfectionism that a high-achieving female HS/college student puts into her 4.0 GPA ends up getting sublimated and channeled by that woman later in life into being the "perfect" mother, to the exclusion of anything else.

The idea is that for some mothers child-rearing becomes fetishized as the new arena for playing out one's ambition--precisely because one does not have enough other (outside, non-childrearing-oriented) places to put that ambition (whether by choice or otherwise).  I don't see describing this phenomenon as anti-feminist.  Indeed, describing and critiquing it could be seen as a feminist argument for encouraging women to put their energies and ambitions into more varied causes/vocations that may help both their society and their personal development.  

That said, I do think this is arguably a phenomenon that is a concern only for a small subset of people (educated, affluent)--the only class for whom the option/luxury of trying to aim for "perfection" in parenting even exists--but it is a topic of obsession for the chattering classes.  Not to mention the role of capitalism, consumerism, a trend-driven media culture, and advertising in defining successful parenting to that same class of people which has more money to spend on products to make them "better" parents and their kids "better" kids.

+1

Crowie, these points are EXACTLY what I was trying to say upthread. You've said it far more eloquently than I.

Crowie is excellent at eloquence.
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prof_smartypants
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« Reply #76 on: December 15, 2012, 3:01:38 PM »

When I was a teen (14-15) people would actually invite me to parties like that without my mother (though she was occasionally there) with the intention that I'd participate in the drinking and cursing and inappropriate jokes with everyone else... I guess that's not as likely to happen in the US? My friends were always older than me.

Maybe your chair doesn't see her teenagers as 'kids' and thinks that it's OK because they're older?


I agree, it's very much a cultural thing. I find it strange that teenagers are assumed to not be able to at least pretend to enjoy themselves at an "adult" event. Why on earth should you "make sure that they're entertained"? In my view, being able to adapt to different environments, including ones that you may find boring, and behave gracefully is just another part of your education. I was an only child and from an early age my parents took me with them to social events. I was just expected to behave, take part in the conversation when appropriate, eat like a civilized person, and if I really was bored sit somewhere quietly with the book I'd brought with me (although that would be frowned upon). I actually learnt a lot from talking with my parents' friends, and as I far as I know they weren't angry at me for being there. Where I'm from, it's perfectly acceptable for older teenagers to drink some beer or wine with dinner (at the table and with the parents around, obviously.) For the younger ones, having some water or coke around isn't exactly a lot of work - there are also adults who don't drink for a variety of reasons so you probably need to provide soft drinks options anyway.

That's not the point. They weren't invited. Their parents do not let them drink, and they are not my friends. I invited friends of mine, not friends of mine + whomever they want to bring along. Normally, if you bring people who are not invited to a party, you ask the host first - "hey, I have friends staying with me, can I bring them along". You don't just assume you can show up with whomever you feel like bringing. Why should kids be treated any differently than any other uninvited guest?
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crowie
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« Reply #77 on: December 15, 2012, 3:28:20 PM »

I self-identify as a feminist and I don't see this line of analysis as saying feminism=evil.  The way I understand this argument, it's not the "feminist" "ambition" that's the problem (or "evil"), it's what happens when that (otherwise potentially positive and healthy) ambition suddenly gets channeled into a single, all-consuming task--child-rearing.  The phenomenon being described, I think, is when the perfectionism that a high-achieving female HS/college student puts into her 4.0 GPA ends up getting sublimated and channeled by that woman later in life into being the "perfect" mother, to the exclusion of anything else.

The idea is that for some mothers child-rearing becomes fetishized as the new arena for playing out one's ambition--precisely because one does not have enough other (outside, non-childrearing-oriented) places to put that ambition (whether by choice or otherwise).  I don't see describing this phenomenon as anti-feminist.  Indeed, describing and critiquing it could be seen as a feminist argument for encouraging women to put their energies and ambitions into more varied causes/vocations that may help both their society and their personal development.  

That said, I do think this is arguably a phenomenon that is a concern only for a small subset of people (educated, affluent)--the only class for whom the option/luxury of trying to aim for "perfection" in parenting even exists--but it is a topic of obsession for the chattering classes.  Not to mention the role of capitalism, consumerism, a trend-driven media culture, and advertising in defining successful parenting to that same class of people which has more money to spend on products to make them "better" parents and their kids "better" kids.

+1

Crowie, these points are EXACTLY what I was trying to say upthread. You've said it far more eloquently than I.

Crowie is excellent at eloquence.

Thank you both, very much!
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polly_mer
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« Reply #78 on: December 16, 2012, 9:27:24 AM »

Sorry your life is so miserable.  I will continue to stay on contraceptives and out of academia.

You've missed my point: my life isn't miserable (most of the time), but I don't have the life I had before kids and before getting an academic job; expecting me to juggle to figure out how to have that life is illogical (if not downright insane) because a week doesn't have that many hours.

For example, I'm a morning person.  I love being up at 5 to get my deep thinking and writing out of the way with no interruptions.  I used to do those things at 8 am in my research job; now I do them at 5 am so that I can teach classes at 8 am.  I used to stay up until 9 pm; now I conk out at 7:30.  It's not that big a deal, except for the people who want to start some social thing at 7 pm (or even worse, 9 pm) because they start work at 9 am or later.

I used to go to the movies at least once a week and play poker on Friday nights.  Now, I spend my evenings at home doing kid-friendly things; Friday nights are Blocky and my special nights as Mr. Mer takes a much needed break with his friends.

I used to spend all Saturday afternoon and evening as well as most Sunday afternoons playing board games with my friends and chatting merrily about our lives.  Now, I do interesting family things like go to the llama farm open house or test run some of my experiments and demos for my labs.  If anyone wants in on the bomb I'm doing next weekend (HCl+aluminum foil in a plastic bottle), setting up the optical benches in the near future, or another round of playing with the online simulations for nifty things (Blocky loves using the pump for the gas laws), then let me know.  We also have talked about taking trips in the near future to a planetarium, an aquarium, and a museum about farm equipment.  Those are all fun things that have opened up as I teach classes on general science and have a little kid who will have fun while helping me figure out what I need to tell my students.

However, I haven't been to a movie since Blocky was born.  I don't follow most popular television shows.  The weighty books I used to read by the dozen every week have become few and far between because I have resorted to mostly fluff because I think very hard most days, which takes care of my need for intellectual stimulation, and need something else as a relaxation measure.  Thus, I cannot participate in certain conversations because I don't have that background any more and listening to those conversations is, well, boring.  I'm not going to get to see that movie in the near future, read that book, or start watching that show.

In summary, I have a pretty good life; this semester was very rough as I was at a new place teaching an overload of new classes with my lab help consisting of a few hours of one undergrad and I'm a simulationist who hasn't been in a chemistry lab in 15 years.  Things will be better next term, but I'm still not going to have my evenings and weekends basically free to play games with friends and talk girl talk rather than spend time with my nifty little guy and my nifty big guy while thinking hard about science.  I have to prioritize my time and energy, so prioritizing things that are synergistic with the life I have now instead of trying frantically to cling to the past is the logical and sane thing to do.  

I do get away from my kid on a regular basis; that's called having a career and going to conferences.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2012, 9:28:39 AM by polly_mer » Logged

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macaroon
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« Reply #79 on: December 16, 2012, 12:01:50 PM »


My chair (also friend) brings her teenage kids to every social event, even if they are not invited. She actually brought them to a colleague's wedding which was a no-kid affair.

I have a new year's party every year, and it's not a kid-friendly occasion. There is heavy drinking, a lot of cursing, and inappropriate jokes. She brought her teenagers last year. I kept feeling the need to find them soft drinks or make sure they were entertained. I ended up being resentful that she had put me in that position. She didn't notice at all.

Is it possibly to politely tell her (or anyone for that matter) that an event is not child-friendly?

No, it is not possible to politely tell her this because she is your chair.  I would let it go, and worry about a slippery slope of 4 year olds if and only if it happens.  And stop "entertaining" the teenagers.  Most likely, your chair thought you were enjoying their company - which is not exactly a wacky idea.  If I didn't enjoy the company of older teenagers, at least a little, I'd probably hate my job as a college professor. 

But....  but...  I know why teenagers come to heavy drinking, New Years Eve parties.  They are the designated drivers, prof_smartypants!  I think you need more teenagers, not fewer.
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mouseman
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« Reply #80 on: December 16, 2012, 5:55:42 PM »

I self-identify as a feminist and I don't see this line of analysis as saying feminism=evil.  The way I understand this argument, it's not the "feminist" "ambition" that's the problem (or "evil"), it's what happens when that (otherwise potentially positive and healthy) ambition suddenly gets channeled into a single, all-consuming task--child-rearing.  The phenomenon being described, I think, is when the perfectionism that a high-achieving female HS/college student puts into her 4.0 GPA ends up getting sublimated and channeled by that woman later in life into being the "perfect" mother, to the exclusion of anything else.

The idea is that for some mothers child-rearing becomes fetishized as the new arena for playing out one's ambition--precisely because one does not have enough other (outside, non-childrearing-oriented) places to put that ambition (whether by choice or otherwise).  I don't see describing this phenomenon as anti-feminist.  Indeed, describing and critiquing it could be seen as a feminist argument for encouraging women to put their energies and ambitions into more varied causes/vocations that may help both their society and their personal development.  

That said, I do think this is arguably a phenomenon that is a concern only for a small subset of people (educated, affluent)--the only class for whom the option/luxury of trying to aim for "perfection" in parenting even exists--but it is a topic of obsession for the chattering classes.  Not to mention the role of capitalism, consumerism, a trend-driven media culture, and advertising in defining successful parenting to that same class of people which has more money to spend on products to make them "better" parents and their kids "better" kids.

+1

Crowie, these points are EXACTLY what I was trying to say upthread. You've said it far more eloquently than I.

Crowie is excellent at eloquence.

Thank you both, very much!

Thanks for the insight, Crowie and others - it does help me understand this behavior.  It hopefully will help us here in figuring out how to guide the Mouselet as she grows up. 

I'm really just bookmarking here, but I do have a question:

My chair (also friend) brings her teenage kids to every social event, even if they are not invited. She actually brought them to a colleague's wedding which was a no-kid affair.

I have a new year's party every year, and it's not a kid-friendly occasion. There is heavy drinking, a lot of cursing, and inappropriate jokes. She brought her teenagers last year. I kept feeling the need to find them soft drinks or make sure they were entertained. I ended up being resentful that she had put me in that position. She didn't notice at all.

Is it possibly to politely tell her (or anyone for that matter) that an event is not child-friendly?

I agree that it is impolite of her, and I agree with all the others who are writing that her being your chair makes any polite suggestion difficult.  However, perhaps being tricky may work.  Maybe some remarks on how well behaved her teens are "considering that they were bored being surrounded by all these old folk", or "to bad that there weren't any other children their age, after all, the topics/music/activities were probably tedious for teens".  Maybe even a few minutes talking to the teens "it's great that you guys can hang out with your parents, most kids find us adults boring", plus an awkward badly-done reference to what was "cool" last year, especially if you add "as you kids today say, right?" will likely result in the teens refusing to go to any of these parties ever again.
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kaysixteen
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« Reply #81 on: December 16, 2012, 6:19:47 PM »

Would I perhaps be correct in assuming that attitudes towards teenagers' appropriate socializing activities with adults are significantly different outside of the USA?  Some have suggested that it is acceptable to allow the teens to drink booze with the adults-- this USED to be true here but is nowadays both socially and legally unacceptable, and opens the hosts up to great civil and criminal liability.  What IS acceptable, on the other hand, is the notion  hinted at above that hosts (and parents) need to entertain the teens and allow them to act in surly, adolescent-centered ways, refusing to interact with adults, etc.-- methinks this attitude may well also be less than ubiquitous worldwide?
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niceday
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« Reply #82 on: December 17, 2012, 10:08:28 AM »

Some of the disconnect people are describing is normal, in my opinion. Early childhood is a very intense time for the parent as well as for the kid. It's pretty natural that those with kids at that stage diverge somewhat from those who are not going through this stage. It's a bit like the way those on the tenure-track may "get" each other in a way, say, those working in the industry may not (they have their own set of issues and considerations).

On the other hand, this early intense period may make other problems which were kept at bay more apparent. There is less slack in the system once a kid enters the picture. Tenure-track is hard enough. Tenure-track plus small children may make things pretty difficult for those who are in a position to barely manage one (as both are pretty intense). Or, if there is an issue with the spouse not being safe or reliable (as seemed to be in the early case in this thread), the presence of the child may make greatly complicate things.

Then there are generally rude behaviors. Chair bringing uninvited guests? That's just rude behavior although it's possible that she's under the impression that it was communicated to her that it was okay (these kinds of misunderstandings do happen--you say "oh, I think your kids are awesome" and she hears "bring them along.")

I'm also on the early tenure-track, research-intensive institution, place values teaching and I take my teaching seriously, I also have a ton of extra-curricular activities going on. It's a patchwork for solutions for me. Sometimes, yeah, I find myself hanging out with people with kids because it is easier to swap baby-sitting and create an environment that works for the kids. Sometimes I leave the kid with spouse or other care-givers and run and do my thing. I enjoy both and I love parenthood and I also love my job.

I think I don't get to do enough of any one of the things that are part of my identity. I don't hang out as much with the mom's circles kind of environments as do other moms (and few dads) who either don't have as intense jobs or are more into parenting 24/7;  I am not as intensely traveling on the research/talk/conference circuit as my peers in that world. I also don't hang out as much with my friends without kids as they do with each other.

I think "not enough of X" is a common and predictable issue of having multiple intense and demanding identities. Getting lost in one or the other for short(ish) periods of times seems normal, too.

The cases where folks on this thread are complaining about seem to be more about people having difficulty striking an (always imperfect) balance either because the resources are just too scarce or the person is having difficulty navigating multiple roles. There are many broader issues there but it seems reasonable that kids bring out these issues of balance as they are both very demanding and also, ahem, pretty awesome (in my opinion!) so one does get drawn into their world.

I think the reasonable conversation (between peers, not your chair, I guess) for those with kids and without is to ask: "I'd occasionally like to see you without the kid but it doesn't seem to happen. If this is because you are having difficulty squeezing out the time or the money, maybe we can figure out a way to make this happen if we think about it together." And then listen. If it is a problem of logistics, it's likely a solution can be found. If it is a problem of parent lost in role, well, that is harder.
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prof_smartypants
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« Reply #83 on: December 17, 2012, 10:10:25 AM »

I don't want to hijack any further, but none of the teens at the party had licenses. They were 12-15, and didn't want to be there. They got dragged along (likely because their parents didn't trust them to be at home alone? I dunno.)

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polly_mer
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« Reply #84 on: December 17, 2012, 11:25:48 AM »

I don't want to hijack any further, but none of the teens at the party had licenses. They were 12-15, and didn't want to be there. They got dragged along (likely because their parents didn't trust them to be at home alone? I dunno.)

What are the options for leaving the kids somewhere?  Pretty slim in some cases is the problem.

One generally does not get a babysitter for a fifteen-year-old and yeah, leaving kids home alone on a holiday isn't very friendly to the kids.

A possible solution (one I employed as a teenager to get out of being dragged to the boring parties) is playing matchmaker to the people who would love to come, but need babysitters with the old-enough-to-make-a-few-bucks kids.  This can be a win all the way around because little kids will almost always conk out before midnight and part of the deal can be some great snacks and videos for the babysitters.

Another option is to find out if a local movie theater is running a New Year's Eve special and suggest that maybe the kids would prefer a movie marathon with option to call for a ride home when enough is enough instead of being dragged to the boring adult party.

To change the topic a little, Niceday puts the parent/non-parent solution very well as
I think the reasonable conversation (between peers, not your chair, I guess) for those with kids and without is to ask: "I'd occasionally like to see you without the kid but it doesn't seem to happen. If this is because you are having difficulty squeezing out the time or the money, maybe we can figure out a way to make this happen if we think about it together." And then listen. If it is a problem of logistics, it's likely a solution can be found. If it is a problem of parent lost in role, well, that is harder.

I wasn't kidding that I would be happy to do something at 6 am or a planned well-in-advance lunch.  If we plan well in advance, then certain times of the semester I probably could manage a dinner out assuming we could have "dinner" at 4:00 in the afternoon or possibly as a Saturday afternoon when Blocky is off doing something that only needs one parent to supervise.  However, that won't happen every week and I'm not sure that I could commit even to every month considering how often my SLAC job requires my presence on evenings and weekends.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2012, 11:28:21 AM by polly_mer » Logged

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prof_smartypants
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You're getting hosed by small minds with no game.


« Reply #85 on: December 17, 2012, 11:30:08 AM »

I don't want to hijack any further, but none of the teens at the party had licenses. They were 12-15, and didn't want to be there. They got dragged along (likely because their parents didn't trust them to be at home alone? I dunno.)

What are the options for leaving the kids somewhere?  Pretty slim in some cases is the problem.

One generally does not get a babysitter for a fifteen-year-old and yeah, leaving kids home alone on a holiday isn't very friendly to the kids.

A possible solution (one I employed as a teenager to get out of being dragged to the boring parties) is playing matchmaker to the people who would love to come, but need babysitters with the old-enough-to-make-a-few-bucks kids.  This can be a win all the way around because little kids will almost always conk out before midnight and part of the deal can be some great snacks and videos for the babysitters.

Niceday puts the parent/non-parent solution very well as
I think the reasonable conversation (between peers, not your chair, I guess) for those with kids and without is to ask: "I'd occasionally like to see you without the kid but it doesn't seem to happen. If this is because you are having difficulty squeezing out the time or the money, maybe we can figure out a way to make this happen if we think about it together." And then listen. If it is a problem of logistics, it's likely a solution can be found. If it is a problem of parent lost in role, well, that is harder.

I wasn't kidding that I would be happy to do something at 6 am or a planned well-in-advance lunch.  If we plan well in advance, then certain times of the semester I probably could manage a dinner out assuming we could have "dinner" at 4:00 in the afternoon or possibly as a Saturday afternoon when Blocky is off doing something that only needs one parent to supervise.

Easy. You don't go. If you aren't comfortable leaving your 12-14 year old home alone, and you aren't willing or able to get a babysitter, then you don't go to a party. You stay home with your kids and do family stuff. That's what my parents always did. We had a great time.

You don't bring kids or any other guests to someone's party without asking. When did this become OK?
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macaroon
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« Reply #86 on: December 17, 2012, 11:34:48 AM »

I don't want to hijack any further, but none of the teens at the party had licenses. They were 12-15, and didn't want to be there. They got dragged along (likely because their parents didn't trust them to be at home alone? I dunno.)

What are the options for leaving the kids somewhere?  Pretty slim in some cases is the problem.

One generally does not get a babysitter for a fifteen-year-old and yeah, leaving kids home alone on a holiday isn't very friendly to the kids.

A possible solution (one I employed as a teenager to get out of being dragged to the boring parties) is playing matchmaker to the people who would love to come, but need babysitters with the old-enough-to-make-a-few-bucks kids.  This can be a win all the way around because little kids will almost always conk out before midnight and part of the deal can be some great snacks and videos for the babysitters.

Niceday puts the parent/non-parent solution very well as
I think the reasonable conversation (between peers, not your chair, I guess) for those with kids and without is to ask: "I'd occasionally like to see you without the kid but it doesn't seem to happen. If this is because you are having difficulty squeezing out the time or the money, maybe we can figure out a way to make this happen if we think about it together." And then listen. If it is a problem of logistics, it's likely a solution can be found. If it is a problem of parent lost in role, well, that is harder.

I wasn't kidding that I would be happy to do something at 6 am or a planned well-in-advance lunch.  If we plan well in advance, then certain times of the semester I probably could manage a dinner out assuming we could have "dinner" at 4:00 in the afternoon or possibly as a Saturday afternoon when Blocky is off doing something that only needs one parent to supervise.

Easy. You don't go. If you aren't comfortable leaving your 12-14 year old home alone, and you aren't willing or able to get a babysitter, then you don't go to a party. You stay home with your kids and do family stuff. That's what my parents always did. We had a great time.

You don't bring kids or any other guests to someone's party without asking. When did this become OK?

It's not.  But it's not worth the awkward discussion with your chair about her manners.   

However, you really COULD try to play babysitting matchmaker.  When you invite your chair, say, "Hey - Becky and Josh would like to come, but don't have a babysitter.  Do you think Sally or Frank might like to make some money?"  It doesn't have to be at your house.  It can be at Becky and Josh's house. 
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prof_smartypants
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You're getting hosed by small minds with no game.


« Reply #87 on: December 17, 2012, 11:45:08 AM »

Oh sure. I was speaking more generally. The babysitter matchmaker is a terrific idea!
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polly_mer
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« Reply #88 on: December 17, 2012, 12:58:03 PM »

Easy. You don't go. If you aren't comfortable leaving your 12-14 year old home alone, and you aren't willing or able to get a babysitter, then you don't go to a party. You stay home with your kids and do family stuff. That's what my parents always did. We had a great time.

You don't bring kids or any other guests to someone's party without asking. When did this become OK?

Well, according to all the women in my family who have planned events for decades, what kind of person doesn't invite the whole family when you know they have kids who aren't holy terrors?  Those women would ask what kind of people would throw parties that it's not ok to bring kids, grandparents, visiting friends from out of town, and similar people who could reasonably be expected to be around and want to celebrate a holiday?

For example, my parents went out exactly once a year to a "grown-up" party that was thrown by a contractor who worked with my dad.  A sit-down dinner for 2N is a place where you don't bring other guests.  That's true for any catered dinner like weddings.

By the norms on which I was raised, the only time one would restrict the guest list is for something like a catered dinner or a party where groups of N are required to make the games work out (we had a lot of card parties when I was a kid).

Otherwise, bring extra with your covered dish and let the good times roll.

Not everyone has the same norms as you do.  When the norms differ, it's up to you to either adjust or flat out make the statement of what your rules are for your party since you have evidence that what you consider "normal" isn't "normal" for other people.
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macaroon
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« Reply #89 on: December 17, 2012, 1:06:35 PM »

Easy. You don't go. If you aren't comfortable leaving your 12-14 year old home alone, and you aren't willing or able to get a babysitter, then you don't go to a party. You stay home with your kids and do family stuff. That's what my parents always did. We had a great time.

You don't bring kids or any other guests to someone's party without asking. When did this become OK?

Well, according to all the women in my family who have planned events for decades, what kind of person doesn't invite the whole family when you know they have kids who aren't holy terrors?  Those women would ask what kind of people would throw parties that it's not ok to bring kids, grandparents, visiting friends from out of town, and similar people who could reasonably be expected to be around and want to celebrate a holiday?

For example, my parents went out exactly once a year to a "grown-up" party that was thrown by a contractor who worked with my dad.  A sit-down dinner for 2N is a place where you don't bring other guests.  That's true for any catered dinner like weddings.

By the norms on which I was raised, the only time one would restrict the guest list is for something like a catered dinner or a party where groups of N are required to make the games work out (we had a lot of card parties when I was a kid).



That, or miscommunication about the welcome-ness of the teenagers.   

By the cultural norms with which I was raised, teenagers are incredibly welcome specifically at NYE parties to serve as designated drivers, or were farmed out to babysit the other guests' children.  This is how I spent many a NYE - babysat by other guests' teenagers, babysitting, or as the DD. 
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