Monday, October 01, 2007

Children

re-post

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.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mathew...your goal of shoe removal in the UK seems to be taking hold. I was chatting on line with a young lady from London. She told me that she was invited to a collegues home for dinner. When she arrived, her hostess asked for her coat and shoes. She was offered the option of remaining in stockinged feet or putting on a pair of slippers. She went on to say that it was a very common practice in her circle of friends!

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Hello.

Are you an anonymous that I know?

I am very glad to hear about that. That is excellent.

What do you think about it?

Anonymous said...

Mathew...we do not know each other.I read your blog but have not posted here before. I think shoeless homes are a fine idea. We practice it in our home and a few friends do too. The biggest hurdle to over come is the fear of asking a visitor to remove their shoes.
Bob

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Bob, thankyou for coming out and sharing. I wish more of my secret readership would comment (I know you are there!).

I agree that asking is a big hurdle. It takes courage when you place a high premium on manners.

I think a lot of us would even be a little embarassed to ask somebody not to smoke in our homes.

God Bless

Matthew

Anonymous said...

Matthew...asking someone not to smoke is no problem in the US...if you are a smoker people view you as a criminal of sorts!!!
Good luck with your potential roommate
Bob

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Most people here in the UK would see it as rude to smoke in a non-smokers house. But we try to be polite and we might feel embarassed correcting somebody else's etiquette.

That is why people struggle with adopting a shoes-off policy. People fear being seen as rude.

I do hope this lady comes and lives here. It might be nice to have a little company.

God Bless

Matthew

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I think maybe Americans are more adamant and candid about these things.

Which is perhaps why no-shoes homes might be more common in the USA.

Anonymous said...

Matthew....shoeless homes may be more common in the US as a result of a fairly large Asian population and the number of areas that have long winters with a lot of snow. To be frank shoeless homes are still rare in the US and except as noted above are the result of light carpeting or highly polished hardwood floors
Bob

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I have read on the internet that they are pretty common in the norh-western states. That would be the snowy parts, I suppose.

Still, I do get a few readers from southern states.

Anonymous said...

your assumption is correct...the north east also has a fair share of shoeless homes
Bob

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

The IBEX Scribe, who lives in New York state says shoes-off is quite common in her area.

Anonymous said...

upstate and the city itself most likely are the areas she is referring to

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I am afraid I have never been to the United States.

richyrich said...

A most interesting debate. If it is true that shoeless homes are becoming more common in the US, then there's a good chance that the U.K. will follow the trend in the next few years, we seem to be following the U.S. in most things.

Also Anonymous, I notice that the lady with whom you chatted said that she was in London (by the way, when she visited her friend, did she choose to stay in her stockinged feet or to put on slippers?)Matthew you recently observed that you think that taking off shoes in houses is more common in the South East of England than in the rest of the U.K. However here too that part of the country seems to be setting the trend for the rest. You seemed to think that the fact that houses there cost more and therefore people want to do more to preserve their value. Another possibility may be more immigration from Eastern Europe where shoes off has always been quite common of course. Some time ago I was speaking to a woman from Bulgaria and the subject came up and she casually said "of course we (meaning her and her family)do take our shoes off at home" as if to suggest that it was the most normal thing to do. So it may be that they are bringing their sensible habit with them which hopefully will influence the indigenous U.K. population over time)Anonymous, was the lady you chatted to originally British or an immigrant?

Also, Anonymous, was the lady you chatted to young? If so (and if the shoe removal habit is so common amongst her friends), then it bodes well for the future.

Is it too much to hope that some 20-30 years (or maybe less) down the line, shoeless households will be the "norm" in the U.K. and most of the rest of the Western world?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Richyrich, I do not think it is too much to expect that the pattern may change.

I do see a lot of household with shoes in their porches.

I take it you are not from the London area yourself?

Yes, shoes off is the custom in Bulgaria.

I think the pattern of settlement makes a difference.

Bob here mentioned Asian people in the USA.

From what I understand, a lot of Koreans and Japanese have intermarried with Americans. The Asian community in America seems to have more interaction with the mainstream.

Here in the UK, the Chinese commnity and the South Asian community have their own very close knit communities.

The East European community for the most part are doing jobs that most of us do not want to do. Their social contact with the middle classes is limited and often by their command of English.

I think immigration may have some impact on shoe etiquette, but it may happen slowly.

Probably house prices, travel and a more informal culture will probably make more of a difference than immigration.

God Bless

Matthew

richyrich said...

No I'm not from the South East although I did live there for a couple of years, I didn't actually notice that the practice was more commonplace there compared to other parts of the UK in which I've lived. Actually I lived in Yorkshire some 10 years ago and from my experience it seemed to be more common there (Yorkshire people do have the reputation for thrift, maybe they were trying to make their carpets and floors to last longer)but maybe it was just the people I came across.

I am from Wales originally and I've now gone back there. I live on an estate of modern houses and my next door neighbours seem to operate a shoes off policy (I've seen them answering the door in their stockinged feet when I've called on them for a few things and I've also sometimes seen trainers left outside the door. Also I've noticed people in the house opposite me taking off their shoes as they go in through their front door. I think I've told you already that the previous owners of my house operated such a policy. So it does seem to be taking hold, slowly and surely in all parts of the U.K. Long may it continue!

One more point, you said that the British middle classes don't have much contact with the immigrant community, i'm not sure if I totally agree with you there, a lot of them will employ them as cleaners, plumbers and nannies etc. Maybe they'll find out about their she removal habits that way.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Richyrich, I had read on the internet that the practice was almost unheard of up north.

Interesting to hear about Wales. The stereotype holds that the Welsh are not bothered by dirt much, but I suppose the English are taking over the place.

Or maybe I think too much in stereotypes.

Good point about cleaners and plumbers.

I suppose at churches too. I have met a few Poles through churches. One came to my ex-girlfriend's house once and removed his shoes at the door.

The Roman Catholic church in Worcester has been practically taken over by Poles and even a few immigrants from India.

God Bless

Matthew

richyrich said...

Talk about Wales, I was also discussing the subject with a Welsh woman I know and she said that she also thinks it's becoming more common, she said that when her son's friends (they'll be in their 20's)come to visit her house they'll often take their trainers off without even being asked to do so. Yet she also said that she doesn't think it's right for a lady to take off her shoes at someone else's house unless they are clearly dirty. Interesting point there.

There may also be issues relating to social class here too. I was also once mentioning it to a lady from London (who considers herself "working class") and I asked her if she and fer family followed the practice. She said that they usually did take their shoes off in the house but only because it was more comfortable and not in order to be "posh". Interesting again that she used that word.

My own opinion is that the main drivers of the habit are the so called "lower middle classes" and the "aspiring working classes" (what sociologists would call socio-economic group C I believe)These are people who have worked hard to become home owners and who will therefore go to great lengths to protect what they have acquired. (I would say that a lot of these kinds of people live on my estate) The so-called upper middle classes don't seem to be so bothered as they haven't had to struggle so much to get what they have. Whereas the "lower" socio economic groups would not be so bothered as they haven't achieved so much as yet (forgive me if this sounds a bit snobbish!)Hence the lady I mentioned's mention of the word "posh" when describing the practice.

I doubt if any professional research has been done on the issue but it would be interesting to see what sorts of conclusions it would come up with (maybe if the practice becomes more commonplace in future years, such research will be undertaken, after all people have research stranger topics)

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Rich

"Yet she also said that she doesn't think it's right for a lady to take off her shoes at someone else's house unless they are clearly dirty."

I suppose that is a slightly old fashioned attitude. She must think removing shoes is unladylike.

However, I think for whatever reason, women seem more likely than men to remove their shoes to be more comfortable. Women are also more likely than men to notice a light-ccoloured carpet and offer to take their shoes off.

But I suppose if they have chosen their shoes carefully, they might be more likely than men to be bothered about taking them off.

Perhaps there are some female readers who might like to comment?

With regard to the working class, I live near a council estate. You often see women going out on to the pavement (sidewalk) in their slippers and you see children playing on the streets in their socks. To my mind that is a really filthy habit.

I think you are probably right about it being more of a lower middle class thing.

God Bless

Matthew