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Monday question: Germs, germs everywhere

Posted by Robin Abrahams  July 25, 2011 06:30 AM

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Here's one for the parents and child-carers in our midst:

My sister-in-law's daughter (who is two yrs old) is always sick...constant runny nose, cough, etc. We see her every couple of months, and my children get sick within days of the visit. I understand that kids catching colds is inevitable, but this happens repeatedly. I have three children under age six (one infant) and they're all pretty healthy. I'm an at- home mom and it's exhausting for me and clearly not fun for my children to deal with these illnesses that, in my opinion, could have been avoided. I practice good handwashing with my children, teach them to cough/sneeze into their arms and not share germs. My sister-in-law is much more lax in this department, and often says she doesn't know if her daughter is sick or has allergies (regardless of the time of year!) My group of mom friends and I always make it a point to inform one another if a child is sick or has a runny nose, so the other mom can then decide whether or not to reschedule a playdate. How should I deal with this issue when it is a family member? I've mentioned in the past about friends canceling playdates because someone is sick and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law don't seem to think it's a big deal. I'm not a germaphobe and I want our children to enjoy spending time together, but I don't want this to be the end result after every interaction. Any thoughts on how to deal with this going forward?
What do you think? As usual, I'll post my advice on Friday. On Wednesday, I'll post some conversation questions for a more broad-based discussion of parenting and etiquette (so get your best practices and pet peeves ready to share!). 
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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