Dear Ann Cannon • My daughter and her husband have four young lively (really lively!) sons. Whenever they come over to dinner on Sundays, the boys eventually end up arguing and fighting — especially if they play basketball.
Here’s my problem. Their parents don’t seem like they’re in a big hurry to intervene even when things get really noisy, even physical. So far I’ve stayed out of it, but, honestly, I think my daughter and her husband should be better about nipping things in the bud before they get out of hand. What do you think?
Dear Nana • We just had our grandkids over for dinner last night and yeah. I know what you mean about the noisy part. Were our own kids ever that noisy? (Answer: duh.)
OK. About the fighting. I don’t know the specific reasons why your daughter and son-in-law aren’t in there breaking things up. Maybe they’re immune to the noise. Maybe they’re just too tired. Maybe they believe it isn’t an adult’s job to intervene every time kids get up in each other’s business — or whatever it is the kids say these days.
Although my natural tendency is to try to fix everything for everybody, I’ve come to believe that children should be allowed to work through things on their own as much as possible. Otherwise, how will they ever learn to navigate conflict themselves if an adult mediator immediately rides in with the cavalry? So, unless your grandchildren break out the machetes or get seriously violent or verbally abusive toward one another, I’d stay out of their squabbles as much as possible.
Contrasting points of view on this issue are welcome!
Dear Ann Cannon • One of the executives at my organization spells my name incorrectly every time she corresponds with me. I think she has used every variation of my name’s spelling, with the exception of the way I actually spell it. It doesn’t upset me — I actually find it pretty amusing (so much so, in fact, that I have to resist the temptation of sharing it with my coworkers and having a good laugh at her expense).
Still, I’m wondering if it’s something worth addressing, because it might cause issues down the road. For example, just the other day she introduced me to an important partner of our organization and quite badly misspelled my name. So, the question is, do I correct her? And if so, how do I go about it?
— Answers to Anything
Dear Answers to Anything • Some people might wonder why you’ve waited this long to correct this executive, but believe me, I totally get it. Correcting a superior in any context is awkward at the very least and possibly a little scary — even if that “superior” is your piano teacher who always calls you “Diane” instead of “Ann.” (P.S. I never corrected her.)
However! If I were consistently calling someone the wrong name or misspelling it, I’d want to know. Would I be embarrassed? Of course! But still. I’d definitely want to know. (I will say it’s odd, however, that she spells your name differently every time. Maybe she’s bad with details? Or just really, really creative?)
Anyway. How do you go about correcting her? I’d meet with her and say, “This isn’t a huge deal, but I’ve noticed you sometimes misspell my name. It’s a tricky name, I know, but here’s how it’s spelled. I just thought you might want to know. And thanks for letting me talk to you about this.” Something like that. What do you think?
Give it a try and let us know how it goes.