Sunday, January 25, 2015

Houston Chronicle: Shoeless dad wants slippers inside his daughters' homes

Houston Chronicle: Shoeless dad wants slippers inside his daughters' homes

Dear Abby:

We have a couple of daughters who have told us we must take off our shoes if we visit them (and our grandchildren). Although I'm not sure of their reasons for this, I do know for sure that we have never tracked any kind of dirt into their house when we visited.

I have very sensitive feet. I cannot even walk outside barefoot. On top of that, my feet get cold if they aren't covered. I have always worn house slippers at home if I didn't have shoes on.

In a discussion with my wife, I suggested that their request was both inconsiderate and disrespectful. I also said they should provide alternatives to shoes for visitors if they expect guests to remove their shoes. What is the proper etiquette?

Cold Feet in Iowa

Dear Cold Feet:

A person does not have to track "dirt" into a house to carry germs on the soles of one's shoes. If guests have walked on a sidewalk or driveway where someone has walked a dog or spat, then I can see why a parent might want shoes removed if children play on the floor.

Good manners in a case like this would be to cheerfully cooperate with your hosts and, if slippers are not provided, to bring a pair over that you can leave for the next time you visit.


Bob said...

As you know from previous comments I have posted that my wife and I maintain a shoeless home and generally do the same when visiting. My wife has developed a new friendship with a woman that she met at the gym. The woman invited her to her home. She gave her directions and asked that she enter through the "friends" door near the driveway. She also mentioned that that she would be expected to remove her shoes when she arrived. Naturally my wife had no issue with this. When she arrived she slipped off her shoes placed them on the mat and accompanied her friend into he kitchen. Her friend gave her a new pair of spa slippers to wear and told her that she would identify them as hers so that she could change into them every time she visited. Everyone has their customs and my wife put on the slippers. After chatting for awhile in the kitchen they moved to the living room. As they approached the carpeted area the hostess removed her slippers and asked my wife to do the same stating that she only wanted socked or stocking feet on the carpeting.
This my wife felt was OCD. Shoes off perfectly acceptable, slippers provided a nice touch but now when she visits she will have to remember to wear socks or hose or put a pair in her purse to comply with her friends rules.
While my wife finds these rules a bit over the top she will not let the friendship end because of them but sometimes people can carry things a bit too far!

Mark said...

That is an interesting story. I can assure you that the behaviour that your felt was OCD is actually not OCD. Sadly this serious mental disorder has been trivialised over the years. It is a complex and extremely distressing disorder with high levels of suicide from sufferers. Believe me, any sufferer of OCD would happily swap their symptoms for something as innocuous(from a sufferers point of view) as wearing socks on carpets.
I agree Bob that the behaviour of your wifes friend is a little strange, but OCD it is not

Bob said...

Mark, Thanks for clarifying the term OCD. Here in the US we tend to use it quite freely. I will try to be more prudent in my use of OCD going forward

Matthew Celestis said...

The practice of not wearing slippers on carpet is found in Japan.

Traditionally, Japanese homes don't have carpet. Living rooms are furnished with tatami mats. You wear slippers on the hard surfaced areas, like corridors and kitchen, but you remove the slippers before stepping on the tatami. Now that many Japanese homes have carpet, many apply the old rule of removing slippers to the carpet.

Personally, I like the idea of not wearing slippers on carpet, but most of my apartment is carpeted, so I would hardly wear my slippers then. I do have seperate slippers to wear in the bathroom and on the kitchen area.

It would be awkward to apply a rule like that to guests I think. I certainly don't agree with hosts who ask for shoes off, but object to bare feet, as that is being fussy.

Itinérante said...

I believe that honouring our father and mother is a bit more essential than keeping shoes off or not so it would be respectful of the daughters to provide comfortable slippers for their parents and try to make them feel welcomed and explain that it is not that they are personally and intentionally bringing dirt but etc... Not that the daughters should change their choice at all but the way they approach it with their parent without making them feel disrespected...

Matthew Celestis said...

Yes, that would be a polite and respectful gesture.