DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughters, ages 7 and 8, and I are sometimes invited to a dinner with a family who has boys, ages 9 and 10, or another family with boys aged 8 and 10. We always have a lovely dinner, but then once the adults start talking, the boys take out their iPads and basically ignore my daughters.
I've taught my daughters that when we eat at someone's house, we are there to socialize with them and that it's not appropriate to play on a mobile phone or tablet, as that would be rude. So on the occasions that we eat with these families, my girls end up in tears because they feel ignored and eventually get super bored.
It's not that I expect the boys to entertain them, and I could send the girls with their own tablet. Am I being a rude guest, and should I just tote along a tablet for my girls to play on?
GENTLE READER: Before you resort to such measures, Miss Manners suggests you start out lower on the tech pole by instructing your daughters to bring board games or art materials discreetly. When the boys inevitably take out their tablets, instruct the girls to start a game or a (non-messy) art project, encouraging the others to play with them.
If that fails, at least your daughters will have something to occupy them -- until they quickly learn that staying at the table, listening to grown-ups' conversations is often the best entertainment of all.