Telephone Etiquette

  So way back in the olden days, when I was a little girl, I used to LOOOOVE to answer the phone.  “Hello Bontrager residence, Tonya speaking!” 

{Gotta love an 80’s perm, Avery just asked me why “Destiny” is wearing a wig?}

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Anyhow, I guess I sound just like my mom, because I had to add “Tonya speaking”, or even as a second grader, these people would launch into a looooong story about what they needed before I could even sputter out the words,

“WAIT, you want my mom, hold on I will get her for you!”

  My parents talked to us about do’s and do not’s of phone etiquette.  And look, we even had this cute little book all about it. My mom just recently passed it on to my kiddos.  This book covers basics like don’t tell  people if you are home alone, use good manners, take messages for your mom etc.

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   In addition to all these rules, we had a house rule that we didn’t answer the phone during supper.  This was back in the 1980’s, and guess what, we didn’t even have an answering machine to record that missed call. OR caller ID to know who we missed! 

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{gasp} 

                                 HOW DID WE STAND IT?!?!?!?!?

Unheard of now, right?  Funny how things change. 

  But I love what that taught me….family supper is more important than that phone call, and that person would call back later.  We have chosen to keep this rule at our house, and very very rarely, do we answer during a meal.

  Now days it seems everyone can be reached anytime via home phone, cell phone or messaging.  If we can’t get them one way, we try the other two.  I think with the good of that instant gratification, comes some bad……

  It’s like we think we owe those people an immediate hello, even if we are in the middle of a bedtime story, or family time. 

Honestly?  We don’t!

If family comes first, then it’s ok to let it go to voice mail, and call them back after the kids are in bed!  If you are reading a book, and you are at a good part, fine! Don’t answer! You can call back later.  Be empowered, you control the phone, it doesn’t control your life!

  I think in this day and age, of constant access to various forms of communication, we need some written rules about it.  So I decided to write Telephone Etiquette 101.

Rule #1:  No Being On Your Phone At The Park.


BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  I am TOTALLY teasing. 

That was in honor of all of those people who misunderstood the point of Dear Mom On the iPhone!  🙂  If you go to the park to have a break from your kids, be my guest!  But please, don’t forget to put it down and go running up to them for a surprise “YOUR IT!” attack, with a fun game of tag ensuing now and then, either.

iPhone, Texting and Cell Phone Etiquette 101

1)  Have “Phone Free Zones” In Your Home.
  Like at the dinner table, or your bedroom.  Have those places be ‘sacred’. A place where you connect with your family and spouse, not the world, or the world-wide web.

  If that doesn’t appeal to you, then choose “Phone Free Times” like no phones during family game night, during your bedtime routine with the kids, or devotions with your spouse.  The phone needs to be out of arms reach, preferably in another room, so that text or call will not be begging for your attention.

  I have heard a lot of people say when they enter the house, they and their children with cell phones, are expected to park them on a docking station in the mud room until the next morning.  No phones in the evening and no phones up in bedrooms!  LOVE that idea!

2) Have “Phone Free Zones” Outside Your Home
  Like date night.  Or a ball game.

   Give your spouse 100% of your attention, or root on your child and his team with your whole heart.  Be there.  Be ALL there, not surfing the web, or scrolling through Facebook!  Put your phone on silent and give the ones you love your full attention. 

   What about when we see people’s play by plays of their date night on Facebook, plus lots of other comments along the way on other’s posts?  Facebook is so distracting!  Try to just put the phone away, and enjoy your spouse!  Face to face, eye to eye grown up time.  Holding hands and having fun!!!!!  You can post your great time later, after you get home!  {If you still want to.} Winking smile

3) Little Pitchers Have Big Ears
  WAAAY too many grown up conversations happen with little ears in the backseat of the car listening.  Be aware of your surroundings, both in the car, at the store, and in your home.  Your children are listening, heck, grown up people are listening!  Just because you can bring your cell phone into a vehicle, restaurant or store, does not mean your personal life needs to come, too.  Go excuse yourself, or wait for another time to have your conversation.

4) Speaker Phone Is For When You Are Alone
I know there is fear in getting brain damage by being on your cell too much, but people, making us all listen to BOTH SIDES of your LOUD conversation on speaker phone, is NOT the answer. 

5) Get Off the Phone
  I love to talk to my kids about their day, or what we are seeing as we drive.  There is nothing better than talking to your captive audience, your kids!  You will be SHOCKED how much they have to say, when there is nowhere to run off to.  Smile at them in the rear view mirror and ask about their days. Make this a special tradition at the end of a school day. You will open up lines of communication for years to come.

  I try not to make this a habit, but there are some days that I have several phone calls to be made, so the obvious choice is while in the car, or waiting in car pick up lines, which I do multiple times a day!!!  The kids get to listen to an Adventure in Odyssey CD, and I get 14 calls made for the upcoming Bake Sale. It’s a win-win.
HOWEVER, when I enter the school, I want to do better about being off my phone. I want to show respect to the teachers and parents that I am coming in contact with.  And, if they need to talk to me about my student, I will be available.

This also applies when checking out at a store. You may be the only ‘Jesus’ that clerk comes in contact with that day. Your “Good Afternoon, How are you doing today?” might be the nicest words they hear all day.  If we are to be Jesus’ hands and feet, then we better not always be on our phones!

6) Leave It In The Car
I know there are people on call, or times when a babysitter is at home with little ones, or a loved one is dying, or you are waiting for word on some big deal at work, I get it. But be FREE.  Don’t be chained to your phone any longer.  Sometimes, it really is ok, to just leave it in the car.  You might be surprised how much you enjoy that freedom.

7) Multi-Tasking Is Disrespectful
  Texting is quiet, I get that. But it is very disrespectful to look down during a face to face conversation, to answer a text.  Have you ever watched that other person, the one that was visiting with you and sharing their heart?  Their words slow down, their eyes dart back and forth between you and your phone.  They aren’t saying it, but they are waiting for your full attention before continuing.  It is very accepted by culture today, but I say it feels disrespectful!

  If this was “real life” and 2 people were trying to talk to you at once, would you not tell one of them to hold on a minute?  You sure wouldn’t carry on two conversations at once!  Oh, it happens in real life sometimes, but it’s awkward and un-productive for everyone! 

8) Some Conversations Are Better Spoken
  Save texting for those quick, “I am going to be late,” “I miss you,” “Praying for you today,” messages.
If you have 7 paragraphs to say, then use your phone the “old school way” and actually call your friend.  Real time talking with real-time emotion.

9) Talk To Your Kids About The Power They Have At Their Fingertips
If you decide to get your teen or preteen a Smart Phone, then please have some rules in place. Be ready to take the phone away when those rules are broken.
Talk to them about the beauty of real voices with real emotions on the other end of the phone line. Teach them not to send sexy pictures or inappropriate words just because they are hiding behind a screen. And please, don’t allow your child free rein to the web without some sort of filter or rule system in place. We want our children to succeed and grow up to respectable adults. Filling their mind with garbage at an early age, will only create them heartache in the long run.


10) The Movie Theatre Is Dark, But Your Phone Screen IS NOT
Listen, you probably just paid around $20 to get you and your date into the movies. I know it seems dark and private and un-disruptive to quickly check your emails, but guess what?  Even though the theater is dark, your phone screen is NOT.
Watch the movie!  Shut your phone off and be present.  If you can’t go two hours without doing a “drive by” on your phone, Facebook or Email, it’s time for a phone DETOX.

Bonus Tip:  If Your Hand Maintains Cell Phone Shape After You Set It Down, You Have A Serious Problem. {tee hee}  🙂

Have some more iPhone, Texting or Cell Phone “rules”?  Feel free to add them in the comments section.

Hugs, T

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Dear Mom On The iPhone,

Don’t miss yesterday’s post: Dear Dad On The Recliner,

Dear Mom On the iPhone,

I see you over there on the bench, messing on your iPhone.  It feels good to relax a little while your kids have fun in the sunshine, doesn’t it?  You are doing a great job with your kids, you work hard, you teach them manners, have them do their chores.

But Momma, let me tell you what you don’t see right now…..

Your little girl is spinning round and round, making her dress twirl.  She is such a little beauty queen already, the sun shining behind her hair.  She keeps glancing your way to see if you are watching her. 

You aren’t.

Dancing princess

Your little boy keeps shouting, “Mom, MOM watch this!”  I see you acknowledge him, barely glancing his way. 

He sees that too.  His shoulders slump, but only for a moment, as he finds the next cool thing to do.

Now you are pushing your baby in the swing.  She loves it!  Cooing and smiling with every push.  You don’t see her though, do you?  Your head is bent, your eyes on your phone as you absently push her swing. 

Talk to her.  Tell her about the clouds, Mommy.  The Creator who made them. Tickle her tummy when she comes near you and enjoy that baby belly laugh that leaves far too quickly.

Put your eyes back on your prize…Your kids.

Show them that they are the priority. Wherever you are, be ALL there.  I am not saying it’s not ok to check in on your phone, but it’s a time-sucker: User Beware!

Play time at the park will be over before you know it.

The childhood of your children will be gone before you know it.

They won’t always want to come to the park with you, Mommy.  They won’t always spin and twirl to make their new dress swish, they won’t always call out, “WATCH ME!”

There will come a point when they stop trying, stop calling your name, stop bothering to interrupt your phone time. 

Because they know…

  You’ve shown them, all these moments, that the phone is more important than they are.  They see you looking at it at while waiting to pick up brother from school, during playtime, at the dinner table, at bedtime…..

I know that’s not true, Mommy.

I know your heart says differently.

But your kids can’t hear your words, Mommy. Your actions are screaming way too loudly.  

  May our eyes rest upon those we love, first and foremost, and may everything else fall away in the wonderful, noisy, sticky-fingered glory of it all.

~T

Note from Tonya:

This blog post is written for me, too!  It could just as easily say Dear Mommy on the Computer, because I also struggle to find balance between needing a break, and knowing when its time to walk away from the computer to be Mommy again.
I try to limit it to nap time and after the children are in bed. I am just asking for us to be aware of how this media time can overflow into our face to face time with our family and those around us.

I will never forget when this all became clear to for me….

The children were in bed, the house was dark, and I was getting ready for bed, when I noticed a stack of books on the edge of my desk.  Books my 2 little ones had been asking me to read ALL DAY.  A stack of books that was set aside until Mommy could get her work done.  Work turned into research, turned into facebook, turned into answering emails, turned into……NOT READING AT ALL.
I went to bed defeated that night, hot tears streaming down my cheeks and dripping onto my pillow, as I cried out to God to help me do better. To help me put my eyes back on the people that need me the most, my family.

Was my stuff on the computer more important than my children?  Heavens no!  But my actions are always screaming louder than my words ever could.

What did my actions say to my kids that day?

 “My computer is more important than you today.  Go play!  I simply don’t have time for you.”

  Also, may I add, that the point of this post was NOT attachment parenting, or putting your child first and falling all over yourself trying to meet their every whim or need.  That is about as opposite as you can get from what I believe and how I raise my kids.

This is about looking up and around, enjoying life in the moment, not staring at a phone!  With your spouse, with a friend over lunch, a smile to a grocery check out worker…..look UP and leave the phone behind once in a while. It’s liberating.

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