Wednesday, May 23, 2007



I am always a little surprised when I see children wearing shoes at home, whether on television or in person. It surprises me because when I was a child, my parents expected me to remove my shoes at the door. When I visited my friends' homes, their parents often expected me to take my shoes off. So it always seems a little strange when I see children keeping their shoes on at home.

The practise of removing shoes was expected until I reached the age of about 12. My parents became less stringent about it as I got older. Occasionally this house rule would be revived in later years. It was restored when I was 21 when my parents and I moved to a house with cream carpets, though they were not consistent in keeping to it.

There are some homes, in the UK, where the hosts will expect the children of guests to remove their shoes, but would not expect it of adult guests. Some guests will insist that their children remove their shoes without removing their own. I can understand why some people may be more concerned about children's shoes; children do tend to be less careful about what they step in and are more likely to run around in long and wet grass. However, adults should never forget that their own shoes pick up an awful lot of less noticeable dirt. There is also the fact that children learn to follow rules better when adults act consistently. There is a certain amount of 'do as I say, not do as I do' in the requirement of shoes-off for children only.

Many childcare experts are of the opinion that children should wear shoes to the minimum necessary and therefore recommend shoes-off indoors for health reasons.


richyrich said...

You are absolutely right in saying that adult shoes can pick up stuff that is just as dirty and poisonous as children's. I think you mentioned in another post that many of the younger generation who were made to take off their shoes by their parents as children, have now got into the habit and do it themselves as adults now that they have their own homes. So maybe this will cause the custom to become more common in future.

Have you heard of the concept of the "tipping point"? It refers to when a certain behaviour (it could be cultural or lifestyle choices or the use of a product)that has long been a minority custom, gradually increases until a sufficiently large number of people (a so called "critical mass") adopt it and there is then a sudden change and it becomes the "norm". This may well happen with shoeless households in western societies. As more and more of the younger generation do it and continue with it as they get older (and as what are now the older generations die out)and the younger generations pass it on to their children, together with globalisation both in the form of more outside cultural influences and immigration by people from "shoeless" countries, I think there is a strong chance that such a "tipping point" may be reached in the next few years and that in about 30 years time (or maybe less) western people who wear shoes in their homes will be rare exceptions to the rule. What do you think?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Yes, I agree. I think it is likely that removing shoes will become more common in future.