, Advice by Ann Landers - []
Section: children, manners, behavior, relationships

Dear Ann Landers,
I agree with the letter from "Montana," who said it is not OK for inquisitive children to ask personal questions of strangers with disabilities. This creates a very uncomfortable situation for the person being questioned, and also for the bystanders. People in wheelchairs or with other disabilities struggle valiantly to mainstream themselves into today's society, but they are reminded dozens of times every day that they are "different." Would you allow a child to ask a stranger why he was 100 pounds overweight? Children's natural curiosity should be indulged at home, where all their questions can be answered. Otherwise, they need to learn the Ann Landers' maxim: MYOB. -- P.B., Des Moines, Iowa

Yesterday's Response:

Dear P.B.,
All young children have a natural curiosity. They don't know anything about MYOB. Most people who have come to terms with a visible handicap do not resent questions from young children. What they do resent, and rightfully so, are crude questions from vulgar, insensitive adults.

Today's Response:

ear P.B. Children should be taught at an early age not to ask strangers why they are fat/in a wheelchair/limping/or otherwise handicapped. Children's "natural curiosity" should be relegated to asking a parent these questions. A good way to avoid this kind of discomfort for a stranger is to bring up the subject of disabilities in a general way, to the degree a child can understand them, and then discuss how these things happen and how questioning such people is inappropriate and would make them feel bad. That could very easily lead to a discussion of the value of minding your own business (MYOB) in general.
- Margo

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A Note from Margo:
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!

Also, any additional thoughts you might have. Thanks!

maryann's Comment
I disagree with Ann on this one. Yes, "children have a natural curiosity," but they also can be taught that it is rude to ask personal questions. Most children are pretty smart and will understand that. Kids are not dumb.
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"At every party there are two kinds of people - those who want to go home and those who don't. The trouble is, they are usually married to each other."
-Ann Landers