How Would You Feel? - Charleston,SC

Updated on July 09, 2012
A.L. asks from Charleston, SC
31 answers

I had my sister in law and 2 nieces in town recently for over 2 weeks. We live over 600 miles away, and usually try to see each other during the summers. Given the distance, we usually only see each other once a year. Both girls (14 & 11) have cell phones now. My issue is that both girls and my sister in law texted the entire time they were here. I couldn't have a conversation with any of them without them texting through the whole thing, then sometimes looking up and saying "what did you say?". Or they wouldn't even add or contribute to the conversations.

I basically gave up trying to converse with them, and just let them initiate any type of conversation, which was rare. Each of them texted through a movie, at the beach, at the pool, etc.... Their phones were constantly going off, and they were constantly answering texts. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I feel like if you're on vacation, you should "unplug" for awhile. I can understand it more so from my nieces given their ages, but my SIL was the biggest offender. And yes, I even asked if something important was going on, and no - it was just constant gossip or "catching up" with friends as she called it.

I found it incredibly rude since I make a point of freeing up our schedules for the 2 weeks that they are here. I don't enroll my kids in camps or schedule playdates because I want them to spend time with their cousins. This year, my kids actually missed out on a couple of fun opportunities this year because of their visit. I also schedule my dance camps around their visit, which isn't always a financial advantage for me.

I feel like we were just a "hotel room" for their trip. No quality time was spent catching up with us and making memories for our kids because they were too consumed with their phones. They just went through the motions all while keeping up with the Jones back home. Is it just me being ridiculously old fashioned about texting or would you think this behavior was rude? I'm seriously considering telling my SIL that their visit will have to be cut to 1 week in the future because I don't think it's fair to not do what we enjoy for 2 weeks, when they are not really "HERE" anyway.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone. It's good to know that I am not alone in feeling that this behavior was rude. My husband agrees 100%, although he was working and did not see most of the textiing with the kids, but he did notice it with the sister in law. I did not confront her about it being rude because I guess I was so astonished that it was actually this bad, and I had to factor in that she is HIGHLY sensitive. That being said, I have to remind myself that they are in MY HOME, and I shouldn't be made to feel uncomfortable by their actions, no matter how offended she or her girls may be.

Next spring, when she approaches me about the trip, I will tell her that we have to limit it to one week because my kids are missing out on summer things for them, and I have to schedule my dance camps when I can get the most attendance. I also plan to mention to her that my kids and I were a little taken back by the amount of time they all spent texting, so we'd enjoy it more if they would acknowledge our presence and enjoy OUR company while they are here. If she doesn't like it, she doesn't have to come. I understand the age gap in our kids, and I know that right now they don't share the same interests. That's normal. I expect tweens/teens to do this, but I don't condone it in them to the degree that they did it, nor do I think it's right for their mother to do it so excessively. I'm not mad and I will not hold a grudge. Life is too short, but here's my motto: Shame on them the first time, shame on me the second if I allow it under my roof. Thanks and have a great day!

Featured Answers



answers from Chicago on

WOW, you tolerated that for 2 WHOLE weeks???!!!!!

I would have said something sarcastic & if they didn't get what I was saying then I would have asked them to put their phones away because it is rude to visit with family but not engage in full conversations with them.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

So rude of them.
You should have made some "house rules".... and had them put the phones down for awhile.
I wouldnt even want them for a week or even a day. If they are only focused on their phones, why did they bother to visit?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

Kris S. said what I would say. wow. But the last time all my kids got together with their cousins at my ILs (I had to work and wasn't there) they came home complaining of the same thing about three of their cousins from the same family. It's weird to me, we didn't even let the kids bring their video camera when we went camping, let alone their tablets or ds lites.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Minneapolis on

I would have spoken up while they were there. I CAN'T STAND TEXTING. It turns people into zombies!!!!! I can't stand seeing people texting when they are walking around, let alone if they were actually in my house and I was trying to converse with them.

You have to speak up. Something along the lines of..."I felt like your visit this year was really different. It felt to me that you and the girls were so focused on texting that we missed connecting with other like we usually do. I didn't really realize until after you left. I would love to have you come again next year but I think we should talk up front about limiting the electronic interruptions. What do you think?" If she is open to a discussion then set rules together before the next visit (no phones when go out for activities, no phones during meals and maybe a 1/2 hour before and after the meals). If she is defensive and refuses to see there is a problem, then when it comes time for next year's visit, tell them you will only be available for 1 week. Good luck, hope she is receptive.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

It was rude. Period.

Our family has had similar disappointments, and what I've learned is that we just have to do what will work best for our family. So, when other family member have their phone/video games going during camping trips, we just go do something else.

If it were me, I'd do the shorter visit with "oh, this is what works for us this time" and then, go ahead and schedule your usual activities. I wouldn't offer an explanation unless there's a big question 'why' on your SIL's end. And then, I'd just answer "Well, there was a lot of texting going on during your visit last summer and my girls felt a bit ignored. So, we decided that it would be better for them to stay busy-- they have a hard time playing second fiddle to a phone and felt they missed out on some fun things waiting to hang out with their cousins. This way, they won't have disappointed expectations and your girls can do their thing too."

If she has a problem with that-- well, too bad. Let her find the solution. I think she has a problem already if she can't put down the phone for conversations or turn it off for a few hours.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Lynchburg on

Hi mommy-

With out a doubt that is rude to me!

Years ago, when my eldest had a cell phone, he was trying to 'discretely' text during church.

I excused myself...went to the ladies room...and texted him -"NO TEXTING IN CHURCH...God"

Then we followed up at home with some cell phone rules in our home.

I say...your home...your rules!

In addition, most theatres request cell phones turned off during movie...yes? (it's been a while since I was at a

Best luck!

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

when i read your subject line? My sarcastic/funny side - with my hands!! How do you feel??? LOL!!

if you were at a movie theater and they were texting - I would have grabbed their phones from them and put them in my purse. That is HORRIBLE behavior. That their mother allowed it is BEYOND me!!! Sounds like the kids rule the roost!!!

We were at dinner last Tuesday with my boys, our nephew and two boys (ages 7 and 13). the 13 year old was texting. So I got my phone out and texted him - are you with us? He looked up - turned red. and put his cell away and joined the conversations.

You are NOT being old-fashioned. Your sister is being shallow by allowing her kids to be disrespectful of family.

If it had been me and MY HOME? I would've taken the phones away. I'm NOT kidding. I would have said - we are NOT a hotel. WE ARE FAMILY. You can take 2 hours away from those damn things in order to spend time with us. If you can't do that. Please find a hotel room or go home. And I would stand my ground.

Call me mean. Call me rude. But if you are in MY home on vacation - I EXPECT you to spend time with me and my family. if you don't want to do that? Leave. Please leave.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

It was rude. You MIGHT excuse the kids if they've not been taught any better but your SIL? Seriously?

I had a similar experience with my cousin and her two girls and everyone went away from the experience thinking they were rude and disrespectful.

Think long and hard before putting yourselves in that position again. Like a poster here once said "When we know better, we do better." And now you know. Sorry it was an excruciatingly long (and rude) TWO weeks!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

my friend has a 19 year old cousin that does that when she visits (she, herself is 35). My friend is hilarious. ...and outspoken. So, she gets her point across, gets taken seriously while at the same time the offending party doesn't get mad.

They were at dinner together at home, and she texted her cousin (BTW- this is a shock, my friend hates to text herself) "GET THE F**K OFF THE PHONE!!!"


You should have spoken up! Firmly yet still friendly. They are family, right? BTW, i do not suggest talking like that to a child, but your sister in law is fair game, and you could have said something similar to the kids sans the f word;) ...or just seriously take their phones away- with a smile and say "I 'd like your undivided attention, we never see you!"

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Good grief, your sil also texted the entire time? No wonder her children think this is acceptable.

Sorry, but I would have said something about modern day etiquette with hand held devices. I do not know why parents have not spoken to their kids about this.

They are to be treated just as if they were telephones attached to the wall, especially with company.

If you are at the movies, they tell you no texting! They say silence your phones and put them away.

When you are with company , you do not talk on the phone in front of them. At meals? No way, they must stay on silent.

No meals should be interrupted by the phone. You text that you will not be available for at least an hour. You can contact them afterwards.. Even if someone is sending you messages.

Phones can be left on silent and allowed to just vibrate, until a private moment.

These kids know In school, if you pull out that phone in class, it will be confiscated, sent to the office and the parent will be called to pick it up.

Your sil has done a disservice to her kids. I always remind my employees, no cell phones are allowed while you are on my time.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Well of course texting while visiting is always rude :(
However, it just sounds like you all are growing apart.
This happens when cousins get older, especially when they only see each other once a year. It sounds like they cared more about what was going on back home than spending time with you and your family. It's sad, but it happens. My two older kids (16 and 19) used to be absolute besties with their cousins but now they practically have to be forced to get together. They're just wrapped up in their own lives, you know?
I wouldn't count on a visit next year, rather I'd wait to see if your SIL initiates it. And if she does want to come out again, just make it much shorter. You can say, oh we're pretty busy next summer, how about we just make it 5 days (or whatever YOU are comfortable with.)
There's no reason to give up two weeks of your summer to people who clearly don't want to really spend time with you :(

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I wouldn't even offer your home for them next time.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

Your SIL was indeed very rude. The teens do this kind of stuff, it's true, but it's up to the parent to tell them when they can and when they can't. Of course, given that your SIL cares more about her friends than she does about your family, she's not going to do that.

Please don't host them at your house next summer. When she brings it up again, tell her that instead of them coming to your house, you will send your kids to her house. Instead of you going to visit with your girls, you should go do something fun.

If she balks and asks why you aren't coming, tell her that she won't talk to you anyway - all she does is talk to her friends. She might not want your girls to come after all, but so what! If she pays absolutely no attention to your kids, and her kids don't pay any attention to your kids, what on earth is the point?

You are right - she is using you as a hotel. Don't be a doormat.


7 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I'd think it was terribly rude - but I don't have a cellphone and I do have some antiquated social expectations.

Here's my question for you. Did you clearly tell her it bothers you when she texts through conversations and activities? I mean, I have an awful time trying to stand up to my in laws. My ability to set boundaries goes strait out the window, so if you didn't, I can certainly relate. However, if we haven't assertively communicated our needs and wants, we also can't know that the people around us are aware of them. You know what I mean? She may not have been intentionally disregarding your needs, she may have just been oblivious to them. Sorry the trip wasn't what you hoped for.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Why didn't you speak up? I'd have a nice talk with her about how disrespectful & hurtful their inability to unplug was. I mean, why did they even visit, if all they wanted to do was text people in their home town that they see & talk to all the time? Your home, your time, therefore, I think you should've made your expectations & hopes known.

This is one of my hugest pet peeves. Humans are getting more & more stupid & socially inept by the second, thanks to all this "wonderful" modern technology. It's really sad... some people don't remember how carry on a conversation, face to face with a human anymore.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Without a doubt, they were being rude. I'd try not to take it personally because you know they surely behave like that when they are home too. They probably really aren't "present" with anyone. Not the quality of life I would want, but sadly, the modern world is full of technology addicts.

I wouldn't invite them out for 2 weeks any longer. If they ask to stay with you again, I'd say they can come for a shorter visit if they kindly agree to limit their texting and cell phone use when spending time at your home and out with you. If your SIL gets defensive, you just have accept she isn't willing to see her behavior as offensive and you'll just have to limit your time with them.

Sad, but you shouldn't have to give up your precious summer weeks to be with people who are so preoccupied. Maybe plan a weekend getaway and spot between where your families live and if they choose to sit and text the whole time and least you and your kids can get up and go do some fun activities together.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

I wish you had told them how utterly rude it is to text continually in front of others-especially your Auntie/hostess. I am assuming they are not running multi-million dollar corporations that require a great deal of their time? Do not have them back next year unless they leave the phones at home.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

The only thing I can think of is to make a rule (in a nice way)....this is text-free time for my kids (i.e. at the beach, movie, etc.) do you think your kids could do the same so my kids are not left out?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I might have 'accidentally' dropped the phones into the pool.
Next year, tell them they are welcome provided the cell phones stay powered off or at home, otherwise you will cancel and take a cruise/trip somewhere you've always wanted to go.
Put your foot down now and one way or another you won't have another visit like this ever again.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

You are not being old fashioned! That is incredibly rude! Unfortunately that is where society is going now. I will admit, I am a huge texter as I really really hate talking on the phone! But I always try and wait for an opportune time to send or look at my texts ie when no one is trying to talk to me etc. In fact 90% of the time my phone is on silent so it won't be going off all the time in front of people. I hate it when I am on a playdate with my kids or something and the other mom is constantly texting to make other plans or whatever. Totally rude.

I guess I can almost see it from your nieces as that is just their age, but your SIL too! Rude!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Next time play them all the video "Put Your Phone Down". At least you can get your point across with some humor. Did you sit them all down and tell them how you feel? Tell them you want some quality time together and see if they can help you come up with a solution. Text free hours? No texting during meals? No texting when you are conversing with another person? Honestly this is just common courtesy to me.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I'm of two minds here. It was rude of them but it would also be rude of you to point it out - only because I don't think they intended to be rude. To me, that makes a difference.

I really like the idea of texting them something along the lines of, "We'd love for you to join us in conversation or whatever activity when you're done with your phone." when you're sitting right next to them. Actually, I think that would have been the best way to handle it.

The movie theater thing would have bothered me. I would have told them to either shut off their phones or go outside because they were disturbing you and other's enjoyment of the movie.

I think that people are so used to being plugged in and in touch with everyone and they don't realize that their behavior is rude. If you've ever seen a group of kids sitting around with their phones, that's what they're doing - texting each other instead of talking. It's weird/rude to us, but normal for them.

Did they have fun? Did they enjoy themselves? I don't think I'd say anything to the SIL about the phone/texting thing. But, in planning next year's visit, I might say something along the lines of, "We'd love to have you out, but since the kids are getting older and occupied with friends, it's probably better if we shorten your visit by a week. That way, I don't have to shorten dance camp as well. What do you think?"

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I do not own a cell phone. I am not fond of cell phones, and do not understand the point of texting at all, especially when adults do it! When my boys were little I used to get together with this one mom for playdates. Then she got her phone. We would be out somewhere for coffee while the kids played, and she would be fiddling with her phone throughout our entire conversation. One day she came to my house, and sat there the whole time texting. I never went out with her again. I still let the kids play together, but I would pick up her son, or drop mine at her place, and I would make excuses for not getting together with her. I do wish I had spoken up, but I didn't feel like I was "close" enough with her to point out how rude she was, and at that point had no interest in being "close".

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answers from Boca Raton on

I would feel exactly the way you do . . . though I probably would not talk to them about it (especially a sister-in-law).

My own sister, whom I love dearly, has started doing the same thing! It really is hurtful though I know she doesn't mean it that way. We are close enough that I could mention it to her and it wouldn't ruin our relationship. I just haven't done it yet.

If I were you I'd probably cut those long stays short . . . using something along the lines of "well the kids are getting older and more into their own social lives."

I completely get it.

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answers from Appleton on

That is soooo rude. I hate texting and do not have it as part of my cell plan. You should have spoken up, at least said something like 'I thought you were here to visit us, we can't really have a conversation with all this texting going on. I have it set up on my aim account that I can send text messages to my kids on their phones. If I need to tell them something and they are working I find it's better to text than call. It would have been funny if you had sent them a text message saying 'so when do we get to have a real conversation?'

But I feel the same way about earbuds. You see people out and about with earbuds in, listening to music, and if you need to say something like 'excuse me, could I get past you' you can't.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

I think its kind of rude. I don't think you should have cancelled any activities for your kids while they were there even if they didn't have cell phones.
I just went on a trip with my girlfriends and 3 of them were constantly texting or twittering, emails or phone calling. We didn't get to do a lot of stuff because it was wait while I check my phone and we would sit for 1/2 hour while they did that. I thought the point of a trip was to hang out and have fun. I don't get why twitter is sooooooo important.

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answers from La Crosse on

Yes its rude.

On the 4th my family was together at my dad's. My brothers phone kept going off..he would respond while talking to us.. stopping the conversation to respond then pick up where he left off when he was done texting.

My dad picked up his phone and sent him a text that said is this a better way to talk to you? My brother shut his phone off the rest of the couple hours we were together. Sometimes it takes a little wake up call on how rude it actually is. My brother is usually better at not doing it and I understand he was talking to a friend of his that just moved away... but he still got the hint... or should I say the text...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

I think it's a little of both - you being old fashioned and them being rude.

My cousin and her 2 teenage daughter come to visit on occassion (not over night) and text pretty much the whole time - sometimes to EACH OTHER!!! But I try not to let it bug me too much. But it sure gives me an idea of the kind of cell phone rules we're going to have when MY daughters get old enough for them!!

I think you should continue the visits like you always have, but don't make your children miss out on things during that time. I'm not saying enroll them in camps, but if there's a day activity that they're invited to....let them go! The kids are getting old enough to not need to play together ALL the time during the 2 weeks. And maybe if you guys are unavailable for a few hours or afternoons, your sister and her girls will WANT to unplug and spend a little more quality time with you.

But if not, do you really want to let texting cause an issue? Be the bigger person and don't pole vault over a mouse turd ;)

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answers from New York on

Recently I have been guilty of that at age 61. However, I had a sister, a
dear, dear friend and an aunt all dying at the same time; all at different hospitals. I was health care proxy for two. Even given the circumstances I
was under, I apologized profusely to anyone if I had to answer a phone or
text a person. My granddaughter is nortorious for doing that. After a bit, I
tell her to put the phone away. Makes me nuts. If they come back, set the rules before hand.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i'm right there with you. i too have two lovely teenage nieces whom i would ADORE getting to know. but i can't because they're not interested in conversation, just want to text non-stop. family meals, restaurants, even watching movies together, they text all the time.
i gave up.

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answers from Dallas on

You're a better woman than me. I have a co worker who will text through lunches, meetings, stays on the phone all the time. I stopped inviting her any where and make a rule that if she doesn't turn the phone off, she can't come and I mean it.

FYI, my sister is the same way. I finally told her not to come to my house anymore. It got to the point where she'd go outside or in the room and stay there most of the time she was "visiting" on the phone. Worse than any kid.

I have NO ISSUES with telling people they are being rude. ESPECIALLY people in my house. It's no inconvenience for you to ask them to stop...if they need to leave, hug them goodbye and then plan something fun for your kids. EVERYONE WINS!!

I feel ya.
Sending good thoughts your way.

1 mom found this helpful
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