Dear Mouthy Housewives,
Help! One of my 15-year-old daughter’s friends is so obnoxious! She doesn’t address me when she comes over, just mutters a “hi,” without any eye contact; helps herself to whatever she wants in the refrigerator before I had a chance to offer; and responds monosyllabically whenever I try to engage her in conversation. I’ve asked my daughter about this, but she brushes it off with a, “that’s just how she is.”
Is there anything that I can do about this? Or do I have to suck it up and deal with her rudeness?
Ms. Prim and Proper
Dear Ms. PP,
Tell the truth, did writing that letter make you feel older than you wanted to feel? Because reading it certainly aged me. Partly because I remember being the teenager that knew she had to deal with my friends’ parents as an entry fee to spending time with my friends and partly because my memories of being a teenager are very dim at this point.
The short answer is: no, you do not have to deal with rudeness at any point in your own home. And you are absolutely right to insist on a proper greeting. Whether you decide to tell your daughter that when Ruda Jane comes over, you would like her to say, “Hello, Ms. Prim. It’s nice to see you!” or “Hi, thanks for having me over” or tell her yourself — it’s is your call. But it is completely reasonable for your presence to be acknowledged when she comes into your home. If it’s uncomfortable at first, so be it. You are teaching her a social skill that she will need and that will hopefully become second-nature to her.
Now, I can hear the protest already (just called me Bionic Woman!): What if she’s an introvert, shy or just uncomfortable with grownups?
Those are valid concerns, but it does not excuse normal social interaction. If she does not want to engage in conversation with you, that is fine, as long as she is polite about it. But it is up to you to communicate the rules of your house to her.
If your daughter does not want to be the messenger, as soon as the friend comes in, greet both her and your daughter. Hopefully your daughter will return your greeting and if the friend doesn’t respond, tell her firmly that she needs to do so in your home. And that if she would like a snack or a drink to let you know. Whether you want to top that off with an ice breaker of, “I used to hate talking to my friends’ parents too,” is entirely up to you.
Hopefully, she will catch on and further visits will go smoothly. Then all you have to worry about is how your daughter acts when she’s visiting her friends’ homes.