Q: I sometimes invite children from my 4-year-old's nursery school over to play with her in the afternoon. These children are literally addicted to television. They demand that I turn on the cartoons at 3 o'clock, which, as you may not know, is when two hours of cartoon fun starts. When I refuse, they mope and ask to be taken home.
I was brought up to believe it is bad manners to watch TV when company is present. Furthermore, I see no value in preschool children sitting like lumps for half the afternoon. I invite other children over so that my daughter will play. If I wanted her to sit watching sugar commercials, I wouldn't bother inviting other children; she could do that alone.
In my position, would Miss Manners stick to her guns, or would Miss Manners graciously give her guests what they want?
A: Stick to her guns? Miss Manners would bring out the heavy artillery.
It is the privilege of the hostess (or the hostess' mommy, if the hostess is not of age) to set the terms of the invitation. The guest (or her deputy) can then accept or refuse, but cannot demand to change the terms. If you invite guests for poker, they are not allowed to demand to be allowed to play soccer instead.
Perhaps you should make your invitations somewhat more clear by saying, "Daniela would love to have Rosalinda over to play this afternoon, but you know, we don't allow the television to be on, so if she really can't miss her cartoons, perhaps it's not a good idea."
If you think there is an element of shame intended here for the parent who has not imposed any such rules and has therefore nurtured a child who prefers passive to active entertainment, you are correct. This is because Miss Manners hopes you will be a good example to passive parents.